Top Ten

January 11, 2012

Student charged after loaded gun found at Durham College

A 25-year-old man faces several firearms charges following the discovery of a loaded .45 calibre handgun left behind in a classroom at Durham College's Oshawa campus Tuesday morning. Police were called to the campus after several students using an empty classroom opened a backpack left behind and found the gun and ammunition in the bag. The accused is a student at the college. Durham Regional Police News Release | Durham Region News

UBC mistakenly collects $2.1 million from students' accounts

A University of British Columbia student paper reports that a glitch in the institution's electronic funds transfer system left some students double- and triple-billed for tuition and housing fees for the winter semester. The registrar's office says the amount collected in error from about 530 students' bank accounts reached approximately $2.1 million. The error stems from a third-party company that does batch processing payments for the university. UBC says it will help affected students with some emergency financial assistance, in some cases loaning money to them. The institution has also informed students that they will be compensated for any insufficient funds charges or overdraft fees, which will be paid for by the third-party company. The Ubyssey (student newspaper)

uLethbridge accused of making illegal donations to Alberta PC party

The Wildrose Party of Alberta alleges that the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta collected over $15,000 in illegal donations from the University of Lethbridge. According to documents obtained by the Wildrose Party, the governing PC party collected $15,075 in contributions from the university for Premier's Dinners, golf tournaments, "Meet the Minister" dinners, and party policy conferences. Under Alberta's Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, political parties are barred from soliciting and accepting contributions from groups such as municipalities, PSE institutions, and other public institutions. In response to the Wildrose Party's allegations, uLethbridge says it "is in no way involved in any activities that would contravene" the act. The institution states that since 2005, when they learned about changes to the act, there have been no further political contributions, and that individuals who attend functions hosted by any political party are not reimbursed by the university. Wildrose Party News Release | uLethbridge Statement | Lethbridge Herald | Calgary Herald | CBC

UoGuelph planning new School of Civil Society, Food Institute

Discussions are underway at the University of Guelph around establishing a School for Civil Society with undergraduate and graduate programs, and with research concentrating on areas such as best practices among non-governmental organizations. The institution is also planning what it is calling Canada's Food Institute, which would bring together faculty members conducting research in the area of food, says UoGuelph president Alastair Summerlee. The institute would have a teaching component at the undergraduate and graduate level. Guelph Mercury

Manitoba government made "very big mess" of midwifery profession, charges Tory health critic

The fact that no one has ever graduated from an accredited midwifery program in Manitoba is just one example of the "very big mess" the governing NDP has made of the profession over the years, argues the Tories' health critic. The province made midwifery a regulated professional in 2000 and opened its first official training program in 2006 at the University College of the North. The program has since moved to Winnipeg and the first cohort of 8 graduates is still more than 2 years away. A College of Midwives of Manitoba report says the northern program died as a standalone offering due to "a lack of communication and accountability, negligence in addressing problems as they arose, lack of consultation with students and staff, no evaluation plan built into the program, offering of misleading information, and lack of institutional support." Admitting that the northern program succumbed to its "challenges," Health Minister Theresa Oswald says the Winnipeg-based program seems to be running well now, noting that further expansion of it must be balanced with other spending priorities in overall maternal care. Winnipeg Sun

Chinese couple who stole identity information from SFU students deported

The CBC reports that Canadian authorities have deported a Chinese couple who stole identity information from over 150 Simon Fraser University students. The couple pleaded guilty last month to using forged student ID cards to obtain TransLink U-Passes. A police raid of the couple's apartment uncovered a 500-page printout of information on SFU students, which was obtained from campus computers that had been compromised with devices with which the thieves recorded the keystrokes of users. CBC

New Alberta 10-point education plan focuses on dual credits

Ideas raised in recent consultations with thousands of Albertans about education have prompted the Alberta government to develop a 10-point plan for the province's education system. As part of the plan, the government will create more opportunities for students to earn credits in high school and PSE programs at the same time. The province will launch a dual credit strategy to help school boards develop stronger programs. Separately, a new initiative will provide apprenticeship training to teachers so they are better prepared to teach advanced dual credit courses in Career & Technology Studies. The province also plans to introduce legislation this spring to replace the School Act, which has been in place since 1988. Alberta News Release | Edmonton Journal

Robust college-university transfer system recommended for Ontario

Rather than create a number of new universities in Ontario that are focused on undergraduate teaching, as suggested in the book Academic Reform, it would make more sense to use the existing PSE infrastructure by identifying a number of colleges in the Greater Toronto Area to offer 2-year arts and science programs that would articulate directly into third year at any provincial university, writes Carleton University provost Peter Ricketts for University Affairs. "Transfer students would complete their upper-year courses, where exposure to the research-learning environment is especially important, at recognized universities, and all Ontario universities could compete for those transfers and contribute to the solution of how to address the GTA population growth," writes Ricketts, who says this would address a key issue raised in the book regarding the costs of simply expanding the current model and it would deliver on the province's goal to create a more integrated PSE system. University Affairs

Ontario universities making major progress in sustainability initiatives

Ontario universities made gains in their green initiatives in 2011 by reducing emissions and energy use, improving waste and water management, enhancing green building and transportation standards, and increasing engagement with students, faculty, and staff, according to a new report from the Council of Ontario Universities. Approximately 85% of campuses track costs/savings resulting from green initiatives, up from 70% last year. Nearly twice as many campuses regularly set up and review targets for cutting down greenhouse gas/carbon dioxide emissions. 71% of campuses generate their own renewable energy, the report found. 81% of campuses engage their students in driving sustainability and consider them to be an integral part of their green efforts, up from 65%. The report notes that environmental issues are being incorporated into a wide range of disciplines so institutions can ensure that, irrespective of their area of study, students graduate with a better understanding of environmental issues. COU News Release | Read the report

Online educational upstarts offer "badges" as certification

Educational upstarts online are adopting systems of digital "badges" to certify abilities and skills, denoting areas employers might look for. Many of the new badges are easy to obtain to keep students motivated, while others indicate mastery of fine-grained skills that are not formally recognized in a traditional classroom. Some observers charge that badges turn all learning into a commodity, and thus devalue the difficult challenge of mastering a new skill. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)