Top Ten

March 1, 2012

Quebec students denounce education minister's "directive" to continue classes during boycott

Students are accusing Quebec Education Minister Line Beauchamp of giving a "directive" for classes to continue even when a large majority of students have voted to boycott classes in protest of planned tuition fee increases. An aide to the minister confirms a letter went out but says it was not intended as a directive. "It's up to each institution to judge how to handle it," she says. The letter, from the assistant deputy minister, says that unlike an employee strike, the student strike is more about freedom of speech and pressure tactics, and each student is free to attend classes if they are being offered. Still, the letter was like "putting oil on the fire," says the president of the Fédération nationale des enseignantes and des enseignants du Québec, adding that "it may not have been a directive but it was a political gesture." The president of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec says the letter is causing many campus administrations to "become more aggressive" by not recognizing strike votes, noting that it doesn't help that the Université de Montréal -- Quebec's biggest university -- "has said the strike is not being recognized." uMontréal has sent a notice to students stating that all courses and evaluations will continue as usual and instructors have been asked to be in class. A uMontréal official says students who boycott classes can express their views, but "those who wish to pursue their studies also have a right to do so." Dawson College's student union argues that administration attempted to influence the outcome of yesterday's student strike vote, citing e-mails forwarded to the student union's attention showing the administration offering advice and council to representatives from the committee opposing the strike. Montreal Gazette | Dawson Student Union News Release

FNUC student's petitions for mandatory indigenous studies at uRegina defaced

A First Nations University of Canada student petitioning for the introduction of a mandatory indigenous studies course for all degree, diploma, and certificate programs at the University of Regina, of which FNUC is an affiliate, has reported instances of some of her petitions being defaced with profanity and swastikas. One petition came back with a threatening message that prompted the student to contact campus security out of concern not only for her safety but also for that of vocal supporters of her initiative, whose goal is to end racism. "We take this kind of thing extremely seriously and we report it to the Regina Police (Service) as well for it to be investigated," says uRegina's VP of administration. "This is one of the things that we find extremely sensitive around campus. Our goal is to eliminate it and make this as safe a campus as we can possibly have." The FNUC student will meet with the Dean council at uRegina next week to discuss her petition, and hopes to meet with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada in Ottawa to get its support. Regina Leader-Post

Ontario's credit-transfer system undergoes revision

This month, Ontario's College University Consortium Council will wind down and be replaced with the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT), which will have a much broader mandate to develop new transfer opportunities for PSE students in the province. While its predecessor mainly facilitated the transfer of students from colleges to universities, ONCAT will also try to smooth the path for students moving from universities to colleges, from one college program to another, and from one university program to another. The Ontario government announced last year a $73.7-million investment over 5 years to support the development of a new credit-transfer system, with some of the funding awarded directly to institutions to provide orientation programs for transfer students, to appoint on-campus transfer advisers, and to introduce new credit-transfer policies. Some institutions have started taking steps to improve the situation, which has been described as "a bitter game of snakes and ladders." Algoma University recently adopted a new policy designed to simplify its credit-assessment process for college students, and the University of Guelph is exploring measures to boost its enrolment of college-transfer students. University Affairs

MTCU "3 cubed" report proposals impractical, says UoGuelph prof

In response to an Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities discussion paper, which has been posted on Scribd, Stephen Henighan, a professor of Hispanic studies at UoGuelph, observes in a Globe and Mail column that even without 3-year degree programs, of which the report suggests there should be more, "Ontario already has serious problems with the shrinking content of a university degree," arguing that university students today "graduate into the knowledge economy with less knowledge than their parents had." Comparing Ontario's education system to those in Europe, Quebec, and the rest of North America, Henighan states that 3-year degrees "would make Ontarians stand out as intellectually malnourished." The report fails to acknowledge that students are people who mature at their own rate, the professor writes. Trying courses and programs in different areas and the discovery of new passions and aptitudes spin out many students' degrees to 4.5 or 5 years, and such experimentation is "an indispensable step in becoming a mature adult who's not only productive but also human. That's something few people can achieve in three years." Globe and Mail | Scribd

uWinnipeg board approves construction of athletics and wellness complex

The University of Winnipeg's board of regents has approved construction of a new $40-million Multi-Purpose Field House, Health and Wellness Complex with sod-turning expected to begin this spring, paving the way for one of the most significant athletic and wellness facilities ever constructed in Winnipeg's inner city. uWinnipeg will create a Sport for All Fund to ensure that inner-city youth and new Canadians have access to the complex. The fund will help cover the costs of quality recreational and cultural programs, cooperatives and mentorships with uWinnipeg students, and athletic and academic bursaries. uWinnipeg News Release

$1.5-million donation to Mohawk College supports bursaries

The Ron Joyce Foundation announced Tuesday a $1.5-million gift in support of financial need bursaries for Mohawk College students -- the largest bursary donation in the college's history. Capped off with an additional $500,000 from a provincial matching program, the funding will allow Mohawk to provide nearly 20 full-tuition bursaries annually. The Ron Joyce Access Bursary is a key element of the college's Access Project, an initiative launched in collaboration with regional public, private and non-profit sector partners that aims to increase secondary school graduation and PSE participation rates among young people who currently do not see university, college, or apprenticeship in their future. Mohawk College News Release | Hamilton Spectator

SFU ad campaign promotes new strategic vision

Simon Fraser University is running a multimedia advertising campaign showcasing its new strategic vision, which seeks to establish SFU as Canada's most community-engaged research university. Including transit, radio, social media, and online elements, the campaign features print ads running in the Vancouver Sun, Business in Vancouver, SFU's The Peak student newspaper, and various Vancouver-area community papers that have different takes on the theme of engaging students, the community, and research -- all on a bold red background. One ad titled "Engaging Communities: SFU campuses redefine the heart of the community" shows the iconic Woodward's site in Vancouver's downtown eastside where the opening of SFU's contemporary arts centre has led to a revitalization of the area. Marketing Magazine

NSCAD launches 125th anniversary website

This year marks the 125th anniversary of NSCAD University, which has created a website where visitors are encouraged to discover the stories behind the Halifax-based arts institution. The homepage emerges as a block of squares of various, vibrant colours, with the number "125" shaped in white. Inside the block are some pictures of members of the NSCAD community, which link to these individuals' profiles. The website includes even more stories from university community members, categorized under the themes of "global relevance," "breakthrough art," "business success," "engaged in community," and "a rich history." The site also features a letter from Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter on the impact of NSCAD. Celebrations kick off this month, which NSCAD is calling the "March of Anna," in honour of the institution's founder, Anna Leonowens, who is the "I" in The King and I. The first event will be a sing-along film screening of The King and I today at NSCAD's Bell Auditorium. NSCAD 125

uCalgary students poke fun at law school in YouTube video

With the help of his classmates, children of students, and one of his professors, a third-year University of Calgary law student has written and produced a satirical video warning about the dangers of law school. Parodying the "Dear 16-year-old Me" video produced by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund to raise awareness about skin cancer prevention, the video shows students telling their younger selves that law school is "where insecure over-achievers go to do something with their bachelor of arts." A student's law school experience will begin with so much hope, they say, "then you'll realize you're destined to make rich companies richer by facilitating the purchase of other rich companies." The professor in the video states that he "will assign you an enormous amount of reading, then proceed to humiliate you during lectures." Uploaded on YouTube on February 26, the video has garnered more than 172,000 hits as of yesterday afternoon (an updated version released Wednesday has had nearly 20,000 views). The video was made for uCalgary's annual Law Show, taking place on March 23. Huffington Post | Dear Me, Don't Go to Law School

US survey finds nearly even split prediction on behaviour change outcomes among Millennials

In a Pew Research Center survey about the future of the Internet, technology experts and stakeholders were fairly evenly split as to whether the impact of networked living on Millennials will turn out to be positive or negative by 2020. Approximately 55% of respondents agreed that in 8 years, Millennials will be nimble, quick-acting multitaskers who will do well in key respects, while about 42% agreed that today's youth will have a thirst for instant gratification, settle for quick choices, and lack patience. While 55% agreed with the positive statement, many who chose that perspective noted that it is more their hope than their best guess, and a number of respondents said the true outcome will be a combination of both scenarios. Since the survey asked for the selection of either the positive or the negative, with no middle-ground choice, the report states that the result is probably more like a 50-50 outcome than the 55-42 split. Overview | Full Report