Top Ten

August 16, 2012

uAlberta Campus Saint-Jean cuts 12 positions

Marc Arnal, dean of Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ), the University of Alberta's French-language campus, says CSJ's balanced budget results from tough decisions to cut costs and spending, including the layoff of a dozen employees. "The last option considered is always to lay off people," the dean says. "However, after taking all other available steps -- including not filling three open vacancies, limiting travel and hosting opportunities, discontinuing some IT initiatives and transfers to institutes, and curtailing academic activities where interest is waning -- we had no choice but to take the unavoidable step of letting people go." Arnal says the cost and spending reduction steps taken to balance the budget were chosen to have minimal adverse effect on those activities core to uAlberta and the faculty. uAlberta News (in French and English)

WLU informs students of potential health risk from kinesiology class test

Wilfrid Laurier University has notified 200 former kinesiology students that there is an "extremely low risk" they may have contracted a blood-borne virus. Students who participated in a blood-lactate-level testing in a third-year kinesiology and physical education course between September 2002 and December 2011 may be at risk of contracting Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV. The blood sampler used in the testing is no longer being used in the course lab. WLU is reviewing the circumstances that led to this situation and the institution's policies and guidelines related to such testing. WLU News Release | Waterloo Region Record

Ontario teacher education confirmations down nearly 8%

Ontario Universities' Application Centre figures show that as of August 1, there are 7,097 accepted offers of admission for teacher education at Ontario universities, down 7.9% from the 7,704 confirmations recorded in August 2011. This month's numbers are the lowest on record since 2003. Teacher Education Confirmation Statistics -- August 2012

NVIT, Selkirk College sign MOU

Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and Selkirk College have signed an MOU designed to enhance the education experience for learners at the BC-based institutions through collaborative efforts that ensure students have relevant and seamless access to support services, cultural resources, and academic pathways. The 3-year MOU highlights how the institutions plan to work together in the following areas: transfer of students and articulation of courses and programs to encourage such transfers between the 2 schools; development of collaborative programs or projects of mutual interest and benefit, particularly those intended to support Aboriginal students and strengthen services for these students; exchange of information and expertise to strengthen and expand cultural resources, expertise, protocols, and events; and discussion of potential joint pilot programs and research partnerships. NVIT/Selkirk College News Release

NorQuest features pair of students in fall recruitment campaign

NorQuest College is featuring 2 female students in its fall 2012 recruitment campaign for Edmonton and area. The pair's photos are shown on billboards, bus shelters, public transit, and in print publications. While the students are both proud to publicly represent NorQuest through marketing campaigns, they are also happy about the examples they set. For Tiffany Brochu, a Vietnam-born practical nursing student, establishing the importance of a strong work ethic is a lesson for her son. Faadumo Axmed Maxamed, a Somalian native taking ESL and upgrading, is happy to share her achievement and represent her community. NorQuest News Release

uWaterloo unveils redesigned homepage

Yesterday the University of Waterloo went live with its new homepage, which has a strong focus on telling the stories of the institution's innovative culture and international impact. Implemented in uWaterloo's new web content management system, the homepage is designed to make it easier for a wide range of audiences to find specific information about the institution, its programs, and its people. The design supports the strategic objectives of uWaterloo captured in a homepage content strategy and is WCAG 2.0 Level A compliant. uWaterloo Daily Bulletin | uWaterloo Homepage

York U updates Current Students website

York University has redesigned its Current Students website, which had not changed significantly since 2003, to better suit the needs of students. The revised site now has the my.yorku.ca student portal highlighted on a prominent place on the page. Convenient reminders are placed next to it and student activities are now given a place of importance on the website. There is also a more direct route to social media. Lists of sites that students will need to access throughout their time at York U have been categorized into "buckets" that make sense, with direct access to the Registrar's Office, Student Financial Services, Academic Resources, and Student Community and Leadership Development. Y-File | Current Students Website

The Scientist names uSherbrooke among the best places to work in academia

The Université de Sherbrooke is the only Canadian university to be listed in The Scientist's Best Places to Work in Academia rankings for 2012. uSherbrooke placed 14th in the ranking of 25 educational and research institutions. The Scientist ranked institutions based on unweighted average scores for 8 categories of statements included in the survey: job satisfaction, peers, infrastructure and environment, research resources, pay, management and policies, teaching and mentoring, and tenure and promotion. uSherbrooke News Release (in French) | Best Places to Work in Academia 2012

US institutions grappling with how to assist distressed grad students

Questions have been raised about how universities can best tend to graduate students' mental health following last month's fatal shooting at a Colorado cinema. Grad students are at a higher risk for mental-health issues than undergrads because they are older, and the onset of illnesses such as bipolar disorder often happens when people are in their early to mid-20s. Grad students often have more family and financial obligations than undergrads. They also face many of the same academic pressures as faculty members, yet have less job security and health benefits than faculty. Before the Colorado shooting, the Council of Graduate Schools had already been collaborating with graduate deans to identify measures that administrators, faculty, and students can take to help respond to students in crisis. Despite improvements in student mental-health awareness, especially since the Virginia Tech shooting, universities are struggling to improve how they assist grad students, partly because these students are a poorly studied group on campuses. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Plagiarism reported in Coursera courses

Students taking massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by Coursera have reported dozens of cases of plagiarism, even though the courses don't offer academic credit. This week a professor leading a Fantasy and Science Fiction course posted a plea to his 3,900 students to stop plagiarizing, and Coursera's leaders say they will review the matter and consider adding plagiarism-detection software in the future. Many students in the course's discussions forums expressed surprise that their peers would resort to academic misconduct, and some argue that even in non-credit situations, stamping out plagiarism is important. Meanwhile, course instructors say they are worried that some students are being overly zealous in hunting for plagiarism. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)