Top Ten

August 10, 2012

CLASSE co-spokesperson steps down

Stating that his organization "needs fresh faces," Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois announced last week that he is stepping down as co-spokesperson of CLASSE, the more militant of Quebec's major student groups. He says the students' fight against the Liberals' plan to increase university tuition fees has entered a new phase, as they vote whether to continue the class boycott and classes prepare to resume early to make up for the cancelled winter term. In his resignation letter Nadeau-Dubois says he is motivated neither by bitterness nor disappointment, and feels it is more important than ever that students sustain the mass mobilization they launched 6 months ago. His one regret is leaving office "while Quebec is still run by Jean Charest." CBC | Globe and Mail

Concordia's new president brings forward-looking approach to position

Nearly 2 weeks into his new position as president of Concordia University, Alan Shepard is determined to look forward, not backward, and do his very best to help the Concordia community overcome its governance issues. "I have a strong track record of working collaboratively with senate and faculty and staff and students," the former Ryerson University provost told the Montreal Gazette. "I can't speak for my predecessors, but I'm really drawn to Concordia, it's an up-and-coming university with a lot of energy. There are a lot of signs Concordia is a great place to be and I think I’m a good person to lead it." Shepard told the Globe and Mail that he envisions a chance to build on Concordia's strengths, from business and engineering to less heralded interdisciplinary endeavours such as the Centre for Technoculture, Arts and Games. He's looking to raise the university's relatively modest research profile, although serving students remains his top priority. Shepard also wants to nurture the same culture of entrepreneurship and innovation he helped foster at Ryerson, where students "wanted to do stuff -- they didn't just want to sit in classes and take tests and get a diploma." Globe and Mail | Montreal Gazette

CAQ proposes 9-to-5 school day to curtail high dropout rate

With its pledge to extend the secondary school day until 5 pm, Coalition Avenir Qu├ębec is tapping into a global trend: making students smarter by keeping them in class longer. The proposal would make Quebec the first Canadian jurisdiction to adopt "9-to-5" schools, following the lead of pilot projects throughout Europe and the US. Quebec has the highest dropout rate in the country, with approximately 20% of students never making it to graduation. Extending school days by an hour a day would curb these rates by helping to promote a sense of "belonging" among students, says a CAQ candidate. It would be up to individual schools to decide what to do with the hour, but the candidate suspects they would use the hour for auxiliary pursuits such as sports, homework circles, and extracurricular activities. National Post

Survey finds smartphones playing increasing role in education

According to a new survey by Mobilicity, two-thirds of responding Canadians would use a smartphone to conduct online research anywhere, anytime. 46% of respondents would download mobile applications to help stay organized; 41% would record lectures and tutorials; and 42% would coordinate school and social activities if they were a student. 56% of individuals surveyed think that smartphones are an invaluable tool for students. Mobilicity News Release

King's redesigns website

Last week King's University College unveiled a new website, which features a new look that supports the brand, streamlined navigation, and content designed to support the needs of current and prospective students. Faculty, students, and staff at the Western University affiliate contributed to the website's development over the past 9 months. Much analysis of web analytics went into the navigation design with the aim of improving the user experience. Visitors to the homepage can manipulate the rotating graphic banner, with each graphic pointing to a corresponding tab above, including academics, alumni, current students, and future students. The homepage features links to news releases, an events calendar, and the institution's various social media platforms. King's Website

Student employment in July little changed from previous 2 years

According to the latest Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada, the rate of employment among students aged 20 to 24 was 70.4% last month, little changed from the previous 2 years, but up from 66.8% in July 2009, when student employment was hard hit by the labour market downturn. The unemployment rate for these students was 7.9% last month, similar to that of the last 2 years but down from 13.3% in June 2009. Among 17- to 19-year-old students, the employment rate of 58.7% in July has been essentially unchanged since July 2009. Their unemployment rate of 17.7% has also been little changed since 2009. Among students aged 15 and 16, their employment rate was 29%, the lowest on record. Their unemployment rate was 31.2%, among the highest ever recorded for this age group. Statistics Canada

England's tuition hike leads to application drop

The pending increase in tuition fees at English universities has resulted in a sharp decline in the number of applicants, although there has not been a noticeable drop in the number of students from low-income backgrounds, according to a new report from the Independent Commission on Fees. The report states that applicant numbers in England have dropped by nearly 9% for the coming academic year compared to 2010, before the plans to increase tuition fees were announced. After accounting for demographic explanations, the report says there are "approximately 15,000 'missing' young applicants" who have apparently been deterred from applying to university due to increased costs. A government statement emphasizes that students do not have to pay the new rates up front but are instead given student loans that they will not need to start repaying until their annual income exceeds £21,000. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Australian PSE students should pay more, says think tank

Australian university students should pay more for their courses due to the above-average salaries they earn following graduation, argues the Grattan Institute, a government-funded think tank. The institute says that PSE tuition subsidies will cost taxpayers $7 billion by 2015, and be a burden to those who have not pursued further studies. The institute's higher education program director says PSE students should therefore pay more for their courses. He proposes a model whereby PSE is only subsidized if a public benefit could be proven. He says a "carefully managed" reduction in tuition subsidies could save taxpayers approximately $3 billion by the 2016-17 financial year. Sydney Morning Herald

Coursera reaches one million registered students

Coursera, the company that provides support and Web hosting for massive open online courses at 16 universities worldwide, announced last week that more than one million students have registered for its courses. The students signing up for the courses are increasingly from the US. Earlier this summer Coursera reported that about a quarter of its students came from the US; that figure now stands at 38.5%, or about 385,000 students. Brazil, India, and China follow, with between 40,000 to 60,000 students each. While US students cannot easily receive formal credit through Coursera or its partner universities, some institutions abroad reportedly have awarded credit to students who have taken the free courses. Inside Higher Ed

US colleges try to dispense career advice using virtual inkblot test

Woofound Inc. is a new US company that has developed an application for students that uses their reactions to a series of images to predict their personalities and to suggest careers tailored to their preferences. The developers also plan to have the application suggest what degrees and extracurricular activities students should pursue. A Woofound executive says he sees demand among colleges to find ways to track students into good career paths early to boost retention rates and reduce the time spent in college. Apps such as Woofound's could save time and money for students, parents, and institutions, he says. The company has partnered with 2 Maryland-based universities, which will roll out the application next month. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)