Top Ten

April 9, 2012

One-third of faculty at military colleges to be laid off

Federal budget cuts targeting military colleges will eliminate up to a third of jobs now held by professors, says their professional association. The president of the Canadian Military Colleges Faculty Association says he has been given a list of 68 professors the Department of National Defence is looking to lay off to reduce costs. That figure represents more than one-third of the approximately 185 faculty teaching at the Royal Military College in Kingston, the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, and the RMC campus in Saint-Jean, Quebec. All those affected are tenured professors who are locked into long-term union contracts with the colleges, says the faculty association president. He states that strict union work rules mean that faculty will not take on extra teaching burdens on any sustained basis, so fewer professors mean fewer classes. The chair of the Defence Management Studies Program at Queen's University says the cuts could affect the viability of the Saint-Jean campus, which was shut down in 1995 only to be re-opened in 2007. Postmedia News

CÉGEPs face 2-week window to save term

In light of class boycotts in Quebec, the Fédération des cégeps sees the next 2 weeks as a turning point "if we want to finish the school year in a reasonable period," says a spokeswoman. She says it seems unavoidable that the term will have to be extended at the CÉGEPs with student strikes, especially at the schools where boycotts have lasted at least 5 weeks. The logistical challenges in doing so are mainly linked to 2 obligations: CÉGEPs must provide at least 82 days of courses and evaluation per semester, and the 2-month holiday period for instructors must fall between June 15 and September 1. It's up to the colleges to reorganize their semester and academic calendar, says a spokeswoman for Quebec's education minister. "There is no cancellation of the semester," she says, adding that students need to understand there will be night classes and additional weeks of study. Montreal Gazette

McGill review says asbestos claims require more vetting

McGill University's preliminary review of the work of a retired professor has found no evidence of research misconduct, but the institution says it will continue to study the matter, with further guidance from the Research Integrity Officer. A Radio-Canada documentary suggested the professor was improperly influenced by his connections to the asbestos industry, and that some McGill researchers have colluded with the industry to downplay asbestos' health impacts. McGill received a formal complaint by dozens of academics, physicians, and researchers accusing some researchers at the institution of being controlled by the asbestos industry. In a memo to the McGill community last week, the dean of medicine said he was not making a request for an official investigation; however, he acknowledged that "it is my conclusion that the faculty does not currently have all required records and data in hand to assess definitely in regard to research integrity." Montreal Gazette

Protester seeks reversal of one-year ban by Western U over campus demonstration

A proponent of the Occupy London movement is calling on Western University to overturn a one-year ban imposed on him for participating in a campus demonstration. Mike Roy was one of about 2 dozen individuals who gathered at the university to protest an event organized by Israel On Campus. Roy says campus police unfairly targeted him, stating that no other protester received a ban notice. Israel on Campus had permission to hold their event, but the demonstrators were not cleared to stage a protest, says Western U's campus police director. He dismisses Roy's claim that he was unfairly targeted, stating that one other person was also banned for participating in the event. Roy has initiated a petition with more than 100 signatures from students, faculty, and community members. London Free Press

RRC work experience "Project" involves student consulting

Red River College's School of Business and Applied Arts has created a new model of learn-work experience that goes beyond traditional forms of co-op education and internships. Under "The Project," the school mobilizes teams of 3 or 4 students from the business information technology program to work on real-life business problems identified by local firms and non-profit organizations. As part of the course, the school offers "Project" students dedicated on-campus space to meet with clients and full access to software and other technology needed to solve the problem. "Project" students receive a tuition fee discount if they get passing marks. Globe and Mail

BC extends tuition-free ESL to Canadian citizens at public PSE schools

The BC government announced last Thursday that Canadian citizens can now take ESL courses for free at 17 public PSE institutions throughout the province. As stipulated by the Canada-BC Immigration Agreement, ESL courses are being provided tuition-free to new immigrants through the 17 PSE schools and WelcomeBC's English Language Services for Adults program. The provincial government is extending this tuition-free policy to Canadian citizens at public PSE schools to ensure they have access to the same opportunities as recent immigrants. BC News Release

UBC develops East Asian language mobile app

The UBC Chinese Character Tool is the first ever university East Asian language mobile application, combining Chinese character instruction resources for Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean. The app features thousands of words and characters, along with meanings, pronunciations, contextual phrases and sentences, and stroke animations. To help users practice and develop their skills, the app comes with built-in support for over 30 different UBC language courses and their textbooks. UBC Reports

Employment increases among Canadian youth

Statistics Canada reports that employment rose by 39,000 among 15- to 24-year-olds in March, pushing their unemployment rate down 0.8 percentage points to 13.9%. Despite the increase last month, the number of young people employed has changed little since July 2009 -- the lowest point of the previous labour market downturn. 15- to 24-year olds in Quebec made the most gains last month with a 1.5 percentage point increase in their employment rate, while Alberta recorded the highest youth employment rate, which sits at 64.6%. Statistics Canada | Labour Force Survey

International-student numbers begin recovery in Japan one year after disaster

The number of foreign students at Japanese PSE institutions is rebounding following last year's disaster, but enrolment declines in preparatory and nondegree programs point to future problems. With Japan's academic year beginning this month, most of the country's big universities report less of a drop in international students than expected, despite concerns that many would stay away due to radiation fears. The Japan Student Services Organization reports that the disaster halted several years of growth in foreign study in the country, with overall numbers of international students down by 2.6% last year. The number of nondegree foreign students fell by nearly a quarter in 2011, with the US, South Korea, and some European nations sending about half as many students to Japan as in 2010. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Study finds US outperforms UK on universities' social media performance

According to a new report, American universities are better at using social media than their UK counterparts. The report assessed universities' social media use across 5 attributes known as PRINT: Popularity, including website traffic, followers, and fans; Receptiveness, such as linking and referencing; Interaction; Network reach; and Trust, including positive endorsements and ratings. The average PRINT score for institutions was set at 100. As a group, UK universities scored 72, while US institutions averaged 127. Just 2 UK institutions -- the Universities of Oxford and Sheffield -- make the top 10 for their social media performance, ranking seventh and eighth, respectively. Harvard placed first, followed by the University of Pennsylvania and MIT. The report attributes US universities' dominance in the top 10 in part to much larger student populations and increased funding compared to UK institutions -- factors that skewed their PRINT measurements of popularity and network reach. Times Higher Education | Report