Top Ten

February 29, 2012

uCalgary to cut back on enrolment to help balance budget

Enrolment at the University of Calgary is expected to be reduced by as many as 500 students, the institution announced Tuesday as it posted a balanced budget and a nominal tuition fee increase. After facing a shortfall of nearly $50 million over the past few years, uCalgary is now in the black due to a 2% increase in its operating grant. The institution has also opted to raise tuition by 1.45%, the maximum under provincial law, as tuition increases in Alberta are capped to inflation. To help keep the books in order, uCalgary will be cutting enrolment by between 300 and 500 students. The institution's VP of finance says despite the grant increase from the province, the university still faced a shortfall of over $14 million for the coming fiscal year -- about 1% of the overall budget -- a gap that was met by making small savings, such as installing a cogeneration power plant and changing how the institution photocopies documents. Although it is increasing tuition fees, uCalgary has put off fully phasing in a $450 mandatory non-academic fee until the 2013-14 academic year. uCalgary News | Calgary Herald

Mohawk and Sheridan Colleges to co-locate programs at each other's campuses

On Tuesday, Mohawk and Sheridan Colleges formalized an MOU -- the first of its kind in Ontario -- that will see the 2 institutions explore opportunities to co-locate programs at each other's campuses in their respective areas of academic strength. "Our partnership is a clear example of how differentiation can work within the Ontario college system," says Mohawk president Rob MacIsaac. "By concentrating in our areas of academic strength, we can offer students a wider selection of high quality, industry-connected programs closer to home." Sheridan president Jeff Zabudsky says the historic agreement "will expand the postsecondary options currently available to students in these regions, while also helping to ensure that a full suite of diploma, certificate and degree programs will continue to be accessible as Sheridan moves towards its vision of becoming an undergraduate teaching university." The first co-located program will be a 2-year Insurance Diploma offered by Mohawk at Sheridan's Hazel McCallion campus in Mississauga. Sheridan News Release | Hamilton Spectator | Mississauga News

HRSDC cancels student employment centres

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has cancelled its Service Canada Centres for Youth, stating that it can offer the same services online. The centres' elimination will save the federal government, which is grappling with a multi-billion-dollar deficit, approximately $6.5 million annually. The government says the centres have seen their attendance shrink in recent years as an increasing number of youth turn to the Internet to find employment between April and September. Young Canadians will still be able to get assistance in person, all year round, through existing Service Canada locations, HRSDC says. The move is troubling, says the Canadian Federation of Students' national chairperson, who notes that the youth unemployment rate of 14.5% is nearly twice that of the general population, at a time when students are facing high tuition fees and in some instances large debt loads. The NDP's human resources critic says the reality is that not all young Canadians have ready access to high-speed Internet, and the centres help youth learn to sell themselves to employers. "The closure of these offices will hurt students and business operators, especially in seasonal industries," says the Liberal Party's HR critic. Globe and Mail

Celebrating tenth anniversary, SFU Surrey reflects on growing pains and triumphs

In an interview with Surrey Now, Joanne Curry, the executive director of Simon Fraser University's Surrey campus, says "it was a bit rocky in the beginning" when the Surrey campus was preparing to open its doors a decade ago. "We had to rely a lot on Simon Fraser University's name brand in the community to give comfort because there were some skeptics." Holding an open house today to celebrate its tenth anniversary, SFU Surrey has exceeded expectations in terms of growth, says Curry, who believes that developing technology-based programs that help to train a workforce for the future in the rapidly growing region has contributed to the campus' success. The university has plans for expansion, but those plans will depend on the availability of funding. "There's no question that we're going to at least double or triple in size and really innovate the programs but the question is when we can get started." Surrey Now | SFU Surrey 10th Year Anniversary Open House website

Quebec report on quality assurance recommends new body to oversee university evaluations

The Conseil supérieur de l’éducation recently released a report containing 5 recommendations to revise the current quality assurance system for Quebec universities. The report suggests creating common benchmarks across the province for all degree levels and encourages universities to improve their own internal evaluations by tailoring the criteria to each program and by sharing with each other improvements made after the evaluations. The council also recommends that external evaluations be consolidated into an autonomous body that is directed by the education ministry and the universities. The report says programs that do not produce a grade or are outsourced should also be included in external reviews. The council argues that all universities should have a quality assurance policy that applies to teaching, research, and community engagement. The Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities welcomes the suggestions, but would rather see them incorporated into the existing system of internal and external reviews of university programs instead of the creation of a new body. CSE News Release (in French) | Full Report (in French) | CREPUQ News Release (in French)

uWindsor business school receives $3-million gift

The University of Windsor announced this week a $3-million donation from the Odette family toward the expansion of the Odette School of Business, bringing the family's contribution to uWindsor to more than $10 million. The gift will fund the renovation of the 15,600 square feet in the Odette building currently occupied by the University Bookstore, whose new location is being explored. The renovations will provide space for classrooms, individual study areas, small meeting rooms, and several new centres for entrepreneurship and innovation. uWindsor Daily News

McGill alumna donates $1.5 million to support global food security efforts at university

Businesswoman and McGill University graduate Margaret A. Gilliam has donated $1.5 million to her alma mater, which will use the gift to build on its recent initiatives to address the global food and nutrition crisis and seek long-term answers for sustainable agricultural production. The gift will fund an initiative to attract or retain a scholar who pursues research in the area of global food security, a fellowship program to recognize and support McGill graduate students studying global food security issues, and an endowment that will fund, in perpetuity, teaching, research, and outreach initiatives related to food security. McGill News Release

OCAD U, uWinnipeg launch new business incubators

OCAD University and the University of Winnipeg join a growing list of Canadian universities introducing business incubators with students in mind. OCAD U unveiled Tuesday its new Imagination Catalyst, a student and alumni-centred entrepreneurship and innovation incubator/accelerator designed to aggregate the institution's existing innovation, research, and commercialization activities. The Imagination Catalyst gears up the university's student innovation through 2 streams: by placing students and alumni and their inventions in receptor industries and by supporting the efforts of graduating students, recent graduates, and faculty members in developing new companies. Yesterday uWinnipeg announced the creation of UWIN Inc., a commercialization incubator that will allow for a more entrepreneurial approach to using campus resources. uWinnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy says UWIN Inc. will "spur new innovations and allow our faculty and students to engage in relevant, cutting edge research that has direct application in the real world. We know that increasingly students want to tackle the big issues of our time such as climate change, or cancer treatment, in a way that gets results." OCAD U News Release | uWinnipeg News Release

York U president, student swap roles for a day

On Tuesday, York University president Mamdouh Shoukri traded places with biochemistry major Rabia Sajun, who won the institution's "President for a Day" essay contest with her pitch for smaller class sizes, additional space in the science library, and better safety awareness across campus. While Sajun met with her choice of officials in Shoukri's airy 10th-floor corner office, the president made his way through the 20-year-old student's timetable, which included a 90-minute meeting of the chemistry society of which Sajun is co-president. "They're going to kill me with her schedule -- and I haven't taken biology since high school," admitted Shoukri, a mechanical engineer, as he got ready for his final class before going home by GO Bus. Shourki's candid discussions with a small clutch of students was the type of conversation one student said he never thought he would have "with the top honcho of York," having believed that "the administration was 'untouchable' at a university." Sajun and Shoukri met yesterday morning for a debriefing session over breakfast to compare notes. Tuesday's events were documented on Twitter by Sajun and the account @yupres4aday. Y-File | Toronto Star

Huron unveils iTunes U site

Huron University College announced yesterday its new presence on iTunes U, a specialized area of Apple's iTunes store that allows educational institutions to produce audio and visual content available for free download. Currently used primarily for public lectures and weekly Chapel services, Huron's iTunes U account allows the Western University affiliate to maintain its intimate environment with rigorous academics, while also showing a willingness to adopt original approaches to pedagogy. "Through iTunes U, Huron is able to broaden its reach in an inherently progressive way," says principal Stephen McClatchie. "Collections available on our iTunes U site will allow us to reach out to the broader community by providing access to the exciting research and teaching taking place at Huron." Huron News