Top Ten

February 22, 2012

BC challenges PSE sector to cut spending by 1%

In his budget speech Tuesday, BC's finance minister stated that the province is challenging the advanced education sector to reduce its spending by approximately 1% by 2014-15. The government is encouraging PSE institutions to collaborate and target cuts in discretionary costs, such as administration, executive overhead, and travel. The minister stated that the government will work with PSE schools to help make sure front-line programs are not affected. Student and faculty groups are critical of the budget. "This budget will only intensify the pressure on our institutions to make further cuts in program offerings and student services. We need to see both of those strengthened, not undermined as this budget is doing," says the secretary treasurer of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC. "We think the Premier ought to be honest and tell British Columbians that they are receiving a lower quality of higher education today than before the last provincial election and that it will be worse still in three years," says the president of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC. The Canadian Federation of Students' BC chapter says cuts will undermine the province's Jobs Plan. "Post-secondary institutions will play a critical role in preparing workers for new jobs, but the government is demanding that colleges and universities do more with less." Budget Speech | FPSE News | CUFA BC News | CFS News Release

Man with history of harassing uManitoba staff, students barred from campus

A judge has approved an order completely barring an apparently mentally-ill former University of Manitoba student from campus due to his long-term, "deliberately designed" harassment of staff members and students. Campus security officials believe the 47-year-old man poses an imminent safety threat and has demonstrated an "ongoing pattern of intimidating and frightening behaviour" that might escalate into violence. The man graduated from uManitoba's pharmacy faculty in 1997, but has not been an active student since. He most recently showed up on campus over 3 consecutive days and caused a ruckus. Winnipeg Sun

PEI medical students oppose province's proposed "return of service" plan

Prince Edward Island's proposal to make it mandatory for medical students from the Island to practise at least 3 years in the province is prompting outrage from student organizations and raising questions about freedom of mobility for graduates whose education is subsidized by taxpayers. Without its own medical school, PEI funds undergraduate spaces at outside institutions for its residents -- who still must pay regular tuition fees -- but says graduates from the Island usually end up working elsewhere. The proposed policy appears "crude and coercive," wrote 3 students in the Medical Society of PEI's newsletter. No other province has adopted such a policy, and it would ultimately backfire, says the VP of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students. The University of Saskatchewan's dean of medicine, who supports PEI's idea, says medical schools exist in part to allow qualified people to achieve their ambitions, but also to fulfil the public good of supplying doctors to a jurisdiction. "Sometimes you have to explain to medical students: 'You pay tuition but that tuition is only a fraction of what it costs to educate you. The taxpayers of Saskatchewan are paying 10 times what you’re paying in order for you to be trained'," the dean says. "The taxpayers have a certain expectation on their return in investment." National Post

Saskatchewan signs funding agreement for uSask's Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation

On Tuesday, Saskatchewan's innovation minister signed a multi-year agreement for Innovation Saskatchewan to provide funding for the new $30-million Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation, a research centre based at the University of Saskatchewan to support nuclear research, development, and innovation. "Building on the university's renowned history in nuclear medicine and accelerator technology, the CCNI will help Saskatchewan build and maintain a community of expertise to engage the broader community in evidence-based conversations about nuclear issues and inform policies on nuclear technologies for the benefit of society and the economy," says uSask's VP Research. Saskatchewan News Release

Capilano U opens film and animation centre

Last Friday marked the official opening of the Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film and Animation at Capilano University's North Vancouver campus. Home to the largest full-time 4-year production-oriented film degree program in Western Canada, the 6,662-square-metre centre will provide every tool necessary to develop a production from idea to final releasable production. The project was first announced in 2009 with a $30.2-million joint contribution from the federal and BC governments under the Knowledge Infrastructure Program. BC News Release

Royal Roads moves forward with residence plans

Stopping at Royal Roads University last week as part of a cross-country tour of Canadian universities, 165 students from China's Concord College of Sino-Canada listened to Royal Roads president Allan Cahoon highlight the benefits of the specialized institution with the iconic castle as part of an ongoing campaign to attract international students. Over the next 5 years, the university wants 1,400 students studying at the campus, including hundreds of international students. As part of a strategy to accommodate these students, Royal Roads issued a request for expressions of interest last fall around a plan to build a series of residence facilities on the upper campus. The key terms of any partnership would be for the outside organization to come up with enough capital to construct 4-storey, 100-unit student residences. The Capital City Centre development at Colwood Corners will eventually offer incoming students a place to live, but Cahoon expects many international students will want to live on campus. Goldstream News Gazette

New report explores implications for Ontario regarding global trends in undergraduate education

New research commissioned by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario examines global trends in undergraduate education and degree-granting programs in the non-university or (particularly in Canada) the college/polytechnic sectors. The report is based on an environmental scan, a survey of over 850 Ontario students in university bachelor's degree programs, and the views of key university and college stakeholders who participated in a seminar on the topic last March. 41% of students surveyed said they would enrol in a 3-year program that allowed them to graduate with honours, citing a faster start in the workforce as their top rationale, while 59% said they would not, citing the challenges of an increased course load. Seminar participants were generally resistant to any standardized degree lengths, partly because the advent of learning outcomes, which they welcomed, might make degree length irrelevant. Among surveyed students currently pursuing university degrees, few seem to believe that a degree in a different setting would be as valuable as obtaining one from a university, although they generally agree that colleges are better at short-term job preparation and in maintaining low class sizes. The report states that Ontario could be "at the cusp of a significant evolution around learning outcomes as leading to better ways of measuring degree outcomes and thus permitting shorter degrees if they could be shown to deliver substantially similar outcomes." Research Summary | Full Report

HEC Montréal receives $2-million bequest

HEC Montréal has received a $2-million gift from the estate of Montreal business lawyer Peter R. D. MacKell, which the business school will use to create a major PhD scholarship program. The bequest will allow HEC Montréal to create an endowment fund and award four $25,000 scholarships annually to full-time doctoral students. At the donor's request, the fund will be named the Daniel Brosseau and Peter Letko Scholarship Fund. HEC Montréal News

Shortage of educated workers threatens oilsands expansion

A massive shortage of educated workers has cast a cloud over expansion in Canada's oilsands sector, according to a memo sent to the clerk of the Privy Council Office, the administrative arm of the Prime Minister's Office. The memo notes the poor environment reputation of the oil-and-gas industry is alienating minority groups from joining a workforce that could need up to 100,000 new workers by 2020 to meet rising demand. "Compounding this challenge is the pace of technology and the length of time it takes for employees to develop expertise in their field," says the memo, which notes that "there is a demonstrated need for improved skills and knowledge among new recruits." The memo states that remote location of the oilsands, along with the seasonal work periods, discouraged recruitment efforts from being successful. Postmedia News

The evolution of the viewbook?

Many college administrators are wondering if the annual viewbook is worth the printing cost, as some data from the US suggests that it has less impact on college choice than previously assumed. Loyola University Chicago replaced its viewbook with 4 smaller brochures, on topics like affordability or academics. Viewbooks aren't going anywhere yet, predict many consultants, although they are changing. uDayton introduced a sleek, edgy viewbook in 2007, and has halved the number it ships. Now the institution is working on a new iPad product to replace the viewbook. (Academica Group has helped Canadian colleges and universities migrate their print materials to the iPad, Android and other online platforms: see our website for more information.)  The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)