Top Ten

January 9, 2012

Former Marianopolis student alleges sexual exploitation in lawsuit against CÉGEP, instructor

A former Marianopolis College student has filed a $750,000 lawsuit against the Montreal-based CÉGEP and a popular English instructor for sexual exploitation beginning in 2001. The student, who was 17 when the relationship started, claims the instructor, who was 57 at the time, began exploiting him when he was a student in his introduction to college English class, and that their physical relationship lasted another 4 years, with the knowledge of at least one other faculty member. In a letter to returning students and faculty, Marianopolis' director general and board chairman say the CÉGEP and the instructor have "agreed (he) will no longer be working," leading up to his retirement in June. The letter says the college, first informed of the claims last spring, examined the situation carefully, requesting full details from the student, and interviewing the teacher and other members of the CÉGEP community, and concluded that the relationship was consensual. However, Marianopolis does acknowledge that there are 2 different versions of events. The lawsuit will be presented before a judge on January 31. Montreal Gazette

Ontario cuts $42 million from university research grants

The Toronto Star reports that the Ontario government has quietly cut $42 million from the Ontario Research Fund because of "current fiscal challenges." Universities say they were given no notice about the cuts, which are targeted to the social sciences, arts and humanities and the research excellence programs. The chair of the Ontario Council on University Research says the $42-million loss will be felt over the next 2 years of grant application funding. Toronto Star

NS universities urged to make cuts at administrative level

The president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies says Nova Scotia universities should make cuts at the administrative level in order to deal with reduced government funding, as well as consider cutting some departments or classes. He says merging of administrative services or even sharing facilities is another possible way to cut costs. The president of the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers agrees that there is room to cut at the administration level, but would like the province to have some involvement in the way institutions spend on administration costs. Cape Breton University president John Harker says he thinks there is "an appetite" among universities to examine whether there are common services that could be shared to save money. Chronicle Herald

Alberta med students propose methods to attract more Aboriginal students to profession

Last month, a group of medical students from the Universities of Alberta and Calgary met with Alberta's health minister and MLAs from across the province to discuss concerns they have, particularly that a disproportionately high number of medical students come from high-income families. The students propose various initiatives such as a new bursary or financial assistance program for medical school applicants and government funding to launch a mentorship program for students from rural and Aboriginal communities and low socio-economic backgrounds. Part of the problem in trying to recruit more Aboriginal students is that high school graduation rates for Aboriginal people are significantly lower than for the rest of the population. The message the University of Alberta's medical school is trying to get out is that Aboriginal youth are able and needed in medical school and other health professions, but they need to stay in school to get there. Edmonton Journal

MUN science faculty develops new strategic plan

Memorial University's science faculty has approved a new strategic plan, whose purpose is to provide guidance to the faculty for the next decade and anticipate and prepare for research, teaching, and service in the ever-changing environment within the university. In the plan, the faculty predicts graduate enrolment will increase while undergraduate numbers will remain stable but become more ethnically diverse and distance courses will continue to grow. The science faculty's biggest challenges are expected to stem from infrastructure issues, but the faculty is optimistic that with a revitalized provincial economy, significant new construction will likely happen within the next 10 years. MUN News | Faculty of Science Strategic Plan

How professors are accommodating students with Asperger's

University professors across Canada are finding themselves faced with a rising number of students with Asperger's Syndrome and are feeling the effect on classroom dynamics, reports University Affairs. Academic accommodations for these students may range from allowing extra time for exams and quiet rooms in which to write them to allowing note-takers or recording devices in class. As with other disabilities, accommodation does not mean expecting less of a student with Asperger's or providing extra instruction not given to other students, but rather to level the playing field. A 2010 study found gaps in support for students with Asperger's, pointing out what a giant leap it is for students transitioning from high school to PSE. For example, at the high school level, Asperger's students may have had access to "well-trained special educators," while at university, the training for professors in how to deal with disabilities is optional. University Affairs

NextGenU targets learners in developing world

Erica Frank, a professor at the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health, is the founder of Next Generation University (NextGenU), which offers free online courses, particularly in health sciences. Although primarily directed toward people in developing countries, NextGenU courses can be taken by anyone for either credit at an accredited PSE institution or solely for continued education and training. Evaluation is conducted through peer and mentor assessment in addition to quizzes and final exams coordinated by NextGenU. Frank is planning for her initiative to award completely free degrees in the future. The Ubyssey (student newspaper) | NextGenU

RDC develops new version of mobile app

Red Deer College has created a new application for the iPhone and Android-operated devices. Key features from the previous version of the app remain, such as access and updates to class schedules, campus maps, and links to social media streams on campus. Using the app, students can access the academic schedule, their personal calendar, emergency information and procedures, and give feedback on the app, which also features campus news and events. RDC News Release

MLA rejects proposal urging members to discuss budget cuts to PSE in classroom

At last week's meeting of the Modern Language Association, members of the MLA's Delegate Assembly voted against a proposal that the association encourage members to talk at least once in each course about the impact of budget cuts to higher education. Put forward by the MLA's Radical Caucus, the proposal stated that budget cuts "continue unabated" and are "relevant to every discipline and every subject," making them appropriate topics for discussion in the classroom. Delegates who spoke against the proposal questioned whether it was fair to encourage the MLA's many adjunct members to do something that might get them in trouble if, for example, a dean wanted to know why an instructor was focusing on a class discussion on budget cutbacks. Others said they thought it was totally appropriate for instructors to speak about budget cuts in class, but that it was not appropriate for the MLA to tell its members what to do in the classroom. Inside Higher Ed

Children's savings play vital role in college success, US report finds

Research observes that saving during childhood is associated with enrolling in and graduating from college, even when controlling for academic achievement, family income, parents' education, and race, according to a new report from the New America Foundation. Not all children have equal access to savings opportunities, says the report, which suggests that broadening access to children's savings for PSE could reduce reliance on student loan debt and be a more cost-effective measure of getting more students to college. The report states that creating a universal system of Children's Savings Accounts would create a self-reinforcing cycle: the savings lead to more positive expectations, and more positive expectations lead to having savings and increased college attendance. New America Foundation News Release | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Read the report