Top Ten

July 18, 2012

Quebec Liberals make election complaint against student organizations

Quebec Liberals have taken a pre-emptive strike against student activists, seeking fines for any student organization that makes good on a promise to get involved in the upcoming election campaign. In a letter to the chief returning officer, Liberal party director-general Karl Blackburn says the student group CLASSE is a financed front for anti-Liberal trade unions. "We are faced with...a possible violation of (election) law," states the letter. "Can you allow the large unions to openly finance this organization and other groups, without intervening?" Quebec Premier Jean Charest is expected to call an election next month following 2 rounds of failed discussions with student leaders. QMI Agency

BC institutions revise forestry curriculum

It has not been easy to convince young people to get involved in the forestry industry in BC. Enrolment numbers in UBC's forestry faculty dropped to a record low of 120 students in the 2002-03 academic year, down from an annual average of 450 students in the 1990s. The faculty has trimmed some of the technical content of its programming, replacing it with greater emphasis on social values. Students have responded positively to the curriculum revisions, with enrolment once again on a slow, but steady upward trend. At BCIT, academic leaders renamed the 2-year forest technology diploma program (now called sustainable resource management technology) to better reflect both the interest of students and the skills requirement of employers. The program is a blend of technology, core sciences, and broader social and cultural values associated with the forest. Among the offerings is a new focus on urban forestry, which is so popular, colleges across BC are now looking at doing something similar. Vancouver Sun

SAIT, UBC projects on international list for innovation in urban infrastructure

Construction projects at SAIT Polytechnic and UBC have made a global list of the 100 most innovative and inspiring urban infrastructure developments, released this week by the KPMG infrastructure advisory practice. SAIT's Trades and Technology Complex made the list, impressing judges with the emphasis on vocational training. The 740,000-square-foot complex is the largest construction project in SAIT's history, and its official public opening will take place on September 15. UBC's Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility was a one of the standouts in the list's "urban energy" category. The facility will be constructed using cross-laminate timber, a renewable material made from bonded layers of wood. The building will generate clean electricity from waste wood to power 1,500 homes and reduce UBC's natural gas consumption by up to 12%. SAIT News | Globe and Mail

UNBC western Canadian leader of Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network

The University of Northern British Columbia is collaborating with the National Association of Friendship Centres, government ministries, and regional research centres across the country to develop the Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network and research policies and issues that affect Canada's urban Aboriginal population. SSHRC recently approved $2.5 million in funding over 5 years to support the project led nationally by Trent University and by UNBC in western Canada. The network's research activities will be focused around 4 broad themes: human development; social cohesion; economic development; and civic engagement. A key component of the network's strategy is to offer opportunities to emerging scholars -- particularly Aboriginal scholars -- to engage in research about urban Aboriginal issues. UNBC News Release

Concordia UC develops new website

Concordia University College of Alberta recently unveiled a redesigned website. The Edmonton-based institution's homepage features a small, rotating graphic banner, links to institutional, program and alumni news, and links to the school's Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel. Concordia UC website

US colleges turn to data mining to boost student success

Eager to get students out the door more efficiently, US colleges are awakening to the opportunities of so-called Big Data. The new fleet of software can predict how well students will perform before they even enter the classroom, and recommends courses based on students' academic records. At Tennessee-based Austin Peay State University, a robot adviser assesses students' profiles and nudges them to select courses in which they are likely to succeed. The program melds each student's transcript with thousands of past students' marks and standardized-test scores to produce suggestions. When students sign into the online portal, they see 10 "Course Suggestions for You." The predictions turn out accurate within about half a letter grade, on average. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

US study examines impact on affirmative-action bans on minority graduate enrolment

A new report from the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles warns that graduate professional enrolments of black, Latino, and Native American students could fall significantly if the US Supreme Court prohibits PSE institutions from considering race in admissions. The study explored minority graduate enrolments in 4 states -- California, Florida, Texas (where the ban has since been lifted), and Washington State -- that have had bans on the consideration of race in admissions decisions during the years since those prohibitions were adopted. Across graduate programs, the enrolment of underrepresented minority groups has dropped by 12% under the bans, with the share of these students among graduate student bodies dropping from 9.9% to 8.7%. Inside Higher Ed

Connect with young donors online, US report recommends

PSE institutions seeking to turn recent graduates into benefactors should connect with them online and show them tangible examples of how their gifts will impact the institution, say a pair of US fundraising consultants, whose agencies sponsor the Millennial Impact project, which has put out a new report. In a survey of 6,500 young adults, 65% said they prefer to get information about organizations via their websites. The next highest -- 55% -- said they rely on social media, while 47% said they want updates via e-newsletters. Focus group participants responded well to programs that offered tangible examples of what the organization can buy or provide for constituents at certain levels of giving. "Millennials really want to know where their gift is going, and what difference it makes," says a fundraising consultant. "The big black hole of 'annual giving' is not exciting." Inside Higher Ed | Report

Britain proposes free access to research by 2014

The British government plans to make publicly-funded scientific research immediately available for anyone to read by 2014. Under the plan, research papers that describe work paid for by the British taxpayer will be free online for universities, companies, and individuals for use for any purpose. Though many academics will welcome the initiative, some scientists interviewed by The Guardian were dismayed that the cost of transition, which could reach £50 million annually, must be covered by the existing science budget and that no new funding would be found to fund the process. That could lead to less research and fewer valuable papers being published. The Guardian

Canadian marketers still struggling with social media, survey finds

Measuring their social media ROI remains elusive for many Canadian marketers, according to a new survey. 250 marketing and advertising executives were asked "When it comes to implementing social media initiatives, (what) would you consider to be the greatest challenge for your agency/firm?" The top response, selected by 27% of respondents, was "measuring or defining return on investment." 19% of respondents cited "finding knowledgeable staff to execute social media tasks" as their greatest challenge, 17% picked "gaining executive support for social media initiatives," and 14% chose "finding budget for social media initiatives." Marketing Magazine