Top Ten

April 13, 2012

CAUT to monitor effects of layoffs at RMC

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is closely monitoring a plan at Royal Military College to lay off 22 academics over the next 3 years. CAUT executive director James Turk says there is "concern over what [effect] the loss of that many positions will have." Due to federal budget cutbacks, RMC has to cut $4.5 million from its budget, resulting in layoff notices for 22 academic staff and 20 academic support staff. Turk says CAUT can work to determine 2 things: whether there are any violations to the collective agreement, and if there will be any adverse effects on students. With no overseeing body in Canada that reviews or repeals university accreditation, "the only two avenues we have are legal ones," says Turk, "through the collective agreement and public pressure." Kingston Whig-Standard

Job cuts, program suspensions at Holland College

To address a $1.5-million shortfall, Holland College is cutting 8 positions and suspending 2 programs. The PEI government cut the college's funding by 3% this year. This fall, the college will not offer interactive multi-media, whose enrolment was not high enough. The institution's retail business management program will be absorbed by other business programs. A Holland College VP says every department has been asked to find savings. CBC

uOttawa president responds to prof's FOI dispute

University of Ottawa president Allan Rock has vowed to go to court to defend academic freedom if Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) chooses to release law professor Amir Attaran's expense reports. That position has done little to mollify the professor, whose dispute with administration centres on how uOttawa should defend him against the IPC's demand for his research-related expense reports. Attaran wants the board of governors to demand an explanation. Rock told the board that, based on their legal advice, administrators concluded that the chances of successfully challenging the IPC's demand were "next to nil." The president says the reports were turned over for the limited purposed of allowing the IPC to evaluate whether uOttawa was right to deny them to the individual who requested them. "Professor Attaran's position has not been prejudiced by any action taken by the university," Rock states. "To the contrary, the university has acted throughout to uphold, defend and maintain his interests." Ottawa Citizen

Private secondary school part of Whistler U proposal

A private high school is now part of the plans moving forward to Whistler city council this week by the proponents of the Whistler University project. The university proposal now includes a design concept for a 200-student private high school for both boarding students and day students. Whistler U's project director says it would be an international school to attract overseas students, likely offering an International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement accreditation. Earlier this month, the project director submitted rezoning plans for Whistler U that include residences for approximately 1,400 students. Pique Newsmagazine

Durham College commits to revitalizing PSE in Uxbridge

Last Wednesday, Durham College announced its commitment to revitalizing higher education in the Township of Uxbridge, Ontario through the launch of a new and improved Uxbridge Learning Site this September. The college plans to further its involvement in the township and surrounding communities with the introduction of 3 full-time, one-year college certifications at the site. The new programs will complement the existing academic upgrading and continuing education programming at the site, in addition to employment services. Located in the heart of the township, the Uxbridge Learning Site will also offer modern classrooms and a fully equipped computer lab. Durham College News

uWindsor TV spot targets prospective students in Michigan

Touting its "quality, professional programs in an international setting," the University of Windsor is running a campaign to attract students from the neighbouring state of Michigan. A TV spot airing on Detroit's NBC affiliate introduces uWindsor in advance of the Michigan School Expo, which will run on the final weekend in April. "We are defining ourselves as part of the local market for Michigan, but we can offer something other universities can’t -- international experience," says a uWindsor official. The TV ad mentions the institution's location "just across the Detroit River," while highlighting the opportunity to study alongside students from 80 nations. uWindsor Daily News

uToronto students develop platform to help student job seekers

A new patent-pending platform created by a pair of University of Toronto computer engineering students pledges to take students' social networking and learning skills and turn them into possible job leads. CoursePeer is a social academic network and talent management platform through which students can connect, share knowledge, get help and assist others, and get career opportunities delivered to them based on their activities. Professors can use CoursePeer to manage classes, interact with students to answer their questions, recommend their contributions, and monitor the statistics of their courses. The program is already active for students and professors, with the component for employers to launch this fall. CoursePeer will allow employers to post job openings and receive smart suggestions for suitable candidates. uToronto News

Ottawa plans to create new immigration program for skilled tradespeople

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced last week plans to make it easier for skilled tradespeople to immigrate to Canada. Under the modernized Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) to be revealed later this year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada intends to establish a separate and streamlined program for skilled tradespeople, allowing these applicants to be assessed on criteria geared toward their reality, with more focus on practical training and work experience than on formal education. If approved, further details about the Skilled Trades program and the revised FSWP are expected to be announced later this year. CIC News Release

US institutions urged to make possible changes now to improve student success

Writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Hilary Pennington of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation argues that US PSE institutions need to stop debating ways to improve graduation rates and instead make the changes that are possible right now. She argues that institutions must focus on the issues they can change, rather than on those they can't, like poor preparation. Pennington writes that students need highly structured programs with limited choice in order to help them earn degrees more quickly, and that universities should not view employable skills and a liberal-arts education as being mutually exclusive. In order to achieve these goals, she recommends that PSE institutions ease credit transfers, recognize the value of community colleges, increase personalization, and collect and publish data on student success rates. Pennington argues that Americans should rethink the PSE cost structure and embrace the different types of PSE institutions, including community colleges and for-profit universities. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

"Digital natives" switch media 27 times per hour, study finds

Recent US research observes that 20-something consumers ("digital natives") switch media venues approximately 27 times per non-working hour. The study's 30 subjects were split evenly between natives and "digital immigrants" (consumers who grew up with old-school technologies and adapted to newer ones). Researchers found that immigrants switched media venues just 17 times per non-working hour. The findings mean "the (creative) bar is set higher" for advertisers, says the CEO of the research firm that conducted the study. "I'd be most alarmed about the challenging act of capturing the attention and emotional response of my target audience, because it's almost like going from shooting fish in a barrel to little minnows," he says. "The target has become faster, and the window of opportunity for capturing them has become smaller." Advertising Age