Top Ten

June 8, 2012

Canada still considered safe despite Chinese student's death

The murder and dismemberment of Chinese student Jun Lin is unlikely to have a lasting effect on Canada's global reputation as a safe place to study, say PSE officials and researchers. The director of Camosun College International says the Lin case differs from the attacks on Indian students in Australia in 2009, which led to a drop in international-student enrolment there. "There was a perception that what happened in Australia was really one where international students and minorities, in general, were being targeted. I don't think there's the perception that is the case in this incident." The University of Victoria's director of student recruitment says all institutions get asked about safety by prospective students and parents. She says UVic would provide students with details about campus security, integration programs, and supports "so that they don't find themselves in situations where they might be subject to violence." Victoria Times-Colonist

Several BC institutions not meeting enrolment targets

Several BC colleges and universities are reportedly beneath their enrolment targets. Vancouver Island University enrolment figures are 3% lower than what's required by the BC government, leading to concerns that sitting below enrolment targets could result in a reduction in provincial funding. "There could be implications down the road" if nothing is done about the matter, says a VIU official. He says the enrolment drop could probably be attributed in part to last spring's faculty strike, but a number of other factors could be to blame, such as the economic climate and the declining number of high school graduates. A few months ago VIU completed an enrolment management plan to be rolled out in the coming year, addressing student recruitment and retention. Nanaimo Daily News

BC PSE leaders to meet with deputy minister on sector cuts

On July 11, Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland, BC's deputy minister for advanced education, will meet with college and university presidents to help them see the wisdom of finding ways to cut costs. The province's public PSE institutions are being challenged to trim their budgets by 1.5% next year. "It will be tight," says BCIT president Don Wright, one of 25 PSE leaders who co-wrote a letter to the province warning that the cuts could hurt education. Wright says he is willing to join the search for savings, but also hopes to use the meeting with Wenezenki-Yolland to try to change the province's mind. "I think it is critical we invest in our people so we can have a highly productive, highly skilled, high-wage work force." Globe and Mail

McGill students may face discipline over strike-related activities

McGill University has joined Concordia in handing down sanctions to students for activities related to the Quebec student strike. While McGill officials have not commented on the measures due to confidentiality, some students believe as many as 50 students have been cited for violating the student code of conduct. A member of McGill's student society says some of the citations seem "arbitrary," and appear to be part of the administration's overall dismissive attitude toward striking students. FEUQ's president says her group will try to do what it can to assist students facing sanctions. Montreal Gazette

Report calls for performance-based accountability system in universities

A new paper from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (FCPP) calls for the creation of a performance-based accountability system in Canadian universities to ensure that the best undergraduate professors are recognized and rewarded for their success. The system proposed by the report would use course evaluation information provided by students to identify and reward good instructors and departments. The paper's author proposes an accountability program under which excellent teaching departments would be rewarded with more resources, while underperforming departments would get fewer resources. "This type of accountability system would ensure departments would be evaluated based on readily available, reliable, valid and easily interpretable data," the FCPP states. "As a result, decisions by senior administrators surrounding resource allocation would become more transparent to students and taxpayers." FCPP News Release | Report

New government investments in ACCC Education for Employment program

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) recently announced support for a new Education for Employment (EFE) initiative of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges in the Andean region, as well as additional funding to extend the existing program in Africa. CIDA is contributing $19.6 million over 5 years to the Andean region initiative, and investing another $2.8 million in the African program. The EFE program supports private sector development in developing countries through workforce training and micro-enterprise supports in sectors of the economy that lack qualified workers and entrepreneurs. CIDA News Release | ACCC News Release

Sault College breaks ground for Student Health and Wellness Centre

Sault College held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for its 40,000-square-foot Student Health and Wellness Centre, the second phase of the college's campus redevelopment. "This state-of-the-art facility with academic labs, fitness rooms and a gymnasium will better accommodate our growth in varsity sports and promote a healthier lifestyle for our students," says president Ron Common. The local Liberal MPP announced at the ceremony a $1-million contribution from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation toward the project. Sault College News Release

Student employment rate down from last May

The employment rate among students aged 20 to 24 was 58.9% last month, reports Statistics Canada. This is lower than the rate of 60.8% recorded in May 2011, as the growth in the student population outpaced that of student employment. Last month's employment rate was higher than the 56.3% rate in May 2009, when student employment was hit hard by the job market downturn. Statistics Canada reports that the employment rate for 20- to 24-year-old students was 14.9% in May, similar to the rate in May 2011, but well below the 18.2% rate observed in May 2009. Statistics Canada | Labour Force Survey

US law grads face worst labour market yet, report finds

The overall employment rate for those who graduated from law school in the US in 2011 is 85.6%, the lowest level since 1994, according to data from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). That figure does not reflect how bad the job market is, NALP officials note. Just 64.5% of the 2011 law school graduates who reported their employment status were working in jobs for which they had to pass a bar exam. More than 9 percentage points below the 2008 rate, that proportion is the lowest NALP has ever measured. NALP News Release | Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Anti-immigration measures in Europe conflict with international-recruitment efforts

As universities strive to boost their share of the increasing number of internationally mobile students, immigration policy in areas of Europe has come into conflict with the ambitions of the PSE sector. British government officials argue that new student-visa rules should not deter legitimate students from studying in Britain, but university leaders counter that perception is often more important than reality. Sweden's parliament has defeated a motion that would have made it easier for PhD students from outside the European Union and the European Economic Area to remain in the country to work after finishing their degrees. France's new socialist government has repealed a controversial measure introduced last year by the previous conservative government to crack down on requests by students to transition to work visas. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)