Top Ten

November 23, 2011

McGill principal speaks out on recent student demonstration

Speaking to the Montreal Gazette's editorial board Tuesday, McGill University principal Heather Munroe-Blum said students who occupied the administration building on November 10 were "masked and hooded" and frightened staff. She said she was not happy when riot police arrived and used pepper spray on students and is "sorry students were caught up in the fray and people were hurt. I want to make sure that doesn't happen again." However, campus security officers have no policing power and "when you call the police you don't tell them how to do their job," Munroe-Blum said. In a recent rally, students argued the incident was indicative of a governance problem at McGill. This week, students have been saying Munroe-Blum's ties to Linda Katehi, the chancellor of University of California Davis, where tensions are high after student demonstrators there were pepper sprayed, is suspicious. Munroe-Blum is an adviser to Katehi, though a McGill spokesperson said the appointment has not yet been formally announced. In a message to the McGill community, Munroe-Blum stated "the events of November 10 have served as a wake-up call for me about problems we have with respect to how we communicate, plan and interact as a community, and I commit to work with the McGill community to explore and find solutions to these problems, and to implement them." Message | Montreal Gazette

BC trades groups concerned about new apprenticeship and workplace math course

Under curriculum changes in BC, high schools there offer 3 math pathways: apprenticeship and workplace math, foundations of math, and pre-calculus. The apprenticeship and workplace math pathway is designed to prepare students to enter the majority of trades programs, yet it is drawing concern from several construction trades. "The industry was not consulted" on the curriculum change, says the training director with the Electrical Joint Training Committee, who notes that the minimum requirements for entry-level training with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 213 is precalculus 11, and direct entry into apprenticeship training requires precalculus 12. A spokesperson for BC's education ministry says the content for all new math courses was based on the Western and Northern Canadian Protocol consultation with PSE institutions and industry, and that "the responsibility is on the students, parents and educators to ensure students are obtaining the requirements needed for any post-secondary programs to which they are applying -- whether that is at the work, trades or college and university level." Journal of Commerce

Canada aims to enhance profile in international-student market

At the Canadian Bureau for International Education's annual conference this week, delegates said Canada is in a strong position to boost its global profile following years of disjointed efforts to attract international students. Despite Canada's momentum, PSE officials warn the opportunity could be squandered without new efforts to facilitate student mobility, improve support services for students who remain in Canada after graduation, and reduce student-visa fraud. Federal-immigration officials at the conference suggested they will take steps to mitigate concerns about student-visa fraud. Presenting results from Academica Group's ISPS survey of more than 5,100 high school students in India, Academica president Rod Skinkle told delegates that guidance counsellors remain fairly influential with students, far more than agents, as sources of information on educational programs. However, respondents did say agents are more important than counsellors with regard to dealing with visa applications. Many surveyed students said they researched foreign education institutions well before their senior year of high school, using websites to see what institutions can offer to prepare them for high-quality jobs and possible further study at top graduate and professional institutions. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Okanagan College approved to develop multi-use sports facility

BC's Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) has given Okanagan College permission to allow use of a portion of the Vernon campus for development of a $7.8-million community-owned, multi-use sports facility. The decision relates to a 5.8-hectare portion of the campus that is within the Agricultural Land Reserve. This past March, the ALC turned down Okanagan College's application to reclassify the land for a non-conforming use to allow development of the sports facility, but a subsequent reconsideration at the institution's request led to this recent decision. The proposed facility will feature an Olympic-sized rubberized track, a lighted artificial playing field, a field house, track and field facilities, and bleachers. Okanagan College News Release

Fanshawe students enjoy ROI rate of 6.1%, report finds

According to a new report on the socioeconomic benefits generated by Fanshawe College, students at the institution will enjoy a 6.1% rate of return on their investments of time and money. For every dollar a student invests in Fanshawe, he or she will receive a cumulative $1.38 in higher future earnings over the next 3 decades or so. The report observes that for every credit completed, Fanshawe students will, on average, make $44 more per year every year they are in the workforce. Alternatively, for every full-time year they attend, students will make an additional $1,349 annually. In the aggregate (all existing students), the higher earnings amount to approximately $31.2 million annually for each year they remain in the workforce. Fanshawe News | Executive Summary

Carleton adopts Aboriginal Co-ordinated Strategy

On Wednesday, Carleton University announced its adoption of an Aboriginal Co-ordinated Strategy to emphasize its commitment to engaging Aboriginal students, staff, faculty, and communities. The strategy defines the values governing the institution's relationships with Aboriginal peoples as it furthers its position as a noted centre for Aboriginal learning and innovative research. Carleton is dedicated to welcoming more Aboriginal students and faculty to the institution while boosting community partnerships. "We see this as a starting point for non-Aboriginal students to understand First Peoples, for faculty members who wish to include Indigenous knowledge in their teaching, and for staff to express Aboriginal identities," says Carleton's provost of the strategy, which was approved by the university's senate earlier this year. Carleton News Release | Backgrounder

Ryerson students assigned to propose changes to help new students transition to university

Through an elective social science course, first-year Faculty of Arts students at Ryerson University spent this semester investigating challenges first-year students encounter and proposing solutions. As part of the assignment, students had to observe their environment, interview community members, and cite external sources to support their findings. One group proposed installing a classroom locator in each campus facility to help students find their way easily and efficiently. Another group that examined Ryerson's identity in Toronto's downtown core found there was no geographical separation between the campus and city centre, and agreed more visible signage in transit areas and larger banners spotlighting programs on campus would help distinguish Ryerson from the surrounding neighbourhood. The students displayed their research results at the Ryerson Experience Fair earlier this month. Ryerson News

uWinnipeg launches Professional, Applied and Continuing Education unit

To better reflect the depth and scope of lifelong learning, the University of Winnipeg has created a new unit called Professional, Applied and Continued Education (PACE), which encompasses both full- and part-time certificate and diploma programs. Effective in the new year, PACE replaces the Division of Continuing Education, which was responsible for offering part-time courses when it began 30 years ago. One of the most important new areas of development in PACE is programs for foreign students. This year there are approximately 100 international students enrolled in PACE courses. uWinnipeg News

ACAD launches new website

We've recently noticed that the Alberta College of Art + Design has redesigned its website, whose homepage features a series of rotating graphics in the background that depict students working on their art and examples of artwork. With each rotation the homepage promotes ACAD's Pre College Program, the winter 2012 academic calendar, the students' association's Winter Show and Sale, and the 2012 Show Off Exhibition. The black blocks in the bottom half of the homepage link to news releases and list dates of future events and exhibitions. At the top of the homepage are links to ACAD's Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube and Vimeo channels. ACAD website

Penn State scandal scaring away donors

The child-molestation scandal at Pennsylvania State University is driving donors and alumni to either delay contributing to the institution or not plan to give to it at all. One 2008 alumnus told The Chronicle of Higher Education that it's unlikely he'll donate to Penn State for the next decade, "until they're able to turn the administration around." Some benefactors are taking a "wait-and-see attitude," while others have indicated they no longer want any association with Penn State. Despite the university's recent troubles, Penn State fundraisers have also received encouraging messages from the institution's supporters. The university's senior VP for development and alumni relations has been informed that 4 or 5 potential major donors, who have never made a pledge to Penn State before, say they are ready to give now as a show of support in the wake of the scandal. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)