Top Ten

January 19, 2012

CREPUQ outlines priorities for Quebec's next budget

In its recommendations for the 2012-13 Quebec budget, the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities emphasizes the importance of long-term, dependable funding, and urges the government to honor the commitments of the 2011-12 budget, which promised predictable post-secondary funding for 5 years. CREPUQ also recommends that the government help fund and coordinate efforts by universities to attract international students. It argues that international students are excellent candidates for immigration, and more international recruitment will benefit Quebec society along with its PSE institutions. CREPUQ also highlights the costs of implementing the 1996 pay equity act, and recommends that these costs be included in annual funding for universities. CREPUQ News Release (in French) | Budget Recommendations (in French)

Tuition fee increase will make it daunting for Quebec students to continue education, says FEUQ

With approximately 55% of university students already working all year to finance their education, the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) says the tuition fee increase slated for this fall will make it daunting for students to continue their studies. "With the tuition hike planned, about 40 per cent of students say they may have to drop out of school," says FEUQ's president. According to a survey conducted by the student association, just a quarter of students worked all year in the 1970s, and that proportion has now risen to about 55%. The survey shows that working while attending university can have serious consequences. Approximately 43% of full-time undergraduate respondents said their job has had a negative effect on their academic results, and 32% said their job has forced them to prolong their studies. FEUQ News Release (in French) | Montreal Gazette

Competition, grade inflation prompting institutions to change application assessment

Faced with growing recruitment pressures and concerns about grade inflation, at least 2 universities are revising admission requirements for entering high school students. UBC is moving this year to a "broad-based" admissions process that focuses on more than secondary school grades, with applicants having to submit a personal profile as well. The change is partly prompted by concerns about grade inflation. Since 2004, when the BC government made provincial exams optional, GPAs of BC high school graduates rose by about 2 percentage points. While good predictors of success, high school grades are less reliable than they were 5 or 10 years ago, says UBC's associate VP and registrar. For similar reasons, the University of Saskatchewan has adopted a new admissions policy for students from Alberta, where diploma exam scores count for half of the final Grade 12 mark. There were concerns that Alberta students were disadvantaged because their diploma exams tend to bring down Grade 12 averages, says uSask's associate VP of student affairs. Assessing applicants across provinces is an ongoing issue for universities, but a Queen's University education professor says the bigger challenge is assessing applicants from within a province, since standards and grades can vary among high schools. University Affairs

uAlberta celebrates opening of Edmonton Clinic Health Academy

On Wednesday, the University of Alberta held an opening ceremony for the new Edmonton Clinic Health Academy on its campus. 7 years in the making, the academy promises to transform health care by providing a state-of-the-art facility for researchers, students, and practising clinicians to freely share knowledge. By 2016, the academy will house more than 8,000 students and 2,000 staff in 43 programs. uAlberta News

Sault College set to begin second phase of campus rebuild

Demolition of Sault College's "Outback" Student Life Centre will begin shortly as the institution clears ground for the construction of the new Student Health and Wellness Centre. "With its academic labs, fitness rooms and a gymnasium, the Student Health and Wellness Centre will address student needs and accommodate growth in varsity sports and academic programming, as well as promote a healthier lifestyle for students," says Sault College president Ron Common. Last June, the college received $4 million from the Ontario government toward the second phase of campus redevelopment. Students have shown their support by contributing $3 million of their own funds to the project. The college is raising the remaining amount in its "Inspiring Growth" capital campaign. Sault College News Release

$1.5-million gift supports UoGuelph Alumni Stadium upgrades

The University of Guelph's Alumni Stadium is getting a facelift with the help of a $1.5-million donation. The gift is paying for a new synthetic turf field and jump-starting renovations of the track around the football field and lighting as part of the Athletics Master Plan to upgrade all of the institution's athletic facilities. The donation -- from a local family who wishes to remain anonymous -- is the largest single gift to UoGuelph's Department of Athletics. UoGuelph News Release

StatsCan report explores educational attainment of Manitoba francophones

Based on 2006 Census data, a new Statistics Canada paper states that a quarter of anglophones in Manitoba had no certificate, diploma, or degree, compared to 27% of francophones, who were just as likely to have a university degree at or above the bachelor level as anglophones (17% for each group). Among Manitobans aged 25 to 34 and 35 to 54, francophones are more likely to have a college or university diploma, while anglophones are more likely to have no certificate, diploma, or degree. The difference is especially striking among 25- to 34-year-olds, where the proportion of anglophones who have no certificate, diploma, or degree (16.6%) is 3 times greater than the proportion of francophones (5.6%). Moreover, 31% of francophones in this age group have a diploma or degree at the bachelor's level or above, compared to 23% of anglophones. Read the paper

Toronto company offers mobile emergency phone service to Canadian institutions

Guardly Corp. a Toronto-based software startup, has launched a free service to bring its virtual bodyguard smartphone application to 67 Canadian post-secondary institutions. All students, faculty, and staff at participating colleges and universities can download the app and register with an institution-issued e-mail address for one-touch access to security from their smartphone. The app is available for every major mobile and uses the GPS feature on the phone to detect whether an alert has been sent from inside or outside campus. Alerts sent from inside campus will sent to campus security, while off-campus alerts will go to as many as 15 individuals in a user's preselected "safety group" or to 911 for more serious emergencies. Guardly says it is a first-of-its-kind service being made available to students. Guardly News Release | Financial Post

43,000 Americans pursuing higher education elsewhere, report shows

According to a new report from the Institute of International Education, over 43,000 American students are enrolled in academic degree programs outside of the US. Of those students, 44% are enrolled in master's degree programs, 39% in undergraduate degree programs, and 17% in doctoral degree programs. According to the report, the top fields for degree by study by American students abroad are the humanities, social sciences, and business and management. Field preferences vary depending on level of study and host nation, the report states. The top 3 destination countries are the UK, Canada, and Germany. IIE News Release | Read the report

Apple launches iBooks 2

Yesterday Apple Inc. announced plans to "reinvent" the textbook with iBooks 2, the second edition of the firm's e-book platform, and unveiled a new set of tools designed to place the iPad at the centre of the higher education experience. Apple also announced it would develop a new "Textbooks" section within its iBookstore, featuring interactive textbooks from some of the biggest publishers in the US. The company also introduced iBooks Author, which will allow educators and professors to create their own e-books designed for the iPad and publish their completed works directly to the iBookstore. Although Apple announced it would be working with a number of major PSE institutions in the US, there was no word yesterday whether the company has signed up any Canadian institutions as partners or if Canadians could take advantage of the new textbook store. Financial Post