Top Ten

February 7, 2011

Trend in ban on campus pro-life clubs sparks controversy

Carleton University’s student association has joined its counterparts at campuses across Canada in banning pro-life clubs, prompting national debate about free speech. This decision followed the public display of graphic posters by members of Carleton Lifeline, the school’s pro-life club. Advocates for the ban claim that it’s the provocative literature and tactics used to spread the message that are being targeted in the ban, not the groups themselves. Prior to this decision, the University of Calgary threatened to expel several Campus Pro-Life club members after an incident last spring. Here, a compromise was reached where the student union and group members agreed to hold pro-life events inside classrooms, respecting uCalgary’s wishes. School officials worry that denying pro-life groups a voice will set an alarming precedent for future debates. Canadian Press

High-tech sector in NB facing skills shortage

New Brunswick's IT sector is running into problems recruiting skilled workers. The New Brunswick Information Technology Council is arguing that it is up to the province, the private sector, and educational institutions to address the issue of jobs going unfilled because of a lack of skilled workers. The council's CEO says the long-term solution is to make the technology industry an attractive career option to high school students. Another option is to search for individuals who are under-represented in the sector, such as women and Aboriginal people. According to the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, women represent roughly 60% of those enrolled at New Brunswick universities, but make up fewer than 20% of those registered in computer science, engineering, and math programs. CBC

New-student enrolment for winter semester up 14% at Niagara College

Niagara College is reporting an increase of nearly 14% in first-year enrolment for the winter 2011 term. Final numbers show 854 students began their studies last month, compared to 750 in January 2010. Overall, when combined with apprenticeship and ESL programs, total enrolment now exceeds 9,000 students. "With impressive new facilities and a growing reputation for student satisfaction and success, Niagara College continues to be a top choice for students who are seeking career success," says president Dan Patterson. Niagara College News Release

UNBSU outlines priorities for New Brunswick's next budget

On Friday, the University of New Brunswick Student Union (UNBSU) released its pre-budget submission to New Brunswick's PSE department. UNBSU recommends a tuition freeze that is fully funded at 4%, along with a framework that would maintain the cost of education throughout a student's degree. The document also calls for a 4% increase to the operating budgets of provincial universities. UNBSU suggests redirecting funds used for the tuition rebate to up-front grants to help under-represented students access and complete their education. UNBSU News | Read the pre-budget submission

CFS makes recommendations for copyright reform

In a submission to Parliament last week regarding Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, the Canadian Federation of Students' recommendations focus on ensuring students, teachers, and other members of the PSE community have fair access to copyrighted works and that the bill supports innovative and creative educational practices. The document recommends the proposed expansion of the right to fair dealing to include education be adopted. The submission also proposes a number of amendments be made to the digital locks provisions to stop Canadians from being criminalized for their legal uses of copyrighted works. CFS News Release | Read the submission

StFX students criticize administration over lack of communication on policy changes

Several hundred St. Francis Xavier University students marched on campus Friday to protest what they said was a lack of communication by administration on new policy, which includes changes to the student-run campus police department and the campus e-mail service. In these cases, students feel StFX "failed to consult the students about their new plans." Another issue is the possibility that same-sex residences could become co-ed on May 1. That could be a problem for those students who do not want to live in a co-ed residence because they have already committed to living in the same-sex dorms, but could face a $400 penalty if they withdraw because the residences went co-ed. A StFX VP acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the dorms might create a difficult decision for some students, but added that students still have the option of living on campus, just not in a same-sex residence. Halifax Chronicle-Herald

New book designed to guide Canadian undergrads throughout their education

Erin Millar, former national editor for Canadian University Press and founding editor of Maclean's OnCampus, and her husband Ben Coli have published The Canadian Campus Companion, designed to guide an undergraduate student throughout his or her degree. The book features information on areas such as choosing an institution, residence life, costs and budgeting, beating the campus blues, and what to do after graduation. Millar says there are similar guides written in an American context, but nothing that gives Canadian-specific information. Millar hopes students find the book useful. "It's always tough writing for this group," she says. "You want to be smart and funny and hip, but you don't want to be condescending or seem pandering." University Affairs | The Canadian Campus Companion

Alberta-North, eCampusAlberta consider amalgamation

The executive directors of Alberta-North and eCampusAlberta, 2 of Alberta's leading organizations in the distance/online education field, have received a mandate from their board of directors to create a plan that explores an integration of the organizations that could bring increased efficiencies and a greater focus on bringing excellence to online and distributed learning in the province. Should a strong case for an amalgamation be made, "it could result in a more streamlined entity that has potential to provide comprehensive services to members, learners and communities across Alberta," says Don Gnatiuk, president of Grande Prairie Regional College and chair of Alberta-North's board of directors. Alberta-North/eCampusAlberta News Release

MUN distance ed unit runs video contest on technology in education

Memorial University's Distance Education and Learning Technologies (DELT) unit is inviting students to submit their ideas for a 3-5 minute movie demonstrating the role technology plays in their current educational experience, and how they see technology fitting into education in the future. The top 5 written entries will go on to participate in a Dragon's Den-style live pitch session, during which students will tell an all-star celebrity panel why their idea should be produced. The top student will receive an iPad and paid summer internship in the DELT studio where he or she will work with a mentor to create their video. The top 5 finalists and the panellists will be revealed in March. MUN News Release | pITch@Memorial video contest

Apple considers iPad pen to increase device use in education

In an effort to make the iPad more appealing to students, Apple Inc. may be developing a stylus pen to accompany the device. Currently, the iPad is designed to be used with a finger or 2, which would make note-taking or drawing very difficult. Accompanying the iPad with a stylus would make these actions possible, therefore increasing the utility of the iPad in education, and making the device useful for both reading and creating. A second version of the iPad is expected to be revealed this spring. Inside Higher Ed | New York Times