Top Ten

July 6, 2012

uMontréal profs file grievance over summer classes

Professors at the Université de Montréal have filed a grievance demanding that the institution drop its plan to hold make-up classes starting in mid-August. The grievance specifies that uMontréal has unilaterally made decisions and given directives that modify working conditions covered by the collective agreement, and that it has excluded the faculty union from some negotiations with professors. The grievance says the faculty union will take the issue to Superior Court if necessary. Montreal Gazette

Audit reveals breach of BCIT students' medical information

A scheduled security audit at the British Columbia Institute of Technology's Burnaby campus has shown that a computer server containing students' medical records has been breached. The personal information of nearly 13,000 people who used the campus's student medical clinic was stored on the server. At this time, and to the best of BCIT's knowledge, there is no indication that any personal information has been improperly accessed or misused. Individuals who may have been affected by the illegal access to information have been sent a letter from BCIT, which is working with the provincial privacy commissioner to ensure privacy standards are upheld. BCIT News | Vancouver Sun

uCalgary engineering school proposes expansion

15 Calgary MLAs recently toured refurbished portions of the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering and learned how the school hopes to improve the teaching, learning, and research experience of students through additional expansion and renovations to the 1960s-era facility. uCalgary has submitted a formal request for funding to the Alberta government to support the project, and it is currently under consideration. The proposed project would deliver 9,700 square metres of new teaching and research space, including advanced laboratories, 2 new multi-purpose theatres, and flexible spaces that encourage teamwork and collaboration. UToday

Montreal students create alternative models to PSE

Disillusioned with the way his classes unfolded, Jordan Saniuk put his studies at Concordia University on hold in December, and later launched clssy, on whose website potential teachers post courses which prospective students can browse and enrol in. Saniuk says the idea is to create a community-like environment where students feel more relaxed than they would in a formal course. Founded by a group of Concordia and McGill University students, the Alternative University Project (AUP) offers free courses, which are mostly groups that focus on the humanities, literature, or philosophy. While some classes stick to the usual teacher-student structure, others are led by a different person each time. An AUP founder sees the new venture as another alternative for people to acquire skills outside their chosen field of study. Montreal Gazette | clssy | Alternative University Project

PSE increases happiness of urban Aboriginals, report finds

According to a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute, Aboriginal people living in Canadian cities report high rates of happiness based on their education, income, and network of personal relationships. Analyzing the results of the question "Overall, are you happy with your life?" in a 2009 survey of urban Aboriginals, the authors found that having a university degree or college diploma and higher income increases happiness. The report says that the 2 most important ways governments can improve urban Aboriginals' sense of well-being are to increase their successful participation in the education system and in the labour market. C.D. Howe News Release | Report

Student summer employment in June reaches record lows

Statistics Canada reports that the rate of employment among students aged 20 to 24 was 63.2% last month, down from 67.4%. Last month's rate matches the one observed in June 2009, when student employment was hit hard by the labour market downturn, and is also the lowest June employment rate since comparable information became available in 1977. The unemployment rate for these students was 13% last month, up from 11% a year earlier, but lower than the 14% recorded in June 2009. The employment rate for 17- to 19-year-old students was 51.4% last month, below the rate recorded in both June 2011 and June 2009. Compared to a year ago, the unemployment rate for these students rose by 3.5 percentage points to 17.3%. Statistics Canada

US college presidents face less job security

When it comes to running the 21st-century American university, presidents are increasingly on high alert that their stays at the top could prove short. In a recent survey of over 1,600 campus leaders, the American Council on Education found that presidents keep their jobs an average of 7 years, down from 8.5 in 2006, when the previous poll was taken. In a soon-to-be-released membership study, the Council of Independent Colleges reports that sitting presidents are increasingly reluctant to make a career out of their positions -- nearly half of those interviewed plan to leave within the next 5 years, with fewer than 25% planning to seek another presidency. Associated Press

US survey reveals effect of tight labour market on law-school curricula

A new report from the American Bar Association suggests the recession and the difficult legal job market have prompted most law schools to revise their curricula to graduate lawyers who are ready to practice. More than three-quarters of law schools surveyed said the job market has influenced their curricula revisions. The survey also found that law schools have boosted training in clinical and professional skills to meet a bar-association standard requiring students to be taught "other professional skills generally regarded as necessary for effective and responsible participation in the legal profession." ABA News Release | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

US research finding hopeful students are more successful in PSE

A growing, albeit still small, body of research in the US is observing that college students with high levels of hope earn higher grades and graduate at higher rates than those with lower levels, and that the presence of hope in a student is a better predictor of marks and class rankings than standardized test scores. One study found that hopeful students graduated at rates 16% higher than non-hopeful students; another found that the presence of hope in first-semester law students better predicted academic success than did ACT or LSAT scores. Inside Higher Ed

Female enrolment rising at some elite Indian institutions

A quiet revolution may be underway in India's PSE system, writes P. Pushkar for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Female students now outnumber men at some elite institutions, and are making inroads in some male-dominated disciplines. The increased female enrolment in PSE schools has not been well received in some circles, Pushkar notes. Earlier this year, the principal of Delhi's St. Stephen's College, a prestigious liberal-arts institution, put forward a proposal to reserve 40% of seats for men (currently, women account for nearly two-thirds of the student population there). The proposal created a firestorm inside and outside the institution, and for now it appears the plan has been shelved. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)