Top Ten

August 24, 2011

uSherbrooke support staff strike a possibility

The return to school for Université de Sherbrooke students may be jeopardized as a strike by support staff is becoming more and more likely, reports the Sherbrooke Record. Negotiations Monday did not result in a deal, and the support workers' union argues that management is not trying hard enough to meet its demands. uSherbrooke contested a partial strike that took place last week. Both parties appeared in court last Thursday after uSherbooke filed an injunction challenging the legality of the strike. uSherbrooke News Release (in French) | Sherbrooke Record (partial strike) | Sherbrooke Record (negotiations)

Ottawa invests more than $11 million in McMaster auto research centre

Yesterday the federal government announced an $11.5-million investment in the McMaster Automotive Research Centre as part of FedDev Ontario's Prosperity Initiative. McMaster University will use the funding to transform a former appliance warehouse into a state-of-the-art research facility. A major focus of the $126-million auto research centre will be the work of Ali Emadi, who holds the $10-million Canada Excellence Research Chair in Hybrid Powertrain. FedDev Ontario News Release | McMaster News Release

Ontario revises credit check requirements for student aid

The Ontario government has modified credit check requirements for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to open up access to more students in need, a move welcomed by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA). Since 1998-99, students with poor credit history could not access OSAP. The province defines this group as individuals who have been 90 days in arrears on 3 or more personal loans, with a combined value of at least $1,000. All students who did not receive student aid in the previous school year were screened, irrespective of age. Starting this year, OSAP applicants under the age of 22 and applicants who have previously received student aid will not be subject to a credit check. "This change will, at the very least, ensure young students with a history of poor credit receive a second chance and can access sufficient resources to afford higher education," says OUSA's executive director. OUSA News

John Abbott College enrolment reaches another all-time high

A record number of students began a new academic year Monday at John Abbott College. This year the CÉGEP welcomed 6,200 students, up from 5,933 last year, which had also set an enrolment record. Although John Abbott is approved to admit 5,800 students, the extra number of students will not be problematic, says a college spokeswoman. Measures taken to accommodate the increased number of students include laying out different class schedules and renting out some classrooms at a nearby high school. At Vanier College, enrolment has grown by more than 20% over the past few years, meaning space is tight at the CÉGEP. Officials at both institutions expect the number of CÉGEP-aged students in Montreal to decline over time. West Island Gazette

StatsCan article explores university completion in relation to parents' educational attainment

Individuals whose parents have a university degree remain more likely to receive a university education than children who have parents without a degree, although the gap between both groups has narrowed over time, reports Statistics Canada. Between 1986 and 2009, the proportion of Canadian-born people aged 25 to 39 who had graduated from university but their parents did not complete university nearly doubled, from 12% to 23%. During the same period, the proportion of people who graduated from university and had a least one parent with a university degree increased at a slower pace, from 45% to 56%. StatsCan reports that women largely account for the increase in the percentage of university graduates among individuals who have parents without a degree. For second-generation immigrants (those with at least one parent born outside of Canada), social background had less of an impact on the probability of completing university than for individuals with Canadian-born parents. Statistics Canada | Read the article

York U to equip security staff to combat campus crime

The Toronto Star reports that York University plans to equip its security staff with batons and handcuffs in response to concerns about campus safety. York U has had a long-standing policy of non-intervention by security staff, who wear bulletproof vests but carry no other protective gear, but university sources familiar with the issue told the Star that senior administrators hope to introduce significant policy changes during the fall term to improve student safety and combat campus crime. York U would not confirm any changes until it discusses them with employees. The Star reports that an internal memo indicated the institution will disclose some details to staff today. An independent safety audit released last year recommended that York U review its non-intervention policy and initiate an effective "force response consultation with students, faculty and staff." The institution is also considering another recommendation for the development of a new security model that balances community and enforcement needs. Toronto Star

Some colleges' culture may promote gender segregation by major, study finds

New research from the University of Toronto suggests that certain colleges may have cultures that nudge male students into stereotypically male fields and women into stereotypically female ones. Based on US data, the study found that institutions with relatively few women among tenured faculty and exceptionally small number of male undergraduates generally have higher levels of gender segregation by major than do other colleges. So do schools with football teams in NCAA Division III, suggesting that colleges with athletic programs emphasizing male-dominated sports are less likely to encourage gender integration in various academic fields. By contrast, institutions promoting study in the liberal arts tend to have more students entering fields traditionally associated with members of the opposite sex. While it was difficult to establish patterns of causation based on the study's findings, one researcher says the findings should give institutional presidents cause to "reflect on what kind of messages they are sending to all of their students" by taking actions such emphasizing male-dominated sports teams. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Trend in niche public education programming in Canada

This fall, new public education offerings across the country include an all-boys school in Calgary and a low-income school in the Niagara region. The Globe and Mail reports that the trend in niche programming is largely driven by parents' desire for their children to be more engaged in school, to improve academically, or to tap into a particular interest or skill more fully. The popularity of niche schools is so great that Edmonton, for example, is home to 37 alternative schools, as well as independent non-profits operating under the term "charter school" through an agreement with the Alberta government. While philosophically in favour of specialized learning, one professor at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education notes that in practice there are stumbling blocks -- some schools end up teaching in a remarkably mainstream manner, and some of the snazzy promises made at the beginning can be trimmed because of financial strains or a need to prepare for standardized provincial tests. Globe and Mail

Note-sharing site to launch service across Canada

Yesterday, an online note-sharing platform for PSE students, announced it will launch its free service to more than 20 Canadian universities. Initially exclusive to the University of Toronto, the service has more than 10,000 active users sharing 12,000 study documents. Using Notesolution, which boasts the largest collection of university notes in the country, students who share their own study material can earn credits to use toward downloading other users' notes. Students can also exchange credits for gift cards through Notesolution's reward program, which encourages students to take quality notes. Notesolution is one of several note-sharing services launched in the past year. Notesolution News Release | | Canadian Press

CTRC report charts future in Web, mobile communications

In a new report the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission estimates that national Web traffic will quadruple from 2009 levels by 2014. The report states that mobile subscribers are predicted to increase from 25.8 million people in 2010 to close to 30 million in 2014. From 5.5 million in 2011, mobile Internet subscriptions are projected to rise to 14 million in 2015. Marketing Magazine | Read the report