Top Ten

February 2, 2012

Students hold Day of Action across Canada

Thousands of students across the country took to the streets Wednesday as part of the Canadian Federation of Students' National Day of Action to push for a decrease in tuition fees and student debt. In Ontario, protesters slammed the provincial government's $430-million tuition rebate program, for which mature, part-time, and graduate students do not qualify. The CFS has estimated that the funds allocated to the grant program could be used to cut tuition fees by 13% across the board. Elsewhere in Canada, students called for better funding for Aboriginal PSE. With regard to the 2% cap on funding for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP), Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada says "the department will, when necessary, reallocate funds from certain program areas to address pressures in other programs areas, particularly education and social development." In BC, Advanced Education Minister Naomi Yamamoto was chastised over what protesters called her "shameful" remarks about rising student debt levels. The minister was quoted in the Victoria Times-Colonist saying that she has no plans to lower interest rates on students loans and is unconvinced that such action would allow more people to get a higher education. "If you go to campus and talk to students, that's not what they are talking about," Yamamoto said. According to, approximately 60 national, provincial, regional, and local labour unions, solidarity partners and coalitions, and campus groups endorsed the campaign and mobilized their members for the Day of Action. | Guelph Mercury | Regina Leader-Post | Saskatoon Star-Phoenix | Victoria Times-Colonist | Windsor Star | Hamilton Spectator | Toronto Star | CBC | Vancouver Sun | CTV | London Free Press | FPSE News

Ontario TCU minister hints at additional funding for students

The Ontario government may consider doing more for cash-strapped PSE students and their families, says Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Glen Murray. He hints there may be more money available for students when the province rolls out its budget later this spring. "My budget envelope is increasing and transfers to colleges and universities will continue to grow," says Murray. "We will continue to increase student aid. There will be (budget) cuts coming, but they will be in other lower-priority areas of government." The minister is not convinced that many students are upset about not qualifying for the tuition grant. "More than half" of students qualify for the rebate, Murray says, and those who don't have access to some of the 7 other financial aid programs offered by the government. CBC

Occupy Edmonton attempts to set up camp at uAlberta

A group of protesters that included members of Occupy Edmonton, as well as University of Alberta students and staff, was barred from demonstrating at the university on Wednesday. Occupy Edmonton announced on social media late last month that it planned to regroup at uAlberta. Unauthorized camping at the institution is not allowed, the university said in a statement. "Simply, any attempt to establish an Occupy camp on University of Alberta property -- which is private property -- will put the U of A community at risk, and, further, it will interfere with the university’s clear responsibility to effectively deliver its programs and services to students, staff and faculty." uAlberta Blog | Edmonton Journal

Canadore celebrates new West Parry Sound campus

Last Friday, Canadore College officially opened its West Parry Sound campus in Parry Sound, Ontario. The 14,600-square-foot campus, a project that received $6.2 million from the federal and provincial governments, will increase access to a number of programs, such as health sciences, hospitality and tourism, and skilled trades. Canadore News Release

Cambrian opens Sustainable Energy Centre

Tuesday marked the official opening of Cambrian College's Xstrata Nickel Sustainable Energy Centre in Sudbury. The teaching and research facility is already a hive of activity with a number of applied research projects underway alongside classes and laboratories for students enrolled in the college's Energy Systems Technology and Environmental Monitoring and Impact Assessment programs. The centre will also provide space for new research equipment, which will arrive this year. Cambrian News Release

NDP leadership candidate unveils PSE platform

On Wednesday, federal NDP leadership candidate Peggy Nash released her plan to increase accessibility to higher education and alleviate student debt loads. As per her plan, Nash commits to leading the New Democrats and the next government to create a Post-Secondary Education Act; establish a dedicated transfer payment; convert a significant portion of national student loans into non-repayable, up-front grants; reduce the interest rate on student loans to prime; remove the funding cap on and extended eligibility for the PSSSP for Aboriginal students; increase base funding equitability to the 3 granting councils; and support the independence, integrity, and protection of public research. Peggy Nash News

COTR "receiving" designation expands transfer pathways for students

Last month, the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer granted College of the Rockies designation as a "receiving" institution in addition to its former "sending" designation, meaning that COTR is able to expand its transfer pathways for students to and from the college. With the "receiving" designation, students from across BC and Alberta can smoothly transfer their existing courses and credentials into COTR's Bachelor of Business Administration program. COTR News Release

Colleges Ontario tests high school students' knowledge of college in online contest

Colleges Ontario has launched an online contest called "Win the Ultimate Party," which quizzes Ontario high school students about the importance of a college education. The secondary school with the highest percentage of its student body successfully completing the quiz will win a year-end party complete with 3 DJs, music, food, games, and door prizes. Quizzing students on everything from the types of programs offered at colleges to the number of graduates produced each year, the contest runs until March 31. Colleges Ontario News Release | Win the Ultimate Party contest

UC students propose postponing tuition payment until after graduation

A group of University of California at Riverside students has proposed a new funding model for the UC system that aims to solve 2 of the system's biggest problems: unpredictable and large decreases in state appropriations, and the steady increase in tuition costs. Under the UC Student Investment Proposal, students in the system would pay no up-front costs for their education, but would agree to pay 5% of their income to the system for 20 years of employment after graduation. Payments would only be collected while students are working, not while they are attending graduate school or are unemployed. Percentage reductions would be granted to students who transfer into the UC system, enter public service, and/or stay in California. While the proposal faces logistical and political obstacles, the president of the UC system has commissioned 2 senior officials to meet with the students behind the proposal and evaluate its viability. Inside Higher Ed

Multiyear study examines practices that help US community college students graduate

A new multiyear project led by the US-based Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) is attempting to find out which programs and policies designed to help students graduate are most effective. CCCSE plans to analyze data from 4 different but related surveys and produce annual reports over the next 3 years. The surveys gauge the perspective of entering and experienced students, faculty members, and colleges. The first of 3 reports, released last week, draws attention to 13 strategies for boosting retention and graduation rates, such as fast-tracking remedial programs, providing students with experiential learning, and making student orientation sessions mandatory. While the strategies cited in the report are not new, how well they are working to help students stay in college and graduate is another matter. The report observed peculiarities among responses on similar topics, suggesting a disconnect between colleges and students, while also raising questions about how committed colleges are to their own programs and policies. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Read the report