Top Ten

March 29, 2012

NS PSE group seeks clarification on 2010 government report on NSCAD

A coalition of students, staff, and faculty are asking the Nova Scotia government to clarify parts of a report on the financial difficulties at NSCAD University that was submitted to the province in April 2010, but was only recently made public after the group filed a freedom of information request. "We would like the government to clarify why they felt it necessary to bury this very helpful report and commission an entirely new one this past fall," says the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers' president. "The Hogg report is very detailed and offers a much more reasonable plan for creating a sustainable and independent NSCAD than is contained within the Windsor report, which is the report the government chose to make public." Written by William Hogg, a former deputy finance minister, the 2010 report contains some recommendations that appear to be at odds with the province's actions and Windsor report recommendations. The Hogg report states that the next review of NSCAD's finances need not be conducted until the end of 2012-13 fiscal year, and urges the government to continue the past practice of funding the university's facilities and space-related costs. CFS-NS News Release

No mention of universities in NB budget speech has students concerned

For the first time in more than a decade, New Brunswick's budget speech did not mention universities and their students, which the New Brunswick Student Alliance says is concerning as students are starting to look for summer work and plan their finances for the year ahead. The NBSA requests that the government and the PSE ministry present the detailed department budget and all related information before the end of the academic term. The student group also wants to know more about potential student aid programs changes. In early January, department officials told student representatives that a program review was running behind schedule and that the information would be available shortly. The NBSA says the government has released no information to date. NBSA News Release

Rising costs at UVic require a budget cut

The University of Victoria's board of governors has approved a balanced budget framework for the 2012-13 fiscal year that preserves funding in key areas such as student aid and library acquisitions, while implementing an across-the-board 1.5% reduction in other areas. With no increase in the government operating grant for the 2012-13 fiscal year, rising costs require UVic to make a budget cut. In its latest budget, the BC government announced that university operating grants will be cut by 1% in 2013-14 and by another 1.5% in 2014-15. UVic's budget framework includes $500,000 in one-time funding allocated to student aid at both the undergraduate and graduate levels to maintain UVic's standing in the top 20% of Canadian universities. The institution is also allocating resources to student recruitment and retention. UVic News Release

Trent sets enrolment increase target to make up for funding increase cap

Trent University president Steven Franklin says the 1.9% university funding increase, as outlined in Ontario's latest budget, does not match the rising costs at his institution. If Trent is not able to grow at a rate of 2% a year, it will have to cut expenditures in other ways. Franklin says an enrolment growth of 2% is the institution's goal, but it has not met that target in the last couple of years. "Growth is the primary goal," he says. "And we intend to do that in Peterborough and Oshawa." Franklin says there is growth potential at both campuses, with new programs at the Peterborough campus and the population growth in the Oshawa region, where Trent opened a new campus in 2010. Peterborough Examiner

New name for college at Concordia's Loyola campus

Concordia University's senate and board of governors have approved a change allowing Loyola International College to become the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability. The newly renamed college "will continue to foster the unique educational experience students have come to recognize as the hallmark of Concordia's colleges," says president Frederick Lowy. Based at the Loyola campus, the college opened in 2002 with the aim of providing an environment in which societal issues could be explored from multiple perspectives in a small group setting. Concordia News Release

Mount Allison updates strategic statement

Mount Allison University has revisited the strategic statement it released in 2007, and identified priorities for the second half of the 10-year plan. The updated strategic statement is divided into 2 parts: the first identifies the 6 broad categories of the statement, and the second outlines an updated statement and "action plan" for each of the categories. Proposed actions include improving the strategic recruitment strategy to recruit 780 first-year students annually; developing a formal retention paradigm with appropriate metrics and targets; maintaining the appearance, safety, and functionality of the campus; aligning all budgeting and fundraising practices and policies with the strategic statement; and pursuing and implementing any and all possible governance accountability processes that will improve Mount Allison's performance in maintaining the quality of its programming and increasing its capacity for sustainability. Mount Allison News Release | Strategic Statement Update

Qatar donates $1.25 million to McGill's Institute of Islamic Studies

McGill University and its Institute of Islamic Studies have received a $1.25-million donation from the State of Qatar. Announced Monday during a visit to McGill by the first Ambassador from Qatar to Canada, the gift coincides with the institution's 60th anniversary and will be used to support a series of conferences to be held over the next year. McGill News Release

Ottawa to revise assessment of foreign education credentials

The federal government is proposing a major change to how foreign skilled workers' education credentials are assessed. Under the proposed new requirement, designated organizations would assess and verify the foreign education credentials of applicants wanting to immigrate as Federal Skilled Workers, before immigrants would arrive in Canada. A pre-arrival assessment would let applicants know how their education credentials compare to Canadian ones and it would give immigrants an idea of how Canadian employers are likely to value their education. The government says this would screen out individuals without proper education levels -- an important step in helping to address the issue of immigrants arriving and not being able to work in their field. CIC News Release

Cornell U sued over failing to restrict access to means of suicide

A lawsuit pending against New York-based Cornell University argues that the institution did not do enough to restrict access to a particular means of suicide. A father claims that Cornell U was negligent for not having set up barriers on the campus bridge where his son jumped to his death in February 2010. Limiting access to particular methods of suicide, a strategy known as means restriction, has been gaining traction among mental-health researchers, but it has not taken hold on most campuses, where counselling and education tend to be the focal point of suicide-prevention efforts. Only a few schools, mainly where students' suicides have made headlines in recent years, have officials acted to significantly alter physical aspects of the campus for the sake of prevention. "Vigorously" fighting the suit, Cornell U already put up fences on its bridges, in March 2010, and plans to install nets underneath them. University officials argue that even though they are now introducing means restriction, they were under no legal obligation to do so. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

British universities face enrolment declines under new funding regime

The first year of the British government's new fees and funding regime is expected to cost some post-1992 universities nearly 13% of their undergraduate student intake and up to 46% of their direct grant. According to new figures from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the total recurrent grant allocation for PSE falls 18.6% to £4.9 billion. This reflects the fact that 2012-13 is the first year universities will derive income from "new regime" undergraduate students, who will be charged up to £9,000 in tuition fees. Teaching grants will end for these students in all but high-cost subjects. The University of East London is hit by the biggest projected fall in full-time undergraduate numbers, with its 2012-13 intake down 12.6% (or 622 places) on 2011-12. Manchester Metropolitan University is projected to lose 11.1% of its intake (900 places), the biggest decline in terms of overall numbers. Times Higher Education