Top Ten

September 2, 2010

Federal government expects student debt to soon reach $15 billion

The total value of student loans owed to the Canadian government will surpass $15 billion this month, according to a regulatory changed filed by HRSDC Minister Diane Finley. Last month, the Governor General approved Finley's request to change the method of calculating the amount of outstanding student loans. "As currently calculated, the legislated ceiling of $15 billion in outstanding student loans, as specified in section 13 of the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, is expected to be reached in September 2010," the minister wrote. "Addressing Canada's student debt crisis requires a national strategy to reduce tuition fees, not an administrative change to hide the level of student debt," says CFS's national chairperson. CFS News Release

Calls for northern university renewed

The federal government's recent effort to assert its sovereignty in the Arctic has revived calls to establish a university in Canada's North. Colleges in the region have collaborated with universities elsewhere to offer select degree programs, but in many instances, northern students must travel far from home to pursue PSE. On top of offering northern students a choice close to home, a northern university would create jobs for highly trained professionals and encourage research that directly addresses key policy issues facing northerners, says Carleton University professor Frances Abele. Federal funding would be required to create the institution, Abele says, adding that there will have to be a debate on whether a northern university will have a single campus or several locations across the region. CBC | Montreal Gazette

Canadian institutions embracing internationalization

Many Canadian colleges and universities have jumped onto the globalization bandwagon, applying an international focus to some of their programs, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Thompson Rivers University's model goes a step further with its new Global Competency distinction, which formally recognizes students' internationally focused activities. UPEI and Centennial College each require new students to take a course in global citizenship. The experience of meeting people of different backgrounds, and possibly learning to get along with individuals with different views, will be an asset in the workforce, says Centennial president Ann Buller. Canadian businesses and industry now "need the international perspective, so graduates with that understanding and experience are sought after," notes the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Paper proposes reconsideration of retention as performance indicator

It may be time to reconsider investments in retention and the use of retention data in university rankings and comparisons, concludes a recent paper published as part of COU's discussion paper series. Retention statistics should not be connected to government key performance indicators as it would affect student access, the paper argues. The correlation between retention and access would encourage schools to build barriers to entry so that retention rates could be improved, which would negatively impact the Ontario government's objective of expanding student access. The paper states it may be time to invest in an Ontario retention evaluation system to track students over time, allowing provincial universities to better assess students who return, enter programs in colleges, and move across institutions. Read the paper

What makes a university class a favourite?

In a recent survey of Canadian university students, the key elements respondents chose that make a class a student's favourite are an interesting subject matter, an engaging teaching style, and interesting course readings. The absence of these factors is most likely to make a class a least-favourite. While not entirely irrelevant, technology, class size, teaching assistants, and intelligent contributions from classmates were considerably less important than the main factors. Instructors in favourite classes were believed to have stronger reputations for research excellence than those in least-favourite classes. Read the report

Ryerson launches Centre for Urban Energy

On Wesdnesday, Ryerson University announced the creation of the Centre for Urban Energy, devoted to the discovery and commercialization of innovative, practical solutions to urban energy issues. The centre will bring together industries, government, and top researchers from across Canada and wordwide to undertake a collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach to the study of urban energy. The centre will receive up to $7 million from 3 founding sponsors -- Hydro One Inc., Toronto Hydro Corporation, and the Ontario Power Authority. Ryerson News

New logo, website for Mohawk College

With Mohawk College's largest campus renewal project in full swing, the institution decided to also renew its logo with a modern look incorporating the school's traditional colours of red and black. The college has also redesigned its website, which reflects the new visual identity. The new site includes links to video testimonials from faculty members about why they enjoy working at Mohawk, the college's social media accounts, and its new iPhone application. Mohawk Matters | Mohawk College website

Registrations up 19% at Okanagan College

Okanagan College is expecting another year of record enrolment with a 19% year-to-date increase in registrations. This year's surge in student numbers is part of a pattern that has seen the college grow by over 65% in the last 5 years. For each of the 5 years since Okanagan University College was split to become Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan, the college has outperformed provincial government targets for student spaces. Okanagan College News Release

New website targets adults seeking to return to CÉGEP

The Fédération des cégeps launched a new website Wednesday called, designed for adults wanting to continue their education or upgrade their skills, as well as for companies with specific training and development needs. The site serves as a search and reference tool presenting all continuing education currently offered at Quebec's 48 public colleges. The website is part of the Web initiative of the Fédération's "Back to CÉGEP" campaign, which continues this fall with the broadcast of new TV commercials across Quebec, as well as new ads in specific print publications. Fédération des cégeps News Release |

Introducing Stephen Colbert "University"

In a recent episode of "The Colbert Report," host Stephen Colbert took a look at the increasing scrutiny of for-profit higher education. Declaring his interest in the sector, Colbert announced his new for-profit school, Stephen Colbert "University" -- "the number one place for higher 'education'." Admission requirements include access to the Internet and either one letter of recommendation from Benjamin Franklin or 2 from Ulysses S. Grant. The institution offers programs in fields such as nurse impersonator, grave-robber, VCR repair, Googler, and Stephen Colbert organ farm. At SCU, its proprietor states, "we put the 'U' in 'we make money off you'." Inside Higher Ed | The Comedy Network