Top Ten

April 11, 2011

Langara professors hold back grades over contract talks

Langara College's faculty association is withholding all students' marks for the spring term to protest deadlocked salary negotiations with school administrators. The association's vice-president announced the freeze on students' grades Friday because "bargaining is going nowhere." The grades will be withheld until negotiations improve, she added. Langara's faculty association issued a 72-hour strike notice almost a month ago, but classes continued through March. A Langara spokesman told the Vancouver Sun the institution has a variety of contingency plans to deal with various job actions, but he did not provide details. Vancouver Sun | Canadian Press

VIU faculty strike ends

Vancouver Island University and its faculty association reached a settlement Sunday, ending a month-long strike and allowing classes to resume today. VIU and the association negotiated throughout the weekend, aiming to reach an agreement before the end of Monday, a deadline the institution had set before they start granting students refunds on request. The semester will be completed by April 29, and the summer term is to run as scheduled. Outstanding issues pertaining to budgetary constraints and processes to deal with program closures will be mediated in the weeks ahead. VIU advisory | Globe and Mail | Vancouver Sun

Mount Royal kicks off $250-million fundraising campaign

Yesterday Mount Royal University officially announced the launch of its $250-million fundraising campaign, the most significant in the institution's 100-year history. During the launch, 3 donations were announced, including a $5-million gift from David and Leslie Bissett, bringing the funds raised to date to $141,775,500. The funds raised will be used on 3 student-focused priorities: learning opportunities -- student scholarships and bursaries; learning environment -- establishing 6 Centres of Excellence; and learning spaces -- expanding student research facilities for Science and Health, as well as constructing a new Conservatory and concert hall and a Library and Learning Centre. Mount Royal News

Canadian scholars see downside to globalization efforts

Some concerned scholars in Canada argue that in their pursuit of excellence, most Canadian universities are consciously or unconsciously discriminating against graduates of Canadian PhD programs, while joining other nations to embrace hiring criteria that dissuade young students and scholars from pursuing research topics vital to their own country. In the past year and a half, some Canadian scholars have compiled data suggesting discrimination against homegrown academics is real. One study, for example, showed holders of Canadian doctorates are a minority at 19 of the 21 Canadian departments that offer PhD programs in English. The University of New Brunswick's provost say he suspects that if there is a recruiting bias against Canadian PhDs, it is more likely concentrated in universal disciplines rather than in disciplines with clear, Canadian-specific subfields. There could be less of a problem at smaller universities, the provost speculates, as they are not well known to foreigners and, thus, draw fewer candidates. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

PSE Act part of NDP platform

As outlined in his party's election platform, announced Sunday, NDP leader Jack Layton pledges to make higher education more affordable with a designated $800-million transfer to the provinces and territories to lower tuition fees, as per the party's proposed Post Secondary Education Act. An NDP government would boost funding in the Canada Student Grants Program by $200 million annually, targeting accessibility for Aboriginal students, students with disabilities, and low-income students. The party promises to raise the education tax credit from $4,800 a year to $5,760 a year. As part of its plan to invest in more family doctors and nurses, the NDP states that, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, it would establish programs aimed at recruiting and supporting low-income, rural, and Aboriginal medical students. NDP Platform

Cambrian Learning Account tackles financial barriers to PSE

Cambrian College unveiled Friday its Learning Account, which enables qualified students to earn up to $5,000 toward their tuition by attending certain events and participating in designated activities. The Learning Account was developed to help students who are first-generation learners, of Aboriginal descent, have low incomes, permanent disabilities, or are youth considered at risk of dropping out of school. The goal of the Learning Account is to help eliminate financial barriers in populations who have traditionally had difficulty obtaining higher education because of financial limitations. The program reaches out to students as early as Grades 7 and 8. Cambrian News Release

Concordia UC men's hockey program restored

After learning of Edmonton-based Concordia University College of Alberta's decision to discontinue its men's hockey team, a local businessman decided to step up and assist with a donation of $50,000 for 3 seasons. The hockey program costs $210,000 to operate annually and the institution requires a $100,000 support base -- outside of tuition fees -- to keep the team afloat. Another $50,000 will be raised through alumni and community support. Edmonton Journal | Metro News

Use of "study drugs" rising on Canadian campuses

The National Post reports that evidence is slowly emerging that the idea of using ADHD medication for non-medical "cognitive enhancement" is becoming entrenched on Canadian campuses. A University of Toronto psychiatrist estimates that at least one in 4 of his university-aged ADHD patients admit to giving away some of their medication to friends for such purposes. Actual data on the extent of the practice are still hard to come by, but a recent random survey of 400 McGill University students suggested 5.4% had taken one of the "study drugs" for cognitive enhancement at least once, though fewer had done so recently. The phenomenon raises a number of issues, from the drugs' rare but potentially serious side effects to the question of whether taking them as study boosters amounts to cheating or "academic doping." National Post

uCalgary considers rules for electronics in class

A University of Calgary committee is looking at whether there should be rules to control the use of devices such as computers and mobile phones in class. Officials struck the committee following complaints from both professors and students that texting, tweeting, and checking Facebook during class have gotten out of hand. Having canvassed instructors, students, and administrators, the committee hopes to have a report ready by June. CBC

UBC releases student lip dub

The University of British Columbia is the latest Canadian institution whose students have filmed a lip dub. Shot in late March and released on Friday, the 10-minute lip dub begins with a parody of the popular "Smell like a man, man" Old Spice commercial ("If you stop concerning yourself with lady-scented schools and start thinking about UBC Vancouver, your school could smell like she's me"), and features Pink's "Raise a Glass" and Marianas Trench's "Celebrity Status." Since being posted on YouTube Friday, the video has received more than 400,000 hits. Every hit the video receives results in donations to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Vancouver Province | UBC LipDub website