Top Ten

October 6, 2011

Brandon U faculty endorse strike action

The Brandon University Faculty Association (BUFA) released Wednesday the results of strike vote -- of the votes cast, 71% were in favour of taking strike action, with about 90% of BUFA members returning ballots. Talks between BUFA and Brandon U's board of governors were scheduled to resume late Wednesday afternoon. The most recent collective agreement, which was signed after a 17-day strike in fall 2008, expired March 31. BUFA represents approximately 240 full-time equivalent employees at Brandon U -- including professors, sessional instructors, librarians, instructional associates, professional associates, and administrative associates. BUFA News Release | CBC | CTV

McGill biology profs write to principal about strike's effects on department

In a letter to McGill principal Heather Munroe-Blum, a group of biology professors at the institution state the support-staff strike could cause chaos with midterm exam scheduling, has threatened research, and is preventing students from doing lab work. One professor says he is worried about the strike's effects on the biology department's Phytotron, which houses plants used for research. With the pest management specialist among the striking employees, there is concern a pest epidemic could cause serious damage to plant genetics programs. The absence of technical staff has led to the cancellation of some science labs, while others have been reduced in content and quality. Noting that support staff is what allows the department to excel, the letter states that the labs "are one of the key aspects of our students' education, and we are concerned that students are not receiving full instruction in the skills normally taught in these courses," states the letter. Montreal Gazette

Enrolment rises at Tyndale

Toronto-based Tyndale University College & Seminary reports that its incoming class this fall term is the largest class since 1999 with a 5.8% increase over fall 2010. This year's growth was led by the Seminary, where new-student enrolment rose by 30%, whereas last year, the University College led growth with a 27% increase in the number of admitted students. A Tyndale official attributes the Seminary's continued success to the integration of theology and practice. Tyndale News

9 Canadian universities among top 200 in THE rankings

In this year's Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, the University of Toronto is the top-ranked Canadian institution, placing 19th, down from 17th last year. Improving their standing this year are UBC (22), McGill (28), McMaster (65), uAlberta (100) and uMontréal (104). The University of Victoria dropped from 130th place to 177th after ranking among the top 200 for the first time last year. Queen's renewed its participation in the rankings this year and placed 173th. uOttawa was also a new entrant, ranking 185th. Dal and SFU both dropped out of the top 200 this year, tying with uCalgary and Carleton for 226th place. The remaining Canadian universities ranked among 400 universities worldwide are uWaterloo and UWO (tied for 201), UoGuelph and York U (tied for 276), and uManitoba (301). Canada's "strong showing has been helped by some methodological improvements this year, and gives hope for the future," say the rankings editor. "In particular, Canada looks well poised to compete for a greater share of the ever-growing international student market.” The THE rankings consider 13 elements, brought together into the categories of teaching, research, citations, industry income, and international outlook. For the first time in 8 years, Harvard University slipped into second place, tying with Stanford University, while the California Institute of Technology took over the top spot. THE World University Rankings 2011 | Globe and Mail | QMI Agency

Lakehead releases draft academic plan

Lakehead University's Academic Planning Committee has prepared a draft of the institution's Academic Action Plans, now posted online for feedback from the university community. The proposed academic priorities outlined in the document are achieving excellence in teaching, learning, and research (high quality undergraduate and graduate programs; engaged and successful students, faculty and staff; intense research, scholarly and creative activity); extending community engagement and outreach; strengthening the university's commitment to social justice; enhancing its support to Aboriginal students; and expanding its international reach. Lakehead Communications Bulletin | Draft Academic Action Plans

TRU, Royal Roads join Research Universities' Council of British Columbia

The Research Universities' Council of British Columbia announced Tuesday that Royal Roads University and Thompson Rivers University have joined the council, which provides a single voice on behalf of its member institutions (including UBC, UNBC, UVic, and SFU) on public policy issues such as accountability, admissions, funding, research, and transfer. TRU president Alan Shaver says its inclusion in the council will attract better faculty and increase the university's profile, and also brings with it much more potential for current and future graduate-school options. Royal Roads president Allan Cahoon says that over the past 16 years, the university "has distinguished itself by providing quality teaching and research, resulting in career and life success." RUCBC News Release | Kamloops This Week

uToronto unveils India Innovation Institute

The University of Toronto announced Wednesday the launch of its India Innovation Institute, a joint venture of the Munk School of Global Affairs (which will house the institute) and the Rotman School of Management. The director of the Munk School says the institute "will bring together faculty and students who are looking at problems of innovation in which India is engaged." The institute will help academics learn from the innovative practices of organizations in developing nations. In additional to helping uToronto researchers engage with colleagues in India and worldwide, the institute will promote new, multidisciplinary collaborations. By 2050, India is expected to be the world's fifth-largest economy, with average household income matching that of the US and UK. uToronto News

Carleton business school launches new site

Carleton University's Sprott School of Business has a new-look website, whose design provides a wider view and simpiflies the colour scheme for a clean, professional look. Through the homepage, visitors can access information on Sprott's degree and professional programs, read school news and media coverage, peruse upcoming events and faculty profiles, and access Sprott's Twitter account and Carleton's YouTube channel. The site includes new tools that allow visitors to share content on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. The site is fully functional on smartphones and tablets. Sprott News | Sprott website

US students "Occupy Colleges"

Inspired by the weeks-old Occupy Wall Street movement, hundreds of students across the US walked out of classes and demonstrated on campuses and city plazas Wednesday to protest financial pressures affecting them and their institutions, such as increasing tuition fees, debt, and program cuts. Many of the largest student demonstrations were in the Northeast, with the most successful in the New York area. Scores of students who converged on the administration building of the State University of New York at Albany managed to secure time with the institution's president to express their concerns. In New York City, student organizations arranged walkouts to coordinate with a larger demonstration that planned a march to Wall Street. A small group of University of California at Berkeley students billing themselves as a flash mob gathered on campus to call attention to proposals they said could see tuition fees rise by as much as 81% over the next 4 years. According to Occupy Colleges' Facebook page, future demonstrations are in the works. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Inside Higher Ed | | Occupy Colleges Facebook page

India introduces cheap tablet computers

India unveiled Wednesday what is considered the world's cheapest tablet computer, to be sold to students at the subsidized price of $37 ($35 US) to expand digital access in the country. By comparison, the cheapest Apple iPad 2 costs $519, while Amazon's new Kindle Fire will list for $199 US. Montreal-based developer Datawind is selling the device, called Aakash ("Sky" in Hindi), for about $47 each to the Indian government, which is distributing 100,000 units to students for free in a pilot run. The Aakash has a colour screen and offers word processing, Web browsing, and video conferencing. The Android 2.2-operated tablet has 2 USB ports and 256 megabytes of RAM. The device is part of push in India to boost the numbers of students in PSE (the government aims for 30% enrolment by 2020) and to give them the technological skills needed to further boost the nation's rapid economic growth. Associated Press | Reuters | Agence France-Presse