Top Ten

January 12, 2011

ANSSA offers recommendations for financial assistance reform

Late last month, the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations submitted to the province's education minister its recommendations on improving student assistance. Among the recommendations ANSSA lists in its report are increasing the grant portion of the student assistance package to account for, at minimum, 50% of a student's assessed need, setting a debt cap value that ensures the province's debt cap is the lowest in Canada, increasing the cap on allowable income from scholarships and bursaries, simplifying the student loan application process, and eliminating interest on student loans. In November, the NS government initiated public consultation on how to improve student assistance. A report on the consultation is expected to be delivered to the education minister this month. Read the report

Recruiter says Canada is lagging in recruiting top Indian students

In an interview with Radio Canada International, Mel Broitman, director of the Canadian University Application Centre, cites several factors attributed to Canada's recent success in recruiting Indian students: a greater commitment among institutions to recruit Indian students, financial motivations, government policies to ease visa and permanent residency applications, and reported attacks on Indian students in Australia. Despite this success, Canada falls behind in attracting the best and brightest from India, one reason being, Broitman suggests, that the policy driving Indians to Canada is mostly at the community college level. In order to recruit top students from India, Broitman says, Canada needs to raise its international profile. RCI

NSERC removes food-related research from targeted funding areas

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada has dropped food-related research from its targeted funding areas this year and will instead concentrate on projects relating to the environment, natural resources, informational technologies, and manufacturing. NSERC says many agricultural-related topics still fall within the 4 priorities and that "food-related research, despite not being listed as a target area, continues to be a priority for NSERC funding." The move has frustrated some researchers who say it's another sign that rich nations like Canada are putting less emphasis on food research just when it is needed most. Globe and Mail

Quebec employers prepared to tackle challenge of access to skilled labour force

In a survey conducted for the Quebec Employers Council, most provincial companies are ready to support a number of recommendations aimed at improving job training and access to the job market. Expressing their view on measures that might provide students with quicker access to the labour force, 77% of respondents feel university tuition fees should be adjusted in relation to the actual cost of courses in various disciplines. 88% agree that, should there be a substantial hike in tuition fees, increased financial assistance should be made available to those in need, and a portion of this aid would then be repaid by students in relation to their employment income. Quebec Employers Council News Release

Racial stereotypes affect Latino students' school success, study finds

According to a University of Toronto study, Latino teenagers, whose 40% dropout rate is among the highest in Toronto, say they suffer in school because of racial stereotypes -- held by both classmates and teachers -- that they are poor, lazy, and criminal. In interviews and focus groups, 60 high school students told researchers they did not have the ESL support they needed, and that Spanish-speaking supports were scarce. They listed stereotypes perpetuated by their peers and occasionally teachers, such as an assumption that all Spanish speakers are poor and Mexican. The study's recommendations include that the Toronto District School Board offer a student guide in Spanish, encourage part-time job opportunities that do not interfere with school success, and develop courses in Latin American history and culture. Globe and Mail |

Aboriginal students in Saskatchewan trailing in grades, graduation

The Saskatchewan government's 2010 Education Indicators Report says non-Aboriginal students outperformed self-declared Aboriginal students in all Grade 10 and 11 subjects displayed. Male urban Aboriginal students, for example, had average marks of 55.7% in Grade 10 English A and 54% in Mathematics 10 compared to 68.4% and 68.9% for their non-Aboriginal peers. Among female urban Aboriginal students, those grades were 62.3% and 56.8%, respectively, compared to 76.2% and 73.3% for their non-Aboriginal counterparts. In terms of graduation rates, for the most recent cohort of students who entered Grade 10 in 2007-08, 74.1% had graduated by 2009-10 and 21.6% were still enrolled in school. For Aboriginal students, the comparative figures show only 32.5% had graduated by 2009-10 while 58.1% were still enrolled in school after their typical graduation. Saskatchewan News Release | Saskatoon Star-Phoenix | Read the report

uSask redesigns homepage

The University of Saskatchewan has a new-look homepage, on which visitors can manipulate a large graphic banner, which highlights selected news releases and articles. Above the banner are drop-down menus linking to academic programs, employment opportunities, activities, campus services, and research. The bottom half of the redesigned homepage includes a list of upcoming events, a schedule for Huskies games, and recent Twitter updates. The homepage includes links to uSask's Facebook page, Twitter account, and Wikipedia entry. uSask homepage

Universities coming to see campus traditions as way of standing out

Until recently, many universities did not pay attention to the overall "university experience," nor actively try to foster bonding, says one alumni official at the University of Manitoba. Institutions have now come to see their campus traditions as a way of standing out. "Certain traditions may influence the decision to select one university over another," says an alumni official at the University of Western Ontario. Some traditions are important rites of passage. At St. Francis Xavier University, the X-ring is presented to graduating students in a formal ceremony each year on December 3, the feast day of the institution's namesake. Traditions that do not stand the diversity test are being questioned. Back at StFX, the student union officially opposes the automatic appointment of the local bishop as the university's chancellor. University Affairs

Trend in US colleges using "success coaching" as recruitment strategy

In the US, personalized coaching has also become a front-end enrolment strategy. The University of Dayton provides its "success coaching" service through InsideTrack, whose coaches contact accepted applicants, asking them about their goals and answering questions about what classes they plan to take and services they might need. Dayton provides intensive coaching once the semester begins, and students can continue the service for a fee in the second term. Since adopting the coaching in 2008, Dayton's first-year retention rates have improved. While officials at Chestnut Hill College, which hired InsideTrack last year, hoped the calls would persuade students to enrol, the institution's enrolment management dean says the conversations were also meant to help students determine whether the school would be a good fit. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

New free "global university" focuses on medical education

Organizers of what's being billed as the world's first "free, largest and most accessible high-quality university" aim to create a vehicle by which people in developing countries who do not readily have access to medical education can become physicians. Under a pilot project now being implemented, organizers hope their proposed "Global University" will start offering an online Master's of Public Health and several certificate programs later this year or early in 2012. The certificate programs will be accredited in conjunction with partners such as the University of British Columbia, Stanford University, and the World Health Organization. Pilots will be undertaken in countries such as China, Colombia, and Kenya. CMAJ News |