Top Ten

March 21, 2011

Saskatchewan auditor to investigate failed CTRC, St. Peter's College merger

Saskatchewan's acting provincial auditor will investigate claims of possible financial irregularities that have been raised in connection to the now-defunct proposal to merge Carlton Trail Regional College and St. Peter's College. Meanwhile, the province's Opposition NDP says the governing Saskatchewan Party must provide answers about what it knew and what it allowed to take place as the amalgamation proposal gained momentum. According to documents leaked to the media, concerns about problematic financial and accounting practices were raised to both institutions' boards a month before the formal application to merge was submitted to the province in June 2010. The province released yesterday responses from both schools' boards on the steps they took, after receiving a memo dated May 10, 2010, regarding allegations of financial and accounting irregularities. The report on the proposed merger is now available online. Saskatchewan News Release | Saskatoon Star-Phoenix | Read the report

uAlberta approves $4.9-million shortfall

On Friday, the University of Alberta's board of governors approved a $4.9-million budget shortfall, the second year in a row the university's finances have been in the red. This year's estimated deficit is substantially lower than last year's estimate of $14.8 million, which was reduced to $4.2 million by year's end. uAlberta's provost says it is unclear if the institution will need to lay off employees this year, and he does not expect furloughs to continue this year. Edmonton Journal

McGill MBA students respond to penalty over program fees

In response to the $2-million fine the Quebec government imposed on McGill University for adopting a self-funded model for its MBA program, the university's MBA Student Association says it feels the penalty will affect the institution and all of its programs unfairly in response to a move that has been voluntarily taken by students to pay the increased fees. The association says it opposes any actions taken that may hinder McGill's attempts to make its MBA program one of the best in the world. In a recent survey of McGill MBA students, 70% of respondents said the program is at a reasonable or below reasonable price. Two-thirds of those surveyed believe the program's cost should either be frozen at current rates or increased in the future. McGill MBA Student Association News Release

Academic Matters reflects on Danny Williams' PSE legacy

When former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams swept into office in 2003, he could have easily put post-secondary initiatives introduced by his predecessors on auto pilot, but he didn't, write Keith Dunne and Nick Falvo in an article for Academic Matters, published by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. The Williams government continued the tuition fee freeze, introduced a generous needs-based grant system, and eliminated the interest on provincial student loans. Dunne and Falvo state the positive impacts of the progressive policies of successive governments in NL are beginning to bear fruit -- enrolment is increasing, student debt is decreasing, and fewer students and families are relying on the student aid system. The Williams experience shows government investment in making PSE more affordable can yield tangible results, and substantially increasing funding for higher education can be politically popular. Academic Matters

Majority of Ontario voters polled want PSE to be a high priority

According to a new poll, nearly three-quarters of Ontarians want colleges and universities to be a high priority for the provincial government. Respondents are more worried about the affordability of Ontario's higher education system than unemployment, reducing taxes, or crime. Two-thirds of respondents -- and close to 90% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 -- believe tuition fees are too high. The results indicate that parents of PSE students are more critical of the McGuinty government's performance in improving the quality of the PSE sector than the population at large. Parents of secondary school students are the most skeptical of the government's record, indicating anxiety over the future educational prospects of their children. OCUFA News Release | Poll Results

Algonquin to offer program for "gap year" students

This fall, Algonquin College is introducing a one-year program called Global Studies (GAP Year), described as "offering recent high school graduates the chance to gain life skills and enjoy new experiences that lead to a better understanding of the world." The program involves 15 courses, 2 of which are good for University of Ottawa credits, a canoe trip, a winter-camping trip, community work in Ottawa, and a community-service trip to Kenya. Among the courses in the program, which will accept just 30 students, are "Strategies for Post-secondary Success," "The Art of Public Speaking" and "Introduction to Multimedia Applications." Because the program's students will be the only ones taking these courses, organizers can condense them into 3- to 6-week sessions so students can go on trips without missing class. Ottawa Citizen | Global Studies (GAP Year)

Lambton to revive women's basketball, suspend women's volleyball

After a 20-year hiatus, varsity women's basketball is returning to Lambton College, the Sarnia-based institution announced Friday. The team will begin Ontario College Athletic Association intercollegiate play this fall. The college also announced its women's volleyball program will be suspended following the end of the 2010-11 season. Lambton News Release

New services allow Ontario students to pay for notes from missed classes

Since launching last fall across Ontario, the student-run "note-sharing services" NoteWagon and StudyMonkey have drawn tens of thousands of hits each month across 16 campuses, and each have about 5,00 members who have signed up to post notes or purchase someone else's. The sites' young creators defend their services as online versions of what previous generations of classmates have done, and both websites carry disclaimers that they do not "condone cheating or missing class." Still, some university officials warn that such sites cannot help but encourage laziness and offer another method for today's tech-addicted youth to download their way out of experiencing real life.

York U TA apologizes for posting criticisms of students on Facebook

A sociology teaching assistant at York University has apologized for posting disparaging remarks about students on her Facebook profile. While a social science TA at York U says the comments were "disrespectful and not cool at all," he doesn't think the sociology TA, who remains in her position, should be scapegoated and singled out. "It's a much wider and more systemic problem of respect on campus, and in many ways it just reflects the same attitude and comments many tenured faculty and senior administrators encourage." The comments are "not characteristic" of the sociology department, says the department's chair. The incident is still under investigation by York U. Toronto Star

UCLA student who made anti-Asian video withdraws from institution

A UCLA student who made a controversial video in which she complained about Asian students' behaviour and crudely mimicked Asian languages announced Friday she would no longer attend the institution due to death threats against her and "being ostracized from an entire community." The student also apologized for what she said was her mistake in creating the video and offending Asians. Earlier Friday, UCLA said the student would not be disciplined for the video, which, while offensive, did not violate the university's student code of conduct. Los Angeles Times | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Inside Higher Ed