Top Ten

February 9, 2012

Sheridan seeks university status

Frustrated by rising demand for Sheridan College's degree programs that Ontario graduate schools refuse to recognize, Sheridan president Jeff Zabudsky says the college owes it to students to become an institution that gives its graduates the most options. Zabudsky revealed Sheridan's university ambition this week at a conference about the Ontario government's pledge to create 3 new undergraduate campuses. "To be honest, we had decided on our journey toward university status before the government announced the new campuses -- but now we’re saying to the government, 'You don’t have to build three new campuses; we’re there already and we already focus on teaching undergraduates'." To join the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, Sheridan's degree programs would have to represent more than half of all programming, and 70% of staff would have to be full-time faculty, which would mean hiring over 200 full-time professors. The college has allocated $1.7 million to hiring in each of the next 3 years to achieve that goal. Some worry the move to a university could squeeze out the students for whom colleges were designed. "We have to be sure we preserve the legacy of the colleges," says a University of Toronto professor. "We wouldn't want to marginalize the programs that serve a different set of skills and trades." Toronto Star

Judge orders review of human rights decision on UPEI mandatory retirement

A PEI Supreme Court judge has ordered the provincial human rights commission to re-consider parts of its ruling on mandatory retirement at the University of Prince Edward Island after it made several errors in its decision. In his decision on a judicial review of the commission's ruling that the university discriminated against 3 employees when it forced them to retire at age 65, the judge upheld most of the commission's ruling but agreed with UPEI that the employees had a duty to lessen their damages by looking for work. The judge upheld the commission's ruling on UPEI's other requests related to costs and did not award costs to either party because it was a divided ruling. Charlottetown Guardian

Concordia institute offers perspective on Quebec tuition fee increases

On the question of increasing university tuition fees in Quebec, members of Concordia University's Simone de Beauvoir Institute suggest that increasing fees will mean that women will pay more for their education now and in the decades it takes to pay off their debt, given that women still do not earn the same salaries as men. The institute argues that a raise in tuition fees will result in less diversity in the classroom, which will in turn impoverish opportunities for learning among students and faculty. The institute contends that, collectively, Quebec does have the resources needed to ensure that all men and women have equitable access to higher education. Statement on Tuition Fees in Quebec and their Impact on Women (in French and English)

Applications from secondary school students to Ontario universities up over last February

New figures from the Ontario Universities' Application Centre show that the number of applications high school students have submitted to Ontario universities sits at 395,962, up 2.4% from February 2011. The number of applicants totals 90,889, up from 89,181 recorded last February. This month's application and applicant figures are the highest recorded since the application boom in 2003, the year the Ontario Academic Credit year (Grade 13) was phased out. OUAC Undergraduate Application Statistics -- February 2012

Christian university students rate high satisfaction in CUSC

According to a sample of results of the Canadian University Survey Consortium, undergraduates at Christian institutions reported the highest levels of satisfaction in several categories. Redeemer University College, Concordia University College of Alberta, The King's University College (Edmonton), and Trinity Western University each placed among the top 5 institutions for students who are "very satisfied" with the average size of their classes; who "strongly agree" that most of their professors encourage students to participate in class discussions; who "strongly agree" that professors at their university treat students as individuals, not just numbers; who "strongly agree" that most of their professors are reasonably accessible outside of class to help students; and who are "very satisfied" with their learning experiences. 25 institutions participated in the CUSC survey in 2011, with more than 8,500 students completing the survey. Maclean's OnCampus

Ryerson closes a campus bookstore to make way for more academic space

Ryerson University has shut down one of its 2 campus bookstores to make way for more laboratory and classroom space needed in the psychology and urban planning departments. There is no permanent home yet for the displaced textbooks, and Ryerson president Sheldon Levy does not believe that anyone will want to construct another facility just for books in this digital age. "I sure wouldn't invest a lot of money into bricks and mortar for analog books," he told a student newspaper. Last term, a group of students studied how e-books were being used and how better they could be used. They observed student traffic flow through the 2 bookstores and the Bond Street location was not getting many customers mid-semester. Ryerson's director of business services disagrees with that assessment, stating that for the most part, the Bond Street location was "actually doing quite well." What the university needs, he says, is a new, larger campus store that would house the displaced books and other student necessities. The campus store does carry e-books, but they do not sell very well, he says. Toronto Star | The Eyeopener (student newspaper)

UNB student union suggests improvements to provincial student aid program

In its pre-budget submission to the provincial government, the University of New Brunswick Student Union outlines modifications it has prioritized for the province's student financial aid program. UNBSU recommends that the government remove the parental and spousal contributions from provincial student loans, redirect funds from the tuition tax rebate to up-front grants for high-need students, increase the in-student living allowance from $50 a week to $150 a week, and automate the application process for the Timely Completion Benefit and extend the timeframe to allow for a one-year grace period. UNBSU News Release | Pre-Budget Submission

Sault College eligible for NSERC funding

Sault College has been granted eligibility to administer funds offered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, giving the institution access to the increasing number of NSERC research funding programs, such as the College and Community Innovation program. Sault College president Ron Common says the NSERC eligibility will now enable the institution "to better promote research-based innovation, further develop partnerships and train our students to become the next generation of discoverers and innovators." Sault College News Release

uWinnipeg launches new Web resource for Indigenous students

Current and future Indigenous students at the University of Winnipeg now have access to a newly updated one-stop shop in the form of a website where they can find helpful information on housing, financial aid, scholarships, and support services. The site also highlights the university's Indigenous-focused academic programs. In December, uWinnipeg's board of regents approved the creation of an Indigenous Advisory Circle to ensure the inclusion of Indigenous peoples' perspectives in the university's governance. uWinnipeg is one of the top 4 universities in Canada for Indigenous population, with more than 10% of students self-identifying as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. Between September 2010 and September 2011, Aboriginal student applications to uWinnipeg rose by 24%. uWinnipeg News Release | indigenous.uwinnipeg.ca

US report outlines top tech trends to affect PSE

Released earlier this month, the ninth edition of the Horizon Report identifies 6 technologies that are expected to become mainstream in learning-focused organizations. Each of the 6 technologies is assigned to one of 3 adoption horizons: one year or less, 2 to 3 years, and 4 to 5 years. For 2012, electronic tablet computing and mobile applications are identified in the one-year horizon; learning analytics and game-based learning in the 2- to 3-year horizon; and gesture-based computing and the Internet of Things in the 4- to 5-year horizon. The report identifies the Internet of Things as shorthand for network-aware smart objects that connect the physical world to the information world. A smart object has 4 key attributes: it is small, has a unique identifier, has a small store of data or information, and has a way to communicate that information to an external device on demand. EDUCAUSE News Release | 2012 Horizon Report