Top Ten

April 27, 2011

uManitoba faculty union opposes proposed Confucius Institute for university

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association's (UMFA) president says the union is strongly opposed to a proposed deal that could bring the Confucius Institute to uManitoba to teach non-credit language, history, and culture courses. An Asian studies professor says the Institute could be used to watch Chinese students, who are the largest group of foreign students on campus. He says the Chinese government could threaten to cut off the university's access to Chinese students if it does not sign a deal with the Confucius Institute. UMFA's president says the union objects primarily to the possibility of the institution bringing a private teaching group onto campus, as it did with Navitas, a for-profit education firm. A uManitoba official says it is premature to discuss a deal that has not even been put on the table and which would have to be reviewed by university administrators before going through the senate. Winnipeg Free Press

Trades training reductions anticipated at Okanagan College

In a new release announcing its 2011-12 budget, Okanagan College states that trades training will likely see some reductions in the coming year, as the institution responds to a 5% reduction in the BC Industry Training Authority's (ITA) funding to institutions. The effects of the funding cut will be mitigated as reductions come in trades programs that have had low application and enrolment rates in recent years. Okanagan College will reduce the number of intakes in other programs in response to lower demand for those particular areas of trades training. "With these reductions, we're still anticipating that Okanagan College will be able to meet student demand for trades training," says the college's board chair. A number of non-ITA funded programs will be offered in the coming year, and the ITA is still considering funding applications for 2 new programs. Okanagan College News Release

Mount Royal breaks ground for new Conservatory

Mount Royal University held a sod-turning ceremony Tuesday for its new $73-million Bella Concert Hall and Conservatory. Slated to open in fall 2013, the new venue will provide the university and Calgary with a state-of-the-art performing arts venue and arts educational hub. The 750-seat concert hall will feature a stage large enough to fit a 100-piece orchestra and nearly 100 singers. The Conservatory will include 79 teaching studios, 9 of which are earmarked for Early Childhood programs. The project's financing includes a combined $50-million investment from all 3 levels of government, $3-million worth of land from Mount Royal, and a $20-million gift from the Taylor family, whose matriarch Marybell Taylor is the concert hall's namesake. Calgary Herald

StFX board reviews bishop's automatic role as university chancellor

St. Francis Xavier University's board of governors is examining the 156-year tradition that sees the Bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish automatically named as the institution's chancellor. At a meeting earlier this month, the board formed a committee to review its bylaws "with specific attention paid to reviewing the role of and process for selection of chancellor." The move comes in response to a student campaign to have the chancellorship opened up to other individuals beside the bishop. A founder of the student movement is not satisfied with the review, which a StFX spokeswoman says would take a year. The movement is calling for more immediate action, and hints at the possibility of filing a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. Chronicle Herald

NSCC acting president gets permanent appointment

Nova Scotia Community College's board of governors announced yesterday the appointment of Don Bureaux as the institution's fourth president, effective immediately. Bureaux had been acting president of NSCC since last May, following the retirement of Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair. Before joining NSCC in 2004, Bureaux was a lecturer at Acadia University's F.C. Manning School of Business. Prior to serving as acting president, Bureaux held several senior administrative positions at NSCC, including vice-president academic. NSCC News Release

$1-million gift to Lethbridge College supports trades-and-technology building

The Lethbridge and District Auto Dealers Association and its 14 member dealers announced yesterday a $1-million donation to Lethbridge College toward the construction of the institution's new trades-and-technology building, part of the college's campus development plan. The facility will benefit future students through its ability to integrate principles of sustainability, flexible program delivery and learning formats, optimal utilization of space, and cross-program interaction. Prior to its 2-year suspension, Alberta's Access to the Future Fund was able to match a portion of the donated funds. Lethbridge College News

CFS grades federal parties on their PSE platforms

Yesterday the Canadian Federation of Students released its 2011 Political Party Report Card, which graded the 5 top federal parties in the following 6 categories: national vision and funding of PSE; student debt; Aboriginal PSE; research and innovation; data collection; and copyright reform. The NDP and Liberals received an "A" and a "B," respectively, for their priorities reflecting the CFS' call for a national vision for higher education and for their strategies to address student debt. The student organization gave an "F" to the Conservative Party, which the CFS says offers no national vision for PSE, offers no strategy to reduce student debt, and has made tracking of PSE and other statistics difficult by eliminating the mandatory long-form census. The Bloc Québécois received an "incomplete" due its position on higher education responsibilities, and the Green Party also got an "incomplete" as its platform provides insufficient information to be graded. CFS News Release | 2011 Political Party Report Card

Confederation College first Canadian institution to use Inigral's "Schools App for Facebook"

Confederation College is the first Canadian post-secondary school to join forces with Inigral Inc. (with whom Academica Group has formed a strategic research partnership) and the company's "Schools App for Facebook," which converts students' online social activity and data into a compelling and secure online community, improving student recruitment and retention. Earlier this month, Confederation sent invitations to those with a current offer of admission to add the Schools App. In less than a few days, more than 200 students accepted the invitation and are now actively engaged in the online community. Returning Confederation students will be added in the late summer. In exchange for participation on Inigral's Innovation Board, other applications currently in development will also be available. Confederation College News

Nipissing studies use of smartphones in education settings

Nipissing University researchers are conducting a multi-phase study in which 14 teaching candidates taking a technology option course used BlackBerry smartphones in their education course. In the study's first phase, student-teachers received training and explored teaching/learning applications of the smartphone. In the second phase, participants will use the Blackberrys in real-life teaching scenarios as part of the practicum requirements. One of the researchers says the participating student-teachers have already identified a number of possible advantages to using Blackberrys in their classrooms, such as keeping students up to date with due dates, schedules, and other assignments. Nipissing News Release

Majority of senior English university students would have balked at £9,000 fee, survey finds

In a survey of over 12,500 final-year undergraduate students at 24 English universities, some 51% of respondents said they would have been put off pursuing a degree if they had faced the maximum tuition fee level of £9,000, while a third said they would not have gone to university if fees had been set at £6,000. According to the survey, students who attended state schools were much more likely to be put off attending university by high tuition fees than students who were privately educated. Other groups found to be at a significant risk of being dissuaded from pursuing a degree on grounds of cost include female students, those with 3 "B" grades or less at A level, those studying languages or arts and humanities subjects, and those from Northern England. Times Higher Education