Top Ten

March 31, 2011

"Painful" budget exercises at Manitoba universities

Brandon University has achieved a balanced budget by cutting what started as a $5-million shortfall on a budget that will be about $43 million when it goes to the university's board of governors in May. Budget-balancing measures included taking $690,000 out of Brandon U's contingency fund and the executive taking a 13.4% budget cut. The university is conducting a review of all programs on campus, which could lead to some being dropped in fall 2012 unless finances improve, warns president Deborah Poff. Brandon U's faculty union says the situation is nowhere near as dire as the president describes. Meanwhile, the University of Manitoba's draft budget calls for a $17.5-million shortfall, unless provincial operating grants increase by 5.6% and the government allows tuition fees to rise by 5%. The University of Winnipeg has said it must find $3 million in its operating budget to cover pension contribution shortfalls. Winnipeg Free Press

Quebec medical residency programs accused of discriminating against foreign-trained MDs

Quebec's francophone medical schools and hospitals continue to discriminate foreign-trained MDs, routinely expelling many from residency programs without justification, charges the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations. The centre's executive director claims a disproportionately high number of foreign-trained medical residents receive negative evaluations from supervising physicians. A Moroccan-born orthopedic surgeon who was recently expelled from the Université de Montréal's medical residency program contends that as many as half of all foreign-trained medical residents fail their evaluations compared to fewer than 1% of Quebec-trained residents. He says this is especially puzzling, since all the foreign doctors had passed their qualifying exams in Quebec. Montreal Gazette

NS to introduce student-loan debt cap program

In its throne speech yesterday, the Nova Scotia government announced post-secondary students will soon learn about a new program that will cap the debt load they face when they graduate. The province states that by capping tuition fee increases, it will keep the average tuition below the Canadian average, making Nova Scotia a more affordable choice for students and their families. Over the past decade, the cost of publicly supporting universities has grown by 73%, a trend that can no longer continue, the province states, adding that it will work with universities to strengthen them, strategically and affordably. The throne speech also mentions a $500,000 investment to improve the apprenticeship system. NS Speech from the Throne | Canadian Press

Ignatieff hints at education-aid plan for veterans

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is hinting his party will promise to introduce a funding program to help send Canadian Forces veterans to college or university. In a town-hall meeting in Winnipeg Wednesday, Ignatieff suggested Canada should have a program like the GI Bill in the US, which has helped pay for vocational or university training for over 7 million American veterans. The initiative is expected to be part of the Liberal campaign platform to be released next week. Earlier this week, Ignatieff said a Liberal government would earmark $1 billion annually in student financial assistance. Toronto Star

StatsCan paper examines long-term earnings impact of PSE following job loss

According to a new Statistics Canada study, over a period spanning 5 years preceding and 9 years following job loss, workers who attended PSE shortly following job displacement saw their earnings increase by nearly $7,000 more than displaced workers who did not. Significant benefits are found by sex, marital status, union coverage, and age, with the exception of men between the ages of 35 and 44. Despite the apparent benefits of education, job displacement is found to be associated with just a modest increase in higher education attendance for all groups examined. The study used the Longitudinal Worker File, an administrative database representing 10% of Canadian workers that allows displaced workers and PSE attendance to be identified. Read the paper

What Ontario college and university presidents are earning

According to the Ontario government's Public Sector Salary Disclosure list, former University of Waterloo president David Johnston, who is now Canada's Governor General, was the highest-paid university president in the province last year with a salary of $1,041,880. Humber College president John Davies received the highest salary of Ontario college presidents in 2010, earning $403,406. In testing the public sector's spin to justify the big salaries, a cheeky Academic Matters article observes that Ontario universities are paying more than twice as much as they did in 1996 -- the first year of salary disclosure -- to recruit from the same pool of candidates. Public Sector Salary Disclosure 2011: Universities (Algoma U to uOttawa) | Public Sector Salary Disclosure 2011: Universities (U of St. Michael's College to York U) | Public Sector Salary Disclosure 2011: Colleges | Canadian Press | Academic Matters

More high school students applying to UPEI

As of March 29, the University of Prince Edward Island had received 4.3% more applications from Canadian secondary students, and 7% more applications from Island high school students, compared to the same date last year. UPEI reports that 33% more high school students from Ontario have applied to study at the institution as compared with last year. "With the rise in applications, especially from PEI and Ontario, we are focusing recruitment and conversion efforts to continue this trend into future years for UPEI," says the university's vice-president academic. UPEI News Release

UWO plans new residence

In response to the Ontario government's pledge to add 60,000 post-secondary seats by 2015-16, the University of Western Ontario plans to add upwards of 1,000 residence beds, allowing the institution to keep its promise of a residence spot for every first-year student. Still in the conceptual stage, the new residence would provide beds to mostly first-year students, but also offer space to upper-year and international students. Tentative plans would see a 4- or 5-storey building, whose style will be in keeping with the "collegiate Gothic" style of other buildings on campus. London Free Press

BC Aboriginal students continue to lag in academics, report finds

Aboriginal students in BC continue to trail their non-Aboriginal peers in all subject areas, with little improvement in the past 5 years, according to a new report from the Fraser Institute. The report observes that on average, Aboriginal students are twice as likely as non-Aboriginal students to receive a failing grade on a provincial exam, or not graduate on time. The report ranks 52 BC elementary and 63 high schools based on 6 key indicators of Aboriginal student performance, such as average exam results in multiple subject areas and transition and graduation rates. Fraser Institute News Release | Report Card on Aboriginal Education in British Columbia 2011

ACCC unveils election website

The Association of Canadian Community College has launched a site pertaining to the upcoming federal election that outlines the association's 5-point plan for federal action: initiate a national dialogue on increasing Canada's PSE participation rate; increase transfers to provinces and territories for college education; invest in applied research undertaken by colleges with private sector partners; invest in higher education for Aboriginal learners; and market colleges abroad and increase offshore learning opportunities for Canadian students. The website includes links to articles on post-secondary issues related to the election, information on parties' stance on PSE, and ACCC's pre-budget brief calling for a national dialogue on Canada's demographic and advanc ed skills crisis. ACCC News Release | ACCC Election 2011 website