Top Ten

September 8, 2010

Carleton building evacuated over suspicious packages

A building housing Carleton University's admissions office was evacuated Tuesday afternoon after staff discovered 2 suspicious envelopes. One had the word "bomb" written on it; the other, addressed to a professor, was leaking an oily substance. Investigators did not find anything dangerous, but the packages were sent to Health Canada for additional examination. CBC | Ottawa Citizen | Ottawa Sun

R&D spending in PSE in Canada close to $11 billion

Canada's higher education sector spent $10.9 billion on research and development in 2008/09, up 7.3% from 2007/08, according to new figures from Statistics Canada. PSE institutions remained the leading source of funding for their R&D performance, contributing $5.1 billion, or 46% of total funding in 2008/09. The federal government was the second-largest provider at $2.8 billion, or 26% of total funding. Spending on PSE R&D in the natural sciences and engineering (including health sciences) totalled $8.7 billion, up 7.3% from 2007/08. R&D spending in the social sciences and humanities rose 7.4% to $2.2 billion. Statistics Canada

Brock names research complex for $10-million gift

Brock University announced yesterday a $10-million donation from the Cairns family of St. Catharines in support of the institution's health and bioscience research complex. In honour of the gift, Brock will name the complex the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Complex. Slated to be completed by 2012, the $111.4-million, 176,530-square-foot facility will provide support for 4 Canada Research Chairs and several award-winning researchers in biotechnology, green chemistry, plant pathology, and health and wellness. Brock News

McGill top Canadian university in QS rankings

McGill University is the top-ranked Canadian institution in the QS World University Rankings for 2010, placing 19th overall. The other Canadian universities to make the top 200 are uToronto (29), UBC (44), uAlberta (78), Queen's (132), uMontréal (136), uWaterloo (145), McMaster (162), UWO (164), and uCalgary (165). With the exception of uToronto, each Canadian university among the top 200 slipped from their positions from the year before. The University of Cambridge has taken over Harvard University for the top spot overall in this year's rankings. QS World University Rankings 2010

Record enrolment at Niagara College

A record 4,500 first-year students will begin classes this week at Niagara College, an increase of more than 300 students over last year's first-year intake. The college's total full-time post-secondary enrolment for this fall is 8,000 students, an increase of 9% over last year. Including apprenticeship, ESL, and winter term starts, this year's full-time enrolment will top 9,000 students for the first time in the institution's history. Niagara has also set a record in international-student enrolment, with over 800 students from 60 different nations attending the college. Niagara College News Release

UOIT opens Clean Energy Research Laboratory

On Tuesday, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology officially opened its multi-million dollar Clean Energy Research Laboratory (CERL) at the north Oshawa campus. The facility is home to the first lab-scale demonstration of a copper-chlorine cycle for thermochemical water splitting and nuclear hydrogen production. CERL's mission is to develop clean energy technologies and move them from laboratory to commercial and industrial application. UOIT News Release

The problem with traditional lectures

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, University of Guelph business dean Julia Christensen Hughes argues that the traditional lecture is not the best way to learn. One problem is that we try to stuff too much into a lecture, she says. A lecture can be useful if a professor is communicating his or her passion, telling stories, and pausing for questions. In order to improve teaching, we have to change the experience of PhD programs to prepare faculty for their role as teachers, Christensen Hughes says. Globe and Mail

Quebec's school dropout intervention plan not meeting all goals, study finds

An analysis of the Quebec government's intervention strategy to reduce high school dropout rates in disadvantaged areas found the plan has only partially achieved its goals. Dropout rates, academic motivation, and performance in core curriculum are unchanged, although violence and disruptive behaviour in schools was curbed. The study found the main obstacle in Quebec's education system is the lack of support to implement the strategy. Recommendations to improve the plan include reducing the number of targets and to focus on school dropouts, school engagement, as well as increasing reading, writing, and math proficiency. uMontréal News

CCL report reveals future of literacy in Canada's 4 largest cities

Following up on its 2008 report predicting that 47% of Canadian adults would be living with low prose literacy skills by 2031, the CCL looks at the future state of adult literacy in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, from 2001 to 2031. The report shows that Ottawa can expect to see an 80% increase in adults with low literacy to nearly 500,000 by 2031. Toronto and Vancouver will each experience increase of 64%, with the former rising to nearly 3.2 million, and the latter to over 1.3 million. In Montreal, the total population of adults with low literacy is expected to total over 1.8 million, an increase of 20% from 2001. CCL's president says these figures challenge the popular belief that the state of literacy in Canada will improve over time given the country's growth in PSE graduates. CCL News Release | Read the report

US study finds Facebook aids in student retention

A new study published in the Journal of College Student Retention finds that frequent Facebook users are more likely to return to their initial institution after their first year. In a survey of 375 Abilene Christian University students, those who were more active on Facebook were more likely to return for their second year. On average, returning students had 27 more friends and 59 more Wall posts than those who did not come back. The study's author says the Facebook effect on campuses is twofold -- not only does the site make it easier for first-year students to find friends, but it also boosts the likelihood of students' developing deeper friendships following chance encounters. Both aspects lead to a deeper sense of connection on campus and in the classroom, the author argues. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)