Top Ten

May 17, 2012

Quebec introduces legislation on student strike

Quebec MNAs were recalled to the national assembly yesterday evening to allow the introduction of emergency legislation regarding student demonstrations against the planned tuition fee increases. There were reports prior to the bill's introduction that it would include stiff fines against individuals attempting to block entrances to CÉGEPs and universities. In announcing the need for the bill Wednesday, which also suspends classes until late summer for students still on strike, Premier Jean Charest said that violence and intimidation against students who want to go to class can no longer be tolerated. Students warned that they would challenge the bill in court if it limits their right to protest and to block classes if the majority of members of a school or student association votes to do so. Globe and Mail | Canadian Press

St. Clair sued over dissolution of Thames campus student government

St. Clair-Thames Students Inc. (TSI) is taking St. Clair College to court in a bid to remain the elected body that represents students at the college's Thames campus in Chatham, Ontario. St. Clair president John Strasser recently informed TSI it will no longer be recognized, stating that merging it with the Student Representative Council at the main campus in Windsor will provide better service for students. TSI's president says the move was made without any consultation with students at the Thames campus. She contends that St. Clair administration cannot make such a decision without approval from students in a referendum on the matter. TSI News Release | Chatham Daily News | CBC

Postscript: May 29, 2012

St. Clair-Thames Students Inc. (TSI) has dropped legal action against St. Clair College after reaching a deal with the institution. TSI will continue to represent students at the college's Thames campus in Chatham, Ontario, and it will discuss the possibility of merging with the Student Representative Council (SRC) at the main campus in Windsor. TSI will hold a referendum in November on that issue. Earlier this month, St. Clair president John Strasser informed TSI that it would no longer be recognized, stating that merging it with SRC would provide better service for students. CBC

uSask to reduce $44.5 million in expenses by 2016

The University of Saskatchewan's board of governors has approved a $453-million detailed operating budget for 2012-13 and a strategy to permanently trim expenses by $44.5 million by 2016. This includes one-time and permanent reductions of $9.5 million and $6 million in measures yet to be determined for a total of $15.5 million in 2012-13. The strategy groups potential actions into 2 administrative and 2 academic categories -- or quadrants -- to achieve the permanent expense reduction target in 2016. Each quadrant will have a project team to review expense reduction ideas from faculty, staff, students, and alumni, and will make recommendations for actions. uSask News Release | uSask Finances

NB introduces legislation on new governance model for apprenticeship, occupational certification

On Tuesday, the New Brunswick government introduced legislation that would establish a new governance model for apprenticeship and occupational certification. The new model would see an enhanced apprenticeship and occupation board granted decision-making authority over voluntary occupations. The board would set general program requirements; designate, rescind, and make changes to voluntary occupations; make exemptions to compulsory trades in conjunction with NB's post-secondary education, training and labour minister; and determine pass marks and hours required for certification. NB News Release

Report proposes alternative funding model for NS universities

A new report from the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies observes that now is the ideal time to test an alternative funding model for Nova Scotia universities going forward. The report proposes a funding model based on 3 blocks: support for students, block grants to universities, and tied grants associated with specific research and development efforts or economic projects. The report recommends gradually shifting the balance of these blocks over a 5- to 10-year period with the end goal being 50% of funds in student hands, 30% tied to performance based on measurable economic contributions, and 20% in the form of guaranteed base grants. The report also proposes increasing university control over tuition fees, program choice and delivery, and enhancing funding accountability through established performance measures. AIMS Books & Papers | Report

CMP final report recommends numeracy strategy for Ontario

The final report of the Seneca College-led College Mathematics Project (CMP) recommends the need for an Ontario-wide numeracy strategy. The CMP found that one-third of Ontario college students taking math are at risk of not completing their programs because of low achievement in that subject. One-quarter of these students are studying college preparatory math that covers concepts initially taught in Grades 6 through 8 as part of the province's elementary school curriculum, the research found. The CMP report suggests a number of numeracy strategy components for consideration, one of them being a system-wide approach to the assessment and teaching of numeracy in the first semester of college programs. Seneca News Release | Backgrounder | Report

OUSA proposes improvements to health and counselling services at Ontario universities

In a new report the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance outlines a number of recommendations to improve on-campus physical healthcare and mental-health services. OUSA recommends that the provincial government reduce the use of ancillary fees to fund primary care through campus health clinics and work on creating a more equitable, transparent cost-sharing model between universities, the province, and students. The report also suggests dedicated government funding for system-wide initiatives aimed at improving the health of PSE students. Other recommendations outlined in the report address physician compensation, front-line mental-health care, anti-stigma initiatives, and services for marginalized students. OUSA News Release | Report

CFS-O launches campaign against homophobia and transphobia on campus

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario and the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line unveiled Wednesday a campaign to challenge homophobia and transphobia at PSE institutions across the province. "When students study in unsafe spaces, their access to quality education is compromised," says the CFS-O's Queer and Trans Commissioner. "Bullying, discriminatory language, lack of queer and trans positive spaces on campus and physical violence make our campuses unsafe for everyone." Launched on the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, the campaign includes outreach materials and comprehensive campus guide for student activists. CFS-O News Release | QT Campus Guide

US institutions outsourcing TAs for online courses

The high cost of creating and staffing new online courses has encouraged some US universities to turn to the private sector for help. Instructional Connections, a non-profit firm founded in 2010, offers coaches (teaching assistants) for universities struggling to find and train their own. Instructional Connections costs universities 33% to 40% less per student, because the universities can create larger classes with more TAs. The TAs work in their field of instruction, are required to meet minimum educational requirements (usually master's degrees), and are supervised by the course instructor. While 9 US PSE institutions pay Instructional Connections to manage their online courses, the company has faced criticism that it underpays its staff and allows universities to hire fewer faculty members. Inside Higher Ed

Oxford students told to stop wearing PJs to breakfast at dining hall

Oxford University's Brasenose College has warned students to end the "slovenly practice" of eating breakfast in pyjamas in their dining hall. "This practice evinces a failure to distinguish between public and private spaces in college," states a notice posted around Brasenose. The notice also reminds students not to be late for dining times and to wear "formal gowns" at formal dinners. Oxford says that although Brasenose's dean raised concerns about pyjamas last year, there is no "official" policy to ban PJs. BBC