Top Ten

February 8, 2012

RIM founder donates $21 million to uWaterloo

Research in Motion founder Mike Lazaridis and his wife Ophelia have announced a $21-million gift to the University of Waterloo's science and math faculties. Half of the $20-million pledge to the science faculty will contribute to funding 2 senior research chairs in science in the areas of condensed matter and astrophysics. The remaining $10 million allocated to the faculty will help fund the construction of an expansion of the new science facility. The math faculty will receive $1 million toward scholarships covering full university expenses for 4 years of study. With this gift, donations to uWaterloo from Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis exceed $123 million. uWaterloo News Release

McGill students hold sit-in on campus

A student occupation over funding for 2 campus organizations entered its second day yesterday at McGill University, with a tent set up, apparently overnight, outside the James Administration Building. The sit-in had started late Tuesday morning, when 2 dozen students sprang what they call a "surprise resignation party" on the sixth floor of the building. The protesters are seeking the ouster of McGill's deputy provost for student life and learning, as well as continued funding for the Quebec Public Interest Research Group and CKUT, the student-run radio station. Students want McGill to ratify a referendum held last fall regarding the place of the 2 groups on campus. The institution contends the wording of that referendum question was confusing, and it wants a second referendum to take place. In a statement Tuesday, McGill's provost said the students' "occupation of the premises a violation of the law," and complaints about their actions will be filed against them and will be addressed in accordance with the code of student conduct. The Montreal Gazette reports that 22 protesters left the building's ground floor before noon Wednesday, while at least another 20 remained on the sixth floor. A Montreal police constable says there has been no request for municipal police to enter campus or otherwise become involved in the situation. "It's an internal problem" for the university, he says. McGill Statement (Tuesday) | McGill Statement (Wednesday) | Montreal Gazette | CBC

Postscript: Feb 14, 2012

A group of students who had occupied part of McGill University's administration building since last Tuesday ended their sit-in Sunday morning without incident. The 9 students left after McGill asked Montreal police to assist in the eviction just before 9 am. One protester says no meaningful negotiations took place while they were in the building, which was completely closed off to staff and other students for 3 days. McGill's VP of administration and finance says that "keeping the building open also posed the risk that the occupation would spread to the other offices." McGill Statement | Montreal Gazette

CNA fires 2 employees following daycare audit

College of the North Atlantic has dismissed 2 employees in relation to irregularities first uncovered in an audit. The employees, who had worked at the Prince Philip Drive campus daycare in St. John's, had been suspended in November after irregularities were discovered through CNA's internal audit division during an audit of the operational and financial processes at the daycare centre. An external financial audit has since supported the initial results. College officials have now referred the matter to police. St. John's Telegram | CBC

Conference explores Ontario's proposed new undergraduate campuses

At a conference Tuesday on the Ontario government's plan to build 3 new undergraduate campuses, Academic Reform co-author Ian Clark argued that undergraduate universities that focus solely on teaching would create cosier classes, reduce salary costs, and boost student satisfaction. Moreover, Clark says professors at these new institutions should be required to teach twice as many courses as usual -- a full 80% of their time with the remainder left for research and administration. Doing so would cut the operating cost of educating a student from $14,300 to $9,800 at a campus of 10,000. Clark noted. Not everyone agrees the province needs any new campus at all. A York University economics professor called it a "major mistake to expand Ontario's university system now...we already have the system we need in place." The professor concludes the province already pays for PSE for over 75% of the population -- beyond even the government's own target of 70%. He suggested Ontario should instead bolster graduate education and research -- the opposite of what the authors of Academic Reform recommend. "We can debate what the new universities might look like, but unless I'm reading different newspapers than everyone else, there's no money to do this or really anything," said Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario president Harvey Weingarten at the conference. Toronto Star

Algoma U adopts new transfer policy for college grads

Algoma University's senate has approved a motion to simplify the process by which students with a college diploma have their credentials assessed when applying to the Sault Ste. Marie-based institution. In the past, college students would receive transfer credits based on an evaluation of individual course by course comparisons. The new policy provides direct entry into a degree program, with students with a 3.0 GPA or higher earning either 45 credits (for a 2-year diploma) or 60 credits (for a 3-year diploma) toward their degree. Algoma U News Release

OUSA offers Ontario recommendations to strengthen regulatory framework for tuition fees

On Tuesday, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance submitted recommendations to the provincial government on how to enhance its regulatory framework for tuition fees. OUSA recommends the government limit tuition increases to no more than inflation while increasing per-student operating grants to cover reasonable inflationary costs. The alliance also urges the province to use a uniform tuition cap to flatten the escalating cost disparities that exist between programs, and ensure international tuition predictability beyond the first year. OUSA calls for the enforcement of fair tuition payment processes that would require universities to charge on a per-credit basis and at reasonable deadlines. The submission also outlines suggested improvements to the design and eligibility of the new tuition grant to have the maximum impact and better support high-need students. OUSA News Release | Read the submission

College leaders meet in Ottawa to discuss advanced skills shortage

61 presidents of colleges, institutes, and polytechnics descended on Parliament Hill this week to discuss Canada's advanced skills shortages with MPs and other government officials. Association of Canadian Community Colleges president James Knight says the dual pressures of the country's demographic deficit and increasing technological sophistication of the workplace means that in a decade, employers will be unable to fill the 1.5 million available jobs with qualified candidates. Immigration alone will not solve the skilled labour shortage, Knight cautions. "To meet these challenges, we'll have to engage our marginalized communities and find ways to partner with improving the educational achievements of Aboriginals, disabled, poor immigrants." Knight would also like to see an increase in federal funds for applied research and development invested in higher education that goes toward colleges. Currently, just 1.25% of $2.9 billion in federal money reaches colleges, and Knight would like to see the figure rise to 5%. ACCC News Release | Globe and Mail

Western U president aims to boost profile of Canadian education in trip to China

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Western University (formerly UWO) president Amit Chakma, who joins Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his trip to China in his role as chair of the expert advisory panel to Canada's international education strategy, says he plans to meet with education partners in China, learn about the nation's overall economic situation and its perception of Canada, visit schools and campuses where there are Canadian partnerships, and see what is and isn't working for other countries, such as the UK and Australia. Chakma says the panel has completed consultations with stakeholders in Canada and will make a trip later this month to China and India with the goal to meet with local embassies. One of the panel's challenges is trying to convince people that internationalization is important for students, says Chakma, adding that the strategy is not going to work if the focus is solely on bringing more international students to Canada. "It's not about bringing international students, but the internationalization of the education sector overall." Globe and Mail

$1-million gift to Ryerson funds chair in social innovation and entrepreneurship

Ryerson University has launched a new chair in social innovation and entrepreneurship with the help of a $1-million donation from John C. Eaton and his wife Sally Horsfall Eaton. Housed in the School of Child and Youth Care, the John C. Eaton Chair in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship will create opportunities for students to apply social innovation and entrepreneurial skills to address social challenges facing today's youth, particularly marginalized youth. By collaborating with Ryerson's Ted Rogers School of Management, the chair will also have the foundational support to develop and expand an interdisciplinary program based on social innovation and entrepreneurship. Ryerson News Release

Yukon College students report high satisfaction in survey

In a recent survey of 340 Yukon College students in credit programs, 96% of respondents agreed with the statement that "this is a good learning environment." 95% said they "agree" or "strongly agree" that "Yukon College is a good place for people like me." 98% of students surveyed "agree" or "strongly agree" that what they are learning in their courses is current and up-to-date. Most respondents said they are going to college right now because they are interested in their field of study (72%), want to get a better job (62%), want to have a better life (61%), and want to make more money (56%). 62% plan to graduate from Yukon College, while 25% intend to graduate from another institution after transferring there. Respondents reported that Yukon College's supportive and welcoming atmosphere is one of the institution's best features. When students were asked what the college needs to start doing better, one of the most frequent responses was for the institution to offer a wider variety of courses and programs, including more degrees and advanced programs, more transferable courses, and expansion of the trades, along with other possible areas for growth. Yukon College News Release