Top Ten

July 14, 2011

Sprott-Shaw closing Vernon campus

Due to low enrolment, the Vernon campus of Sprott-Shaw Community College will close its doors this fall after 9 years of operation. The campus currently serves only 20 students and offers courses in the fields of administrative assistant, health care assistant, business administration, community support worker, social services, medical office assistant and legal secretary. With other education options like UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College nearby, the Vernon campus wasn’t able to attract enough students to remain viable. Sprott-Shaw’s campuses in Duncan and Courtney are also slated for closure after the federal government revoked its standing as an authorized institution for student loans.  BC Local News

$16.6M funding for Laurier Brantford YMCA Athletic Complex

On Tuesday, the Ontario government committed $16.6 million in infrastructure funding for the proposed $50-million Laurier Brantford YMCA Postsecondary Athletics Recreation Complex, which is seen as key to growing WLU Brantford to 10,000 students. The new 125,000-square-foot facility will feature a pool, gyms, and fitness centre, and will offer health and wellness programs to students and the broader community. The project is a community partnership involving YMCA, Laurier Brantford, Six Nations, Nipissing University, Mohawk College and the City of Brantford.  Athletic Centre Website  |  Brantford Expositor  |  WLU News  |  Ontario media release

NSERC grants $2.9 million to promote science to youth

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has provided $2.9 million to 58 organizations, including universities, non-governmental organizations, museums and science centres, to promote science and engineering to Canadian youth. Through this funding, the federal government hopes to encourage more young people to explore these areas in order to keep Canada’s economy growing and creating jobs in the future.  NSERC Media Release

Investopedia rates career ROI of top degrees in Canada rated the top fields for starting and mid-career salaries, awarding the top 5 spots to engineering graduates. Petroleum engineering, in particular, took the number one spot, with an average starting salary of just over $90,000 and a mid-career salary of $160,000. Aerospace, chemical, electrical and nuclear engineering occupy the next 4 spots, and biomedical and computer engineering are not far behind. Applied math, physics and economics have starting salaries around $50,000 and mid-career salaries around $100,000. Nursing and Architecture, claims the article, have misleadingly high starting salaries, but little upward mobility (the average mid-career salary for a nurse is $68,200, only $16,000 more than the starting salary).  A 2009 Investopedia article estimated total lifetime earnings by profession: surgeons led the pack with $8,387,570, followed by lawyers at $5,024,750, and physicists at $4,274,040. The estimated lifetime earnings of nurses was just $2,750,590.  Canoe  |  Financial Edge (2009)

Indira Samarasekera says rankings “flawed and misleading”

uAlberta president Indira Samarasekera has long been an outspoken critic of global university rankings, and she has published another opinion piece in InsideHigherEd this week. She summarizes the primary weaknesses of rankings: too many metrics depend on subjective judgements of faculty, employers or students (who have limited experience of other institutions); the impact of humanities and social science research still can’t be accurately measured; faculty-student ratios are a poor proxy for teaching effectiveness; and research published in languages other than English is disregarded by most rankings. She argues that rankings should also consider the other benefits universities bring to local, national and global societies – not least their economic impacts, which are crucial to government funders but disregarded by rankings.  InsideHigherEd

Google launches research institute in Germany

Humboldt University, Berlin's oldest, announced Monday that it is partnering with Google and 3 other Berlin institutions to establish a research institute to “examine the evolution of the internet and its impact on society, science, politics and the economy.” The institute will focus on innovation, internet and media policy, philosophy and constitutional rights. Google has committed $6.41 million for the first 3 years.  Associated Press

18 US states now investigating for-profit colleges

The Attorney General of Kentucky, Jack Conway, reports that he is leading a national bipartisan effort, involving 18 American states, to examine potential abuses of consumer protection legislation and federal student aid by for-profit colleges. He singles out high student loan default rates, overly aggressive recruiting practices, misleading advertising and high student withdrawal rates. He expresses dismay at the advertising and lobbying tactics of the for-profits, particularly against the proposed new “gainful employment” regulations, and he refuses to back down in defending the interests of taxpayers. Last year the US provided $30 billion in student loans and aid; 25% went to for-profit colleges – and those students represent 50% of loan defaults.  Kentucky News-Democrat  |  Campus Progress 

University business models “ripe for shaking”

An op-ed in the July 7 issue of The Economist is critical of universities’ “insatiable appetite for money,” praising Vance Fried’s calculations that a first-class undergrad education could be provided for just $6,700 a year, by separating the funding of research and teaching, increasing class sizes, eliminating small programs, and cutting administrative bloat. There are some signs across the US that colleges are taking the ideas seriously, abolishing tenure, merging academic departments, and making teaching “job one.” Other approaches might include accelerated programs, or open educational resources. Higher education incentives are skewed: “students pay to be taught, but their professors are rewarded almost entirely for research.”  The Economist

UoPeople an altruistic, global initiative

The University of the People, a tuition-free online institution launched in 2009, has many critics, but the model is a godsend for rural students in the developing world. So far, just over 1,000 students have paid an application fee of as little as $10, and a small fee for grading final exams, but otherwise their programs -- in business administration or computer science – are completely free. UoPeople leverages online peer-to-peer collaboration among students, although sticking to text-based asynchronous communication. “For most of humanity, this is the only viable way to get access to higher education.” UoPeople is still seeking US accreditation, but NYU has said it will consider transfer applications from UoPeople students, and leaders at NYU and Columbia have spoken out in support.  Chronicle of Higher Ed

Canadians watching slightly less TV, using computers more

Statistics Canada reports that the number of Canadians watching TV on a regular basis has dropped somewhat, from 77% in 1998 to 73% in 2010. However, of those who do watch TV, their viewing time is just under 3 hours a day, which remains virtually unchanged. Computer usage, in contrast, has increased drastically, jumping from 5% to 24% since 1998, with computer users averaging 83 minutes a day. Likewise, video game use is also up, from 3% in 1998 to 6% in 2010.  Globe and Mail