Top Ten

February 22, 2011

UCAN to end university operations in Victoria

CBC Radio's "On The Island" reported Monday that BC-based University Canada West will phase out the university component at its Victoria campus. In an interview with the program's host, the vice-president of Eminata Group, which owns UCAN, acknowledged that the degree division in Victoria has been struggling with no more than 2 dozen students enrolled, while much of the growth is occurring at the Vancouver campus, which has nearly 500 students. The VP said the private institution is meeting with every single student to support them in completing their program. Faculty at the Victoria campus have the option to transfer to Vancouver or to UCAN's online program. Eminata will continue non-degree programs in Victoria under the name of University Canada West Academies. On The Island podcast (mp3 file)

Concordia to strike independent panel to review university governance

Concordia University's board of governors and senate have agreed to work with interim president Fred Lowy in striking an external review committee to investigate the way the institution is run. Since president Judith Woodsworth's departure late last year, dozens of Concordia departments and their chairs have passed motions expressing non-confidence in the board. Some faculty have called for the resignation of some or all board members, as well as greater transparency about how the board made its decisions. The panel will have at least 3 members, likely a former president from another institution, an expert in non-profit governance, and a professor. By keeping the panel small, Lowy hopes it will be able to work quickly and effectively to recommend, but not impose, solutions. Globe and Mail | Montreal Gazette

Royal Roads partners with private PSE to recruit, teach international students

Royal Roads University is partnering with Study Group, an Australian-based for-profit education company, to expand its program of international education. Under the partnership, highly qualified foreign students will prepare for entry into Royal Roads' degree completion program. Study Group will develop an academic preparation program and provide the first 2 years of selected undergraduate programming, which will allow students to complete undergraduate or graduate degrees at Royal Roads. The campus will house an International Study Centre to help students adapt to Royal Roads' approach to integrated and applied learning. The Victoria-based institution has set a 5-year goal to boost enrolments by 35%, which will include an additional 1,000 students on campus in full-time residency by 2016. Royal Roads News Release

Med schools "bad-mouthing" family medicine, study finds

New research from the University of Calgary concludes that "bad-mouthing (family medicine) appears to be a part of the medical education environment, and reducing the prevailing negativity might contribute to an increased number of students willing to consider careers in primary care." The study's lead author says students have often stated on feedback forms that professors made "inappropriate" comments about family medicine. Part of the problem, he and others note, is that many of the instructors in med schools are specialists. uCalgary struck a task force after the proportion of students choosing family medicine dropped to 18% in 2008 from 32% in 2005. The figures have rebounded to about 30%, but the med school believes it must produce as many family doctors as specialists to meet demand. One initiative at uCalgary is mandatory job-shadowing of family physicians. National Post

UNBSJ institute receives $5-million gift

Philanthropist Wallace McCain announced Monday that he is donating $5 million to the institute at the University of New Brunswick's Saint John campus that bears his name. An advanced studies curriculum for entrepreneurs, the Wallace McCain Institute was established in 2006 with a $2-million donation. Envisioned as a bridge between established entrepreneurs and younger talents with new ideas, the institute offers one-year programs with business icons as mentors. Times & Transcript

Aboriginal student enrolment booming at Algonquin College

Algonquin College has seen a 5-fold increase in enrolment among Aboriginal students in recent years. The college has nearly 1,500 First Nations, Inuit, and M├ętis students, up from 300 three years ago. Algonquin has been making a concerted effort to target the young and growing demographic -- its outreach includes an Aboriginal liaison co-ordinator and support for individuals coming from rural and northern communities. An instructor in Aboriginal studies at Algonquin says the attitude toward education has changed amongst Aboriginal people, with more families expecting more than just a high school diploma. CBC

Chronicle profiles Canada's efforts to reverse brain drain

In an age of intensifying worldwide competition for the best and brightest, Canada "is on a roll," recruiting research stars and fostering young Canadian and foreign scholars and postdoctoral students, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. The evolution of Canada's research investment strategy dates back to 1997, when the federal government launched the Canada Foundation for Innovation as an independent agency to finance research infrastructure. Other initiatives followed, including, most recently, the Canada Excellence Research Chairs. The effort is gaining attention outside Canada's borders -- the president of the Association of American Universities says Canada's investment strategy has put the country "in a position to be competitive internationally for people, which is exactly what it was intended to do. The places that are losing those people are quite concerned." Still, some university leaders warn that Canada must do more to stay competitive for global talent. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

MUN distance ed unit launches video portal

Memorial University's Distance Education and Learning Technologies (DELT) unit has created its own YouTube-style portal called onAIR, which has 3 channels -- Discover DELT, Student Focus, and Teaching and Technology. Discover DELT focuses on the work done within the unit, from online education to video production to teaching support. The Student Focus channel highlights and profiles the faces of distance ed students at MUN. Teaching and Technology features some of the projects DELT has produced in partnership with various schools and faculties within MUN, as well as some external community and heritage-focused partners. MUN News Release | onAIR

$10-million grant program designed to enhance state efforts to boost college completion

Complete College America has announced a $10-million competitive grant program to encourage more states to increase college-completion rates. The non-profit organization is inviting governments from all 50 states to submit proposals to win one of ten $1-million, 18-month implementation grants. The organization will award grants to states that incorporate key policies it considers essential for real and lasting impact, such as shifting state support of PSE from a system based on student enrolment to one based on performance, reducing the time it takes for students to complete their degrees, and transforming remedial education. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the grant program. Completion Innovation Challenge | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

uToronto students create academic social network

A group of University of Toronto students have developed a social networking platform they believe will save time and prevent aggravation among students. Metro Toronto reports that uBuddy is the first academic social networking platform to allow students to effectively facilitate note-sharing, meetings, and course discussions online. uBuddy has hit 1,000 registered users since its official launch earlier this month. Currently, uBuddy is available exclusively to uToronto students, but its creators plan on opening the platform to other campuses. Metro Toronto | uBuddy