Top Ten

December 7, 2011

No criminal charges in failed Saskatchewan college merger

A review by Saskatchewan's justice ministry of the failed merger of Carlton Trail Regional College and St. Peter's College found no evidence to warrant criminal prosecution. Following up on reports of a forensic audit of the 2 institutions, the review confirms the financial management systems at St. Peter's have to be strengthened. Saskatchewan's advanced education minister says that is ongoing, with the institution now having been placed on probation and under the oversight of the University of Saskatchewan. The minister has also written to the Canada Revenue Agency asking it to review any improper income tax reporting at the institutions. The provincial New Democrats' PSE critic says there are still many unanswered questions, including what's contained in any unreleased reports. According to information released by the government Tuesday, the province has spent approximately $415,000 on the investigation into the matter. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix | CBC

Carleton passes on partnership with Navitas

Carleton has decided against establishing a college on campus for international students to be set up by Navitas Group, an Australian-based for-profit education firm. "We believe (Navitas) would be an excellent partner to deliver a pathway program however, we have decided to leverage our existing expertise to focus on growing our current international program," says Carleton's provost. Perth Now

HEC Montréal students involved in blackface incident complete sensitivity training

A group of about 30 HEC Montréal students who covered themselves with black paint and chanted in mock Jamaican accents at a frosh-week event in September has completed courses in racial sensitivity training. The students took part in 3 sessions totalling 10 hours in a customized racial awareness program. In these sessions, students talked about why the incident sparked an uproar, were shown what such an incident could mean for the community at large, and explored what racial sensitivity means in daily life, especially for future managers working in a multicultural environment. HEC will require student associations and groups that organize activities to participate in the sessions in the future. The business school will launch next term an awareness campaign projected on video screens throughout campus on the issue of respect, focusing on racism and sexism. Montreal Gazette

uRegina student pushes for mandatory indigenous studies at institution

A University of Regina student has begun a petition to make indigenous studies mandatory for all degree, diploma, and certificate programs at the university. The idea behind the move is to end racism. The student says a lot of people are coming out of these classes really enlightened and more informed about the current situation of indigenous people. The student has garnered more than 400 signatures so far. Once she receives 2,000 signatures, the student will present the petition to uRegina president Vianne Timmons. If the university' senate approves the change to the curriculum, the student says she will pursue making indigenous studies mandatory across Canada. CTV

Teaching skill, course design matter more than class size, report finds

If university class size matters, skill and competency of the instructor, teaching approaches, and course design probably matter more, observes new research from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario on efforts to deal with the challenges of maintaining teaching and learning quality in large classes. Given the projected demand for higher education in Ontario, particularly for undergraduate education, it is likely that large university classes and associated challenges are here to stay, the report notes. Although fiscal constraints may have led to larger classes, effective teaching methods are not necessarily less costly in terms of resources; employing technology and examining new teaching approaches require substantial investments of time and money, as well as rigorous evaluation. The research findings indicate that "the challenges involved in teaching large university classes can be overcome with appropriate vision, support and cooperation of institutions, faculty and students." Research Summary | Full Report

Part-time study not always a wise choice for undergraduates

For as long he has been teaching, Craig Monk, the associate dean of the University of Lethbridge's Faculty of Arts and Science, has been asked to accept that a reduced course load is good for students; however, growing evidence suggests this approach may be wrongheaded. In a University Affairs column, Monk says studies at uLethbridge show no statistical difference in performance between students taking 4 classes a semester and those taking 5, but students enrolled in 3 classes actually perform worse, likely distracted by what they are doing elsewhere. There is also pressure to dilute academic content, Monk writes; students on a reduced course load may expect to be absolved of having a missed critical course in their programs. Although there is no simple solution to the student funding crisis, Monk feels that bold action is warranted, starting with recognizing that part-time work that requires students to scale back full-time study is "harmful to us all." Possible courses of action include reorganizing "programs to mandate a series of co-requisites that obliges students to do programs in blocks; and tuition schedules could be rearranged to provide an incentive to students doing a full load of five classes." University Affairs

Durham College breaks ground for Centre for Food

On December 1, Durham College held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Centre for Food, the final phase of the college's Whitby campus expansion. To accommodate approximately 900 students enrolled in culinary, hospitality, tourism, agricultural, and horticultural programs, the 36,000-square-foot centre will feature state-of-the-art labs, classrooms, research and meeting space, and a full-service green-certified restaurant and lounge open to the public. The centre is slated to open in September 2013. Durham College News

NorQuest receives over $3 million for project on learning opportunities for rural adults

The Rural Alberta Development Fund's board of directors has approved $3.2 million in funding to support a collaborative delivery model aimed at boosting access to quality learning for rural adults. Led by NorQuest College, the Collaborative Delivery of Foundational Learning for Rural Learners project will identify the learning needs of adult learners within the institution's stewardship region to better prepare them for PSE or employment opportunities in their communities. Up to a dozen communities will take part in the project by providing learning sites, tutorial and student supports, and in-depth knowledge of the learning needs for adults in their areas. The project is expected to be completed by December 2013. RADF News Release

Sheridan launches new website

Sheridan College has given its website a makeover, "intended to establish a contemporary and refreshed Web presence for the college." Along with an updated homepage, Sheridan has created a new "skin" for its site, meaning that all of the Web navigation and content structure stay the same, but laid out with more up-to-date styling. Visitors to the site can manipulate the graphic banner on the homepage, which highlights Sheridan's academic programming, including its baccalaureate programs and post-graduate gaming programs. Homepage features include alumni success stories and links to Sheridan's social media accounts. Sheridan website

Report recommends US institutions consider personal characteristics in predicting graduation rates

A new US report argues that PSE institutions need more than just basic information from students to determine their graduation rate. By examining data from incoming students, such as their emotional health, whether their parents attended university, whether they will work while completing their degree, and how they chose their institution, PSE schools can be more accurate in predicting their graduation rate. By taking into account these characteristics, "as well as an institution’s mission, colleges and universities could precisely assess how effective they are at moving students toward completion of their degrees over four, five, and six years.” UCLA Higher Education Research Institute News Release | Read the report