Top Ten

December 8, 2010

Kaplan to eliminate 770 positions

Kaplan Higher Education announced Tuesday it will cut about 770 jobs, approximately 5% of its workforce. While Kaplan has not specified in which departments these positions will be eliminated, the company says declining enrolments and a strategic decision to become more selective in the students it enrols have led to a shift in Kaplan's personnel needs. The University of Phoenix announced last week it is cutting 700 jobs through layoffs, primarily in its admissions departments. Kaplan Higher Education News Release | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Ontario politicians slam uToronto "Jewish racism" thesis

Ontario Citizenship and Immigration Minister Eric Hoskins said Tuesday he was "greatly disturbed and in fact disgusted" to learn about a University of Toronto master's thesis that calls a pair of Holocaust education programs "racist." The thesis was discussed Tuesday in the provincial legislature. Hoskins was responding to a Progressive Conservative MPP who called the thesis "disgusting." Another PC MPP, whose riding includes a large Jewish population, said the thesis was a hateful, poorly researched "piece of garbage." uToronto's provost says she has been "a little alarmed at the kinds of things being said about a piece of student work." "It would be a good idea for us all to remember that it's a student paper," the provost says. "I don't know this student, but I certainly wouldn't want to see this kind of scrutiny and unhappy attention on students in general." Toronto Star

Group of uOttawa students fight U-Pass in court

9 University of Ottawa undergraduate students have filed a suit in small-claims court seeking damages from the university's student federation over the implementation of the mandatory U-Pass. One of the plaintiffs says the group does not believe "other poor students should have to help pay for" the subsidized bus pass. In their claim, the students argue the referendum on the U-Pass was not administered as spelled out in the student federation's constitution. The plaintiffs are seeking $3,772.57 in compensatory damages and $250 each in exemplary damages. Ottawa Citizen

Chronicle reports on Algonquin College's curriculum review

This past June, Algonquin College's board of governors unanimously adopted a report that came out of the institution's Strategic Programs and Service Planning Project, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Of 140 full-time programs, 13 will no longer be offered next fall, and another 6 remain on the chopping block. Based on students' and employers' changing demands, dozens more have been identified for growth or cancellation in the future. Algonquin has won praise from regulatory and advisory agencies in Ontario for its handling of the program restructuring project. There were a few bumps along the way. For example, horticulture industry officials opposed the proposed phase-out of the college's horticulture diploma program. Industry officials worked with Algonquin to redesign the program to train computer-literate graduates for the fast-evolving landscape industry, incorporating design, construction, organic gardening, and green roofs. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Nipissing launches new 5-year strategic plan

Last Thursday, Nipissing University's board of governors unanimously approved the institution's new strategic plan, Academic Excellence: The Strategic Plan 2010-2015. The university plans to grow by 50%, launching some new programs that respond to student demand and regional opportunities. Changes will be framed by a modular curriculum, through which students can combine components from different areas of study to best match their interests, aptitudes, and career goals. Nipissing News Release | Read the strategic plan

uWindsor president proposes moving some departments downtown

At a town hall meeting Tuesday, University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman said moving certain university departments downtown could help improve the institution's reputation. Wildeman said he spends much of his days lately with the City of Windsor and the Ontario government, discussing a possible downtown move of the university's music, social work, and visual arts departments.  A move downtown would ultimately boost the university, Wildeman said. He said uWindsor must do more to tell its story, promoting its successes. Windsor Star

AUCC appears before committee studying Bill C-470

Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada president Paul Davidson recently appeared before a House of Commons committee studying Bill C-470, an Act to amend the Income Tax Act. Davidson said the compensation cap of $250,000 per employee could undermine the Canada Excellence Research Chairs program, whose funds are administered by universities. Many of the CERC recipients likely receive over $250,000 in compensation each year, exceeding the cap in Bill C-470. As a result, Davidson said, universities would be forced not to participate in the program in order to avoid the risk of having their charitable status revoked by the minister of national revenue. Davidson also noted the compensation disclosure requirements in the bill may jeopardize the personal safety of university faculty members participating in international development projects. Read the speaking notes

Montreal Gazette editorial supports tuition increases

If Quebec university students want a quality education, they should pay a fairer share of the cost than they are now, states an editorial published in yesterday's Montreal Gazette. Given the underfunding of the province's university sector, university leaders are pressing for a fee increase of 70% over the next 4 years to $3,680, still below the current national undergraduate average of $5,138. The editorial rejects student lobbyists' argument that keeping tuition low favours greater access to university education. If that were so, the editorial states, Quebec would be leading Canada in university enrolment, but university attendance among 18- to 25-year-old Quebecers is the second lowest among Canadian provinces. In addition to raising tuition, the loan and bursary system should be improved. The editorial says private enterprise should step up its contribution to the university system, along with the graduates themselves and the governments that tax them. Montreal Gazette

Canadore joins textbook rental program

Starting in January, students at Canadore College will have the opportunity to save up to 55% off the cost of their textbooks through Follett of Canada's Rent-A-Text program, whose participants include Carleton University, the University of Winnipeg, St. Clair College, and Humber College. Students renting books will maintain many of the same benefits of textbook ownership, such as being able to highlight passages and write notes within margins. The University of Toronto has its own textbook rental program. Canadore News Release

What's wrong with Maclean's University Rankings

In a Web-exclusive article for University Affairs, York University professor Paul Axelrod offers several reasons for questioning the usefulness of Maclean's magazine's annual rankings of Canadian universities. Axelrod argues the magazine's survey "panders to the craving for instant, simplistic and formulaic answers to complex questions." Because students are unlikely to have entirely positive or negative encounters at their university of choice, no institution has a monopoly on one type of academic (and life) experience or the other. Axelrod states the rankings tell readers nothing about an individual university's component academic strengths, or about a school's fit with a student's interests and abilities. While it is legitimate for Maclean's to ask questions about and comment on any aspect of university life, such as class sizes and available scholarships, grading each of the variables and then totalling the scores is a deeply flawed evaluation process, Axelrod writes. University Affairs