Top Ten

July 16, 2012

COU to develop donor guide

The Council of Ontario Universities is trying to develop a toolkit to help university presidents navigate funding deals with wealthy private donors. COU will establish a working group of senior administrators to examine the best ways to protect academic freedom and help donors understand it. The new initiative begins in the wake of fierce debates over the parameters of several major private gifts to universities, one of which has prompted Carleton University to clarify some language in a donor agreement that some saw as undermining its academic autonomy. Globe and Mail

Carleton post-docs attempt to form union

The Carleton University Postdoctoral Association (CUPA) held a certification vote late last month, but the Ontario Labour Relations Board has sealed the results as there is some dispute over who rightfully belongs in the bargaining unit. Post-docs are either funded internally (paid through Carleton's payroll system) or externally (paid directly by a research funder such as NSERC). The post-docs consider themselves university employees, but say that opinion is not shared by Carleton's administration. CUPA now plans to ask the labour board for a ruling on externally funded post-docs. Ottawa Citizen

Aboriginal PSE enrolment in BC up 25% in 4 years

BC's advanced education ministry is reporting a 25% increase in PSE enrolment among Aboriginal youth over the past 4 years. Data from several provincial PSE institutions also show that more Aboriginal students are completing certificate and degree programs in a broader range of disciplines -- 2,500 certificates, degrees, and diplomas were awarded to Aboriginal students in 2010, up from 2,100 in 2007. Last month the BC government announced a new action plan for Aboriginal PSE. Vancouver Sun

Toronto summer program encourages Aboriginal teens to consider law as a career

35 Aboriginal teenagers from across Canada have participated in the first Aboriginal Youth Summer Program hosted by the law schools at York University and the University of Toronto as a way to encourage more First Nations teens to consider law as a career. The program is part of a growing effort by PSE institutions to reach out to Aboriginal youth, who have among the lowest participation rates in PSE. Outreach can work, says uToronto's law dean. "Aboriginal youth are hungry for opportunities to learn about the law and post-secondary options; we received double the number of applicants for available spaces." Toronto Star

Rural BC facing lawyer shortage

As young law school graduates head to cities for high wages and big firms, remote communities in BC face a serious lack of lawyers, a situation about to worsen due to an impending retirement boom. The president of the Law Society of BC says all fields of law lack sufficient representation in the northern part of the province, but particularly those demanding frequent access to courts. Vancouver Sun

SFU moves closer to full-member status in NCAA

The National Collegiate Athletic Association membership committee has conditionally approved Simon Fraser University as its first non-US member. The final step in the process comes August 1, when there will be a final vote by the executive council to decide if SFU will become a full member, effective September 1. "SFU’s ability to participate in the NCAA as a full member provides numerous opportunities to the university, not only in avenues it gives athletes to compete, but it will also build the profile of SFU throughout North America," says SFU president Andrew Petter. SFU News Release

Publishers say copyright bill will remove incentive to supply textbooks to PSE schools

Canadian publishers say the recently passed Copyright Modernization Act is stripping away some of their monetary incentive to provide books to PSE institutions. Greg Nordal, president and CEO of Nelson Education Ltd., says expanding provisions for "fair dealing" within the Act to include educational purposes creates great uncertainty for publishers and authors. "The expanded fair dealing provisions change the investment climate for new curriculum resources, in that the principles of reimbursement to rights holders appear to be undermined,” Nordal says. "Why would publishers and authors invest their time and money creating new, indigenous materials in support of Canadian educational requirements, unless there is confidence of getting viable financial returns?" University World News

US institutions wary of global economy's effect on international enrolment

A weakening of the economies in India and China could be worrisome news for US PSE institutions, for which an increase in full-paying international students has been the one bright spot amid recent budgetary woes. While he remains bullish about the flow of foreign students, the president of ELS Education Services cautions that institutions need to be savvier about their international recruiting instead of relying so heavily on certain nations. At the graduate level, at least, applications from China to US institutions are up, while those from India are holding steady, according to data from the Council of Graduate Schools. The figures are reassuring, says the council's president, but she still worries that institutions might become complacent. Economic factors, international competition, financial support for US institutions -- all can affect enrolments, she says. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Fuzzy info clouds US institutions' rosy job-placement data

Many US colleges release job-placement rates based on scant information. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, more than one-third of institutions' reported rates in 2010 were based on responses from half of their graduates or fewer, raising the question of response bias toward happily employed alumni. There are many reasons that job-placement statistics are not reliable: some institutions do not collect such information at all; some survey students immediately upon graduation, while others track employment success over several months; some colleges include associate and graduate degree recipients in their data, while others eliminate them or separate them out into different reports. Few schools ask if the jobs students secure relate to their fields of study or career paths; many count any positions at all, even unpaid internships. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

US report outlines shift in how students pay for PSE

American students are bearing an increased share of their own PSE tuition payments (with their parents contributing less), and more families are considering cost when deciding where to send their children to college, according to an annual study by Sallie Mae. The study found that the percentage of families who said they had stopped considering certain institutions had increased to 70%, up from 56% just 3 years ago. The proportion of college expenses that students themselves paid jumped to 30%, the highest level in 4 years, with the proportion covered by parents' out-of-pocket expenditures dropping to 28%, down by 9 points from a high 2 years ago. Inside Higher Ed | Report