Top Ten

February 10, 2012

Alberta establishes 3-year predictable funding for PSE institutions

Tabled Thursday, Alberta's 2012 budget establishes a new 3-year funding commitment for higher education. The province's public PSE institutions will receive 2% increases in operating grants in each of the next 3 years to ensure they can plan to effectively meet growing enrolment expectations and address priorities. The province is investing $200 million in student financial aid, providing for student debt management programs, scholarships, bursaries, and grants. Nearly $274 million in loan support is being provided to more than 53,000 students. Alberta News Release | Budget Highlights

Job cuts at NWCC

Northwest Community College announced Thursday it will have to cut a total of 31.49 positions from staff, faculty, and management across the college region to balance its budget as mandated by BC's College and Institute Act. The college has a total of 673 employees who account for 276.28 full-time equivalents. Over the next 2 weeks, consultation committees composed of union leadership and administration will meet to consider alternatives to individual layoffs and examine possible options. NWCC News Release

Redeemer considers presence in downtown Hamilton

Based in Ancaster, Ontario, Redeemer University College has undertaken a feasibility study to investigate establishing a physical presence in downtown Hamilton. Expected to be completed this spring, the study has allowed Redeemer to scout potential program space and look into possible collaborations with downtown services and organizations. While there is no set timeline for a downtown expansion, Redeemer staff stay that having a greater presence in the city core would benefit both students and the community. Hamilton Spectator

Few Ontario special needs students go on to PSE, study finds

According to a new report commissioned by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, relatively few secondary school students with special needs go on to PSE. Using 2006 data from the Toronto District School Board for its study of Grade 11 and 12 special needs students, the report observes that special needs students rated their academic programs much less favourably, spent less time on homework, and had less social engagement. A higher proportion of these students dropped out of secondary school or went directly into the workforce. The report found that just 18% confirmed university acceptance compared to 58% of non-special needs students. By contrast, more special needs students confirmed college acceptance (23.9%) than did students without special needs (14.2%). The study includes input from an expert panel of representatives from Ontario's education ministry, school boards, PSE institutions, and academic community, who identified transition planning as an important issue. Panellists cited a need to reconcile the different meanings of "special needs" at the K-12 and PSE level, noting that difference in definitional requirements can lead to gaps in support services for students transitioning from secondary school to PSE. Research Summary | Full Report

MSVU receives $2.25-million donation

Mount Saint Vincent University announced Thursday a $2.25-million donation from Margaret McCain, whose gift -- the largest individual donation in MSVU's history -- will support the construction of the university's first new classroom facility in more than 40 years. In recognition of the gift, MSVU has named the new building the Margaret Norrie McCain Centre for Teaching, Learning and Research, whose construction is set to begin upon the successful completion of MSVU's $12-million "Project TWENTY12" fundraising initiative. The current total stands at more than $7 million, and the institution aims to conclude fundraising by the end of the year. The centre will incorporate environmentally friendly design, learning labs, classrooms, interactive and collaborative technology, and a student learning commons. Some of MSVU's flagship programs and initiatives will make the centre their new home. MSVU News Release

Eligibility criteria expanded from Canada-China Scholars' Exchange Program

The federal government announced Thursday the renewal of an MOU related to the Canada-China Scholars' Exchange Program, whose eligibility criteria will be expanded to include opportunities for Canadian undergraduate students and mid-career professionals to gain academic and professional experience in China. The program is currently open to graduate students and faculty members. There are currently over 475 active partnership agreements between Canadian and Chinese universities, facilitating student and faculty mobility, research cooperation, and joint academic programming in a variety of fields. Canada News Centre | AUCC News Release

Study finds majority of UBCO graduates leave region, but plan to return

Research by a University of British Columbia Okanagan graduate student observes that a majority of graduates and alumni are not staying in the Okanagan, but many of them would like to. In a survey, 51% of respondents who graduated in 2011 said they were going to leave the area, while the percentage of alumni who said they left the region came in at 67%. Common factors that drove graduates to move include a lack of career opportunities in their chosen field, the high price of housing, and the high cost of living. "Quite a few people said the attitude of Kelowna is part of the reason. They found it quite stifling," the researcher says, adding that respondents also used comments like "not forward thinking" and "conservative." Many of those leaving said they would like to stay in the Okanagan, and half said they hope they can move back to Kelowna when they get some work experience. One recommendation the researcher has is for the community and UBCO to work together to establish more programs so students can gain valuable work experience. UBCO News Release

York U's Schulich remains in top 20 of Expansión MBA ranking

York University's Schulich School of Business has placed 20th in the world and first in Canada in a global MBA survey by Expansión magazine, a Mexican-based business publication. This is the third consecutive year in which Schulich has made the top 20. Expansión uses a statistical-based methodology to rank business schools, with points awarded in areas such as international scope and orientation, average GMAT, post-MBA average salary percentage increase, and faculty research output. Schulich's dean says the Expansión ranking is important to the school because of Schulich's focus on the Latin American market and on Mexico in particular. Last November, Schulich opened a satellite centre in Mexico City that will help recruit students, provide career placement services to alumni, offer executive education programs, support the local alumni chapter, and manage local media relations. York U Schulich News Release

Manitoba-trained physician assistants staying in province

The Manitoba government reports that the vast majority of students graduating from Canada's first-ever physician-assistant master's training program have chosen to stay in the province. The government invested $1.2 million to establish the physician-assistant education program at the University of Manitoba in September 2008. Of the 23 students who have graduated since the program began, 19 are currently working in the province. Another 24 students are currently enrolled in the program. Manitoba News Release

Rice U to publish open-source textbooks

The Rice University-based open-education platform Connexions announced last week a plan to provide free online publisher-quality textbooks for 5 of the most-attended college courses in the US. The OpenStax College textbook initiative will publish its first 2 books in physics and sociology next month, with 3 more titles in biology and in anatomy and physiology slated to go online this fall. "If we capture just 10 percent of the market with these first five textbooks, an estimated 1 million college students in the United States could save $90 million over the next five years," says Connexions' founder and director. The textbooks will be available for free online via computers, smartphones, and tablets. Connexions' print-on-demand feature will allow students to order low-cost print copies. Rice U News Release | Inside Higher Ed