Top Ten

February 13, 2012

Carleton student found dead in residence

A Carleton University student died inside a campus residence Saturday. No further details have been released, though the institution says "no foul play is suspected" in the student's death. Police say the death is not suspicious in nature. CBC

McGill's plans for internal review of asbestos research criticized

A group of anti-asbestos activists and scientists is criticizing McGill University over its plans for an internal review of a major asbestos study that has been called into question. In a letter to McGill's dean of medicine, the group calls on the university to carry out a "thorough, independent and transparent investigation" of the original study, which it alleges is "flawed, lacks transparency and contains manipulated data." McGill announced last week it would review the study's findings following a CBC documentary about the institution's past ties to the asbestos industry. Dozens of Canadian and international scientists and prominent medical researchers have signed a letter calling on McGill to sever its ties to the asbestos industry. CBC | Montreal Gazette

Opposition over uAlberta honorary degree for Nestlé CEO

The University of Alberta is drawing criticism over its decision to award an honorary degree to the CEO of controversial global food giant Nestlé Corporation, the world's largest producer of bottled water and promoter of water privatization. For years Nestlé has been under fire for the way it markets infant formula in Third World nations where mothers do not have access to clean water and literacy is low. Professors critical of the honorary degree warn that uAlberta's reputation in the global community could be harmed. uAlberta president Indira Samarasekera states in the institution's official blog that the honorary degree committee "gave great weight" to the fact that under Nestlé CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe's leadership, the company was given the Stockholm Industry Water Award last year. He was chosen "in recognition of his emerging and growing role as a worldwide leader in resource management," the blog says. Edmonton Journal | uAlberta Blog

Langley set to approve TWU expansion proposal

Langley Township council is set to approve an expansion of Trinity Western University's campus and a housing development on land adjacent to the campus. The institution has plans for a "university district" including classroom space, student and faculty housing, and commercial and recreation uses on 23.4 acres of unused farm land directly across from the main campus entrance. An additional 48 acres north and west of the expansion site will be a mix of agriculture and environmental laboratory and parkland. TWU has been eyeing the properties for several years and has been in talks with the township for over 2 years about the potential expansion, says the university's associate provost. The campus is built on clay soil that cannot support highrise development, which has forced TWU to expand outward rather than upward, the official says. Vancouver Sun

Study examines PSE feasibility for Airdrie

Airdrie's proximity to Calgary and its growing population makes the city a good candidate for a PSE institution in the future, states a feasibility study presented to Airdrie city council last week. One recommendation outlined in the report is for the city to position itself as the best location for a new university in Alberta. Another suggestion is for Airdrie to partner with educational providers to promote locally-based educational programming. Airdrie Echo

Ottawa invests in Conestoga's Institute of Food Processing Technology

The federal government announced Friday a $2.3-million investment for Conestoga College to help meet the needs of food and beverage manufacturers in southern Ontario through its Institute of Food Processing Technology. With this investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario's Prosperity Initiative, Conestoga will equip its institute with modern food processing lines that simulate real work environments. The hands-on training provided by the institute, using modern manufacturing equipment, will enhance the education experience of its students. FedDev Ontario News Release

Huron receives strong marks in NSSE

National Survey of Student Engagement results published by Maclean's show that Huron University College finished first out of 62 Canadian universities in both of the senior-year students' categories reported. Senior students rated Huron more highly than did first-year students in response to the question, "If you could start over, would you go to the institution you are now attending?" Huron students also rated the institution tops in their response to the question, "How would evaluate your entire educational experience at this institution?" with senior students scoring Huron first and first-year students sixth. "We are thrilled with these results since they represent our students’ opinion of their experience at Huron,” says principal Stephen McClatchie. "Even though our senior students have placed Huron at the top we are committed to further improvement as we embark on an ambitious action plan to enrich the Huron student experience." Huron News | Maclean's OnCampus

UBC student union plans to open brewery

The University of British Columbia's Alma Mater Society plans to open a brewery on campus in August 2014. The student-owned brewery will supply UBC's 2 bars with its own homebrew and will also tap into the campus' various keggers. The AMS still plans to offer the standard brands, but will sell its own craft beer slightly cheaper, somewhere around $2.50 for a sleeve of beer, which is 14 ounces. The operation will be run by a professional brewmaster. The planned brewery is believed to be the only student-owned brewery in Canada. Niagara College opened a teaching brewery in April 2011. Toronto Star

Report finds Dickinson State U awarded bogus degrees

A state audit has revealed that North Dakota-based Dickinson State University has awarded hundreds of degrees to Chinese students who did not complete required coursework and who in some instances may not have been able to do so. The report describes a campus that was so focused on attracting students that it cut corners to build its international enrolments. The university could face sanctions from the US Department of Homeland Security over visa issues, from the state over enrolment figures, and from accreditors over failure to assure educational quality. Briefings on campus about the report were interrupted by reports that a university official, with a weapon, was missing. The dean of the College of Education, Business and Applied Sciences was later found dead from a self-inflicted gun wound. The audit did not mention the dean by name, but officials say many of the students who received degrees inappropriately had been enrolled in the college he led. The chancellor of North Dakota's university system says no immediate discipline is planned for any Dickinson State U employees. The institution's VP for academic affairs has since stepped down. Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

EU nations commit to cutting PSE expenditures

Nearly every European Union country has committed to reducing their expenditures on universities, reports Times Higher Education. Spain is cutting €485 million from education overall, and assistance to local authorities -- key supporters of universities -- will be reduced by just over €1 billion. Ireland's budget in December included a 2% reduction in core funding for PSE to secure savings of €23.6 million. In Italy, high-profiled budget cuts offer little hope for PSE investment in the country in 2012. With a 20% fall in PSE funding predicted by 2013 even before December's "Save Italy" budget cuts of €30 billion, most expect more pain to follow. Since the European Universities Association's most recent report in June, only Norway, Finland, and Germany have maintained their commitments to increase funding for PSE. France remains committed to plans to invest up to €30 billion to improve universities and research through its national loan system, but borrowing billions could be tricky in light of its own lingering debt problems. Times Higher Education