Top Ten

October 7, 2011

Judge rules dismissed med resident can present new evidence in uOttawa legal battle

An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled that Dr. Waleed AlGhaithy, a Saudi doctor dismissed from the University of Ottawa's neurosurgery program, could present new evidence at a judicial review of a January 2011 decision by uOttawa's senate appeal committee upholding his dismissal in 2009. The judge said leaked e-mails between senior officials in the faculty of medicine, along with "troubling" information in documents AlGhaithy obtained, were relevant and met the legal test for the admission of new evidence. The e-mails related to administration anger over a racial discrimination complaint made by AlGhaithy and other Saudi medical students against an assistant professor. The e-mails purportedly suggest that uOttawa viewed AlGhaithy as a "destructive force" within the neurosurgery program who "should be removed" to deter others from making similar complaints. However, they noted this would be difficult as AlGhaithy was one of the best residents in the program. A Superior Court judge will hear the review of the doctor's dismissal in late November. Ottawa Citizen

UPEI asks courts to overturn retirement settlement decision

The University of Prince Edward Island is asking the courts to strike down the latest decision by the province's human rights commission to award more than $335,000 in compensation to 3 professors who were forced to retire when they turned 65. The professors, who were rehired in 2009 when the commission ruled they were discriminated against on the basis of age, are seeking lost wages for the 2 to 3 years they were out of work. The Supreme Court of PEI is still reviewing the entire human rights decision on mandatory retirement and may eventually decide that no settlements are required. If the court ultimately agrees with the university and upholds its policy, the compensation awarded to the professors and other UPEI employees may have to be returned. The institution has suspended its mandatory retirement policy while the matter is before the courts. CBC

UoGuelph president "embarrassed" over student behaviour during Homecoming

On his blog, University of Guelph president Alastair Summerlee writes that most of the time, he is proud of the students at his institution, but "there are times when the behaviour of some students leaves me embarrassed and upset. This year’s Homecoming Weekend was one of those occasions." Summerlee's post follows many complaints regarding Homecoming-linked incidents over the September 24-25 weekend, when city bylaw officers or police were called to attend to several off-campus incidents. Excitement and celebration during Homecoming is generally positive, "but this year, there were some situations where exuberance went too far," Summerlee writes. "I regret these unacceptable behaviours and want to assure the community that we are taking their concerns seriously." UoGuelph is following up on incidents in which charges were laid and meeting with city staff. A university official says repeat offenders could be brought before a campus judicial committee to face a range of sanctions. To date, there haven't been any repeat offenders identified, the official says. From the President's Window | Guelph Mercury

Moderate tuition fee increases at Maritime universities keep pace with inflation rate

After 3 years of stability, tuition fees at Maritime universities did rise this year, reports the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. Figures show tuition fees for an undergraduate arts program for this academic year range from $4,770 (at St. Thomas University) to $6,920 (at Mount Allison University), while fees for an undergraduate science program range from $4,950 (at UPEI) to $7,044 (at Dalhousie University/University of King's College), up 3% from last year, on par with the inflation rate. The New Brunswick government capped tuition fee increases at $200, ending a 3-year tuition fee freeze and resulting in a 3% to 4.4% increase in fees. Nova Scotia has allowed a 3% tuition fee increase following 4 years of steady fees. In PEI, tuition fees rose by $90, or 1.9%. MPHEC News Release | Tuition Fee Data

Enrolment rises at Quebec universities

For the third consecutive year, Quebec universities have seen enrolment increase with a 2.7% jump this fall term, reports the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities. There are 285,208 students enrolled this fall, of whom 195,237 are full-time (up by 3.5% from fall 2010). The number of first-year undergraduate students has risen by 2.8%. Preliminary figures show that enrolment at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral level is up by 3.8%, 2.6%, and 2.8%, respectively. CREPUQ reports that there are 28,011 international students enrolled at Quebec universities this fall, up by 7.5% from fall 2010. At the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral level, international-student enrolment has risen by 5.8%, 10%, and 11%, respectively. CREPUQ News Release (in French)

NSCC meets enrolment target

Nova Scotia Community College reports that enrolment for the 2011-12 academic year matches the strategic targets it set to meet the needs of the province's economy. As of September 30, there are 10,688 students enrolled in advanced diploma, diploma, and certificate programs, up from 7,619 students a decade ago. NSCC anticipates that another 14,000 learners will access apprenticeship training, customized training, continuing education, and individual credits over the course of the school year. The college estimates an additional 1,800 will come to the institution through off-cycle programs or via continuous intake this year as well. NSCC News Release

Lakehead president's vision for university's role in Kenora

During his tour of Northwestern Ontario last week, Lakehead University president Brian Stevenson spoke to community members about his vision for the institution's role in Kenora, mentioning the importance of engaging First Nations youth and his plans to boost First Nation student enrolment at Lakehead. One of Stevenson's proposed pilot projects entails an access youth program aimed at engaging Northwestern Ontario students as young as 8 years old in making plans to attend university. The initiative would work through partnerships with current educational programs in Kenora, which would not only add value for both partners, but also add funds directed toward future student scholarships, Stevenson said. In partnership with Confederation College's Lake of the Woods campus, Stevenson said he'd like to develop functioning classrooms in First Nations communities. Kenora Miner & News

SMU posts draft academic plan

In Saint Mary's University's consultation draft for its proposed 2012-17 Academic Plan, available for review and comments by members of the university community, the institution outlines areas of strategic emphasis, which include enhancing student learning through excellence in teaching; enhancing student success; linking theory and practice; enhancing research, creativity, and graduate studies; building thematic clusters of teaching and research; and enhancing SMU's international diversity. Actions regarding these areas include developing strategies to enhance first-year instruction with a view to better engaging and retaining students, maintaining efforts to attract and retain excellent faculty and graduate students, and investigating and implementing ways of engaging international students at SMU in a shared exchange of ideas and experiences with Canadian students. SMU News Release | Draft Academic Plan

ACC redesigns website

Last Thursday, Assiniboine Community College launched a new, colourful website, whose homepage is dominated by a large graphic banner showcasing 7 individuals with ties to the Manitoba-based institution, representing future and current students, parents and counsellors, community partners, and staff. Visitors to the site can click on the pictures of the individuals or on the tabs above the banner to retrieve information pertaining to different groups of the college community. Toward the bottom of the homepage are links to news and event listings, student athletics, and ACC's Facebook page and YouTube Account. ACC website

College students' Facebook profiles may identify problem drinkers

New US research observes that college students who had Facebook pictures or updates about getting drunk or blacking out were more likely to be at risk of drinking problems, based on a screening test. Surveying the publicly-available profiles of 224 undergraduates, researchers found that about one-third of pages mentioned or had photos of social, non-problematic drinking or more serious and risky alcohol use. Of all the students brought in for a 10-question screening test used to determine who is at risk for problem drinking, nearly 60% of those whose profiles had references to drunkenness and other dangerous drinking scored above the cutoff showing a risk for alcohol dependence and abuse, compared to 38% of students who had more minor references to alcohol, and 23% who had no references. It's possible that Facebook profiles could help colleges determine who needs to be assessed for drinking-related problems, although researchers say privacy and ethical concerns might make that complicated. Reuters | Time magazine