Top Ten

September 1, 2011

Ontario college support staff, McGill non-academic staff go on strike

Following a breakdown of contract talks, more than 8,000 support staff at Ontario's 24 colleges walked off the job yesterday. OPSEU's bargaining committee chair says "it became very clear as we approached the strike deadline that (management negotiators) were not prepared to meet us on terms we could accept." Calling the strike "unnecessary," the College Employer Council states that all colleges are operating with classes running and are putting contingency plans in place to manage through the strike. Meanwhile, members of the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) began a general strike yesterday. In a news release posted Wednesday the Public Service Alliance of Canada stated that MUNACA's 1,700 members would go on strike if McGill "continues to refuse to grant them fair and reasonable working conditions." Despite the strike and the presence of picket lines around McGill's campuses, the institution remains open and classes are going ahead as scheduled. OPSEU News Release | College Employer Council News Release | PSAC News Release | Message to the McGill community

Postscript: Dec 2, 2011
McGill University and its Non-Academic Certified Association announced Wednesday night they had reached a tentative agreement. The president of the association, whose members went on strike on September 1, says he hopes he could present the agreement to members next week, but says the return-to-work protocol is the priority at the moment and that is still being negotiated. McGill Statement | Montreal Gazette

Postscript: Dec 7, 2011
After reaching a tentative agreement with McGill University last week, members of the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association have voted 71.5% in favour of a 5-year collective agreement, putting an end to a 3-month-long strike. McGill Statement

uCalgary to review gender gap in faculty salaries

The University of Calgary will conduct a review and strike a committee to address a gender gap in faculty wages at the institution after a new Statistics Canada report shows male professors at uCalgary made on average $20,168 more than their female counterparts this year -- the highest gender pay gap among the 29 institutions featured in the report. The executive director of the university's faculty association says a joint liaison committee will be formed, likely in the next few months, to develop the process of conducting "next steps" toward a salary equity analysis. The old collective agreement had called for the formation of such a committee, to be comprised of faculty association members and the board of governors. "If the results determine there is inequity...the salaries will be adjusted as a result of this process," the executive director says. Calgary Herald

Quebec's grade on undergrad degree attainment drops in prosperity report card

While Quebec has maintained its "A" grade on the rate of PSE attainment among adults, the province's grade on the rate of undergraduate degrees has dropped from "B+" to "B" in the Quebec Employers Council's second Report Card on Quebec Prosperity. The province continues to rank last among Canada's 4 most populous provinces on the percentage of the adult population lacking a high school diploma ("B" grade) and the percentage of young adults without a diploma and not attending school ("D" grade). On the subject of availability and quality of labour, in which Quebec kept its "C," the council recommends developing a national action plan involving all stakeholders to favour a better alignment between training and job market needs. Quebec Employers Council News Release | 2011 Report Card on Quebec Prosperity

Georgian College honours donor with naming of new health and wellness centre

As Georgian College celebrated the opening of its new $62.5-million health and wellness centre Wednesday, Barrie businessman Paul Sadlon helped the institution complete its fundraising goal for the facility by announcing a $2-million donation. The gift brings the total raised for the centre to $14.5 million, surpassing the college's $13.5-million goal. In honour of Sadlon's donation -- the largest monetary gift Georgian has ever received from an individual outside of a bequest -- the building has been named the Sadlon Centre for Health and Wellness. Featuring 6 community-accessible clinics, the 172,000-square-foot centre will accommodate 3,600 health and wellness students. Georgian College News Release

Part-time studies, sciences enrolment rise at Nipissing

Nipissing University reports that its total student enrolment has increased with 5,679 part- and full-time students set to begin the new academic year next week. While there has been little change in first-year full-time enrolment, overall enrolment has risen due to a 26% increase in part-time studies registration and new programming in the fields of science, math, technology, and commerce. Nipissing is pleased to see enrolment increases in the sciences and technology as developing programs in this area has been a strategic priority for the institution. The university expected to see an increase in part-time studies enrolment due to its focus on providing a flexible learning environment. Nipissing News

CUSC data overview shows satisfied student body

An overview of a decade's worth of data collected by the Canadian University Survey Consortium reveals that student satisfaction with education and professor quality is strong, reports University Affairs. In the 2010 survey, nearly 90% of 12,500 responding first-year students said their university experience either met or exceeded their expectations, with students at primarily undergraduate institutions giving their schools higher marks than those at comprehensive and large research universities. The preliminary findings show that over the past decade, student satisfaction was generally higher at non-urban institutions, while urban universities scored better on learning outcomes. The top reason students give for going to university is to get a good job. When it comes to selecting an institution, students said they are more likely to consider the merits of a particular program than a university's reputation. The data shows students' view of university life was not all rosy. Perennial gripes include food and institutions not doing a good enough job of making students feel part of the university community. University Affairs

uAlberta students complain over listed courses not found in online registration system

Following complaints from students about courses listed in the calendar that were not found in the online registration system, a University of Alberta academic adviser's investigation revealed that most faculties only offered about 80% of their listed courses, while some offered less than 60%. It's a common practice at uAlberta, says a registrar at the institution, noting that the calendar is a list of all approved courses rather than a reflection of what is available at any one time. The registrar says university departments decide what courses to offer based on budget constraints and the success of the previous year's timetable. Staffing issues and faculty size are also factors in course selection. The registrar says the variety of courses available is the same as it has been for the past 2 years, and there were 50 more sessions overall available this year than last due to an expected enrolment increase. A student union representative says uAlberta should do more to accurately portray what courses are available in a given year. Edmonton Journal

OUSA, CSA launch joint campaign to encourage student vote in Ontario election

To help students stay informed and encourage them to vote in next month's provincial election, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and the College Student Alliance have partnered to run the province-wide It's Your Vote campaign. Launched yesterday, the campaign website will feature videos, blogs, and up-to-date information to help students find out how and why they should vote. The site also includes a joint platform called "Our Vote, Our Future," which outlines the organizations' PSE-related electoral priorities. These include funding a tuition freeze, lowering the student-loan interest rate, increasing the availability of needs-based financial aid, investing new resources in deferred maintenance and capital projects, and enhancing student mobility. CSA/OUSA News Release | It's Your Vote | Read the platform

uMontréal's UdeMTélé designed to foster student engagement

The Université de Montréal has installed 24 giant television screens across campus displaying information about the services and extracurricular activities available to students throughout the year, the objective being to make the student experience at uMontréal as rich as possible. The information is especially pertinent at the start of the academic year, with students needing to know where to pick up their ID card or make an inquiry about financial aid. Several groups and services, particularly the Student Services unit, will broadcast information. The screens have been installed in high-traffic areas on campus, beginning with the escalator leading to the exit of uMontréal's metro station. Additional screens will be installed in the coming weeks. uMontréal News Release (in French)

Trend in US colleges developing quirky microsites

As the creeping aesthetics of the app world make traditional post-secondary school websites seem tedious, some US institutions have started experimenting with more whimsical microsites to collect information from potential students and alumni. On Omaha-based College of Saint Mary's microsite,, visitors can take a diagnostic test that recommends a course of study based on their answers, navigate a cartoon rendering of the campus, and watch unscripted videos of current students talking about campus buildings. Saint Mary's strategy has proved successful -- half of prospective students who have created profiles on the site, thus enabling the institution to contact them directly, have wound up enrolling. Officials at New York's Nazareth College say, an alumni-oriented portal centred around the school's Golden Flyer mascot, has helped the development office update its address books and increased attendance at its annual reunion weekend. Web marketing experts interviewed by Inside Higher Ed caution that having a traditional admissions site, and then maintaining a separate microsite, might be confusing. Still, the rise in creative portals should prompt officials to reflect on whether the conventional institutional website template needs a facelift, one expert says. Inside Higher Ed