Top Ten

October 6, 2010

Ontario universities defend use of lobbyists

Following reports that several Ontario PSE institutions have spent nearly $1 million on lobbying contracts, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University both say they hired lobbyists as they did not have a government-relations specialist on staff. WLU ended its relationship with a lobby group shortly after it hired a full-time director of government relations last December. Laurentian University's chief of staff says university administration determined it would be cheaper to hire a lobby firm to hold day-to-day meetings with government than it would be to hire staff and pay for their travel expenses to work on Laurentian's architecture school proposal. Waterloo Region Record | Sudbury Star

First-generation immigrants more likely to attend university, HEQCO reports

According to a new HEQCO-commissioned study of Toronto high school immigrant students, first-generation immigrants, particularly those of East Asian background, are more likely to attend university, while Caribbean students are least likely to enrol in PSE or even graduate from high school. English-speaking Canadian, Caribbean, and African-born students tracked in the study were most likely to go to college. Over 70% of East Asian students went on to university, followed by European students at 52%. The report also compares the profiles of students both by their region of origin and generational status. Just 20% of students in Toronto have Canadian-born parents, while 42% are foreign-born (first-generation immigrants) and 38% are born in Canada of immigrant parents (second-generation immigrants). HEQCO News Release | Read the report |

Summit participants commit to action on Aboriginal education in Canada

In a news release on Tuesday's National Working Summit on Aboriginal Postsecondary Education, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation state they both have identified the crisis of Aboriginal education as one of the most compelling issues Canada must face. Through AUCC and NAAF, summit participants committed to the following objectives: to take a holistic approach to ensure successful transition for students and to help more Aboriginal students complete their PSE; to work collaboratively, seeing opportunities to partner with other interested organizations, to share knowledge about what approaches are most successful; to continue to seek increased federal funding for Aboriginal students; and to continue to advocate for increased federal funding for Aboriginal-focused support programs at universities and colleges. AUCC News Release

Carleton faculty approve strike mandate

After 2 days of balloting this week, members of Carleton University's academic staff association voted 88.5% in favour of giving its bargaining team a strike mandate. The association and Carleton administration are divided on a number of issues, of which proposed changes to the tenure and promotion process are the most pressing. This is the second time in as many weeks a union at Carleton has approved a strike mandate. Members of the union representing more than 800 professional, office, and technical staff at the university voted 83% in favour of a strike. Ottawa Citizen | Maclean's OnCampus

McMaster workers set strike deadline

The union representing 230 cleaners, tradespeople, and maintenance workers at McMaster University has set a strike deadline on October 12. The union had set a deadline for last night, but pushed it to next week after making some progress in talks with McMaster. The union says the university is asking members to accept a wage freeze, give up sick pay, and make larger contributions to its pension plan, all of which entails a rollback in take-home pay, according to the union's chief negotiator. Union members plan to meet today to talk about the state of negotiations and take another vote to confirm their commitment to striking if necessary. Hamilton Spectator

International enrolment at SFU doubles with private college partnership

In September 2006, when Fraser International College (FIC) opened, Simon Fraser University's international undergraduate enrolment was about 7% of domestic enrolment. 4 years later, that proportion has nearly doubled to 13.9%. Some 800 new foreign students registered this term, a 29% increase over 2009, and 150 were transfers from FIC. The college now has 1,260 students from over 40 different nations enrolled in its Stage I and Stage II university-transfer programs, the latter featuring courses that are transferable to an SFU degree. The university's board of governors has approved a 10-year renewal of its partnership agreement with FIC. SFU News Release

Enrolment boom at Tyndale

Toronto's Tyndale University College & Seminary reports it has had a 10.7% growth in the number of students attending the institution this fall. There are 1,280 students at Tyndale this semester, making it the largest student base in the school's history. The largest increase is found in Tyndale's existing programs. Since 2007, the BA Business Administration and BA Psychology programs have grown by 50% and 35%, respectively, while the certificate and graduate diploma programs have increased by 22% and the BA Religious Studies program by 27%. Tyndale News Release

UBC-O attracting few local students

At a recent senate meeting, University of British Columbia-Okanagan principal Doug Owram noted that only 30% of the campus' students come from the region. "Everything should be in our favour," Owram stated, pointing out that the Okanagan is one of the more advanced communities in terms of university education, "but it is something about the primary industry, something about the history and traditions of parental expectations that have held us back." The ease of finding trades work in the area has affected local student admission, Owram noted, and that situation needs to change, given that the sawmill industry, for example, is shrinking. The Phoenix (student newspaper)

What business thinks of Quebec's university system

In a Montreal Board of Trade survey of Quebec businesses, the province's university system is generally perceived as good, especially with regard to teaching quality (94%), research quality (87%), and graduate employability (82%). However, companies are worried about the challenges facing the system, starting with the need to encourage school perseverance in order to increase the proportion of university graduates. The survey observes that Montreal still has a ways to go before it is viewed as one of North America's ultimate university cities. The paths to improvement most cited by respondents are to increase the number of research centres (73%), improve the quality of education (51%), and boost university funding (47%). 81% of companies surveyed believe university-industry collaboration is relevant for business growth and visibility, and 53% have collaborated with universities in the past 3 years. Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal News Release | Read the survey

Second Life to end educational discount

Educational institutions will soon have to pay full price when creating virtual campuses in Second Life after Linden Lab, the company that runs the online universe, announced Monday it will end its generous educational discount as of January 1. The director of the Immersive Education Initiative, which provides over 3,000 educators with open access to virtual worlds, says the announcement is consistent with other recent changes by Linden Lab. Though there are other virtual world technologies colleges can uses, the director says, some have made heavy investments in Second Life and may have difficulties switching services. A number of Canadian institutions have "islands" in Second Life. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)