Top Ten

August 23, 2011

Canadian PSE community mourns passing of Jack Layton

Several Canadian post-secondary schools have expressed condolences following the death of Opposition Leader Jack Layton on Monday. In a statement McGill University principal Heather Munroe-Blum, of whose institution Layton was an alumnus (BA '71), reflected on the NDP leader's visit to campus last year to meet incoming students: "Higher education, he told them, 'is an investment in making a better world, in finding solutions to some of the challenges that we're dealing with as a community, as a global society, as a series of neighbourhoods." York University president Mamdouh Shoukri, of whose university Layton was a graduate (MA '72, PhD '83) who also taught there, expressed in a message of condolence that Layton's "determination, tenacity and enthusiasm will forever serve as a model worthy of emulation by our students." Layton also taught at Ryerson University, an experience that was "among the happiest times in my life," he said at a campus event in October 2007. In a statement Ryerson president Sheldon Levy said as a teacher, Layton's "passion for knowledge and his enthusiasm for politics had an impact on a generation of Ryerson students." AUCC News Release | McGill News | Ryerson News | Y-File

Group of foreign PhD students at UWO seek funding extension

6 international philosophy doctoral students at the University of Western Ontario are lobbying administrators to extend their funding past year 4 in light of a 2010 change in immigration policy that bars foreign students from applying for permanent residency before completing their degrees. When reapplying for a study permit, students must prove to the federal government they can pay for a fifth year plus cost of living, otherwise they'd have to leave Canada and their program with no degree. While UWO officials have agreed to lobby Ottawa on their behalf, the students believe the institution's own policies have contributed to their predicament, pointing out that their program generally takes more than 4 years to complete. The students want UWO "to provide us with funding adequate for the completion of the PhD program within a reasonable time"; they're seeking a fifth-year funding package conditional upon meeting certain benchmarks toward completing their doctorates. While he sympathizes with the students, the associate dean of research and graduate studies at UWO's Faculty of Arts and Humanities disagrees with them in trying to shift the responsibility and liability to the university. Noting that he is not in a position to increase funding selectively, the associate dean says "we could never say yes to the fifth year of funding. We don't have the money and we can't do it universally," adding that domestic students would cry foul if UWO were to fund foreign students for an extra year. Inside Higher Ed

Ground broken for Alberta-based police college

5 years after a police college was awarded to Fort Macleod, Alberta, and following years of stalled negotiations after the financial downturn put the project on the back-burner, a groundbreaking ceremony took place Monday for the college, which is due to open by 2014. The $122-million facility will train police and peace officers in one facility and offer career advancement in addition to induction training. The college will include a driving track, a residence, and indoor and outdoor firing ranges. Calgary Herald

New First Nations PSE institution opens in Quebec

On Saturday the First Nations Education Council (FNEC) announced the launch of Kiuna Institution in the Abenaki community of Odanak, Quebec. The result of many years of work by FNEC staff, partnering CÉGEPs, and the Quebec government, Kiuna Institution has a mission "to shape competent First Nations citizens in their respective fields, proud bearers of their cultural heritage, socially responsible, open to the world and concerned for the well-being of their communities." The institution offers a bilingual First Nations--Social Science program, accredited by Quebec's education ministry, which will lead to a Diploma of Collegial Studies. More than 30 students attended the first day of class Monday. FNEC News Release

Crowded classrooms as CÉGEPs begin new school year

Classes have begun for most CÉGEPs across Quebec, marking the third consecutive year that student enrolment at English colleges has increased. Gilbert Héroux, the head of Vanier College, says the student population has risen by more than 20% over the past few years, meaning space at the Montreal-based CÉGEP is tight. In recent years some colleges have had to reject thousands of students as they were not able to accommodate the demand. Héroux says the province has provided funding for Vanier and other CÉGEPs to hire more instructors and build more classrooms. One Vanier student says there were more people than were chairs in one class. "People were forced to stand up," he told the CBC. "The teacher was forced to stand up. She had to give her chair to another student and that was kind of bad." Héroux says Vanier is working to make sure its students have access to additional support outside the classroom and says the students are coping well under the circumstances. CBC

CAUT outlines priorities for 2012 federal budget

In its brief to the House of Commons Finance Committee, the Canadian Association of University Teachers recommends that the federal government develop a pan-Canadian strategy to boost scientific research and improve PSE accessibility and quality, with key elements including a $500-million funding increase for basic research, the establishment of a Canada Post-Secondary Education Act, and expansion of the Canada Student Grant Program to further assist low- and middle-income families and Aboriginal students. CAUT recommends increasing federal cash transfers for PSE by $400 million in the 2012-13 fiscal year to restore funding to 1992-93 levels. The organization suggests Ottawa should substantially increase the income threshold for determining eligibility for student loan interest relief, reduce the Canada Student Loan Program repayment interest rate, and increase the maximum amount of debt reduction for borrowers having trouble meeting loan repayments. CAUT Finance Brief

StatsCan paper explores educational attainment of NB francophones

In a new paper Statistics Canada reports that in 2006, 36% of the New Brunswick's francophone population aged 25 and over had no certificate, diploma, or degree, compared to 22% of the anglophone population -- a gap that reflects the fact that anglophones are proportionally more likely to have completed high school than their francophone peers. Among individuals aged 65 and older, StatsCan observes a sizable gap between francophones and anglophones among persons having no diploma, certificate, or degree, while the gaps are almost non-existent among 25-to-34-year-olds. The paper reports that francophones born in New Brunswick are more likely to have a college certificate or diploma (30%) as their highest level of education than the province's other francophones -- 24% for those born in another province and 21% for those born outside of Canada. Among New Brunswick francophones under the age of 45, women are proportionally more likely to have a university diploma or degree than their male counterparts, while the latter are proportionally more likely to have a low education or to have a vocational or trade school diploma. Read the paper

Ryerson continuing ed school unveils new marketing campaign

Ryerson University's G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education has kicked off a new marketing campaign, which includes the school's first radio creative and an out-of-home component comprising transit ads and digital billboard creative in downtown Toronto. Out-of-home creative show various adult learners against colourful backgrounds, featuring descriptions of their educational achievements at the Chang School and their current professions. The advertisements bear variations of the campaign's "Own the future" tagline, such has "Log on to your future" and "Say yes to your future." A street marketing component of the campaign took place yesterday, with Chang School representatives handing out the school's 2011 brochures to transit patrons in the GTA. The campaign follows one launched in November 2010 that incorporated QR code technology. Marketing Magazine

UBC launches Seed Accelerator fund to support community startups

In a partnership between the BC Innovation Council, the University of British Columbia, and UBC alumni, the [email protected] Seed Accelerator fund is a UBC-owned-and-operated venture fund offering investments of up to $100,000 to startups from the university community to support their new venture. The fund's purpose is to provide UBC students, faculty, staff, and recent alumni with much needed early-stage capital in order to set their new ventures up for the greatest chance of success. The new fund reflects a trend in which Canadian universities and governments are fostering student entrepreneurship. The Ontario government recently invested more than $1 million to help University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University students start their own companies, while donations to Carleton University have helped launched an entrepreneurial institute to oversee paid internships for students. UBC News Release

The mindset of freshmen and faculty

Yesterday Wisconsin-based Beloit College released its annual Mindset List for this fall's crop of first-year students -- the Class of 2015. Most of them born in 1993, these students "are the first generation to grow up taking the word 'online' for granted and for whom crossing the digital divide has redefined research, original sources and access to information, changing the central experiences and methods in their lives." For members of this year's freshman class, Amazon has never been just a river in South America, there has never been an official Communist Party in Russia, and video games have always had ratings. As an antidote to Beloit College's list, Bruce Krajewski, an English professor at Texas Woman's University, offers a similar list of characteristics of faculty members born before 1980. First-year students will encounter some professors who first used "iPhone" as a noun and a verb, as in "I will phone, I have phoned," etc. These faculty members faced books and did not Facebook, and used "Wii" to express the euphoria they felt as kids while sledding down a hill. Beloit College Mindset List | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)