Top Ten

November 15, 2010

Real estate developer proposes new university for PEI

Real estate developer Richard Homburg, CEO of Homburg Canada, is pitching a plan for a new university to the Prince Edward Island government. Homburg University would focus on research and professional training in real estate, covering topics such as real estate appraisal, finance, banking, planning, and construction. If the proposal were approved by the province and the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, the university could be in operation by late 2011 or early 2012. Coming out strongly against the idea, University of Prince Edward Island president Wade MacLauchlan believes a new university in the province could undermine the reputation UPEI has built over the years. MacLauchlan is also upset he has not been kept up to date on the province's plans to allow for new degree-granting institutions, noting the proposed legislative changes require extensive consultation with Islanders. CBC

Protest results in cancellation of Blatchford talk at uWaterloo

Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford had planned to speak at the University of Waterloo last Friday evening about her new book on the Aboriginal land dispute in Caledonia, but protesters had other ideas. As they waited for Blatchford to arrive at Hagey Hall, a handful of people occupied the stage, while others unrolled banners and shouted from the audience. One protester says the group's contention was that Blatchford's book does not explore issues central to the Aboriginal occupation, such as historic land claims and treaties. Blatchford wanted to go on with the talk, but her publicist and campus security expressed reservations about whether they could protect her. uWaterloo's assistant director of media relations says the institution will be ready for Blatchford's return visit, even in the face of protest. Waterloo Region Record

Saskatchewan launches consultation on proposed St. Peter's College, CTRC merger

The Saskatchewan government has contracted a business advisory firm to conduct a consultation and assessment process of the proposed merger of St. Peter's College and Carlton Trail Regional College. The 2 institutions presented the province with a joint proposal to amalgamate. Consultations will comprise focus sessions, one-on-one interviews with stakeholders, and online and written submissions. The government expects to receive a report in early 2011, and will use the findings to evaluate the proposal, particularly its alignment with provincial goals for PSE, public interest, and the success of Saskatchewan students. A decision is expected to be made in spring 2011. Saskatchewan News Release

BC committee recommends province reinstate annual capital allowance

In a new report on budget consultations, BC's Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services recommends the provincial government begin restoring the annual capital allowance allocation for PSE institutions back to pre-2009 levels. The committee also suggests the province reduce financial barriers to higher education by lowering the interest rate charged on student loans, and by establishing a provincial system of upfront needs-based grants targeted at people who are having difficulty escaping the cycle of poverty. Another recommendation is to examine the feasibility of establishing an engineering program at the University of Northern British Columbia that is appropriate for the northern region. Read the report

uWinnipeg to build new residence

The University of Winnipeg is planning the construction of a new 7-storey student residence. The plan for the $15.5-million residence calls for 80 to 100 units, with at least 75% of the apartments designated as affordable housing. The demand for housing is high around uWinnipeg, whose year-old McFeetors Hall residence is already full. Construction of the residence could begin in late 2011 or early 2012. Winnipeg Free Press

Ontario colleges need system-wide approach to improving student literacy

According to a joint report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario and Fanshawe College, Ontario colleges could do more to ensure there are consistent practices within and across institutions to evaluate students' language skills. Assessment and upgrading practices for academically unprepared students vary across institutions, the report found. For language proficiency assessment, 62% of colleges reported some type of formal language skill assessment for some programs, while only 21% required formal assessment in all of their programs. The report states shared policies and practices or a provincial strategy would allow for better communication among practitioners and administrators, a framework for interpreting and reporting student achievements, and more seamless possibilities for transfer across institutions. Fanshawe News Release | Report summary | Read the full report

Canadian, African universities form $2-million partnership

To coincide with African University Day last week, African and Canadian universities announced a new $2.2-million partnership, undertaken by the Association of African Universities and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, to strengthen ties between African universities and local and regional industries to ensure the development of the skills and knowledge to meet the continent's current economic needs. As part of the partnership, individual African and Canadian institutions will team up to plan strategies for increased African university-industry linkages. For example, Ghana's University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) and Memorial University will work together to launch a co-operative education program at UMaT. AUCC News Release

More Chinese students studying in US

American students are increasingly studying abroad in non-traditional destinations such as Peru and Chile, while US institutions are hosting a growing number of students from China, according to a new report from the Institute of International Education. Close to 128,000 Chinese students studied in the US in 2009-10, a 30% increase over the previous academic year. Chinese students represent about 19% of foreign students in the US, the highest percentage of any nation. China is followed by India and South Korea, which account for 15% and 10%, respectively. According to the report, over 260,000 American students studied abroad in 2008-09, a slight drop over the previous year and likely due to the recession. While most Americans study in Britain, Italy, and Spain, those countries have declined in popularity since 2007-08. Countries with the biggest increases include Peru, South Korea, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Canadian Press

Twitter use improves students' grades, engagement, US study finds

In a recent experiment conducted at a medium-sized public institution in the US, students using Twitter both inside and outside the classroom received higher grades than their non-tweeting counterparts. At the end of the term, the tweeters had GPAs half a point higher, on average, than did their non-tweeting peers. Students who tweeted were also more engaged. Twitter users scored higher than those who did not use the micro-blogging service on a student-engagement survey over the course of the semester -- using parameters such as how frequently students contributed to classroom discussion, and how often they interacted with their professor about course material. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Facebook launches new messaging service

Yesterday Facebook announced a next-generation online messaging service that includes e-mail addresses. The service blends online chat, text messages, and other real-time conversation tools with traditional e-mail. The messaging system will be slowly rolled out in the coming months and adapted based on user feedback. The service will not be introduced to Canada initially. Facebook blog | AFP