Top Ten

March 4, 2011

Ottawa commits $20 million to Pathways to Education initiative

The federal government announced Friday a $20-million investment over 4 years in Pathways to Education Canada, allowing the organization to expand across the country, helping thousands of additional youth in low-income communities access the support they need to attain academic success. The funding will support Pathways in going forward with its Graduation Nation initiative, a 5-year plan to make Canada a country in which all youth have the opportunity to graduate from high school and transition to PSE or training. Pathways to Education Canada News Release

Libyan students in Canada will receive financial support

Despite a freeze on Libya's financial assets, the federal government says Libyan scholarship students in Canada will not be left penniless. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon "has instructed officials to ensure that these students have access to funds to complete their studies," says a ministry spokeswoman. On behalf of the Canadian Bureau of International Education, which manages the Libyan scholarship program in Canada and the US, University of Regina president Vianne Timmons was in Ottawa last week to ask the government to exclude scholarships from its economic sanctions against Libya. Ottawa Citizen | CBIE News Release

CREPUQ outlines priorities for Quebec's next budget

In its budget-related propositions to the Quebec government, the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities calls for tuition fees to be adjusted to the equivalent of their real 1968-69 value, which could be achieved by increasing fees by $500 a year for 3 years, starting in 2012-13. CREPUQ states all socio-economic players must come together to support the province's university system, through government subsidies, tuition fees, and philanthropic means. A CREPUQ study released in December reported that Quebec's university sector is underfunded by $620 million compared to universities in the rest of Canada. CREPUQ News Release | Pre-budget submission (in French)

Are student engagement surveys reliable?

In examining this question in the Ontario context, new research from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario recommends that provincial PSE institutions continue to participate in these surveys, and that the provincial government continue to use them as part of the PSE system's accountability framework. The research concludes that the US-developed NSSE and CCSSE are generally valid and reliable tools in the Canadian context, and student engagement measures may help predict learning outcomes. The research says schools should not use engagement survey results for competitive positioning, but focus instead on individual institutional findings to identify areas for quality improvement based on their own missions and goals. Research Summary | NSSE National Data Project Report | @ Issue Paper No. 5

AUCC, NAAF release report on Aboriginal PSE summit

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation have prepared a report on the views and recommendations of the participants of last fall's National Working Summit on Aboriginal Postsecondary Education. One of the 3 breakout groups the summit ran recommended that the federal government consider commissioning the Canadian Council of the Academies to conduct a comprehensive study and analysis of the state of Aboriginal higher education in Canada. Summit participants welcomed NAAF's goal of establishing a virtual Aboriginal Achievement Institute, which would shape a series of pilot projects designed to improve high school graduation rates. Read the report

Effort at Queen's to raise awareness of Aboriginal scholarships pays off

The total value of financial awards distributed to Aboriginal students at Queen's University nearly doubled this academic year compared to last year, and 76% more Aboriginal students received an award. This is thanks to a joint effort by the university's Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre (FDASC) and Student Awards Office to inform Aboriginal students about available awards, bursaries, and scholarships. The FDASC held an extensive campaign to reach these students, including letters, e-mails, social media messages, information at various events, and direct contact with program directors and coordinators. Next year's Aboriginal student recruitment video will include information about bursaries. Queen's News Centre

uWaterloo sets co-op record

The University of Waterloo's co-op department reports that more co-op students are working this winter semester than ever before in the history of the institution -- 5,517 of them, including 2,389 students from engineering alone. At the same time, there are 239 students who sought co-op positions and did not get them, so the final rate of students employed or "not participating" this term is 95.9%, down slightly from 96.5% in winter 2010. uWaterloo operates the largest PSE co-operative program of its kind in the world. uWaterloo Daily Bulletin

Brock takes on taunt in new recruitment video

Last month, Brock University released a new undergraduate recruitment video titled "If you can," one of whose key points is to show the absurdity of the taunt "if you can walk and talk, you can go to Brock." The video begins and ends with a student stating "you know how the saying goes" -- the saying goes, for example, "if you can handle small classrooms with nowhere to hide," "if you can handle the spotlight without wilting," and "if you can bring both sides of your brain to the table," the latter referencing Brock's advertising campaign. The video received more than 8,000 hits on YouTube within the first 72 hours of being uploaded onto the site. Brock News | Watch the video on YouTube

UK considers widening pool of degree-granting bodies

With the cap on English university tuition fees rising to £9,000 in 2012, British ministers have been searching for ways to reduce the number of institutions setting fees near or at the upper limit. Speaking at a Universities UK conference last month, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said the government would like to keep fees down by encouraging greater competition, permitting "organisations to offer external degrees without necessarily teaching themselves -- BTEC (vocational qualifications) degrees are on their way." He suggested the combination of local colleges, regional employers, and granting bodies "could be an important embodiment of the Big Society (a government agenda to put more power in people's hands)," and that some further education colleges could offer degrees "at less than £6,000." Times Higher Education

What nightmares plague admissions officials?

Chronicle of Higher Education reporter Eric Hoover wondered about this while working on an article about the "exam dream" that haunts college presidents, professors, and graduates. On The Chronicle's "Head Count" blog, Hoover shares accounts from admissions deans about their anxiety dreams. One dean has woken up fretting about what would happen if his university were to see either a 0% or 100% "yield" on admissions offers -- both outcomes are terrifying. During her days of giving campus tours, one woman with nearly 30 years' experience in admissions dreamt about walking backward into a campus pond, and later on had a recurring nightmare about losing a canvas bag stuffed with application files. If you've had any admissions-related nightmares, please share them with us by adding a comment below. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)