Top Ten

March 6, 2012

Accessing skilled careers subject of NL throne speech

Newfoundland and Labrador's 2012 throne speech states the government will focus this year on 3 principal objectives, one of which is to give residents the added support they may need to seize career opportunities. The province states that over the course of the 4-year term ahead, it will hold the line on university and college tuition fee increases and shift the balance from student loans to grants. In this year's budget, the government will introduce and expand programs to help apprentices progress through to journeyperson status. It will also increase training for under-represented groups, particularly for women in skilled trades and business. NL Speech from the Throne | Premier's Response to Throne Speech | St. John's Telegram | CBC

Some Algonquin College profs speak out against union over state of labour relations

Some Algonquin College faculty members are speaking out against their union's leaders who are in a war of words with college administration over the state of labour relations at the institution. "Our union can be very aggressive," says one member who spoke glowingly to the Ottawa Citizen about working at Algonquin. "It sounds like it's the faculty versus the management. It's not -- it's the union versus the management." Another professor says she has been "well taken care of" by Algonquin and feels that money spent settling grievances could -- and should -- be allocated elsewhere given the budget crunch at the institution. These professors asked for their names not to be published out of fears of retribution by the union, whose VP calls the worries a "red herring." He says the union cannot sanction or punish members who oppose its action. Ottawa Citizen

Brock, St. Catharines finalize agreement for downtown arts complex

Yesterday Brock University and the City of St. Catharines signed a document that clears the way for a fine and performing arts complex to be built in the city's downtown. St. Catharines will construct a $60.8-million civic Performance Arts Centre adjacent to the site where Brock will spend $39.6-million to renovate and expand an empty textile mill to house its Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. Construction on the 2 projects will start this year, with completion slated for 2014. The "umbrella agreement" contains the legal framework that includes the terms by which the municipality will transfer to Brock the former Canada Hair Cloth building, as well as annual financial support and logistical commitments. Brock News

Conestoga "indispensable to local prosperity," report finds

A new assessment of Conestoga College's impact on the local community and economy observes that the southwestern Ontario institution "is indispensable to local prosperity and the health and competitiveness of the labour force." Nearly half of the local adult population has enrolled in education or training programs at Conestoga, the report finds. The total number of graduates has risen by 52% since 2002, and 65% of alumni remain in the local community. Continuing education courses are a "powerful" contributor to Conestoga; between 1990 and 2010, there were 706,722 continuing education registrations by nearly 200,000 students. The report notes that Conestoga graduates pump more than $1 billion into the local economy annually. With a growth rate of 42% between 2005-06 and 2010-11, Conestoga is Ontario's fastest growing college, but further expansion is needed for the institution to meet the local economy's needs, the report states. Conestoga News Release | Waterloo Region Record | Report

TRU set to adopt new academic plan

Following a year-long consultation process with its communities, Thompson Rivers University has devised a new academic plan ready for implementation. Seeking to establish the Kamloops, BC-based institution's reputation for having flexible and adaptable graduates, the plan "continues to build on that strength (of flexibility) through programs and courses that generate interdisciplinary connections between academic themes," says the university's provost. "TRU will be known for being profoundly interdisciplinary." The plan's key academic themes are science, technology, and applied skills in society (students may explore science inside and outside the lab, through applied, theoretical, and vocational science programs); power, politics, and social justice (students are encouraged to explore links between local, global, and Aboriginal issues); health, well-being, and leisure (TRU aims to link a healthy campus to health policy and practices in the communities it serves, and to remain a leader in leisure and tourism programs); and sustainability -- environmental, economic, social, and cultural. TRU News | Academic Plan website

Engineering schools struggling to replace retiring personnel in profession

"The demand for engineering graduates is far outstripping our ability to graduate them," says the University of Ontario Institute of Technology's provost, at a time when 20% to 30% of Ontario's engineers are on the brink of retirement. Training new electrical power engineers should be a top priority, says the provost, who is spearheading an Electrical Power Engineering Education Consortium to try to address a skilled labour shortage. "We want (engineering students) to be known for being entrepreneurial engineers with a social conscience," says York University's science and engineering dean. York U's new Lassonde School of Engineering will be interdisciplinary, drawing on the institution's strengths in law, business, and the humanities. Institutions are also working hard to bridge the gender gap in engineering school enrolment. York U is developing an ambitious gender-parity program, which the dean says will be achieved by showing women the diverse opportunities existing within the profession. Toronto Star

uCalgary introducing new vice-provost position to improve institution's teaching quality

The University of Calgary is seeking a vice-provost of teaching and learning who would be responsible for improvements in these areas across campus, including encouraging more professional development and helping faculty get a handle on new technology. This "champion" of teaching will also oversee the development of metrics designed to gauge teaching quality. Students have long griped about lacklustre instruction, says the student union president, who presented to the board of governors last week Globe and Mail data showing uCalgary trailing comparable institutions in student satisfaction and teaching quality. uCalgary's provost says more thorough metrics indicate the university has made major strides in terms of retention rates, increased student services, and enhanced facilities. The faculty association president says uCalgary would need to commit more resources if it is serious about improving teaching quality. On the subject of performance measures, he says "we know that not everything that counts can be measured, and not everything that can be measured counts." Calgary Herald

MHC launches "My First Year" program at Brooks campus

Medicine Hat College unveiled Friday a new program for the Brooks campus called "My First Year." Participating students will be enrolled in a wide range of arts and science courses that are transferable to Alberta universities. A partnership between MHC and local school boards, the program is meant to encourage a supportive learning environment for peers, and develop an experiential learning model that incorporates theory, field research, and community-based service learning, providing a nucleus for offering 10 first-year university transfer courses at the Brooks campus. Students in My First Year will receive a $500 bursary from the college, and are also eligible for other scholarships and bursaries available to all students. The program will start running this fall. MHC News | Medicine Hat News

CBU launches Business Network for Aboriginal Youth

Cape Breton University's Business Network for Aboriginal Youth is a new 2-year pilot program designed to enrich the lives of Aboriginal high school students by helping to facilitate the transition from secondary school to university business education. Using BlackBerry technology, the program will link 30 Aboriginal students in Grades 9 through 12 from across Nova Scotia via social media. Believed to be the first program of its kind in Canada, the program has representation from 12 of Nova Scotia's 13 Aboriginal communities, as well as Métis and Inuit participants. The program began with the inaugural Nova Scotia Aboriginal Youth Business Mentorship Conference held earlier this week. CBU News

Proportion of British graduates in low-skilled work increases

New figures from UK National Statistics show that more than one-third of recent British graduates are working in lower-skilled jobs compared to approximately one-quarter a decade ago. Over the same period, the number of graduates in the workforce and no longer in education rose from 1,063,000 to 1,501,000. The data show the average hourly wage for graduates is £15.18, 70% higher than that of non-graduates. Arts graduates earn the least per hour on average (£12.06) while medical and dental school graduates earn the most (£21.29). The unemployment rate for those who graduated from university in the last 2 years is 18.9%, compared to 6.7% for graduates who left 2 to 4 years ago and 4.4% for those who graduated 4 to 6 years ago. The Association of Graduate Recruiters' chief executive advises graduates "to gain experience in the workplace and see it as a valuable stepping stone towards their longer term career goals." A recent government-commissioned report recommends internships for all British undergraduates to improve their employability. Times Higher Education