Top Ten

August 1, 2012

Ottawa proposes tighter regulations for student visas

The federal government seeks to toughen student visa rules to crack down on fraud and human smuggling. Ottawa has proposed to weed out international students who arrive on a student visa, yet use it to gain access to Canada's labour market and do not enrol in school. There are also worries that some students are ending up at subpar institutions that ultimately hamper Canada's international credibility. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the government is proposing to have provinces submit a list of credible PSE institutions. Schools not on the list will no longer be allowed to accept foreign students. Visas will be issued on the condition that individuals enrol in and pursue studies at an approved school and compliance will be monitored. Under the proposal, visas will no longer be available to people enrolled in courses that are less than 6 months long. Student work permits will be restricted to valid student visa holders who are participating in off-campus or co-op programs specifically designed for international students. Postmedia News

Quebec students to run youth-vote campaign

CÉGEP and university students in Quebec are launching an ambitious election plan to try to increase youth participation to 65% from 45% in 2008. Students are also targeting 25 ridings that were close races in the previous election to focus their efforts on making sure the Liberals do not get re-elected. While students say they are not actively supporting any party, they are asking youth to vote against the Liberals. The student groups FEUQ and FECQ say there will be protests during the summer election campaign, but they will respect all electoral laws. CLASSE may take part in some of their events but is not planning to actively campaign. Montreal Gazette

A top 10 international challenge for Canadian universities

Despite all the funding pumped into Canadian universities in the last 15 years, only a handful of institutions consistently rank in the top 100 universities worldwide, observes Ian Brodie, a strategic advisor at the Inter-American Development Bank. Writing for Policy Options, Brodie proposes a "top 10 global challenge": a federal government initiative that would provide $1 billion to any Canadian university aiming to reach top 10 status on a recognized, global ranking. If the university did not succeed within a set period, it would have to repay the $1 billion. "The global top 10 challenge is an opportunity to take advantage of Canada’s relative economic strength and its progress in building great universities as a way of ensuring that Canadian students, business and governments have access, here at home, to truly elite institutes of higher education," writes Brodie. Policy Options

CVU course registrations see significant growth

A survey released this year by the Canadian Virtual University (CVU), a group of a dozen English and French-speaking universities specializing in online education, reported nearly 200,000 course registrations in 2009-10. Of CVU members that provided comparable data for 2001-02, all reported significant growth in registrations of between 16% and 194% over the 8-year period. As student demand for online education increases, so does the impetus for collaboration among institutions, says the program director for Athabasca University's MBA program. Among several collaborations, Athabasca U recently signed agreements with universities in Brazil and Singapore to offer online programs tailored to doing business in their respective regions. Globe and Mail

Apprenticeship numbers remain low in Alberta

The number of new apprentices in Alberta plunged 3 years ago and is only starting to climb upward again, a problem with significant implications for an improving economy that brings growing pressure to find skilled labour. In 2011, just 17,371 new apprentices were registered in Alberta, down 27% from 2006, according to the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board. Between 2009 and 2011, 49,164 new apprentices were listed, far less than the 69,285 listed during the prior 3 years. Calgary Herald

Designs released for Alberta police college

New designs have been released for the $122-million Alberta Public Safety and Law Enforcement Training Centre to be built in Fort Macleod. The police college will stretch across 137.5 hectares and feature a series of facilities, outdoor training areas, a small forest, and a pond. The main 160,000-square-foot facility will feature classroom and administrative spaces, a 5-storey residence, and dining areas for students. The police college is expected to open in 2014. Calgary Herald

Conestoga trades students benefit from advanced metal cutting products under new program

A new partnership with Hypertherm, a US-based company that designs and manufactures the world's most advanced metal cutting products, will provide Conestoga College students and apprentices and their employers with new, efficient solutions to metalworking challenges. Thanks to the program, Conestoga students in welding trades, welding engineering technology, metal fabrication, and millwright programs are learning to use the latest in plasma cutting technology as they work on industrial research projects and course assignments. Conestoga is one of 4 schools in North America, and the only one in Canada, to be included in the Partner School Program sponsored by Hypertherm. Conestoga News

Mount Royal, WLU sign exchange agreement

Mount Royal University and Wilfrid Laurier University have signed an exchange agreement allowing students to complete an academic term at the other party's institution. The agreement will promote the nationalization of PSE, foster inter-provincial diversity, and promote cross-country understanding. Students will be registered and pay tuition fees to their home institution while studying at the host institution. Up to 4 students from each university can participate each academic year. Students in all disciplines are eligible for the program. WLU News Release

UBC rugby has new home

The University of British Columbia's rugby teams will have a new home in the $2.5-million Gerald McGavin Rugby Pavilion, which is set to open this October. The Pavilion will feature change rooms, offices, storage space, and bleacher seating for 300 spectators. The facility is named after UBC alumnus Gerald McGavin, who donated $800,000 toward the project. UBC News Release

US students' textbook spending on the decline, survey finds

According to a new survey from the US-based National Association of College Stores, PSE students said they spent slightly less on textbooks and other course materials in 2011, compared to 2009, and nearly $50 less than 5 years ago. When they were surveyed in fall 2011, students estimated that they spent $655 on course materials that year, down from $667 in 2009 and $702 in 2007. The association credits the drop to campus bookstores' efforts to help students save money, such as by offering more used textbooks for sale and providing more rental options. NACS News Release | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)