Top Ten

February 7, 2012

University presidents form working group on students' mental health

A group of Canadian university presidents has formed a working group to examine the role universities can play in addressing and dealing with mental illness on campus. The decision to put together the group was made at a workshop on mental health at universities, held in early December by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. Mount Allison University president Robert Campbell chairs the 7-member group that will try to develop a roadmap to help universities better respond to this issue. The group plans to submit recommendations to AUCC's board and membership in April. Meanwhile, Queen's University has announced it will host a new research chair dedicated to understanding and ending the stigma that lingers around mental illness. Believed to be the first of its kind in the world, the Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair is funded by a $1-million gift from Bell Canada. University Affairs | Queen's News Centre | Globe and Mail

NSAC union wants input in Dal-NSAC merger talks

Nova Scotia Agricultural College's staff union says it needs to be involved in talks of a merger between the institution and Dalhousie University and that there should be guarantees for employees making the transition. The president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union told members at a meeting Monday that the union remains committed to fighting for an arrangement that would preserve the benefits NSAC employees enjoy as civil servants even after they might become employees of Dal. The union wants to see all non-faculty members placed in a single bargaining unit instead of being disbursed in various units at Dal. A government spokeswoman says the merger agreement would be implemented through legislation, which "would provide for the transfer of unionized employees under the terms of their existing collective agreement and it will provide a right for the existing employees to continue to participate in the public service superannuation plan." Chronicle Herald | Truro Daily News

Fewer Maritime students enrolling in regional universities

Fewer Maritimers have been attending the region's universities in recent years, largely the result of flattening demand following the peak in 2004, according to a new report from the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. Since 2002, the number of Nova Scotians studying in the province, relative to the size of the provincial population aged 18-24, has dropped 4 percentage points to 21% -- the largest decrease in demand among the 3 Maritime provinces. By comparison, the demand in PEI and New Brunswick peaked around 2005 and has since dropped about one percentage point in each province to 18% and 18.6%, respectively. The report projects nearly 7,000 fewer Maritimers enrolling in regional universities in 2025 if demand remains at the same level as today. The report notes that to date, the declining demand among Maritimers has not meant declining enrolments in regional universities. Enrolments have remained fairly stable in recent years through the recruitment of students from outside the Maritimes. In 2010-11, 17,527 students from outside the region were enrolled full-time in Maritime universities, representing 30% of total full-time enrolment. MPHEC News Release | Read the report

Alberta Liberals pledge to eliminate tuition fees

As outlined in its election platform, released Monday, Alberta's Liberal Party promises free higher education by 2025. The Liberals' first step would be to cap undergraduate tuition and provide PSE institutions with funding to decrease tuition by $250 annually. The party would create a Post-Secondary Education Fund, whose interest would further reduce tuition, ultimately bringing it to zero. The Liberals also pledge to forgive 5% or $1,000 of student debt each year a graduate works and files taxes in Alberta. Other promises include removing parental income from student loan criteria and expanding distance learning. Edmonton Journal | Alberta Liberal Party Election Platform

Laurentian launches 5-year strategic plan

On Monday, Laurentian University unveiled its new 5-year strategic plan, one of whose goals is to put the institution among the top 25% of Canadian universities in student satisfaction and student engagement. Other aspirations outlined in the plan include raising total annual research dollars to $30 million, increasing full-time student enrolment from 7,200 to 8,300 while raising the average entry grade from 80.8% to 83%, modernizing the Sudbury campus, increasing the proportion of international students from 6.1% to 8%, opening a campus in downtown Barrie to serve 2,500 FTE students, and reintroducing men's and women's varsity hockey clubs. Laurentian News | Strategic Plan website

Winter enrolment at Niagara College up 12%

More than 950 students began their studies at Niagara College last month -- a 12% increase over last year's winter enrolment. Among the students starting studies this term are 200 international students who are enrolled in diploma or degree studies, and over 100 who are enrolled in ESL classes. This brings the college's international enrolment to more than 1,200 students from 80 different nations. Niagara College's total enrolment, which includes full-time PSE, apprenticeship, and ESL programs, exceeds 9,000 students. Niagara College News Release

Windsor approves sale of woodlot to St. Clair

Windsor city council has agreed to sell the St. Clair woodlot to St. Clair College. Disagreement over whether to lease or sell the woodlot, which is southwest of St. Clair's main campus, nearly derailed plans to construct a long-term care facility on college property. Under the sale agreement, a conservation easement would be held by either the municipality or the Essex Region Conservation Authority to ensure the institution properly manages the land. "The college is proposing to comply with all the environmental restrictions," says a St. Clair lawyer. No element of the habitat for endangered species will be disturbed, the lawyer says, adding that the woodlot would become a "living lab" for the institution's horticulture students. Windsor Star

Kwantlen to sell portion of Paterson Park

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has decided to sell its 10-acre portion of Paterson Park in Ladner, BC. The university bought the land from the Delta Agricultural Society for $3.5 million in 1993 with the goal of building a campus, but the land has sat vacant ever since. Due to the declining number of graduating high school students in Delta, Kwantlen's board of governors and administration determined there was not sufficient demand to justify the development of a fifth campus. The decision was made to sell the land "so that it can be put to use by the new owner for the benefit of South Delta," says a Kwantlen spokesperson. South Delta Leader | Delta Optimist

ACCC publishes showcase of college applied research projects

On Monday, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges released its 2012 showcase of college applied research projects carried out primarily in partnership with small- and medium-sized enterprises. The showcase outlines 105 projects where business processes, products, or services improved due to innovations introduced by PSE students and faculty, and produced in partnership with local industries. The showcase highlights 7 specialized areas: environmental science and technology; health, medical, and life sciences; information and communications technology; manufacturing; natural resources; renewable energy; and social innovation. Over 4,400 companies were involved in applied research partnerships with Canadian colleges in 2010-11. ACCC News Release | Read the showcase

3M National Teaching Fellows thank teachers in new campaign

The 2011 3M National Teaching Fellows have launched a campaign to thank the teachers who inspired them in their careers. The advertising campaign began over the weekend with ads in the Globe and Mail, and the ads will also be published in University Affairs. "Our goal is to draw attention to the importance of undergraduate teaching and the impact that it can have on students, both individually and collectively," says the University of Guelph's provost, who has led the campaign. Other students and teachers can post their own messages to inspirational college and university teachers at The campaign is supported by AUCC and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. AUCC News Release | UoGuelph News Release |