Top Ten

November 3, 2011

CAUT releases report on investigation into controversy over Israel/Palestine conference at York U

Yesterday the Canadian Association of University Teachers held a book launch for "No Debate: the Israel lobby and free speech at Canadian universities," a report of an independent investigation for CAUT into issues arising from a conference on Israel and Palestine held at York University in 2009. Co-sponsored by York U and Queen's University, the conference was at the centre of controversy when Science and Technology Minister Gary Goodyear requested a review of SSHRC funding for the event. The report's author, Dr. Jon Thompson, concludes that senior officials at York U and Queen's "correctly took the view that the subject matter of the conference was appropriate for a university event and that the organizers had the academic freedom to design the program and select the speakers." Both institutions "upheld and protected the academic freedom of the conference organizers, and the academic integrity of the conference program.” Thompson also proposes measures universities and professors can take to better safeguard their ability to discuss and debate ideas that some may wish to silence. No Debate | Y-File

Brandon U student union seeks tuition refund due to faculty strike

The Brandon University Students' Union (BUSU) wants a tuition refund for the classes students have had to miss because of the faculty strike, which has been going on since October 12. The student union president says more than 1,000 students have already signed a petition demanding a refund. BUSU would like 2,000 to 3,000 signatures before it delivers the petition to the institution's board of governors. The latest round of negotiations, which included a mediator appointed by the Manitoba government, broke down this week. CBC | Brandon U Strike Information

Ottawa expands Federal Skilled Worker Program to include international PhD students

The federal government announced Wednesday it intends to accept up to 1,000 foreign doctoral students annually as permanent residents through the Federal Skilled Worker Program. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have completed at least 2 years of study toward the attainment of a PhD, as well as remain in good academic standing at a provincially recognized PSE institution in Canada. Individuals who have recently graduated from a Canadian PhD program will also be eligible to apply, as long as they do so within 12 months following graduation. The government also announced Wednesday that Canada has welcomed its 10,000th permanent resident through the Canadian Experience Class immigration stream, which offers a pathway to permanent residency for international students and skilled and highly skilled temporary foreign workers. CIC News Release (Federal Skilled Worker Program) | CIC News Release (Canadian Experience Class)

UTM celebrates new health sciences complex

On Tuesday, the University of Toronto Mississauga officially opened its Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex and Mississauga Academy of Medicine. In addition to the academy, the health sciences complex houses uToronto's biomedical communications program, Department of Anthropology offices and research labs, lecture theatres, and medical teaching classrooms. In total, the Ontario government invested $30.3 million in capital funding for the project. In private support, Terrence Donnelly gave $12 million (for building costs and scholarships), while Carlo Fidani donated $10 million (for building costs, scholarships, and a chair in family and community medicine). UTM News

UBC opens Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability

Yesterday the University of British Columbia opened its $37-million Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), the most sustainable building in North America. A "living laboratory," CIRS reduces UBC's carbon emissions, powers itself and a neighbouring facility with renewable and waste energy, creates drinking water from rain, and treats wastewater onsite. CIRS will serve as a global centre for research, partnership, and action on sustainability issues, such as community engagement, environmental policy, and green building design and operations. UBC News Release

International students fuel enrolment growth at Dal

This year enrolment at Dalhousie University has crossed the 17,000 mark, meeting a goal in the university's strategic plan to "expand total enrolment to 17,000 students by September 2012." Much of the growth is among international students, whose numbers have risen from 1,770 last year to 2,104. The strongest areas of growth are China (up 221 students to 669), Saudi Arabia (up 38 to 254), India (up 23 to 197), and the US (continuing a steady climb to 153). Dal News

Canadian universities need to do more to foster student entrepreneurship

In an address to the Economic Club of Canada Wednesday, Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy said "it’s young people who will produce the next wave of innovative ideas and intellectual property,” and called on Canadian universities to build on their excellence in discovery-driven research and offer more support to students involved in market-driven research and innovation. Levy stated that to help student innovators reach their potential, universities must take on 3 additional tasks: connect the best and most passionate innovators to each other, and to business, at the earliest stages; teach those innovators how to be their own bosses; and support the kind of research that leads directly to markets and to economic benefit. Levy's speech builds on remarks he made in March 2009 on Ryerson's vision to develop a digital media innovation cluster in downtown Toronto. In April 2010, the university launched the Digital Media Zone, which has since incubated and accelerated the development of 34 companies and partnered with another 50. Ryerson News Release | Sheldon Levy's Speech to the Economic Club

Nearly 500 UK private colleges lose right to recruit foreign students following new government regulations

The UK government announced Wednesday that 474 private colleges have lost their right to recruit overseas students after failing to sign up for the Home Office's new rules for inspection of the sector. Under the government's new regime for student visas, all education providers must apply for highly trusted sponsor status and be inspected by bodies such as the Quality Assurance Agency. The Home Office reports that 51 colleges have had their licenses revoked following an investigation into more than 100 schools showing a surge in applications from South Asia just before English language rules were tightened earlier this year. As a result, over 4,500 of these applications have been refused or withdrawn. UK Home Office News | Times Higher Education

Queen's students develop sites to sell notes, discuss academic material

On Monday, a pair of Queen's University students launched "Loop Notes," a site where students can sell and buy class notes. To ensure quality, all notes up for sale are rated and reviewed by previous buyers. Students who sell notes on the site receive 60% of their listed price. Loop Notes users can also rate courses offered at Queen's. Meanwhile, another pair of Queen's students runs "eVersity," an online forum where students can share and discuss material and information on a variety of subjects. Users will be able to earn points by participating in surveys provided by eVersity sponsors. Both companies say their services do not infringe on academic integrity. Queen's Journal (student newspaper) | Loop Notes | eVersity

"Freshman 15" just a myth, US study finds

Contrary to popular belief, most post-secondary students don't gain anywhere close to 15 pounds during their first year, according to new research from Ohio State University. The study found that rather than adding the "freshman 15," the average student gains between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds during their freshman year. College has little to do with the weight gain, the study observes; the typical first-year student only gains about a half-pound more than a same-age individual who did not attend college. The findings suggest media reporting on the "freshman 15" myth may have serious implications. “Repeated use of the phrase ‘the freshman 15,’ even if it is being used just as a catchy, alliterative figure of speech, may contribute to the perception of being overweight, especially among young women,” says one of the study's authors. Ohio State U Research News