Top Ten

February 1, 2012

Dal might have to dip into operating budget to make repayments into pension fund

Unless market conditions have recovered by March 2013, when Dalhousie University's temporary exemption from pension solvency requirements ends, the institution is expected to cut into its operating budget to make significant repayments into the pension fund (whose shortfall is currently estimated to be $270 million), perhaps by as much as $50 million each year. Many other Canadian universities have been affected by pension shortfalls in recent years. According to a Globe and Mail survey conducted in late 2010, more than 20 universities reported a combined pension plan solvency deficit of at least $2.59 billion. Dal News

Ryerson units asked to reduce spending by 3%

With Ryerson University anticipating a 3% gap in the institution-wide budget for the 2012-13 academic year, president Sheldon Levy is asking all units to cut their spending by 3% to account for the potential gap, reports a Ryerson student newspaper. Until the Ontario government tables its next budget, Ryerson can only speculate as to how the cuts will affect different areas of the institution. "On the one hand, you say it's not a huge cut," Levy says. "But on the other hand, if every year three per cent (is cut), it will be problematic for many areas and I think some areas will indeed have difficulty with it." The Eyeopener (student newspaper)

NSCAD provides update on sustainability plan development

In response to commonly asked questions about NSCAD University's plan to address recommendations in the Windsor report and ensure the short- and long-term stability of the institution, NSCAD states its board of governors has directed that all collaboration opportunities with other PSE institutions be considered that maintain the important characteristics of the university. NSCAD says collaborations remain an important priority as they enable economic efficiencies that allow tuition and external partner support to be directed to its teaching and research budgets. Enrolment for the winter term totals 943 students, down 1% from the previous winter semester. Enrolment decreases are always a concern, NSCAD says, noting that additional resources have been invested in the recruitment function in the past year and in the year to come. A facilities consultation group is looking at options for the sale for university property as part of a multifaceted solution to reach financial sustainability for NSCAD in both the immediate and long-term future. NSCAD News

Concordia, unions at odds over class resumption after Christmas break

At least 5 unions at Concordia University have filed grievances against the institution for imposing a January 3 return to school following the Christmas break, and the unions insisted they should not have had to return until the 4th. The support staff union took that matter to arbitration, which it won last fall, only to learn in December that Concordia was appealing the decision and taking it to Quebec Superior Court. A Concordia official says the institution is pursuing the issue because it "doesn't agree with the arbitrator's decision" and Concordia's interpretation of the collective agreement called for a January 3 return to school. The support staff union's president says that because the New Year's holiday fell on a weekend, the 2-day holiday to which staff are entitled should have been given after January 1, instead of between Christmas and New Year's Day. Montreal Gazette

Camosun reports largest international-student intake for winter semester

Enrolment for new international students at Camosun College is up nearly two-fold over January 2011 and is the largest new intake for a January start. Including these 87 new students, 462 international students from 51 countries are enrolled at Camosun for the 2011-12 academic year. Recruitment remains strong from China, which continues to be the dominant source nation for international students, followed by Japan, South Korea, and India. Camosun aims to have international students represent 10% of its full-time student population in the next 3 years. Camosun News

Teaching and learning centres being stretched thin, HEQCO research finds

A new report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario observes that while more and more colleges and universities are recognizing their importance and increasingly relying on their expertise and knowledge, many teaching and learning centres are stretched thin. Without inclusion in an institution's strategic plan, ongoing funding support, and the opportunity to contribute or influence new policies, these centres run the risk of being unable to meet the needs of students and educators. Recently, governments and institutions have launched new programs and awards to underscore the importance of teaching. McMaster, Queen's, and Ryerson have high-profile teaching chairs to demonstrate the value of teaching, while institutions such as Ryerson, uWindsor, and York U are developing programs to support professors who assume academic leadership roles in their university. For this trend to continue, teaching must be taken seriously in tenure, promotion, and renewal policies; supported by adequate resources; and promoted at the institution, faculty, and department levels as an essential component of being a "scholarly professional and ethically responsible academic," researchers says. Research Summary | Full Report

Immigration system changes will bring more skilled tradespeople to Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says changes are coming to the country's immigration system to make it more flexible in a bid to address labour shortages. The federal government is planning to revise the points system for selecting immigrants to recognize the skilled trades, which would alter the focus of the traditional immigration preference for university-educated migrants such as doctors and engineers. "People who are skilled tradespeople have an almost impossible job of coming to Canada under our current system because the skilled worker program basically selects people with advanced university degrees," Kenney says. By opening up the border to more trade-oriented workers, the government will be able to attract "hidden jewels" that will help fill labour shortages in specific areas, the minister says. The Association of Canadian Community Colleges welcomes the announcement, saying it is "good news for employers who cannot find candidates with the required skills for thousands of available positions." ACCC News Release | Postmedia News

MCFT redesigns website

New Brunswick-based Maritime College of Forest Technology has a new-look website, whose homepage bears the portrait of a 2009 graduate. Through the homepage, visitors can learn about the history of the institution, its forest technology program, articulation agreements, certifications, tuition and fees, and on-campus accomodations. The homepage includes links to MCFT's blog, YouTube channel, and Facebook page. MCFT website

uMontréal develops mobile app

The Université de Montréal has launched a free mobile application available for the iPhone and Android-enabled smartphones, as well as for electronic tablets. With the app, users can consult an events calendar, access student and staff directories, watch video clips of news, access emergency contact information, and read campus news. Users can leave feedback and suggestions regarding the app to help the teams working on this project ameliorate and enhance the service. uMontréal News (in French)

Algonquin College launches Facebook contest

Algonquin College is running a Facebook contest called "I LIKE Algonquin," which encourages full- and part-time students to submit a 15- to 30-second video to the institution's Future Students Facebook page. Participants can win $1,000 in cash or $1,500 toward next semester's tuition for the video that receives the most votes. Cash prizes of $750, $500, and $250 are also available. The contest is part of a larger digital campaign that aims to connect with future and current students while promoting the college as a leading PSE institution focused on the quality of instructors, programs, and services offered. Found on Algonquin College's main Facebook page and Future Students page, a new recruitment video features students, alumni, instructors, and staff answering the question, "Why do you like Algonquin?" The Facebook contest runs until midnight on February 17, with the winners to be announced the following week. Algonquin College News Release | Algonquin College Facebook page | Future Students Facebook page