Top Ten

November 25, 2011

Laurentian renames engineering school for $10-million gift

Forbes & Manhattan, Inc. chairman and CEO Stan Bharti announced Thursday a $10-million donation to Laurentian University's School of Engineering as part of the "Sudbury Families" initiative, bringing the total raised in Laurentian's "Next 50" campaign to $48.6 million. In recognition of the gift, Laurentian will rename the school as the Bharti School of Engineering. The Bharti family's donation will be invested in an endowment to the exclusive use of the engineering school, supporting classrooms and teaching lab improvements, scholarships and fellowships for top students, recruitment of top engineering faculty, school branding, student recruitment, and career and placement services for engineering graduates. Laurentian News Release

Lukács case will not affect future challenges by profs of uManitoba decisions

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association says the case of former math professor Gábor Lukács has no bearing on any future challenge a faculty member makes to university decisions. Because Lukács and uManitoba reached a deal that ended his dispute with the institution over it awarding a PhD to a student who had twice failed a mandatory exam and who claimed to have extreme exam anxiety, "(Lukács' grievance hearing) did not conclude; it was halted, and therefore has no bearing on anything," wrote UMFA's president in response to questions from the Winnipeg Free Press, adding that "there are no resolved matters nor any unresolved matters that are at issue." He did note that the definitions of conditions that let uManitoba bestow a degree on a student who has not completed all the requirements are not universally understood. uManitoba president David Barnard is carrying out his promise to consult the institutional community about accommodation, says a university official. An ad-hoc committee will report to senate on issues regarding the awarding of degrees notwithstanding completion of requirements, and about the authority of deans and department heads in ruling on academic standing. Winnipeg Free Press

Who's winning the war of Quebec tuition websites?

By all accounts, students are, reports the Montreal Gazette. The day after massive student demonstrations against tuition fee hikes, the Quebec government launched a website to explain its position and justify the fee increases. Shortly after, a site parroting that of the province countered the government's position and offered a student perspective. "This counterspin was brilliant and savvy," says a Concordia University communications professor. "What the students did was incredibly clever, provocative and really resonates." Despite criticism of the government buying Google keywords to direct students to its site, the education minister's press aide says the site has been a resounding success, generating more than 100,000 hits in a week. "Their website ended up angering students," says a Student Society of McGill University executive. "The government showed it's not listening to students and their website became known for the joke it generated." Montreal Gazette

Institutional culture key in delivering effective student services

Institutional context, culture, and mission cannot be overlooked in the organizational structure for student affairs and services (SAS) divisions, concludes a new Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario report. Many SAS staff interviewed said faculty do not comprehend the role of their program or initiative in fostering student success. The report states that by engaging in town hall style meetings and other collaborative efforts, many schools have started to open communication, promote partnerships, and encourage innovation between staff and faculty. Students are also an important partner in delivering effective SAS programs, the report finds. Institutions that seek student input and volunteers to help create and implement programming seem to benefit greatly through positive relationships and increased participation in leadership and mentoring programs. The need for SAS program continues to grow as students demographics shift, and government funding is often available to provide assistance. However, the report notes it is critical that any program driven by government investment is integrated into an institution's whole vision, particularly for one-time or short-term funding. Research Summary | Full Report

Algoma U earns above-average grades in NSSE

Algoma University reports that it scored higher than the Ontario average in 3 of 5 National Survey of Student Engagement benchmarks of effective educational practice. The survey observed that responding first-year Algoma U students are nearly twice as likely to have discussions with instructors about their work as students elsewhere in the Ontario system, and senior students are nearly twice as likely to chat with instructors about their career plans. 54% of first-year and 70% of senior students at Algoma U said they asked questions or contributed to class discussions, compared to 33% and 53%, respectively, in the rest of Ontario. Half of responding first-year Algoma U students discussed grades or assignments with instructors, compared to a provincial average of 28%. 89% of senior Algoma U students rated their relationship with professors positively, compared to a provincial average of 69%. Algoma U News Release

Colleges Ontario, Institutes of Technology Ireland sign student mobility MOU

Colleges Ontario will sign an agreement with Institutes of Technology Ireland today that will allow Ontario college students to complete degree programs in Ireland and Irish students to obtain graduate certificates from Ontario colleges. Under the agreement, students would get financial aid to study abroad. For example, Ontario students heading to Ireland would see their tuition fees trimmed by more than 15%. The first Ontario students eligible to complete their studies in Ireland could be going overseas as early as next September. Colleges Ontario News Release

ACCC signs 5-year MOU on applied research partnerships in Brazil

The Association of Canadian Community Colleges and the Secretariat of Professional and Technological Education of the Ministry of Education of Brazil have signed a 5-year memorandum of understanding that includes provisions for joint partnerships in applied research and for finding innovative solutions that can be applied to the commercial, educational, and industrial sectors of Canada and Brazil. The signing followed the second Brazil-Canada Forum on Technical and Professional Education held in Montreal earlier this month. The 2 Fora have resulted in 50 MOUs between Brazilian and Canadian institutions. ACCC News Release

More Aboriginal students in BC completing secondary school

Earlier this month, the BC government reported that more Aboriginal students are completing secondary school in the province, with the completion rate for these students reaching 53.7% in 2010-11, up from 50.4% in 2009-10. Over the past decade, the completion rate for Aboriginal students has risen by 11%. This year's provincial school completion results show improvements among all student sub-populations -- Aboriginal, ESL, female, male, and special needs. Overall, BC's completion rate rose to its highest level yet at 81%. BC News Release

Prospective students can "fly" around campus in new uWinnipeg virtual tour

The University of Winnipeg has launched a new virtual tour that uses 3D interactive technology to enable prospective students to fly around campus. Users of the virtual tour are able to zoom in on 13 locations, including McFeetors Hall: Great-West Life Student Residence, the Richardson College for the Environment and Science Complex, and the proposed Multi-Purpose Field House Health and Wellness Complex. Users can click on the blue arrows in the navigation wheel to move around campus. There is also an option for a self-running guided tour. uWinnipeg News | uWinnipeg 3D Virtual Tour

China to cut majors that have low employment rates

China's education ministry announced last week it plans to phase out majors that are producing unemployable graduates. The government will soon begin evaluating post-secondary majors by the employment rates, downsizing or even cancelling those programs in which less than 60% of graduates fail for 2 successive years to find work. This is the latest effort by the education ministry in ensuring employment for university graduates, whose number will reach 6.8 million next year. The ministry's move is drawing criticism from many university professors who say it will likely shrink the talent pool needed for a variety of subjects that are critical to China's goal of becoming a leader in science and technology but lack strong market demand. China Daily | Wall Street Journal