Top Ten

March 21, 2012

Saskatchewan budget provides 2% increase in operating cost support for PSE institutions

As per Saskatchewan's 2012-13 budget, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration will receive $890.6 million, an increase of 4.1% over last year. The budget provides a $12 million increase, on average 2%, to support operating costs at PSE schools. The province has signed agreements with the presidents of the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan to help ensure student accessibility. The government expects tuition fee increases to be held at 4% for key direct entry programs. The budget provides more than $107 million in support for students through financial aid, scholarships, bursaries, training allowances, and the Graduate Retention Program. Other initiatives include $109 million for skills training and labour force development; $47 million to continue supporting PSE and skills training for First Nations and Métis people; and $13.5 million to fulfill a commitment to train 300 additional nurses and 100 additional doctors a year, and to start on a commitment to boost the number of nurse practitioner seats by 20, with an initial 5 seats. Saskatchewan News Release

HEQCO president offers institutions guide on how to ask for government funding

With just days until Ontario tables its budget, it's not an easy time to appear cap in hand before government -- but not impossible if you do it right, suggests Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario president Harvey Weingarten. When you meet with government officials, pitch your answer as a solution to a political problem, he says. Use politicians' language and write things in ways they understand. Be patient with government, as it can take several years for politicians to get something done, and that's not always a bad thing. "We should be fearful if government makes policy quickly; it’s either when there is insufficient consultation, or in the middle of election frenzy," Weingarten says. "Put some skin in the game," he states; what can set you apart from others "is that you have shown a sufficient commitment to something to have already allocated resources." Margin Notes (University Affairs blog) |  Toronto Star

11 Cambrian programs face suspension

Cambrian College's board of governors will vote today on whether to suspend 11 programs, and a group of students have already initiated a Facebook campaign to keep the arts programs facing suspension from being cut. The vote comes as part of a regular review of programs at Cambrian, says president Sylvia Barnard. Students currently enrolled in programs that may be suspended will not be affected, as the suspensions do not take effect until September. The president of Cambrian's OPSEU local says if all 11 programs were to be suspended, a total of 15 permanent, full-time faculty would be affected. Sudbury Star

BC funds business plan for new Emily Carr campus

The BC government is providing $1.7 million to help Emily Carr University of Art + Design develop a comprehensive business case for a new campus on Great Northern Way in Vancouver. The business plan will include an analysis of labour market demand for Emily Carr graduates; development of an indicative design for the project; detailed cost estimates; an examination of increased accessibility for students to support the growth of the design, media, and visual industry; and description of funding sources. The campus redevelopment project envisions a state-of-the-art facility with capacity for 1,800 students. BC News Release | Vancouver Sun

UoGuelph launches new plant preservation institute with $1.5-million donation

The Gosling Foundation, a non-profit organization for ecological preservation and environmental education, has donated $1.5 million to the University of Guelph, which is using the gift to support a new institute. Based at UoGuelph's Ontario Agricultural College, the Gosling Research Institute for Plant Preservation aims to develop innovative measures to protect and conserve the world's endangered plants. The donation was made through UoGuelph's BetterPlanet Project, a $200-million fundraising campaign for teaching and research in communities, environment, food, and health. UoGuelph News Release

UNBSU president critical of small student representation on university board

One of 3 student representatives on UNB's 43-member board of governors, the student union president argues that with a disproportionate number of students on the board, it is more difficult to get student-oriented issues heard. While there hasn't been notable conflict this year, he notes that the adoption of the $150 "Currie Fee" last year was a point of contention between student representatives and the rest of the board. "More student voice around the table might have changed the dialogue a bit," he says. UNB president Eddy Campbell says the number of students on the board is in line with that at other universities' boards. "It's not about the numbers -- it's about the respect and the manner in which they represent the student body and the way in which they conduct themselves," Campbell says. "The folks that we have are used to making the student point of view very clear." The strict legislation applied to the board would make it difficult to add more student members, let alone any other positions. The Brunswickan (student newspaper)

UBC unveils $20,000 entrance scholarships for Aboriginal students

UBC announced yesterday 2 new major entrance scholarships designed to attract outstanding Canadian Aboriginal secondary school students to the university. The $5,000 Aboriginal Major Entrance Scholarships -- each renewable for up to 3 additional years for a total of $20,000 -- will be awarded annually to Aboriginal students according to broad-based criteria, such as academic excellence, leadership qualities, and outstanding contributions to the community. The new scholarships will be available to Aboriginal students who have applied for Major Entrance Scholarships in 2012, and all Aboriginal students starting in 2013. The new scholarships are part of UBC's Aboriginal Strategic Plan, which was adopted in 2009. UBC News Release

OCAS facilitates online transcript requests

The Ontario College Application Service (OCAS) has enhanced its Electronic Transcript Management System (eTMS) to make it easier for students to receive the transcripts they need when applying to college. First introduced in 2005, the eTMS allows former students to request a transcript from a secondary school they attended when completing their online application to college. With the new "Auto eTMS" solution, OCAS is able to automate the obtainment of transcript records directly from the source. The application service has already started developing a new "Total eTMS" solution that will allow it to manage transcript requests in real-time for current secondary school students, in addition those who have already graduated. OCAS News Release

Student riots, funding cuts causing "sustained damage" to British universities' reputation

Times Higher Education's recent World Reputation Rankings show Britain losing ground to universities in the Far East due to increased investment in PSE in that region. The magazine's rankings editor says British institutions are increasingly "perceived as a fading power" following recent funding cuts, rising tuition fees, and a clampdown on international students. "The messages we are sending to the world about our commitment to funding our universities, fuelled by the images of students protesting in Westminster, on top of our clampdown on overseas students, are not playing well globally," the editor says. "There is a clear risk that our universities, other than the elite 'super-brands' of Oxford and Cambridge, will be relegated from the premier league of institutions in the eyes of the world, with tangible and sustained damage." The Telegraph

Investments in ed-tech start-ups booming

In recent years, venture capitalists have invested millions in education-technology firms, trying to cash in on a market they view as ripe for a digital makeover. Data from the US-based National Venture Capital Association show that investments in ed-tech start-ups nationwide rose from $146 million in 2002 to $429 million last year. The boom really took off in 2009, when venture capitalists poured $150 million more into ed-tech companies than they did in the previous year, despite the market downturn. Michael Staton, founder of Inigral (with whom Academica Group has a strategic research partnership), says "something in the zeitgeist" is providing education entrepreneurs with access to funding, advice, and talent once reserved for other sectors. It's not just coming from for-profit organizations; last year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded Inigral $2 million from a $4-million investment. Staton believes that an increasing acceptance of online learning, rather than any particular new technology, has allowed start-ups to earn support for new products. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)