Top Ten

March 16, 2011

UCAN criticized over communication about degree division closure

A pair of University Canada West students is crying foul after the BC-based private institution shut down its degree operations in Victoria just days after the students paid for classes. One student told the CBC there was never any hint about the degree division closing; the other feels "it's just totally unethical to sign up people for a two-year degree and not follow up." The CBC reports that UCAN made the announcement one day after the withdrawal deadline. A spokesman for Eminata Group, which owns UCAN, says funds paid to the institution for Victoria courses this term will be credited back to students' loans, but the students will not be refunded for courses already completed. An NDP MLA, whose constituency office is near UCAN's Victoria campus, told the CBC he heard complaints even before the degree division closure was announced. CBC

Former UWO political scientist alleges being blacklisted over criticism of Harper government

Canadian political scientist Peter Langille believes his criticism of the Conservative government led the University of Western Ontario to drop his courses and land him on a blacklist. The dean of UWO's social science faculty told the Toronto Star that Langille, who was neither a tenure track nor a full-time professor, was dropped due to budget problems and low enrolment. Langille disputes the comment on enrolment, insisting that his classes were always full. Langille is the fourth academic -- following a pair of University of Ottawa professors and a University of Windsor political scientist -- to recount an experience of so-called "academic chill" at Canadian universities under the Harper government. Toronto Star

uWindsor student paper criticized over "disgraceful" spoof issue

A spoof issue of The Lance, the University of Windsor's student newspaper, landed paper staff in hot water after the university received complaints from the public about "extremely offensive" comments regarding international students that were attributed to president Alan Wildeman. In response to the spoof issue, Wildeman states that "as outrageous at it is, this issue could be perceived as fact, a prospect that is damaging to the university's reputation, and more seriously, is damaging to racialized and international students, staff, faculty and our community." After getting word of Wildeman's response, Lance staff removed the spoof issue from the paper's website and issued a public apology, saying "it was never our intention to offend anybody in the UWindsor community and we feel terrible about this situation." Windsor Star | Lance website

More sinister messages sent to uWaterloo e-mail accounts

More sinister e-mails have been sent to University of Waterloo accounts, despite the best efforts of campus and local police to catch the perpetrator. The latest is an e-mailed photo of what appears to be the nuclear facilities in Japan, with a picture of Marie Curie. Sent from an anonymous Gmail account, the e-mailed images are the latest in a series featuring Curie, who is portrayed as a symbol of why women should not have power. Anti-female actions last month left many women at uWaterloo feeling vulnerable and targeted, resulting in a criminal investigation. Waterloo Region Record

McGill responds to penalty over MBA fees

McGill University says it is "perplexed and disappointed" with the Quebec government's response to the university's move to a self-funded MBA program. The institution states the province's action to fine McGill for raising fees for the program "puts an arbitrary, elective and unprecedented exercise of authority of government as a priority over demonstrated quality and program performance." McGill points out that moving to the self-funded tuition model is saving Quebec taxpayers about $1.2 million annually. With the program offering an average of $12,000 per student in financial aid, McGill says it has demonstrated that it can provide a world-class MBA program without limiting accessibility, and without it being subsidized by undergraduate students. McGill News Release

Canadian business schools reaping benefits of accreditation

The moment the University of Victoria's Peter B. Gustavson School of Business got accreditation from the Association to Advanced Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a process that took 20-odd steps, "we began getting inquiries from universities around the world wanting to partner with us," says the school's dean. The vice-dean of the University of Alberta's business school, which was the first in Canada to receive AACSB accreditation, notes the re-evaluation process forces schools to continually self-reflect. For the dean of Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Business, the most important benefit in pursuing AACSB accreditation has been collecting data about the school, which now knows itself better than it ever has. The dean says he has recruited higher quality faculty than he would have been able to if the school were not seeking the accreditation. Globe and Mail

Alternative Federal Budget promotes affordable higher education

Produced by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and its member organizations, the 2011 Alternative Federal Budget would create a post-secondary act accompanied by a dedicated cash transfer with funding allocated to immediately restore per-capita funding to 1992 levels; reduce tuition fees to 1992 levels over 3 years; and eliminate deferred maintenance at Canadian post-secondary schools over 5 years. The alternative budget also proposes increasing funding for access to education for Aboriginal learners, and doubles the number of Canada Graduate Scholarships. CFS News Release | Alternative Federal Budget 2011

Brazilian government expands Canadian colleges' education project for women

Canadian college representatives are being honoured this week for their contributions to an education project for Brazilian women. Some dozen Brazilian technological institutes partnered with Niagara College, George Brown College, Collège Montmorency, Red River College, Cégep Régional de Lanaudière, Collège de la Gaspésie et des îles, New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, and Cégep Marie-Victorin to create a process to accept women with limited formal education into vocational programs. Earlier this month, Brazilian representatives travelled to Mozambique to share their experience with government officials and post-secondary educators who are interested in replicating this project in Africa. ACCC News Release

People-centred science will draw more women to discipline, says SFU dean

In an op-ed piece published in Tuesday's Vancouver Sun, Claire Cupples, dean of science at Simon Fraser University, writes that the young women in her research lab and science lectures who express disinterest in a career in science believe the field does not offer them the opportunity to work with people. The image of a solitary scientist is no longer accurate, says Cupples -- university scientists are particularly fortunate to have the opportunity to meet and mentor thousands of students over their careers. She suspects it is the culture of science -- the research priority, intense competition, and level of self-promotion -- that makes the field unappealing to many women. "The culture of university science is changing as teaching, a people-centred activity, regains some of its status," which may result in more women building careers in the field, Cupples writes. Vancouver Sun

College admissions process not overly complex, says US report

According to a College Board survey of students and parents on the college admissions process, on a score of 1 to 10, with 1 being "very clear" and 10 being "very confusing," parents and students both gave median scores of 3 for knowing how admissions decisions are made. Overall, the report states, "applying to college appears to be a clear and simple process for most students, regardless of their income level, geographic location, or first-generation status." Some have expressed concerns about the report -- one college counsellor says it is "contrary to common sense," and the executive director of CollegeTracks says it "doesn't square with what we're seeing." The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Inside Higher Ed | Read the report