Top Ten

January 6, 2012

NS university presidents, students criticize funding cuts

The Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents is expressing disappointment with the province's decision to reduce its annual operating grant to universities for the second consecutive year. The 3% reduction, as outlined in a new 3-year MOU between Nova Scotia universities and the province, "is another blow to the quality and national competitiveness of the province's universities," says CONSUP chair and Cape Breton University president John Harker. The cut in government funding, along with a 3% cap on tuition fee increases, means Nova Scotia students "will be paying more and getting less," says the Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students. NS News Release | CONSUP News Release | CFS News Release | MOU

NS appoints facilitator to help NSCAD become financially sustainable

The Nova Scotia government has appointed Dan O'Brien, the former president of St. Thomas University, to help NSCAD University explore its options to make the institution financially sustainable. The appointment follows the province and university jointly accepting Howard Windsor's report on NSCAD. In his role as facilitator, O'Brien will help identify, assess, and evaluate opportunities for collaboration. He will also work with the university to oversee the curriculum review and space utilization study. NSCAD is expected to deliver a plan to Advanced Education Minister Marilyn More by March 31, outlining what steps it will take to become sustainable. NS News Release

Ontario funding new tuition grant by cutting expenditures

Now open for applications, a $420-million program to offer about half of Ontario's PSE students a refund equal to 30% of the average undergraduate arts and science tuition will be funded by cutting expenditures, and not with new money, the provincial government says. The government has taken flak because the grant program excludes many students, such as those in graduate and part-time programs, those out of secondary school more than 4 years, international students, and students enrolled in registered private career colleges. The Ontario chapter of the CFS estimates the province could instead have cut tuition fees by 13% across the board using the same amount of money being used to fund the grants. While the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance welcomes the program as "a very real and very significant relief to student," it is disappointed by the government's decision to pay for some of the grant by cancelling a trio of existing financial supports. Ontario News Release | Colleges Ontario News Release | CSA News Release | CFS News Release | OUSA News Release | OACC News Release | Globe and Mail

Private residence plan not good for UoGuelph, president says

University of Guelph president Alastair Summerlee says a towering student dormitory on property currently occupied by a neighbouring Best Western hotel would not be in the best interest of the institution for a number of reasons. Such a complex would attract students away from campus residences, says Summerlee, adding that if Abode Varsity Living's proposal to build a twin tower high-rise goes ahead, UoGuelph would have to rethink its plans to construct new student housing. The institution has plans to build an on-campus residence with a private-sector partner, targeting fall 2014 as an opening date. Summerlee says UoGuelph's "competitive edge" depends on enhancing its residential capacity soon. Currently, the university uses converted space in the hotel as overflow housing for its students. Guelph Mercury

uWaterloo campaign encourages students to embrace integrity

A recent initiative at the University of Waterloo is designed to foster a culture of integrity among students and other members of the community in all parts of their lives on campus. The program seeks to boost awareness about what is expected of students with regard to integrity in the classroom, at work, and in residence. The initiative features 4 posters, each with an accompanying video, to show students in typical settings in a campus community -- academics, athletics, residence, and workplace. As part of the program, first-year undergraduates receive fact sheets on academic integrity. They can also take online academic integrity tutorials and check the integrity of their papers by using a citation generator that helps them avoid plagiarism. The campaign's main goal is to raise awareness of how the 5 values of integrity -- fairness, honesty, respect, responsibility, and trust -- should define the community at uWaterloo. uWaterloo Daily Bulletin | Integrity at Waterloo

Missouri governor axes plan to borrow from universities to help balance budget

Missouri's governor has dropped a plan to tap university reserves to help balance the state's budget. The governor's administration had considered taking $106 million from the reserves of 5 of the state's largest universities to help fund the PSE operating budget for the 2013 fiscal year. The reserves would have been replenished over several years with funding from the state's student loan agency. The proposal had not gone over well with some university officials and Missouri lawmakers, whose approval would have been required. Some lawmakers had raised concerns about whether the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority could afford to replenish university reserves. Associated Press

US study finds mixed results for students enrolled in for-profit institutions

Recent research from Harvard University observes that for-profit colleges educate a disproportionate share of disadvantaged, minority, and older students, and are more successful than public and private non-profit institutions at retaining students in their first year and graduating them from short-term programs. However, the study also found that students who enrol in for-profit colleges are less likely to be employed than comparable students from non-profit colleges, and tend to have lower earnings 6 years after attending. Students at for-profit institutions also carry heavier debt burdens and are more likely to default on their loans, researchers found. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

UK universities move to reassure Indian students following fatal shooting

The president of Universities UK has written to newspapers in India expressing his "deep sadness" at the fatal shooting of an Indian student on Boxing Day. In his letter, the president stresses that UK institutions take foreign students' well-being "very seriously." "We at Universities UK would want to reassure current and future Indian students and their parents that this kind of incident is thankfully exceptionally rare," the letter states. The correspondence follows extensive media coverage in India about the murder. Similar reporting on attacks on Indian students in Australia in recent years was cited as a major reason for a decline in applications to study in that country. Times Higher Education

Strategies to better serve Millennial students and their parents

In the face of fewer students, a weak economy, less government support, greater accountability, and more demands for assessment, it is important that PSE institutions understand and are prepared to respond proactively to the post-2010 Millennial students and their Generation X parents, write Alan Galsky and Joyce Shotick of Illinois-based Bradley University for The Chronicle of Higher Education. They recommend several strategies for institutions to better serve the new generations of students and their parents. These include setting up an Office of Parent Relations; regularly providing current information on retention, graduation, and job-placement rates; offering clear and concise information on financial aid; offering parents opportunities to get involved in positive ways, such as a parents' board; offering more opportunities for internships and community service; and using current technology to communicate with, recruit, educate, and retain students, and to keep parents informed. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Employment continues to decline among Canadian youth

According to Statistics Canada's latest Labour Force Survey, employment among 15- to 24-year-olds declined for the third month in a row, down 17,000 in December. With this drop, youth employment was 12,000 below its level of 12 months prior (-0.5%). 15- to 24-year-olds in Prince Edward Island made the most gains last month with a 3.5 percentage point increase in their employment rate, while Alberta recorded the highest youth employment rate, which sits at 64.6%. Statistics Canada | Labour Force Survey