Top Ten

December 14, 2011

McGill faculty question legitimacy of investigation into on-campus standoff

In advance of today's release of a report on an investigation into an on-campus standoff between protesting McGill University students and riot police, a group of faculty members have presented to the board of governors a petition that questions the legitimacy of the investigation. The fact that the head of the probe -- McGill's law dean -- is a member of the university's administration team raises questions about the investigation, says the professor who initiated the petition. Some consider the mandate too narrow, as the dean was instructed by principal Heather Munroe-Blum not to assign blame to specific individuals, but to consider policies and practices that could prevent such an incident from happening again. Signed by 11 campus organizations, 82 staff, 85 students, and 11 alumni, the petition states that "trust in the university as a space of free expression and dissent can only be restored through a genuinely independent and external inquiry." Montreal Gazette

Queen's Arts and Science Faculty Board seeks reinstatement of BFA admission

At a meeting last Friday, the Arts and Science Faculty Board passed a motion to reinstate admission to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program, which was suspended due to a shortage of resources, reports the university's student newspaper. The motion also calls on the arts and science dean and associate dean to consult with the senate and faculty board with regard to the fate of programs. The vote will not affect the suspension decision as it is not in the faculty board's authority to rule in a resource issue, says the dean. Queen's has asked its lawyer to offer her legal opinion on whether the dean does, in fact, have the overriding authority to halt admission to a program. Since the senate and faculty board are limited in their resources to hire a lawyer to represent their opinion, the next step is to ask for help elsewhere, including from the faculty association, says a physics professor. Queen's Journal (student newspaper)

NB allocates $10 million for PSE institutions in capital budget

On Tuesday, New Brunswick's finance minister unveiled a $948-million capital budget, in which the government is allocating $10 million for university and community college infrastructure in 2012-13. The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) will receive $7.5 million to fund deferred maintenance costs for universities. Estimates show that MPHEC will receive $2 million in 2013-14 and in 2014-15. NB News Release | CBC | Capital Estimates 2012-13

Algonquin College raises over $7.5 million in fundraising campaign for Centre for Construction Excellence

Algonquin College announced yesterday it has raised more than $7.5 million in a campaign supporting the recently opened Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence. Exceeding the $7-million goal, the fundraising campaign is the most successful in the institution's history. The surplus from the campaign will go toward the creation of the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence Endowed Bursary, which will provide financial support to up to 40 students annually. Algonquin College News Release

Occupy SFU pushes for open-university concept at Burnaby campus

The Occupy movement has made its way to Simon Fraser University, where a dozen students are working to establish an "open university" at the Burnaby campus. The group wants to highlight underfunding from the BC government and organize free public teach-ins on campus. One organizer describes the open-university concept as a series of teach-ins on a number of subjects, particularly social issues. Professors or students can lead a half-hour session, followed by an open discussion. 2 professors are already on board with the idea, and the organizer is hoping to recruit more. Burnaby Now

NWT launches review of student aid program

The Northwest Territories' Department of Education, Culture, and Employment has initiated a review of the territory's student financial assistance program. The independent review will determine whether the basic grant, supplementary grant, remissible loan, and repayable loan levels are at appropriate levels to help students in pursuing higher education. Approximately 1,400 students access the program on an annual basis. Student Financial Assistance Review | CJCD Mix 100 News

Academica research assesses effectiveness of literacy remediation program at George Brown College

Commissioned by HEQCO, a new study produced by George Brown College in collaboration with Academica Group assesses the impact of a pilot program at the college that targeted reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills of practical nursing students with diverse remedial English language needs. The study observes that the initiative did not have a strong effect on overall GPA, and identifies a number of challenges with administering the program, such as logistical problems and the time required for initial development of the curriculum. Given these challenges and the absence of a demonstrable significant and consistent benefit to the students, the college is phasing out the initiative from its practical nursing program. The study states that alternative approaches to strengthen students' communication skills to support success both within their program and the nursing profession will need to be further investigated for greater effectiveness and viability than this pilot program has demonstrated. Research Summary | Full Report

StatsCan article summarizes report on PSE participation among under-represented and minority groups

In a new Education Matters article, Statistics Canada summarizes the key findings of a recent study on the characteristics of youth who historically have been under-represented in the PSE student population and the factors that play a role in the decision to pursue higher education. The groups identified include youth from lower-income families; those from families with no parental history of attending PSE; those living in rural areas; first- and second-generation children of immigrants; those from single parent (or other "non-traditional") families; and Aboriginal youth. The study observes that the effect of being from a lower-income family decreases significantly as one's membership in the other identified groups is considered. The research found that being from a rural area is a significant risk factor for PSE participation, particularly university, and that being in a single-parent family has no independent effect on university participation after taking into account membership in the other groups. Overall, the findings lead the researchers to conclude that parental education is the single most important determinant of youth participation in higher education. Statistics Canada

Labour market remains flat for PSE grads, CACEE report finds

According to the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers' 2011 Campus Recruitment and Benchmark Survey Report, college and university students graduating in 2012 will face the same flat labour market as their peers from 2011, with hiring rates virtually frozen. The report observes that graduates will have difficulty connecting with employers who are hiring as campus recruiting activities have declined for the third consecutive year. CACEE states that graduates who do find employment can expect to earn more money, as starting salaries will increase by 10% over the previous year. CACEE News Release

UBC overhauls teacher ed program

The ever-evolving role of educators and the increasing concern over job shortages for new teachers prompted the revision of the University of British Columbia's one-year Teacher Education Program, which includes new mandatory classes on Aboriginal perspectives, teaching English as an additional language, teaching French in elementary school, special education, and research and inquiry seminars. The revised program will also emphasize social and ecological justice and diversity. Student teachers will be required to complete a practicum in a non-traditional teaching setting, which is intended to open students' eyes to the variety of career options they face. UBC Reports | Vancouver Sun