Top Ten

October 18, 2011

Improving Canada's innovation performance needs right mix of quantity, quality of talent

In its final report, the Expert Panel on Federal Support to Research and Development observes that the diversity of Canada's PSE institutions provides the country with the highly qualified and skilled individuals who are the bedrock of innovation. Each institution "has a unique role to play, producing workers for different components of the innovation ecosystem." With Canada's innovation gap in part an education gap, "improving our global performance will require the right mix in both the quantity and quality of talent." This requires a collaborative approach involving PSE institutions, federal and provincial agencies, industry, and other partners "to ensure appropriate recruitment, training and deployment for industrial innovation needs." Although Canada ranks first in the OECD for the percentage of its population with PSE attainment, it sits in the middle in baccalaureate output and toward the bottom for the number of PhD graduates per capital. However, the growth in the number of PhDs granted in Canada has been stronger -- especially in science and engineering -- helping to improve Canada's relative position. Read the report

UArctic to scale back Canadian presence due to federal cuts

Offering distance education through over 100 institutions around the circumpolar world, the University of the Arctic will have to scale back its Canadian presence following federal funding cuts. Earlier this year, Ottawa informed UArctic that its funding would be reduced to about $150,000 from more than $700,000 because the 3 territories have never contributed any of their own funding -- a condition for long-term federal commitment. As a result, UArctic's dean of undergraduate admissions will have her job taken over by someone else outside of Canada at the end of the year. Although Canadian institutions will still participate in the consortium, Canada will lose its voice in curriculum development and Canadian students will find it more difficult to take advantage of UArctic. The territories prefer to focus on their own institutions, says the Yukon's assistant deputy minister of education, who adds that the program "wasn't necessarily going to meet local concerns." Canadian Press

Saskatchewan NDP's proposed tuition fee freeze would overstep government bounds, says uSask president

If elected next month, Saskatchewan's New Democrats would fully fund a tuition freeze at the province's universities and SIAST. University of Saskatchewan president Peter MacKinnon suggests that any government freeze on tuition would contravene law that stipulates the setting of tuition rates at uSask is the sole responsibility of its board of governors. When Saskatchewan had what was referred to as a tuition fee freeze in recent years, the reality was that there was a discussion every year about uSask's needs and "commitment on the part of the university that tuition would be maintained within stipulated boundaries if the level of public support from the province was commensurate with our needs," says MacKinnon. NDP Leader Dwain Lingenfelter says that what he has in mind is a discussion with the universities to see what funding is required every year to keep tuition fees at current levels. Saskatchewan NDP News | uSask News Release | Regina Leader-Post

Georgian College opens new Collingwood campus

Monday marked the grand opening of Georgian College's John Di Poce South Georgian Bay campus in Collingwood, Ontario. The 20,000-square-foot campus will accommodate 250 full-time students and over 3,000 part-time students per year. The facility will also expand opportunities for skills simulation, small business services, and corporate training. Georgian College News Release

Ontario colleges set first-year enrolment record

Over 116,000 first-year college students in Ontario began full-time classes this fall, up by 20% five years ago. By contrast, slightly more than 90,000 students started their first year of undergraduate education at Ontario universities this semester. "In this economy, everyone is worried about getting a good job," says Colleges Ontario president and CEO Linda Franklin. "Greater numbers of students are choosing Ontario college programs that prepare them for their career goals." Last week, Colleges Ontario kicked off a multi-media advertising campaign promoting a college education as the best path to leading-edge careers. Colleges Ontario News Release

International students at uMoncton offer hope to local employers

The Université de Moncton's success in recruiting international students (it has 608 this year, primarily from Haiti and Africa) is giving local employers hope that this could help solve the skilled worker shortage in the region. uMoncton's VP of student and international affairs says area businesses should reach out to the international students it they are experiencing difficulty in filling their jobs. An Enterprise Greater Moncton official says as uMoncton continues to recruit more international students, it could become a source of new immigrants. International students who spoke to the CBC are hoping to find work in Moncton following graduation. One student from Cameroon describes the city as "quiet" and "good for studying" -- traits that could help recruit even more foreign students to uMoncton in future years. CBC

Students at Prairie universities push for gender-neutral bathrooms

Students at some Prairie universities are calling for gender-neutral bathrooms for transgendered individuals who do not feel comfortable having to pick between washrooms for men and women. Proponents say transgendered people are often harassed or embarrassed no matter which washrooms they pick. A transgendered student at the University of Winnipeg says having a gender-neutral bathroom that everyone could use would simply recognize the diversity of today's campus. Wanting to make its campus as inclusive as possible, uWinnipeg says it is willing to change a few of its washroom signs as early as this academic year. The University of Regina is open to the idea of adding gender-neutral bathrooms in any new facilities, but students would like to see some existing washrooms converted before then, says the president of uRegina's student union. Canadian Press

Over 2/3 of Canadians concerned about increasing costs of PSE, survey finds

69% of Canadians are concerned about the affordability of high education, according to a new study released by BMO Financial Group. BMO states that a 4-year university degree can currently cost upwards of $60,000, and various sources predict that a child born in 2011 could face education costs of about $140,000 when they are ready to enrol in university. Despite these figures, the study found that 56% of surveyed Canadians with young children have an RESP in place. Those who do not have an RESP or are contributing less than usual cited lack of money as the main reason driving their decision. 40% of those surveyed said they contributed the same amount as they did last year. BMO Financial Group News Release

SLC launches series of recruitment shorts

St. Lawrence College has developed 5 five-second videos as part of a recruitment campaign targeting 18- to 30-year-olds. Each short illustrates one of SLC's 4 brand taglines: "Get Ready For The Next Big Thing: YOU," "We're Here to Get You There," "The Job You Love Is Calling," and "Small-Sized Classes For Big-Sized Dreams." In the "YOU" video, 2 young men are playing a video game when large letters forming the word "you" drop down behind them and sing "you" over and over. "They've been around since I got into St. Lawrence," one man tells his surprised friend. "Just ignore 'em." Marketing Magazine | Watch the shorts

US undergrads drawn to hot technology, but depend on more traditional devices

That's one finding in a new report from the Educause Center for Applied Research: students own various types of technological devices, with clear preference for small, mobile ones -- laptops (87%), iPods (62%), and smartphones (55%) among them; however, a majority of students are reliant on "standard issue" technology, such as a printer (81%) and a desktop computer (53%). E-mail (99%), text messaging (93%), Facebook (90%), and instant messaging (81%) are very popular communication tools, the study states. The majority of students surveyed agree that their instructors use technology effectively (55%) and frequently enough (57%). 46% of respondents agree that technology is seamlessly integrated into their courses. The report observes that the major academic benefits of technology encompass 4 areas: technology gives students access to resources and progress reports; makes them more productive; helps them feel connected; and makes learning more relevant and engaging. ECAR National Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2011