Top Ten

August 11, 2011

Portage College receives land donation to house training centre

A couple from the Boyle, Alberta area has donated 10 acres of land to Portage College, based in Lac La Biche, to serve as the new site for the institution’s Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) Training Centre. Portage College has been working with industry, provincial and federal governments, and local businesses to design and construct the first HEO training centre of its kind in western Canada. So far $1.3 million has been directed to this project. Portage College News Release

Lambton College aiming to build wind turbine

A small wind turbine may become a fixture at Lambton College if Ontario’s environment ministry approves the college’s latest renewable energy project. The Sarnia-based college is proposing a 10-kilowatt, low-wind speed structure to be built near its sustainable Smart Home, which opened in June. Pending government approval, which could take up to 6 months, the turbine could be in place as early as next April. Sarnia Observer

UBC opts out of Access Copyright contract

The University of British Columbia is joining many universities across the country by ending its long-standing contract with Access Copyright, a non-profit organization that allows students and teachers to legally copy protected works. In March 2010 Access Copyright sought approval for a new $45-per-full-time-student fee and access to the premises of client institutions – including to secure networks – to help monitor copying activity. UBC balked at Access Copyright’s demands and decided to end its contract at the end of the month. According to an e-mail UBC’s provost sent to the university community, the increased fees would have cost the institution an extra $1.35 million each school year. Vancouver Sun

Durham College launches new website

On Wednesday Durham College unveiled its new-look website, which features an increased emphasis on program pages and a new program search function, integrated multimedia, a 3-clicks-to-anywhere philosophy, and is mobile-friendly. Durham College made use of Academica Group’s “Inception Phase Process,” where our digital division worked with the college to design a new user-interface, validated those interfaces with its audience, and designed a new information architecture. Durham College website

Students most in need of assistance programs not using them, HEQCO report finds

A new paper from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario observes that the students most in need of student assistance programs are not taking advantage of them. Despite efforts by institutions and staff to ensure students are aware of the programs and services offered, in many cases very few students know about them, according to the report, which recommends that institutions make support services as easily accessible as possible by placing them in one central location and offering students concise, simple information as early as possible. However, even when students were made sufficiently aware of assistance programs, research observes that those most likely to pursue additional academic help already often have reasonable grade averages and were generally not the most at risk of failing. The report recommends that colleges and universities should consider making certain support programs mandatory or have faculty members help promote their benefits to students. Research Summary | Complete Publication

Difficult changes needed to improve graduation rates, say US state officials

At the annual policy conference of the State Higher Education Executive Officers this week, one panel discussion focused on the following questions: Who should pay for college and how should institutions spend their money? One panelist says much more money could be saved by eliminating administrative redundancies, and adds that degree production could be improved by ensuring that students are not taking unnecessary courses. One approach more states are considering is “performance funding” – giving colleges funding based on the number of students who graduate rather than the number who enroll. Improving the graduation rate will mean little if colleges cannot ensure the quality of their degrees, says the deputy director of postsecondary improvement for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Lawsuits against 3 US law schools challenge veracity of job placement rates

A New York City law firm has filed class actions against New York Law School and Thomas M. Cooley Law School, claiming the job placement information they released to prospective students was sufficiently inaccurate as to constitute fraud. The lawsuits follow a similar one launched against Thomas Jefferson School of Law. The suits allege the law schools mix together different types of employment (including jobs for which a JD is not needed) to inflate employment rates. All 3 law schools deny the allegations, and Cooley has filed a defamation suit against the lawyers suing it. The legal action comes amid broader debate over whether the American Bar Association and others are doing enough to encourage the release of accurate information, and whether there are too many laws schools for the current labour market. Inside Higher Ed

Study examines trauma-related stress in students after Virginia Tech shooting

According to a survey of more than 4,600 Virginia Tech students – about 20% of the school’s student population – approximately 15% of respondents reported experiencing high levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms several months following the 2007 campus shooting. Nearly two-thirds reported having high levels of stress after not being able to confirm their friends’ safety after the shooting, and 14% said they should have been or might have been at Norris Hall, where the gunman killed 30 people. 9% of respondents reported having a close friend killed, while 64% said they had a friend or acquaintance killed and 79% said they knew of the death of “someone distant.” Virginia Tech was locked down for several hours last week after a report of someone with a gun. A gunman was never found. Associated Press

Leaked e-mail urges UK school to go easy on postgrad applicants

The head of the University of Birmingham’s School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion e-mailed academics asking them to be “VERY generous” when assessing postgraduate applications, warning them that they “simply cannot afford to be very choosy.” In the e-mail, seen by Times Higher Education, the head warns that Birmingham’s College of Arts and Law, of which her school is part, faces a financial penalty of “getting on for £1 million” from the institution for under-recruitment. Calling the e-mail “unfortunate and ill-considered,” the chair of the UK Council for Graduate Education notes the rising competition and concerns that postgraduate recruitment could be affected by the increase in undergraduate fees mean that universities are desperate to maintain their “market share.” Times Higher Education

New US research finds generational divides in mobile device use

According to a new US study, generations are dividing in regard to mobile device preferences, with older consumers favouring tablets and e-readers and younger users adopting smartphones at rapid rates. The research observed that Gen Xers are 16% more likely to have a tablet than average, baby boomers are 19% more likely to own an e-reader, and Millennials are 28% more likely to have a smartphone. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, Millennials and the younger end of Generation X own more smartphones that those older than 35. eMarketer