Top Ten

February 16, 2011

BC maintains PSE funding at nearly $2 billion

According to the BC government's 2011 budget, announced Tuesday, the province is allocating $1.88 billion to post-secondary schools, a slight increase from the $1.876 billion earmarked in the 2010 budget. This year's budget is drawing criticism from student and faculty groups. The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC warns the province's "'status quo' budget extends a gradual degradation of the quality of education and constrains BC's ability to compete in the knowledge economy." The BC chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students notes that the budget shows the province's student aid budget has shrunken by almost 20% since 2009. "Slowly starving post-secondary institutions and drowning students in debt will hamper the province's economic strength and productivity," says the chapter's chairperson. BC News Release | BC 2011 Budget and Fiscal Plan | CUFA BC News Release | CFS-BC News Release

CAUT to revise investigations of Christian institutions

The Canadian Association of University Teachers plans to alter how it investigates Christian post-secondary institutions over allegations that professors are required to sign statements of faith. CAUT executive director James Turk says the association will no longer send a team of investigators to uncover what the targeted schools say was readily available on their websites and in their academic catalogues. "In hindsight we started out using our elaborate investigative procedures because we wanted to be fair to the institutions," says Turk. "We didn't want to say the schools were doing something inappropriate without checking it out carefully." By taking months to investigate and then releasing a lengthy report on their findings, CAUT created an air of doubt about the institutions that resulted in some parents and donors wondering if there was a problem, says the president of Christian Higher Education Canada. National Post

Moncton Flight College put into receivership

Moncton Flight College was put into receivership Monday over an unpaid loan. Last January, New Brunswick's business department provided the college with a $1.5-million repayable loan. A department spokesperson says no payment has been made on that loan to date. All staff have been retained and classes continue at the college as attempts are made to address the financial situation. CANLink Aviation, which operates the college's Fredericton campus, is in talks with the receiver to assume operations in Moncton by week's end and then negotiate a purchase and sale agreement. New Brunswick Business Journal | CBC

Continuing-education enrolment booming at universities

Mid-career and mature professionals hitting the books again are fuelling a boom in adult education that goes well beyond colleges, reports Maclean's OnCampus. At Ryerson University's G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, enrolment has risen by 49% since 2001. Continuing-education enrolment at the University of Ottawa nearly doubled between 2000 and 2009, growing 28% this school year alone. While many Canadian universities have been offering continuing education courses for decades, the recent sharp rates of growth reflect a conscious effort to boost those programs. In the last 4 years, the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies has created a new visual identity and a new brand-awareness effort. In November, we reported on the Chang School's latest advertising campaign, which features QR code technology. Maclean's OnCampus

uWaterloo Stratford releases designs for campus

Preliminary design sketches for the University of Waterloo's Stratford campus show a modern, 3-storey brick-and-glass facility, whose front face will be dominated by a massive wall of windows. A key design feature is a towering digital media wall that will run nearly the entire height of the building. Inside, the facility will feature a number of classrooms, project rooms, and collaboration spaces, with a fairly open-concept design to foster an easy flow and exchange of ideas. Construction of the campus is expected to be completed by July 2012. uWaterloo Stratford News Release | Stratford Beacon-Herald

Apprenticeships could close immigrant wage gap in Canada

A soon-to-be-published study has figured out one method of closing the income gap between immigrants and Canadians: encourage apprenticeships. According to the paper, first-generation male immigrants who have completed an apprenticeship earn, on average, almost 20% more per week than those immigrants with just a high school education. Among second-generation males, those who have done an apprenticeship typically earn over 15% more per week than their peers with just a high school education. Apprenticeships are not yet common among newcomers. The researchers suggest the drop in the supply of immigrants who have apprenticeships might be due to the shift in the composition of immigrants arriving in Canada. The researchers say governments should do more to encourage apprenticeships, or select immigrants who have had vocational training. Globe and Mail

Ottawa increases contribution to Royal Roads' Learning and Innovation Centre

The federal government is pledging another $2 million to complete construction of Royal Roads University's Learning and Innovation Centre (LIC). Construction of the facility began last year and is expected to be completed this spring. The Gold LEED certified project was funded through a $15-million contribution from the BC government, and a $3-million investment from Ottawa, which now comes to $5 million with this additional investment from the Knowledge Infrastructure Program. The centre "will provide students with more choices in career-oriented degrees," says BC's science and universities minister. The LIC is purpose-built for Royal Roads' approach to collaborative learning, combining short-term residencies with online course work for the growing domestic and international market. Royal Roads News Release

Queen's, Aboriginal communities discuss future of Aboriginal education at university

Members from diverse Aboriginal communities and Queen's University representatives met for a day-long session last week focusing on finding ways to create a university environment that is responsive to the learning needs of all Aboriginal students. Some of the discussion focused on initiatives to support and foster the 4 directions of Aboriginal learning: mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical. The ideas discussed included reinstating the elders at Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, establishing a separate Aboriginal graduation ceremony in addition to regular convocation, and creating a Web portal for Aboriginal students at Queen's. Queen's News Centre

Traditional language programs declining steadily in the US

According to a new analysis, undergraduate majors in the Romance languages and German offered in the US have been declining steadily since the early 1970s. From 1970-71 to 2005-06, the proportion of 4-year colleges offering Romance-language majors dropped from 76% to 59%. In the same time period, the proportion of colleges offering majors in German fell from 44% to 27%. The figures do not cover the effects of the recent market downturn. The last year, for example, has seen proposals to cut certain European-language majors at a number of US institutions. The reduction in many traditional language programs is troubling to some humanities advocates. One professor fears that proponents of foreign-language education have focused too much on the purported career benefits of bilingualism -- a line of defence that misses some of the most important values in language education. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

E-mails reveal Arizona college was on alert for suspect in US congresswoman shooting

A week before Jared Loughner allegedly wounded US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in a deadly shooting spree, the Tucson-based college that kicked him out was on alert that he might return. A series of e-mails from December show Pima Community College police planned to distribute Loughner's picture to staff members and instruct night officers to watch out for him. Loughner is charged in federal court with attempting to kill Giffords and 2 of her staffers in the January 8 shooting spree, in which 6 people were killed and 13 wounded. He was forced out of Pima 3 months earlier after college officials said he was acting bizarre in class. According to a statement from Pima, Loughner "had five contacts with PCC police for classroom and library disruptions." Associated Press