Top Ten

May 9, 2011

Assault raises more questions about security measures at York U

An attack in broad daylight at York University Thursday is raising new questions about security measures at the campus. According to police, the assault on a 20-year-old student was captured on surveillance cameras, but it is unclear whether security staff were monitoring them. A 30-year-old man has been arrested and sexual assault charges have been laid. York U students, faculty, and staff are still coming to terms with the case of an international student who was killed last month. Following the student's death the university increased security patrols on the Keele campus. The York Federation of Students argues that the institution has not done enough to increase security off campus, where many students reside in an area known as The Village. Globe and Mail

The changing value of the BA

Once a distinction that opened doors to myriad options and rewarding jobs, the bachelor of arts has come to the point where even many of those who complete one view it as a stepping stone to the degree they really need. There is concern that not enough of BA graduates excel at the core skills of a liberal arts education, leaving students feeling compelled to pursue graduate, professional, or college credentials to prove their worth. While it has never been all about employability, the BA's goal of broadening and challenging young minds has been affected by large and impersonal lecture-style classes, with little access to busy faculty members. Some call for increased government funding to better offset rising enrolment; others suggest universities need to better communicate expectations before students arrive, and should offer more career counselling. Whatever the solution, the BA must change in order to restore its currency. Globe and Mail

South campus ideal location for advanced tech institution, says uAlberta president

One of the initiatives outlined in Shaping Alberta's Future is the establishment of an Alberta Institute of Advanced Technology, for which University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera believes the university's south campus would make an ideal home. She says the site's abundance of undeveloped land, access to the LRT, and proximity to uAlberta's research centres make it a good location to host an institute dedicated to creating new products, processes, services, and companies. Samarasekera says the Alberta government could look at dividing the institute into a couple of "nodes" so both Edmonton and Calgary benefit. Edmonton Journal

Global element in education recommended in report on Alberta's future

In the report Shaping Alberta's Future, the Premier's Council for Economic Strategy recommends making it a priority to build students' global perspective, strengthening learning about the world and the province's place in it in the K-12 curriculum. The report also suggests making it mandatory for PSE students to earn credits with a "global" designation -- whether these be courses taken at their home institution or semesters studying/working abroad. Other educational initiatives include promoting the importance of continuing to learn through life and removing obstacles to pursuing formal and informal learning at any age and stage. This includes making it as easy as possible to move between the university and college systems, and to re-enter the system as an adult. Alberta News Release | Read the report

Yukon education department releases strategic plan

Yukon's department of education has developed a new 5-year strategic plan, among whose objectives is to increase access to high-quality PSE. The department will work toward a more transparent and effective process regarding student financial assistance, and review Yukon Grant criteria. A Yukon College exit survey will be developed to confirm employment outcomes from students who have attended and/or graduated from the institution, and the data will be used to help determine which programs the college will continue to offer. Another objective is to increase access to high-quality adult training opportunities. The department will implement strategies and funding opportunities to boost access to programs for women seeking to enter non-traditional trades programming and work. Read the strategic plan

Mount Allison releases preliminary design of proposed Fine and Performing Arts Centre

Preliminary drawings for Mount Allison University's proposed Fine and Performing Arts Centre are now available for viewing. The preliminary design includes a facade fashioned from the traditional Mount Allison rose-coloured stone, while also featuring an "echo" of the former University Centre/Memorial Library. The project website includes images, descriptions, a virtual tour, and a feedback form. Mount Allison News | Project website

US colleges boost efforts to recruit gay students

The population of openly gay college applicants in the US is becoming more visible, and institutions are stepping up efforts to recruit them. One measure of schools' outreach is the growth of dedicated fairs. Campus Pride, a national advocacy group, held its first college fair in 2007; this year, 6 such events are taking place nationwide. Some institutions are trying to identify gay applicants to contact directly. Last year University of Pennsylvania staff began scanning applications for references to sexual orientation and tagging some "LGBT," to contact those applicants if they are admitted. The list of tagged applicants goes to the university's LGBT Centre, whose director pairs prospective and current students, encouraging peer advisers to offer quick congratulations and introductions in e-mails. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Britain launches campaign to drum up university applications

Yesterday the British government launched a high-profile public information campaign to persuade young people to apply for university for 2012-13 entry, despite the tripling of the tuition fee cap for English universities. The campaign will deliver the message that students will not face any upfront costs for tuition fees, which will be £9,000 at many institutions. In recent months ministers have been criticized for not communicating to potential students how the new system will work, and there has been concern that many young people will put off applying to university as a result. The campaign will focus on explaining that students will have to contribute toward the cost of their studies only after they graduate and are making at least £21,000 a year. Times Higher Education | Campaign website

Foreign companies in India could help fund, run IIITs

A Human Resources Development ministry panel recommends allowing multinational corporations operating in India to help fund and manage 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology. Under the plan, the industry consortium would contribute 15% of the funding required for the institutes. The India government would provide half of the funds, while state governments would contribute 35%. Private partners would occupy a quarter of the seats on the board of governors. Hindustan Times

Queen's scientists develop interactive paper computer

Researchers at the Queen's University Human Media Lab are among the developers of the world's first interactive paper computer. The smartphone prototype, called PaperPhone, is described as a flexible iPhone -- it does everything a smartphone does, but its display consists of a 9.5 cm diagonal thin film flexible E Ink display, whose form makes it much more portable than any current mobile computer. The developers will unveil the paper computer at a conference in Vancouver this week. The group will also demonstrate a thinfilm wristband computer called Snaplet. Queen's News Centre