Top Ten

April 5, 2011

NS commits nearly $43 million to make PSE more affordable

As outlined in the Nova Scotia government's 2011 budget, tabled yesterday, the province will invest $42.5 million to make higher education more affordable. The government states it will keep tuition below the Canadian average by earmarking $30 million in student bursaries to replace the expired Nova Scotia University Bursary Trust, a move that will continue to provide a tuition reduction of $1,283 for Nova Scotia students studying in the province. The government is also introducing the province's first student-loan debt cap. Students will see up to a 35% reduction in total debt under the new $28,560 maximum debt cap. Nova Scotia will increase the loan-to-grant ratio from 20% to 30%, so students accessing provincial loans will now receive up to $612 annually in additional grants. The government will increase the in-study earnings exemption on student loans from $50 to $100 a week, and increase the amount allowed for book purchases from $1,000 to $1,500. Budget Speech

Student protesters who interrupt Carleton board meetings could face penalties

Carleton University president Roseann O'Reilly Runte says student protesters who block board of governors members from attending meetings could face fines or be barred from campus. In an e-mail to members of the university community, sent in response to a protest last week that forced the board to cancel its meeting, Runte states that in the future, people preventing access or refusing to follow guidelines set by campus security will be charged under the institution's student code with a non-academic offence. Penalties may include suspension of privileges, such as access to campus, a monetary fine, or loss of academic status. "It is not the privilege of any group to threaten to stop the work of the university," Runte says. Ottawa Citizen

Mohawk College to work on "clear vision" for future in Brantford

Mohawk College representatives plan to meet with the City of Brantford, Nipissing University, Wilfrid Laurier University, and local school boards over the next few months to develop a "clear vision" for the future of Mohawk's programming in Brantford's core. Mohawk president Rob MacIsaac has said the Elgin Street location in Brantford is unsuitable for a college campus. Last September, the city rejected Mohawk's proposal to move its campus to the former Expositor building, deeming the $13.5-million price tag too steep. The institution is looking at a range of options, such as moving its programs to the Hamilton and Stoney Creek campuses, as well as the possibility of growing its presence in downtown Brantford. In the meantime, the college is guaranteeing students who start a program at the Brantford campus in September will finish their year there. Brantford Expositor

$5-million gift to uCalgary funds new Centre on Aging

A $5-million donation from the Brenda Strafford Foundation will support a new Centre on Aging at the University of Calgary. The Brenda Strafford Centre on Aging will promote the quality of life and quantity of years for senior citizens through coordinated research, teaching, and community outreach. To date, Dr. Barrie I. Strafford, the foundation's chair, has contributed over $8.5 million to uCalgary, with gifts supporting aging-related research in the university's faculties of kinesiology, medicine, nursing, and social work. uCalgary News

QS releases inaugural subject rankings

Yesterday marked the release of the first-ever QS World University Rankings by Subject -- Engineering & Technology Rankings, the first in a series of rankings based on universities' subjects. Under Computer Science & Information Systems, the Canadian universities among the top 50 are uToronto (10), McGill (23), UBC (26), and uWaterloo (36). For Civil & Structural Engineering, the Canadian institutions in the top 50 are uToronto (20), McGill (33), UBC (37), and uWaterloo (41). uToronto (14), McGill (15), and UBC (46) are in the top 50 in Chemical Engineering. Under Electrical Engineering, the Canadian universities in the top 50 are uToronto (13), UBC (30), McGill (31), and uWaterloo (46). For Mechanical, Aeronautical & Manufacturing, uToronto (31) and McGill (34) rank among the top 50 institutions. 2011 QS World University Rankings by Subject -- Engineering & Technology

Toronto program pays Latino high school students to study peers

A group of 20 Toronto secondary students from Spanish-speaking families are part of a pilot project aimed at tackling the dropout rate among the city's Latino teens, who are said to quit partly because they discouraged by negative stereotypes, according to a recent study. The students, some of whom are at risk of dropping out, are taking a Grade 12 course every Saturday from February until June -- for which they receive $25 each week -- to design a research project into the links between immigration, happiness, and why so many of their peers drop out. The students get paid from the University of Toronto's education faculty, which runs the course with the Toronto District School Board.

uToronto redesigns alumni website

The University of Toronto recently redeveloped its alumni website, among whose features is a series of video portraits of more than 20 distinguished alumni, who share how the institution helped shape their personalities, develop their interests, and lead them on the path to rewarding careers. The site includes an RSS feed of alumni news, links to alumni-related social media accounts, and articles from U of T Magazine. uToronto alumni website

College Board affected by online security breach

The College Board, the company behind the SAT and advanced placement exams, is among dozen of high-profile companies whose customers' e-mail addresses may have been exposed due to a security breach at Epsilon, the world's largest distributor of permission-based e-mail. The College Board says Epsilon informed the company that first and last names and e-mail addresses of certain College Board customers were among those exposed by the breach. Epsilon does not store sensitive information such as Social Security numbers or credit card data, so none of this information was at risk. The College Board has posted a checklist on its site to help individuals identify fraudulent e-mails. Vancouver Sun | College Board website

US study finds significant "summer melt" among low-income students

New research from Harvard University observes significant "summer melt" -- students who commit to enrol at a given institution but then don't do so -- among low-income students, especially those planning to enrol in community college. Among the possible implications of the paper's findings is that high school counsellors need to stay in touch with low-income students over the summer, to watch for signs of melt so that intervention is possible. The researchers also suggest using social networking as a means to stay in touch with these students and help them deal with last-minute obstacles to enrolment. Inside Higher Ed

US report marks progress on improving graduate education

Yesterday the US-based Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) released a progress report on the steps universities, government agencies, and industry organizations have taken in response to the council's 2010 white paper, "The Path Forward," which warned that the US risks losing its eminence in doctoral education. To learn more about specific outcomes and impacts from the paper, CGS conducted a survey of its member institutions, and the results fell into 5 broad categories: influencing critical decision processes; changing priorities; creating new communication channels; shaping evaluation metrics; and introducing new programs. CGS notes that several recent policy initiatives reflect the relevance and impact of the paper, such as the American Competes Reauthorization Act of 2010, which will support several new programs meant to improve doctoral education in the sciences. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Read the progress report