Top Ten

April 8, 2011

Queen's community reflects on student deaths

In just over a year, Queen's University has lost 6 of its students, at least 2 to suicide, touching off soul-searching among students and professors, and prompting administration to acknowledge that something must be done. "I don't think we've been nearly open enough about it and talk about it," says Queen's principal Daniel Woolf. "If there's anything good to come out of this, it will be to put mental health at the forefront and take it out of the shadows." Thursday saw a student-led response to the deaths called "Queen's Loves U," which grew out of a Facebook page created by a third-year student. The event featured tables where people could write open letters to the Queen's community. Some students argue the university must put more resources into mental-health programs; Queen's, however, says it is improving. Administrators are reviewing front-line services to make them more efficient, and are considering giving graduate TAs mental-health training so they can identify students who may need help and refer them to counsellors. The Alma Mater Society has seen a surge this year in demand for its peer support services, and is looking at assigning counsellors to residences. Globe and Mail | Queen's News Centre | Principal's Blog | Video Message to the Queen's Community

US campus counselling centres seeing more students with severe psychological problems

According to an annual report by the US-based Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, 77% of survey respondents said the number of students with severe psychological problems had increased on their campuses in the last year, up from 71% who said the same in the 2008-09 school year. The survey's coordinator says the increase did not necessarily mean that students' problems had become more severe in a one-year period -- it was more likely that directors were beginning to acknowledge a continuing rise in severity over the past several years. Anxiety surpassed depression as the top student complaint this year for the first time since the association's inaugural survey, conducted in 2006. About 40% of students came to counselling centres for anxiety, while depression accounted for 38% of the counselling caseload in 2009-10. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

uToronto students rally against Munk gift

On Thursday, approximately 100 University of Toronto students and a handful of faculty members staged a noisy demonstration to protest a gift from philanthropist Peter Munk they worry could lead to corporate influence in university research. The students and professors were joined briefly by American intellectual Noam Chomsky, who had been speaking on campus about the growing privatization of universities. Demonstrators were opposing Munk's $35-million donation last year for a new school of global affairs, which they alleged is tainted by claims that Munk's global gold mining operations are guilty of pollution and human rights violations. uToronto president David Naylor has said that all donors sign an agreement that bars them from shaping academic policies or curriculum.

Student aid, skills training subject of Conservative platform

Prime Minister Stephen Harper released Friday his "Here for Canada" Conservative policy platform, which focuses on 5 key priorities, one of which is job creation. Under this priority, the Conservatives pledge to support students in their education by enhancing the Canada Student Loans Program for part-time students, double the work exemptions for Canada Student Loans, and support research partnerships between university and college researchers and students. As mentioned last week, the Conservative Party would provide loans for recent immigrants to help pay for skills training and accreditation. Other pledges, as outlined in the defeated budget, include establishing 30 Industrial Research Chairs at colleges and polytechnics, establishing 10 additional Canada Excellence Research Chairs, and promoting enrolment in post-secondary science, technology, engineering, and math. Conservative News Release | Conservative Platform

Saskatchewan releases review of regional colleges

Saskatchewan's advanced education minister announced Thursday he has received the final report of the 2010 Regional College Review. The province's Regional Colleges Act requires a review of Saskatchewan's regional college system at least once every 5 years. The report makes 20 recommendations, including the need for a cohesive and coordinated regional college system, the need for quality assurance procedures, improved board governance, and a modernization of the Act. The province's regional college system, in which there are 7 institutions, is accessed by over 24,000 students each year. Saskatchewan News Release | Read the report

Keyano takes another look at proposed cuts to music programs

Keyano College's board of governors is taking a second look at the proposed program cuts affecting the Alberta-based institution's Music and Music Instrument Repair programs following concerns raised by the community over the matter. The board has asked Kevin Nagel, Keyano's new president, to see if funding can either be reallocated from other areas or raised externally to support these programs. Nagel says the college hopes the public interest shown in support of the programs will translate into higher applications and admissions this September. Keyano News

Confirmations rise at Mohawk College

Mohawk College reports that the number of students who have confirmed they will be attending the institution in September has risen by 7% compared to the same time last year. Overall, student confirmations at Ontario's 24 public colleges are up by 4.5% over this time last year. Mohawk College News

Enrolment up in SFU early learning, special education programs

Despite a well-publicized shortage of available teaching positions in BC, enrolment in Simon Fraser University's 12-month teacher-training program reflects just a small decrease in enrolments, from 544 students in 2009 to 527 in 2010. Enrolment has surged, though, in 2 post-baccalaureate diploma programs: Early Learning and Special Education. Enrolment in Early Learning has risen from 9 students in summer 2008 to 31 this summer. Special Education enrolment has increased from 39 students in summer 2008 to 59 this summer. SFU News

Georgian College receives $1.5-million donation

Georgian College has become the first college in Ontario to secure a $1-million endowed chair following a $1.5-million gift to the institution from Henry Bernick, an entrepreneur and Barrie's first land developer. Bernick made the donation, which includes $500,000 to create the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre, with a goal of supporting entrepreneurship education and fostering innovation in his hometown. The centre is slated to open in January. Georgian College News

Concordia study sees benefits in "reflective writing" in science courses

In a study on scientific teaching, in which he followed 15 college and universities students over the course of a term, the principal of Concordia University's Science College asked students to practise "reflective writing," a process in which they digest and analyze assigned readings before classroom discussions and write down their thoughts. Asked to describe how the practice helped their comprehension of course content, students felt they had to put the material into their own words, which helped them to understand and refine key concepts. "Students are often looking for basics to pass courses, but that doesn't engage them," says the principal. "Unless they come to class prepared to ask questions, students end up serving time." Improving science education is the only way Canada can stay at the forefront of the knowledge-based economy, the principal notes. Concordia News