Top Ten

August 26, 2011

Report supports degree-granting expansion in Saskatchewan

On Friday the Saskatchewan government released a report on public consultations on the expansion of degree-granting authority in the province. The report includes 3 common themes: there is widespread misunderstanding of what degree-granting expansion may involve; there is substantial concern about duplication of services, especially in more expensive programs; and there is widespread support for, and trust in, the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan. The report recommends the establishment of a quality assurance board to review new degree programs at non-university institutions; that such institutions should be able to offer degrees if approved by the board; that uSask and uRegina should not need approval for new degree programs, but would benefit from a periodic quality audit system; and the development of a competitive process to determine which public institutions should offer new degree programs in areas of emerging professional practice. Saskatchewan's advanced education ministry will provide a response to the report this fall. Saskatchewan News Release

Judge strikes down uManitoba professor's legal challenge in PhD dispute

A Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench judge has ruled that University of Manitoba math professor Gábor Lukacs was not in a position to involve the court in order to end a dispute he has had with uManitoba, which awarded a doctorate to a math student who had twice failed a comprehensive exam after the student claimed to suffer from extreme examination anxiety. uManitoba has contended it was legally required to accommodate the student's recognized disability. The institution argued that Lukács was not directly affected by its decision to award the PhD and thus had no right to sue uManitoba. "Profoundly disappointed by the decision," Lukács says he will review the judge's decision and is "weighing my options." Last fall uManitoba suspended the professor for 3 months without pay for allegedly disclosing the student's private health information. Lukács filed a grievance with the Manitoba Labour Board, and a hearing is set to resume next month. Winnipeg Free Press

Judge sets limits on pro-life club members' suit against Carleton

An Ontario Superior Court judge has struck down all but one of the claims in a lawsuit filed against Carleton University by 2 students belonging to a campus pro-life group, who claimed the institution discriminated against them when it blocked their attempts to set up a graphic display. The judge released her decision earlier this month after Carleton asked her to dismiss the suit. The judge gave the students 30 days to amend their statement of claim regarding several areas of their suit, which included allegations that Carleton violated their Charter rights, breached university policy, and damaged their reputation when their club was prevented from setting up their display in a high-traffic area on campus. Claims that the students were wrongfully arrested were allowed to remain in the suit, while allegations that the university had breached its fiduciary duty were struck outright. Ottawa Citizen

Ontario college support staff set September 1 strike deadline

OPSEU has filed notice with the College Employer Council that over 8,000 college support workers will walk off the job this Thursday if a contract settlement is not reached with management. Both sides have scheduled 3 days of negotiations starting today. The main issues for the union include benefits, job security, and wages. On Friday the College Employer Council confirmed its offer of salary increases and no concessions from employers in a proposed 3-year contract with support staff. OPSEU News Release | College Employer Council News Release

Alberta PC leadership candidate promises $25,000 tuition tax credit

Rick Orman, a candidate for the leadership of Alberta's PC party, pledges that under his government, Alberta students graduating from a provincial PSE institution would be eligible for a maximum $25,000 tax credit on their tuition costs. Under the proposal, graduates would have to live in the province for 5 years following graduation to claim the full tax credit. Orman's policy is similar to that introduced by fellow leadership candidate Ted Morton, under whose proposal PSE students who stay in Alberta 7 years after graduating can receive up to $20,000 in tax credits. Rick Orman News Release | Calgary Herald

UTM opens $70-million Instructional Centre

Last Wednesday the University of Toronto Mississauga officially opened its $70-million Instructional Centre, which boasts innovative teaching and study space, and positions the campus for future enrolment growth. The 13,000-square-metre, 3-storey centre features a variety of state-of-the-art classrooms ranging in size from 30 seats to a 500-seat auditorium, dedicated study space including collaborative and private rooms, and a 24/7 computer lab. The facility also includes informal study areas, a café, and an outdoor patio where students can set up their laptops and mobile devices. UTM News

Confederation College celebrates opening of REACH building

Thursday marked the official opening of Confederation College's Regional Education Alliance for Community Health (REACH) building, a project that received a combined $21.46-million investment from the federal and Ontario governments. A leading centre of health and community education and training using state-of-the-art technologies, REACH will allow students, staff, and community members to access a number of health and community services in an integrated multi-professional environment. Confederation College News Release

Laurentian launches Vale Living with Lakes Centre

On Thursday Laurentian University celebrated the opening of its $20.2-million Vale Living with Lakes Centre, which positions the institution to expand its specialized research into the protection, remediation, and restoration of freshwater lakes and ecosystems. Hosting Laurentian's Science Communication graduate program, the 28,000-square-foot facility will house approximately 80 faculty members, staff, and students. With its geo-thermal heating system, grey-water pond, and "blueberry roof," the centre is expected to be 70% more energy-efficient than conventional buildings. Laurentian News Release

New initiative gives international students warm welcome at Pearson Airport

Through a partnership involving the City of Toronto, GTA colleges and universities, the Ontario government, and Rogers Communications Inc., the International Students Welcome Booth offers new students a friendly welcome in the international arrivals area of Terminals 1 and 3 at Toronto's Pearson Airport. At each location, students will receive a free welcome kit. They will get answers to their questions and information about housing and accommodation, public transit, Toronto's communities and neighbourhoods, dining, shopping, and entertainment. There will also be a free shuttle service (based on availability) to the participating PSE institutions' campuses. Last year Quebec PSE schools partnered to launch the Accueil Plus Service, which provides personal assistance to facilitate international students' integration at their arrival at Montréal-Trudeau Airport. Y-File

Maclean's on a "mechanically challenged" generation

To address an estimated shortage of up to 1 million skilled tradespeople by 2020, the federal government is funding a number of incentives to attract young talent and is enhancing apprenticeship training programs. Yet a stumbling block has emerged that is becoming difficult to ignore, reports Maclean's: "by all accounts, we have the least handy, most mechanically deficient generation of young people. Ever." In most schools shop classes are all but a memory, and even in vocational high schools a skills decline is evident. Research shows few teens are spending spare time on hands-on activities, and there is an argument that development of hand-brain coordination is getting shortchanged at a young age. This situation is affecting other industries that rely on a mechanically inclined workforce. For example, when MIT realized its engineering students could no longer estimate solutions to problems on their own, that they needed their computers, the institution started adding remedial building classes to better prepare these soon-to-be-professionals for real-world jobs. Maclean's