Top Ten

August 19, 2011

McGill, Quebec strike deal on redefined self-funded MBA program

McGill University can continue to charge tuition fees for its MBA program that are 9 times higher than the Quebec limit following a deal reached with the provincial government, which had fined McGill $2 million for breaking government rules when the university introduced a self-funded model for its MBA program. The province's decision takes into account modifications McGill made to the program, which include a mandatory study trip abroad and other measures to ensure all students have an international education experience during the program. An education ministry spokesman says a majority of academic staff will also come from abroad, and that the internationally-focused program could be ready to start in fall 2012. The spokesman told the Montreal Gazette that a "general" MBA program -- with no specialized focus -- cannot be self-funded. McGill News | Quebec News Release (in French) | Montreal Gazette | Canadian Press

BC beauty school appeals province's decision to revoke student-loan funding

The owner of Chilliwack-based Valle School of Beauty -- one of 13 private institutions in BC to have its student funding pulled this year in an effort by the province to hold private career colleges responsible for their students' high loan default rates -- is appealing the government's decision. The owner says the school's high default rate is not about unemployment among its graduates, but about demographics. The beauty school's population comprises many low-income women, single mothers, Aboriginal people, and welfare recipients who have had little previous success at school or in the labour force, and lack of life skills and family support make negotiating the loan repayment process difficult, the owner says. In order to regain their designation, Valle's owner says private career colleges like hers will have no choice but to turn away those who need the most help. Chilliwack Times

Facing $6-million shortfall, uWindsor likely to increase tuition fees

In his annual summer fiscal update, University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman says that despite an expected enrolment increase, the institution is projecting a $6.2-million shortfall, meaning another round of tuition fee hikes. To help offset a $12-million spending increase, there would be tuition fee increases of between 4% and 8%, depending on the program.  While acknowledging that the "affordability of post-secondary education is a huge issue for students," Wildeman notes the institution is facing a $500,000 reduction in government grants. uWindsor is also facing economic uncertainty this year because contract talks are underway with the faculty association and the CUPE local that represents technical and trade professionals, Wildeman says. The costs of salaries, benefits, and pensions comprise about 80% of uWindsor's operating budget, and increases there put more pressure on the cost of running the institution, the president says. uWindsor President's Update | Windsor Star

ACCC lays out priorities for 2012 federal budget

In its brief to the House of Commons Finance Committee, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges recommends that the federal government create a separate Post-secondary Education Transfer, similar to the Health Transfer, by segregating the Canadian Social Transfer funds now transferred for PSE, increasing by 3% a year after 2014. Another recommendation is to allocate 5% of current federal investment in research and development to applied research partnerships between colleges and small and medium-sized businesses. ACCC also recommends measures to raise the educational attainment rates of First Nations, Inuit, and M├ętis people to national averages. ACCC News Release | Read the brief

BC schools to eliminate optional provincial exams

Last week BC's education ministry announced that secondary schools will no longer offer optional provincial exams, of which just 20% of Grade 12 students have opted to write in recent years because they are no longer required for university entrance. Since few students were writing the optional tests, they were not eligible for provincial scholarships because they were awarded to students with good marks in four Grade 12 provincial exams, resulting in $2.5 million in unclaimed provincial scholarship money. The province has revised scholarship criteria so that awards will now be based on marks in the 5 mandatory provincial exams. In recent years several BC universities have eased provincial exam requirements for admissions in order to compete with other institutions and speed up the admissions process. BC News Release | Vancouver Sun

Mount Allison to go ahead with Fine and Performing Arts Centre construction

As the result of the New Brunswick government informing Mount Allison University that its former Memorial Library building does not meet the standards for designation as a Provincial Heritage Place, the institution will now proceed with plans to build a new Fine and Performing Arts Centre on the site, which had been put on hold in May. Plans for the $30-million centre call for 50,000 square feet of new construction with specialized facilities for teaching, performance, and creative pursuits. The entrance to the former library will be preserved during demolition and incorporated into an amphitheatre. Mount Allison News Release

uSask opens renovated student centre

On Thursday the University of Saskatchewan Students' Union unveiled the renovated and expanded Place Riel Student Centre -- the culmination of 5 years of work and more than a decade of planning. The project was mostly paid for by the student body, with uSask and a private donor contributing a combined $8 million to add 2 floors of space to accommodate student health and counselling services. The 55,000-square-foot centre is not the only major campus construction project to open this fall. Phase 1 of the College Quarter Residence project is nearly complete, with the opening date scheduled for August 31. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

eCampusAlberta registrations reach another all-time high

eCampusAlberta, an online education consortium, recorded 16,213 registrations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, surpassing the previous year's total of 13,107 by 24% and reaching another all-time high. The consortium reports that 2010-11 was the seventh consecutive year of annual growth of 24% or more. 11 of eCampusAlberta's 14 members that offer courses saw growth in their registration numbers, with 9 reporting growth of 15% or more. SAIT Polytechnic reported the most registrations at 2,998, followed by Grant MacEwan University (2,945) and Bow Valley College (2,416). eCampusAlberta News

The implications of parents deriving identity from children's PSE institutions

Parental merchandise at campuses -- a "University of X Dad" sweater, a "My kid and my money go the University of Y" t-shirt -- are "the epiphenomenon of a deep and pervasive syndrome," suggests Queen's University philosophy professor Christine Overall in a University Affairs column. The popularity of such merchandise, Overall writes, suggests that some parents derive an identity from the institutions their children attend. This syndrome has 3 implications for universities: the involvement of parents in their kids' institutions may be good for academic fundraising; universities can also direct recruitment efforts at parents; and strong parental engagement in the children's education may be connected to helicopter parenting -- a closeness Overall says may play into what she sees as the rising infantilization of young people. Parents might say they're strongly invested in their kids' university as they, the parents, are footing the bill, but that cannot be the full explanation, writes Overall, as they are not the first generation to have an economic stake in their offspring's education. University Affairs

Carleton develops mobile app

Last week Carleton University launched the new Carleton Mobile application, with which students can access grades, class schedules, and navigate campus. "By giving them a personalized app, Carleton Mobile helps students manage their day-to-day university experience and offers them another way to stay connected," says the university's associate vice-president (students and enrolment). Carleton will add an exam schedule feature in the fall, and is seeking feedback from students and faculty about what additional features should be considered next. Currently, the application is available in the iTunes Store and Android Marketplace. Carleton News Release