Top Ten

March 23, 2012

Quebec students mobilize in largest demonstration to date

Tens of thousands of Quebec students descended on downtown Montreal Thursday for the latest -- and so far the largest -- in a series of protests against planned tuition fee increases. The total number of participants could not be determined, but one student representative claimed that 200,000 were in attendance (the number of students supporting the unlimited strike is approximately 300,000). Police said there were no arrests during the demonstration and credited the peaceful march for keeping to the planned route. Quebec Premier Jean Charest remained unmoved by the turnout, which came two days after the provincial budget was tabled. He said the tuition fee increases were thought out for years, and reflect the Liberal government's will to give the province a "world-class" PSE system. Even after the hikes, students will end up paying 17% of the cost of their education, he said. Students argue that the hikes will limit access to education in Quebec and have vowed to continue demonstrating until the increases are abandoned. Throwing her support being the striking students, Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois has pledged that a PQ government would annul the hikes. A provincial election has to be held by the end of 2013. Globe and Mail | Montreal Gazette | CBC | CTV

uSask med school working on accreditation standard action plan

In response to apparent misinformation about the accreditation status of its medical school, the University of Saskatchewan states that last July, it received a letter from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the Committee on the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools indicating 11 instances of noncompliance with 10 of the 130 accreditation standards under which medical schools operate. The College of Medicine was given 6 months to submit an action plan, which it did in December. Last month, both committees informed the college that it had one year to put the plan in action. Throughout this period, the medical school has communicated fully with students as well as with faculty, staff, and administrators who are responsible for making the changes. The accreditation standards on which the school is working relate primarily to academic administration matters , such as how teaching duties are assigned, how marks are recorded in common databases, and whether students at different sites have access to similar study space. uSask Statement | Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

Cambrian program cuts part of move to eliminate Media Studies, Culinary Arts

On Thursday, Cambrian College's board of governors gave the axe to 9 of the 11 programs up for suspension, sparing a pair of public relations programs. The VP academic says the suspension recommendations come from Cambrian's "strategic decision" to eliminate the Culinary Arts and Media Studies schools -- a move that will allow the institution to focus on  programs more in line with the strategic plan. The VP says it was not an easy recommendation to make, but it was "unanimous from the deans." Financial pressures "forced (Cambrian) to say 'where can we get the best return on investment?'" With Media Studies being eliminated, the public relations programs will move to the business school, says president Sylvia Barnard. Sudbury Star

Yukon College suspends intake for Native Teacher Education Program

Yukon College announced Thursday it will not accept new students for the Yukon Native Teacher Education Program for the 2012-13 school year. The institution launched a review of the 24-year-old program in December, and a report is due in June. Yukon College receives 20 to 25 applications for the program annually, with about 10 applicants meeting admissions qualifications. To date, no qualified applicants have applied for the 2012-13 school year. Current students will be able to complete the degree program as it is currently structured. There will be no layoffs or staff reassignments, and program funding will continue. The decision to suspend intake was made after consulting with stakeholders, including the territorial and First Nations governments, as well as the University of Regina, which grants the degree from the program. Yukon College News

uAlberta seeks new ways of doing business

In her annual state of the university address Thursday, University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera told attendees that in a time of budgetary restraints, and with growing worldwide concern over increasing tuition fees, uAlberta has '"significant resources" to draw on. However, moving forward, the university community has to work hard to find new methods of doing business. uAlberta is inviting suggestions "that will push this university firmly into the 21st century," and will create a dedicated website to receive ideas for evaluation and implementation. "Tough financial realities" have resulted in budget struggles within every department and unit, said Samarasekera; however, uAlberta is in a better place than many other top Canadian universities to deal with lower per-student operating funding. She also pointed to the institution's efforts to recruit high-level teaching and support-staff talent and a successful track record in attracting external research funding and donations. Samarasekera said she will continue to advocate to government that investment at uAlberta is good for the province. uAlberta News

WLU purchases apartment buildings next to Waterloo campus

On Thursday, Wilfrid Laurier University closed a $58.9-million acquisition of a dozen student-housing apartment buildings adjacent to its Waterloo campus. 9 of the buildings are recently constructed 4- and 5-floor properties and 3 are renovated multi-tenant houses. Together, they have a combined capacity to accommodate approximately 785 students. The purchase will provide WLU with strategic property assets in the rapidly developing neighbourhoods next to the campus, and a stream of rental income. The institution has engaged a private property manager to administer the properties as off-campus housing. WLU News Release

International students a focus of London as "Education City"

London Ontario Mayor Joe Fontana emphasized last week a key goal of his "education city" vision, to attract more international students to London, potentially as permanent residents. The education boost would be accompanied by an economic one, says Fontana, noting that each student would bring upwards of $50,000 in "economic value" to London. Fanshawe College's VP of student services sees plenty of potential to generate revenue for the city, and, more importantly, to provide students with opportunities to stay and work after graduation. Fanshawe currently has about 1,300 international students, accounting for approximately 8% of the college's enrolment. Fontana's "Education City" vision includes transforming City Hall and adjacent concert hall Centennial Hall into a new downtown Western U campus. University officials are close to submitting a downtown campus proposal. London Free Press (March 21) | London Free Press (March 22)

Okanagan College students raise concerns about class size at Penticton campus

Students and administrators at Okanagan College's Penticton campus met last week to discuss how to handle a classroom with an enrolment of 28 students that some argue should be smaller. A student says her peers in a statistics course designed for social work majors have been struggling due the cramped conditions in the class. She says students have heard indications from the instructor that the course content is designed for 15 to 20 students maximum. She says some course components have been dropped to accommodate the extra students, and that students who will transfer to other PSE schools may be left without exposure to the full curriculum -- a situation that she believes "deliberately handicaps students." An Okanagan College official says administrators met with students earlier this month on the issue, presented some solutions, and would continue to meet with students. Administrators had decided to extend hours at the Student Success Centre to offer more tutoring and assistance. Penticton Western News

New Telfer tool gives students snapshot of BCom experience

The University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management has designed an online simulation tool to help give prospective and current students a snapshot of their personal Telfer BCom Experience. The 3 components of the simulation show users how different courses and activities can contribute to their overall academic experience; the various programs offered at Telfer that are designed to help them excel at a professional level; and the different clubs, associations, and activities that will enhance their personal development at the school. At the end of the simulation, users can share their individual maps on Facebook and Twitter. Telfer News | My Telfer BCom Experience

Health authority ensures employment for Vancouver Island nursing graduates

To help meet the demand for skilled nurses, the Vancouver Island Health Authority announced last week it is offering employment to all graduates of Vancouver Island registered nursing programs in 2012-13. Graduating registered nurses from North Island College, the University of Victoria, Vancouver Island University, and registered psychiatric nurses from Stenberg College will be offered temporary full-time positions in a wide range of locations and practice settings that need additional support. The health authority says the graduates' help will reinforce the work of its dedicated nursing staff and ensure experienced nurses are in place to move into the roles of retiring nurses. VIHA News Release