Top Ten

August 5, 2010

Ontario universities offered temporary pension solvency relief

The Ontario government announced yesterday it will introduce amendments to the Pensions Benefit Act to create a 2-stage pension solvency relief plan for eligible universities. To access the first stage, universities must submit a plan to the finance ministry outlining how they will make their pension plans more sustainable. After a 3-year period, institutions that have shown an improved and sustainable plan would then be eligible for the second stage, allowing them to amortize their solvency deficits over a period of up to 10 years. The province states it will not provide additional funding to university pension deficits. This pension solvency relief, the government says, will reduce the need for significant solvency deficit payments in the short term, and put pension plans on a more sustainable track for the long term. Ontario News Release

Kwantlen criticized over reaction to student protesting campus food service

Kwantlen Polytechnic University's criminology department is backing up one of its students after he says he was forced by campus security guards to leave campus last Wednesday after handing out pamphlets criticizing the food and labour practices of the university's new cafeteria operator as part of a class project. Kwantlen's director of communications says the student was removed from campus because he wouldn't show his ID to the guards, not because of his pamphlets, which had been approved by his instructor. One of the student's former criminology instructors called the behaviour of Kwantlen administration and security "appalling." Another faculty member says the harassment of the student is indicative of an "offensive" trend toward corporatization at Kwantlen, using the renaming of the university's library to the Coast Capital Savings Library as an example. Vancouver Sun

uAlberta purchases president's house for official residence

The University of Alberta has bought an Edmonton-area house to serve as the offical residence of the institution's president. The home, purchased for $930,000, was bought from current uAlberta president Indira Samarasekera. The deal was "to our mutual benefit," says the chairman of the university's board of governors. "The fact that you have a very good quality home makes recruiting (a president) infinitely easier, and it makes the transition for the president much easier if they happen to be an outsider." The chairman says the 85-year-old house is well suited for functions such as small executive-type meetings without intruding on the individual's private living space. Edmonton Journal

Postscript: Aug 10, 2010
A pair of letters to the Edmonton Journal are critical of the University of Alberta purchasing president Indira Samarasekera's house last year for use as the official presidential residence, with both considering the deal a conflict of interest. The fact the deal was finalized last summer, when uAlberta knew budget cuts were coming from the provincial government, "is even more deplorable," a uAlberta graduate student writes. Another letter-writer questions the board purchasing "an 85-year-old white elephant as a home for presidents, without thoroughly investigating the history of such establishments." Students pay the price | U of A should have opened bidding before buying house

McMaster officials say university ought to market itself better abroad

International relations officials at McMaster University say the institution must reach out aggressively to the world and maintain and enhance its reputation as a leading university. With the competition for international students becoming fierce in Canada and abroad, McMaster cannot afford to just coast on its good reputation, says the university's associate vice-principal responsible for international affairs. "We have to go out and blow our own horn," the official says. The vice-president responsible for research and international affairs says McMaster is marketing itself most aggressively in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. The effort, the VP says, should produce a richer campus, both academically and socially. For now, both officials say the prospect of a foreign McMaster satellite campus remains a possibility, albeit a distant one. Hamilton Spectator

Female enrolment in engineering at Queen's on the rise

The number of female engineering students at Queen's University has increased in recent years. 2 years ago, women accounted for 23% of the incoming engineering class, then the proportion rose to 25% in 2009, and now it is at 28.1% for the 2010-11 academic year. The university's engineering and applied science faculty has been actively trying to recruit more women. For example, this past year, 2 female first-year students kept a video blog on the faculty's prospective student microsite. By following these young women, the faculty sought to break down some of the stereotypes people hold about just who is suited to being an engineer. Queen's News Centre

High demand forces ACC to suspend applications to Winnipeg nursing program

Assiniboine Community College announced Wednesday its Winnipeg Training Centre will not accept new applications for the 2-year practical nursing diploma program until January 2012 due to increased popularity. With more than 250 applicants on the Winnipeg waiting list, ACC has enough qualified applicants to fill the Winnipeg program for the next 3 years. The college is encouraging students to apply at other locations as it continues to accept practical nursing applications for September and January intakes in Brandon and for Deloraine. ACC News Release

Boréal ultrasound program receives CMA accreditation

The Canadian Medical Association Program Accreditation Committee has granted Collège Boréal's ultrasound program accreditation until 2016. The decision is based on the findings of a final evaluation that indicates Boréal has satisfied the stipulations in all 5 required categories at the highest level. The college's vice-president academic says the accreditation confirms Boréal's ongoing effort to offer high-quality programs to its students. The college says the CMA's endorsement provides a guarantee of appropriate training responsive to current medical requirements, and ensures that graduates from the ultrasound program have the necessary competencies to pursue a career in this health service area. Boréal News Release

Report on external review of NS university system due soon

A report on potential changes to Nova Scotia's university system will be done soon and made public when it is available, says an education department spokesman, although the report had been expected earlier in the summer. Provincial officials have asked consultant Tim O'Neill to talk to more stakeholders and provide a more in-depth financial analysis. Last fall, O'Neill was one of 4 people on the premier's economic advisory panel, whose report observed the issue of recent university funding increases at a time when enrolment is declining requires further discussion. Negotiations on new provincial funding arrangement for universities will begin after the O'Neill report is completed. Halifax Chronicle-Herald

Dal holds public meetings on nuclear reactor dismantlement

At a meeting Wednesday, the general public got its first chance to learn about Dalhousie University's multimillion-dollar plan to dismantle its decades-old nuclear reactor, which is no longer being used for the original research for which it was intended. More public meetings will take place over the next 2 years, the length of time the project is expected to take. Dal's director of environmental health and safety says the university is still submitting plans and procedures and applying for a licence to decommission the reactor. There are security concerns, the official says, as remaining fuel in the reactor needs to be removed and shipped. Halifax Chronicle-Herald

SLC business students launch orientation, prospective student website

A group of St. Lawrence College business students have created a website dedicated to welcoming new students to the college's business school. Yourunderground.info features blogs from 8 current students, who describe their first-year experience at SLC, and provide insight into being a mature student, orientation, student clubs and resources, the student association, and student competitions. The site also has an "insider secrets " segment, with the first instalment offering the top 5 reasons why it's good to be an SLCer. One student-made video features interviews with program co-ordinators about the school's business programs and what benefits they offer to potential students. Yourunderground.info