Top Ten

July 30, 2010

OUSA concerned at loss of "public university model"

Ontario's universities are moving toward a point where they collect as much funds or more from students in tuition and fees as they do from the province in operating grants, says the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. By 2008, tuition and fees accounted for 43% of university revenue, up from 19% in 1988, according to research done for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. The provincial government offers a slightly different figure, putting the amount covered by tuition at closer to 40%. Given these figures, OUSA says it's time to discuss how we define a public university system, and the impact of this shift on issues of student access and institutional accountability. While OUSA is calling for more debate, what the group really wants is a return to a cost-sharing model that has students paying no more than a third of the price of their education. OUSA's president says some will argue that students should cover a bigger share of the cost, especially at a time when governments are tackling mounting debt. The present financial situation, she says, is no reason to cast aside debate on what amounts to a gradual move toward privatization. Globe and Mail

York U candidate for Pan Am track and field venue

York University is being considered one of the front-runners to host the track and field competitions for the 2015 Pan American Games after game organizers announced last week they're looking to have these events take place in Toronto instead of Hamilton. York U's associate director of media relations says the institution is open to hosting the track events, but there is currently no facility anywhere near big enough. "We've consistently said that if York can be part of a solution we would be open to talking about it." The University of Toronto will be hosting several Pan Am events in new facilities. Toronto Star | Inside Toronto

uCalgary set to open High Density Library

This month, the University of Calgary will open its High Density Library (HDL), which has been modeled on Harvard University's book depository. Shelving at the HDL is 30 feet high and books are arranged according to their size instead of call number, allowing 6 times as many books to be held in the building compared to a traditional library. Special climate conditions in the new library means that printed materials will be cared for in the best possible manner. While the HDL will contain older, less-used materials, the newest material -- over a half a million books and journals -- will be available at the Taylor Family Digital Library. UToday

UoGuelph vet college working to save more dogs in training program

The University of Guelph says it will employ more resources in a Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) summer program to reduce the number of young beagles that die during training. This summer, 10 out of 20 dogs have died in a program that allows immigrant vets to obtain their credentials to work in Ontario. The dogs, which are bred specifically for use at OVC, have died as a result of spay and neuter surgeries. UoGuelph's director of communications says additional resources in the future will help keep more dogs alive in order to adopt them out. The treatment of beagles at OVC was called into question last week when Animal Alliance of Canada called out to its members to adopt the animals. An Alliance staff member says if students are given the option to use cadaver dogs, the vet college should not even offer a live option. QMI Agency

Co-op policy change under review at uWaterloo

The Imprint, the University of Waterloo's student paper, reports that officials of each uWaterloo faculty are reviewing a proposed policy change to make the completion of co-operative education mandatory for students who have completed more than 3 work terms. Exceptions to this policy would require approval of the associate dean for co-op studies in a student's home faculty. The associate dean for undergraduate studies in uWaterloo's math faculty says the proposed policy change is intended to stop some students from freeloading off of co-op. The primary reason for the proposal is that students who leave the co-op system stop paying co-op fees, thus limiting the latitude of Co-operative Education and Career Services to acquire jobs for students who remain in the system. In June, uWaterloo's student federation voted against the proposal, with some representatives concerned about the potential impact on students' academic freedom. The Imprint (student newspaper)

uOttawa student union criticized for funding G20 protest bus

The president of the University of Ottawa Campus Conservatives says the university's student federation made a "blatant misuse" of student fees after the union used such fees to bus about 50 student protesters to the G20 summit at Toronto in June. The student federation's president says the union was just doing its job by aiding student participation in the protests. "We're helping (students) be involved in activities that make university special." A pair of University of British Columbia student leaders reportedly used student funds to fly to Toronto to protest the summit. They were arrested on June 27 and charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. They are scheduled to appear in a Toronto court later this month. Ottawa Citizen

WWII vet leaves $1-million bequest to UNB

Second World War veteran Joseph Flanagan has left a $1.34-million bequest to the University of New Brunswick to support student scholarships. The gift will fund the Joseph A. and Kathleen A. Flanagan Memorial Scholarships for students from New Brunswick taking science and engineering programs at the university. Valued at $5,000 each, 7 scholarships have been awarded for the upcoming school year. A nephew of Flanagan's says his uncle partly chose UNB over other institutions because of its connection to the Maritime Forest Ranger School, of which Flanagan, who passed away in 2006, is a graduate. UNB News Release | Telegraph-Journal

Traditionally, non-traditionally prepared med students have equal success, US study finds

In a study comparing outcomes for 85 students in Mount Sinai School of Medicine's Humanities and Medicine Program with those of 606 traditionally prepared classmates from the graduating classes of 2004 through 2009, researchers found that their academic performance in medical school was equivalent. Overall, they ranked about the same in honours grades and in the percentage in the top quarter of the class. What most surprised the study's authors was that humanities students were more likely to devote a year to scholarly research. New York Times

What makes a study-abroad program successful

Despite growing interest among American college students in study-abroad programs, as few as 1.5% of students travel overseas to study every year, writes Wendy Williamson, director of study abroad at Eastern Illinois University, in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (A recent study reported that fewer than 3% of Canadian undergraduates study abroad.) It's just a matter of time before institutions that do not foster the international-learning experience find themselves at a huge disadvantage when recruiting undergraduates, Williamson writes, as a global higher education is becoming more of a crucial part of being competitive in today's job market. Williamson outlines 7 signs of a "study-abroad-friendly" university: support from both administration and faculty; variety of program options; preparation for risk; fair value; every department has options; students earn valuable credit; and a commitment to go green. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Young people more engaged with Facebook privacy settings

In a new paper about the privacy attitudes of 18- and 19-year-olds, US researchers report that most Facebook users modified their privacy settings at least once last year, and that "engagement with privacy settings increased significantly" between 2009 and 2010. Overall, the findings, based on surveys of students at the University of Illinois at Chicago, show that "the majority of young adult users of Facebook are engaged with managing their privacy settings on the site at least to some extent." The researchers speculate the increased interest in privacy could come from public attention on the subject, from more changes in Facebook's default settings, or from prompts the social network shows users. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Read the report