Top Ten

January 10, 2012

UVic employee information stolen during weekend break-in

A weekend break-in at the University of Victoria resulted in the theft of personal information -- including bank account numbers and social insurance numbers -- of over 11,000 current and former employees at the institution. UVic is notifying all of its employees about the incident and advising them of steps to take to make sure their privacy and identities are not compromised. The institution is planning an internal review of its security and privacy policies in light of the theft. UVic News Release | Victoria Times-Colonist | CBC

McGuinty defends cuts to Ontario Research Fund

Tough choices must be made as Ontario navigates through a worldwide recession, and that includes a $42-million cut to the Ontario Research Fund, says Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. "We've entered into an era of slower growth for our economy. Our government expenditures must also mirror that," McGuinty says. "We have to put an emphasis on those things we think most directly help grow the economy and create jobs." "What is the incentive to go to graduate school if you’re not going to get the proper education and research funding that it takes to get yourself into the workforce?” wonders the New Democrats' PSE critic. "The McGuinty Liberals decision to unilaterally slash the fund further undermines Ontario’s economy at the worst possible time." Bonnie Patterson, president of the Council of Ontario Universities, says the greatest long-term harm as a result of these cuts may be that done to universities' reputations with local industry. "To me, it's the credibility of partnerships with universities (that suffers)," she says. Toronto Star | Globe and Mail

Nearly 200 students drop out of Brandon U following strike

Brandon University's VP of administration and finance says that 6.3% of students (193) have dropped out of the institution since November. He says it is fair to assume Brandon U's 45-day faculty strike in the fall is the main reason for the dropouts. The VP says the university is doing what it can to fix its reputation. "We're doing a lot of things to make sure our attraction and retention of students is as good as it can be and our reaching out to the broader community is as good as it can be." CBC

Algoma U to experiment with block plan at St. Thomas satellite campus

Next September, students enrolled at Algoma University's satellite campus in St. Thomas, Ontario will study one subject intensively for 3 weeks -- a delivery model known as the "block plan." Algoma U president Richard Myers says the approach could help set a small university like Algoma U apart from other PSE institutions. "I think there would be all sorts of students who would say, ‘you know what, Sault Ste. Marie might be far away from where I live in Toronto or Halifax or some place, but this is the only publicly funded university that uses this approach -- and I want to go there'," he says. It remains to be seen whether the block plan experiment will be expanded to Algoma U's main campus in Sault Ste. Marie -- a decision that rests with the institution's senate. CBC

What's wrong with the Ontario tuition grant

There are many things wrong with the Ontario government's new tuition rebate, writes Ken Coates, a University of Waterloo history professor, for the National Post. One troubling aspect, he says, is the rebate's "absurdly" high cut-off, as students whose families have a combined income of $160,000 will qualify for the grant. Another issue is that provincial and federal governments already underwrite much of the cost of higher education through direct grants to PSE institutions, RESPs, and tax receipts for students, writes Coates. He concludes that "the tuition rebate idea is an outstandingly bad and expensive one, coming at a most importune time in Ontario's fiscal history." National Post

Carleton to open new Aboriginal centre

Carleton University announced Monday that it will create a new, expanded space for an Aboriginal centre on campus. The centre will be situated on the first floor of Paterson Hall, overlooking the quad. Renovations are slated for completion by this fall. The centre will serve as a gathering place for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, staff, and faculty members who want to spend time together, visit with Elders, study, or engage in research. Carleton News Release

GreenMetric names York U Canada's greenest university

York University has ranked first among Canadian universities in a worldwide campus sustainability survey, placing 14th overall. The 2011 UI GreenMetric World University Ranking evaluated participating universities in 42 nations based on criteria such as the application of eco-sustainability policies and efforts, commuting practices, energy consumption, percentage of green space on campus, and waste and water management. The other Canadian universities included in the ranking are uOttawa (15), uSherbrooke (21), uLaval (51), and SFU (54). Y-File | 2011 UI GreenMetric World University Ranking

uWinnipeg launches mobile site, app

The University of Winnipeg announced Monday the launch of its new mobile website, with which users can access campus news and events, transit information, campus maps, an online faculty and staff directory, links to social media, and emergency information. In addition, uWinnipeg's Information, Communication & Technology Studies (ICT) department has released a free iPhone application called Mobile-U, which provides real-time class schedules and alerts, program news, and upcoming events specially geared to ICT students. uWinnipeg News Release | uWinnipeg mobile website | Mobile-U

US News releases its first-ever ranking of online degree programs

Yesterday US News & World Report published its inaugural guide to online degree programs. Unlike its annual ranking of residential colleges, the magazine's new guide does not provide lists based on overall program quality, so no institution can boast that it hosts the top online bachelor's or online master's program. Instead, US News produced "honor rolls," spotlighting colleges that consistently performed well across the ranking criteria, which include student services, student engagement, faculty credentials, and admissions selectivity. To ensure the rankings were reliable, US News formulated its ranking methodology after the survey data was collected. Doing so allowed researchers to be fair to colleges that interpreted questions differently, says a data research analyst with the magazine. Some distance-learning experts criticize that technique, arguing that the methodology should have been developed before the surveys went out. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

One person dead following stampede over university admissions in South Africa

Prospective students stampeded at the gate of the University of Johannesburg Tuesday, leaving one woman dead and 2 other people seriously injured. Thousands of young South Africans and their parents started gathering at the campus on Monday to seek admission. Space was limited, a symptom of a broader crisis in South African education and perhaps fuelling a sense of desperation that led to the stampede. Those at the University of Johannesburg this week were seeking late admission. The institution's vice-chancellor says approximately 11,000 individuals were expected to use the late window to apply for as few as 800 remaining spots at the institution. Across South Africa, universities are under strain as prospective students seek a better life as professionals in a country experiencing high unemployment. The government hopes to expand its universities within the next decade. Associated Press