Top Ten

February 2, 2011

uManitoba carpentry shop management criticized for allowing offensive comments

An arbitrator has rebuked the management of the University of Manitoba's carpentry shop for allowing racism, homophobia, and belittling and disparaging of individuals. In a ruling handed down Monday, the arbitrator concluded that uManitoba "breached its obligation to ensure, so far as reasonably practical, a safe, healthy, and respectful workplace for all employees in the Fort Garry carpentry shop." The arbitrator ordered the institution to write apologies and provide compensation of $1,000 each to several employees. A uManitoba official says a "university investigation determined changes were necessary -- including bringing in a new manager." Winnipeg Free Press

NAIT considers cutting 7 programs

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) administrators are recommending 7 programs be cut from the academic calendar this fall rather than the 13 programs initially proposed for suspension last April. NAIT's board of governors are scheduled to vote next Monday on the matter, then the decision goes to Alberta's advanced education minister for final approval. Some members of industries affected by the proposed cuts are worried that students will have to seek training elsewhere in Alberta or outside the province. Student and staff representatives, who opposed the proposed suspensions last time, are now supportive of the recommendation. The head of NAIT's academic staff association says the decision affects about 20 members, some of whom may transfer to other departments. Edmonton Journal

Increased operating grants, tuition freeze subject of OCUFA's pre-budget submission

In its pre-budget submission to the Ontario government, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations recommends the province invest an extra $300 million a year for 4 years in university operating grants, for a total new investment of $1.2 billion by 2015. OCUFA calls on the province to freeze tuition fees immediately, and to give institutions compensatory funding for lost projected tuition fee revenue. Other recommendations include providing $100 million annually for 4 years in permanent funding for campus facility renewal, and an additional $50 million a year in the Ontario Research Fund specifically for operating transfers in support of basic research. The report states the province should ensure proposals for expanded credit transfer, the Ontario Online Institute, and the plan to recruit foreign students are funded to ensure student success. Read the pre-budget submission

More Ontario university applicants indicating uOttawa as first choice

According to preliminary figures, the number of Ontario secondary students selecting the University of Ottawa as their first admission choice has jumped by 7.5% to 4,860 applicants in 2011. The number of students indicating uOttawa as their second or third choice has increased by 8.8% and 8.3%, respectively. "These results clearly reflect our excellence and increased ability to make our success known to others," says president Allan Rock. Overall, applications from Ontario high school students to uOttawa this year are up nearly 7%. uOttawa News Release

UNB releases new strategic plan

In presenting the University of New Brunswick's new strategic plan to community partners Tuesday evening, president Eddy Campbell outlined some of the institution's goals, which include finding ways to improve the student, staff, and faculty experience; becoming more financially responsible and resilient; and building a better university. Addressing the financial strain that has been felt throughout UNB, Campbell said he thinks "we probably need to have some very serious conversations about doing less with less." Improving support service for students, attracting foreign students, and introducing additional revenue streams will be critical in allowing UNB to pursue new research opportunities and improve academic programming, Campbell said. Daily Gleaner | UNB Strategic Plan

Queen's presents town-and-gown strategic plan to Kingston

Queen's University has presented to Kingston city council a new plan outlining the future direction of university-city relations. The key areas of common concern that emerged from planning sessions are quality of life, community planning, student engagement, and economic development. Working groups in each of these areas will develop priorities and timelines for plans of action, such as engaging and retaining talented students and employees, integrating student and community philanthropic activities, and building an increased awareness for student citizenship. Supporting performance indicators and targets will be used to measure success as the plan progresses. Queen's News Centre

NB students worry proposed 4-year funding model will lead to tuition fee increase

Student unions in New Brunswick are concerned that a planned 4-year funding model will translate into 4 years of tuition fee hikes. While the president of UNB's student union says it's good the province is working with PSE institutions to provide a predictable funding model that will allow universities to better plan and develop, she hopes the government continues to make sure university is affordable and accessible by regulating tuition. Her counterpart at St. Thomas University says the inclusion of a tuition-fee schedule in the 4-year funding model implies that the government is planning to increase tuition fees. With New Brunswick seeking ways to cut costs, it is unlikely a tuition freeze, in place since 2008, will continue, suggests STU president Dennis Cochrane. Daily Gleaner | Telegraph-Journal

Donations to US colleges grew slightly in 2010, survey finds

According to the Council for Aid to Education's annual Voluntary Support of Education Survey, donations to PSE in the US rose 0.5% during the 2010 fiscal year. Adjusted for inflation, giving declined 0.6%. Overall, US universities and colleges raised $28 billion in 2010, the same amount they raised during 2006. Last year's flat giving followed a year in which there was a reported 11.9% drop in donations to higher education, the steepest in the survey's 50-year history. The survey found that the percentage of alumni who donate continued to decline, dropping to a record low of 9.8%. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Sault College, Mike Holmes partner on new home inspection technician program

On Monday, Sault College announced a new partnership with celebrity contractor Mike Homes and the Holmes Group on the institution's new home inspection technician program, the only one of its kind in Ontario. The 2-year program, which will launch this fall, was developed in partnership with the Holmes Group and other advisory groups, and is endorsed by Mike Holmes, who says he is glad to see Sault College create the program. "A program for home inspectors that's fully accredited by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is long overdue," Holmes says. "It's time to start looking at home inspection as a profession, and to start training people in the way to do it right." Sault College News Release

British universities decry proposed curbs on international student numbers

Vice-chancellors at British universities have described the UK government's proposal to curb the number of foreign students as a "hostile act" against their institutions. They warn that changes to the student immigration system would "savagely cut" recruitment, lose at least £1 billion in fees, and jeopardize the future of STEM subjects. Britain's immigration minister insists the impact would be restricted to below-degree courses, particularly those in private continuing education colleges, and that ministers would "do nothing" to prevent overseas students coming to study at "our world-class academic institutions above or below degree level." One vice-chancellor states that 30% to 50% of international students at British universities would be affected by the curbs as they went through "pathway courses," particularly in the English language, in preparation for degree-level courses. The Guardian