Top Ten

November 15, 2011

"Friends of NSCAD" seek to keep institution independent and intact

By month's end, former Nova Scotia deputy minister Howard Windsor, tasked with examining the future of NSCAD University, will report his findings. The province gave Windsor no restrictions. Advanced Education Minister Marilyn More has said she would not rule anything out, including a merger, something that NSCAD has rejected. Awaiting the report's release, the "Friends of NSCAD" is an ad-hoc group comprised of students, alumni, staff, and concerned citizens drumming up support for the institution through town-hall meetings, newsletters, blogs, videos, and button-making and letter-writing campaigns. The group's petition to keep NSCAD intact and independent has, as of yesterday, garnered more than 5,300 signatures. "Q" host Jian Ghomeshi opened the CBC radio program Monday with an essay on NSCAD, touching on its history and reputation. "It would be a shame to see NSCAD broken up or merged or worse," he said. "Maybe it's high time to deem art and culture as a Canadian natural resource that needs to be protected. Here's hoping the Nova Scotia government sees the school's past and its present with clear eyes." The Coast | CBC | Nova Scotia Needs NSCAD | "Friends of NSCAD" Facebook group (login required) | Petition

McGill criticized over handling of standoff following student demonstration

Hundreds of McGill University students and staff gathered outside the institution's James Administration building Monday to denounce the way school administration handled a confrontation on campus last Thursday. Riot police were called after a group of students concluded a tuition-fee protest by occupying McGill's administration building. Students and staff claim that violence and pepper spray were used against students during the standoff. They argue that McGill administration has become too hardline as shown by its handling of the student protesters and striking support workers who have been barred from campus entrances with an injunction. Despite a uniform message of "shame," students at Monday's rally were given space and freedom to vent against McGill, whose principal, Heather Munroe-Blum, sat and listened to the crowd. Munroe-Blum has asked McGill's law dean to investigate the events of last Thursday, while students have launched an independent investigation that aims to report by the end of November. Message from McGill Principal | Montreal Gazette

Adequate funding needed to sustain quality of university education

Funding, not professors, is to blame for the threat to quality at Ontario universities, writes Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations president Constance Adamson for the Toronto Star. The decline in per-student funding in Ontario has left universities unable to hire enough full-time professors to meet the increase in student demand. Many faculty would like teach more, but the current research-focused system is filled with too many disincentives. A "teaching-only" option is not a bad idea, but it should not be viewed as a way to provide university education on the cheap, writes Adamson, adding that Ontario's universities must always be adequately funded to be successful. She states that scholarship has to be recognized as an important part of being a professor and of a university education. "If you remove scholarship from the professoriate or from our universities, you are no longer giving students the education they expect." Toronto Star

AUCC responds to CAUT's letter on new statement on academic freedom

In an open letter to the Canadian Association of University Teachers in response to CAUT's concerns about its new Statement of Academic Freedom, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada says it does not share CAUT's concern that the peer review process and standards of teaching and research may not apply to "ideas at the margin or ideas that are critical of the mainstream." "Our position is based on the rigor of inquiry, not the outcome," the letter states. AUCC says academic freedom is quite different from the broader concepts of freedom of speech, which applies to all Canadians -- its statement focuses on what occurs in an academic setting. In response to CAUT's criticism that the statement does not specifically refer to "service," AUCC says the statement is deliberately focused on teaching and research, and that aspects of service relating to these areas are naturally protected by academic freedom. Read AUCC's letter

Concordia senate approves 2011-16 academic plan

Concordia University's senate recently approved a final version of the Academic Plan 2011-2016, which is now heading to the board of governors for final approval. The objectives identified in the plan are: expanding research strength; promoting program quality and innovation; building support for student success; increasing experiential learning and community engagement; and improving academic leadership and administrative support. Among the actions to reach these objectives are attracting more top graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, increasing participation of undergraduates in research activities, and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of admissions procedures, while actively managing student enrolment. Concordia News | Academic Plan 2011-2016

BCIT opens renovated, expanded Gateway building

Last Wednesday, the British Columbia Institute of Technology celebrated the grand opening of the renovated and expanded Gateway building at its Burnaby campus. The new 5,280-square-metre wing features 33 new multi-use, exam and project rooms and additional study areas in the atrium. Student services are now located in the new wing, which serves as the campus welcoming centre for prospective students and visitors. Renovations to 3 others wings include renewed classroom space and additional faculty offices. The BC government contributed $22.75 million to the project, and the federal government invested $16.3 million. BC News Release

TWU celebrates expanded Neufeld Science Centre

Earlier this month, BC-based Trinity Western University opened its newly expanded Neufeld Science Centre. The 7,778-square-foot expansion includes administrative space for the School of Nursing, as well as research labs for the development of graduate programs in biology and chemistry. The expanded centre also houses the new Dr. Jack Van Dyke Chemistry Research Laboratory, which supports current chemistry faculty research projects. The total project cost $3.9 million. TWU News

Holland College, Skills Canada PEI form partnership

Holland College has signed a memorandum of understanding with Skills Canada PEI (SCPEI), a federally-funded non-profit organization that works with educators, employers, governments, and labour groups to promote skilled trades and technology careers among Island youth. The MOU will bring SCPEI operations under the college umbrella. The president of SCPEI's board says the new agreement will help the organization in its mission to boost awareness around careers in trades and technology. Holland College News Release | Skills Canada PEI website

Nation's image matters in international competition for students

As the worldwide competition for international students heats up, reacting swiftly to media coverage of tuition fee increases or student-visa restrictions, as well as to actual changes in government policy, has become key in successful foreign student recruitment. Even when flawed, perception can quickly affect reality, and for leading destination nations, that can result in lost revenue. As Australia tries to regain lost ground in international-student recruitment in recent years following reported attacks on Indian students and stringent visa rules (which are now being eased), other countries have seized new opportunities. At the federal and provincial level, Canada has moved to enhance marketing overseas, streamline recruitment efforts, and facilitate the application process. The changes are paying off -- Canadian universities have seen an 11% increase in international enrolment over last year to over 100,000 students. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Report identifies gender gaps in PSE around the world

According to the World Economic Forum's latest Global Gender Gap Report, the female-to-male PSE enrolment ratio is highest in Qatar (6.31 to one), followed by the Bahamas (2.70 to one), and Maldives (2.40 to one). The US ratio is 1.40 to one, and in Canada the ratio is 1.36 to one. At the other end of the scale are Chad (0.17 to one), Gambia (0.23 to one), and Benin (0.25 to one). Inside Higher Ed | Global Gender Gap Report 2011