Top Ten

May 7, 2012

Quebec, student leaders reach tentative deal on tuition, extra fees

The Quebec government and student leaders struck a tentative deal on the weekend to end a 3-month student strike. The "deal in principle" would maintain the tuition fee increase but allow students more say in other financial management, and see savings in ancillary fees. The deal is being presented to student associations across Quebec this week and votes will be held on an association-by-association basis. Student leaders say they will explain the deal to their members, without recommending it. Quebec News Release (in French) | CBC | CTV | Montreal Gazette | Postmedia News

uSask med students raise concerns over restructuring plan

Like some faculty members, University of Saskatchewan medical students have raised concerns over proposed changes to the College of Medicine. Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan members wrote to uSask administrators stating that if their concerns were not adequately addressed by May 7, they would halt any student society business. The letter outlines 16 major concerns, including criticism about a lack of transparency and consultation in devising the plan, worries about the impact changes will have on the quality of their education and on faculty, and concerns for the potential effects on patient care. The college's dean says students and faculty will be part of making a plan to figure out what faculty the college needs and gradually phase in changes over years. Saskatchewan Star-Phoenix

Law school grads struggling to find articling jobs

Canadian law school graduates are finding it more difficult than ever to secure an articling job after graduating. According to the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), 12.1% of articling applicants were without placements as of March 31, up from 5.8% in March 2008. The current situation, which some have called an "articling crisis," has forced LSUC to consider reforms. The society plans to release its final report this fall and issue an interim report this month. Lawyers Weekly

UBC to double midwifery enrolment

Bolstered by increased funding from the BC government, UBC's midwifery program will double in size over the next 5 years. Starting this fall, first-year spaces in the 4-year bachelor's degree program will grow from 10 to 20. Once the expansion is complete, the number of students in the program will total 40. The university will receive $1.914 million in one-time funding, and an increase of $833,920 in ongoing operating funding for the phased expansion. BC News Release | UBC News Release

There is room for change in universities, says Queen's principal

In the discussion about universities these days, one thought is that, like every other public institution, the university "should be subject to scrutiny and must be adaptable to the changing needs of the various communities it serves." Writing for the Ottawa Citizen, Queen's University principal Daniel Woolf notes "there is room for change, some of it transformative, even radical, in how universities go about their business." Administrations are collaborating with senates on academic reform, and with employee groups and governing boards on fiscal control and cost reduction. Administrations are committed to working with governments to progress the shared interest of the public good. "This will require vision, patience, dialogue, collaboration, and open-mindedness on all sides," writes Woolf. "But universities will inevitably adapt and modify, as they have for the past 800 years, because they will have to do so to survive." Ottawa Citizen

Social media "smurfs" part of Brescia's recruitment strategy

There are smurfs (i.e. social media facilitators) all around Brescia University College, part of a plan to bolster the institution's recruitment while engaging an already plugged-in student population. Brescia's smurfs push breaking news to sites like Facebook and Twitter, and the news then spreads from there. QR codes around campus link students to a daily feed with news and events at Brescia. The efforts appear to be working, as traffic to Brescia's website is up 10% over the same period last year. With the help of a Facebook page and the smurfs, Brescia aims to recruit 200 more students by 2015 and hopes social media can help get them there. London Free Press

"Understoodit" lets students signal confusion in class anonymously

A University of Toronto graduate has created a Web app that lets students signal their confusion to their instructor without raising a hand. Using "Understoodit," students can click a red "Confused" button when they don't understand a lecture, sending an immediate red warning to the "Confusometer" on the professor's laptop, indicating what portion of the class is stumped. The professors can stop, explain it again, and hope students begin clicking their green "Understood" buttons to light up the "Understandometer." Running on devices instructors and students already own, Understoodit was tested to rave reviews this spring in 3 uToronto computer science lecture halls. One professor who tried it with students says he is keen to use it next year. "I spend a ton of time asking students to ask stupid questions to make sure they understand -- I even have a Stupid Question period once a month -- but we’re often three-quarters through the term before some will admit they’re lost," the professor says, "I wish they had told me on Day One, but this app may help them do that." Toronto Star | Understoodit

JIBC develops iPhone app

The Justice Institute of BC's Emergency Management Division has released the institution's first application for smartphones and tablets. The JIBC ICS/IMS iPhone application features a thorough glossary with more than 125 terms commonly used in the emergency management field. The free application provides easy-to-read definitions of terms used in the Incident Command System (ICS) and Incident Management System (IMS). A study tool for students and a resource for practitioners in the field, the app also includes a selection of videos that supplement the text definitions. JIBC News

CRA urged to determine students' tuition tax credit eligibility on legislation

In a report released yesterday, Taxpayers' Ombudsman J. Paul Dubé called on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to determine students' eligibility for tuition tax credits according to the Income Tax Act, and not just on its own internal procedures. Having received complaints from students at universities outside Canada, the Ombudsman's investigation found that the CRA does not always assess claims based on the criteria in the legislation, but instead relies on its internal lists of eligible institutions. Dubé recommends that "the CRA take steps to help ensure that students attending university outside Canada are treated fairly when they apply for the tuition tax credit." Taxpayers' Ombudsman News Release | Report

Report recommends Britain develop strategy on overseas study and work

A government-commissioned report recommends that Britain create a national strategy for boosting the number of students who study or work abroad. The number of British students who attend universities in other nations has been low, especially compared to the number of overseas students who study in Britain. The report recommends extending the current fee-waiver system -- which allows students participating in the European Union's Erasmus mobility program to avoid paying tuition fees in Britain for the year -- to programs that are outside of the Erasmus network. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)