Top Ten

August 17, 2012

Canada-Germany research agreement signed at Dal

On Thursday German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Dalhousie University to witness the signing of an MOU between the Dal-hosted Halifax Marine Research Institute and the Helmholtz Association of Berlin. The Canadian government has allocated $158 million to research related to the MOU. MEOPAR (Marine Environmental, Observation, Prediction and Response Network) and ArcticNet -- 2 Networks of Centres of Excellence -- have been awarded $25 million and $113.2 million, respectively. 2 Canada Excellence Research Chairs will each receive $10 million. The scope of the agreement will enable joint operations and data collection in many scientific fields, such as marine exploration, ocean levels, and sea ice reduction. Merkel's visit to Dal included hosting a roundtable meeting with ocean scientists and graduate students. Industry Canada News Release | Dal News | Globe and Mail

UVic support staff gearing up for potential strike

The University of Victoria could see job action this fall by over 1,300 support staff. The workers, who haven't had a contract since March 31, 2010, served strike notice in late June, and are gearing up for potential work disruptions as students return to campus next month. CUPE Locals 917 and 951 are slated to appear before the BC Labour Relations Board this week to determine minimum staffing levels in the event of a strike. Once the labour board rules on essential services, the unions will have to serve a 72-hour strike notice to keep their strike mandate alive. Victoria Times-Colonist

Ontario college faculty seek September 6 strike vote

OPSEU, which represents faculty members at Ontario colleges, has asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board to hold a strike vote on September 6, though negotiations with the colleges' bargaining team are ongoing. With the current collective agreement scheduled to expire at the end of August, OPSEU hopes the strike vote request will get the colleges to "start negotiating more seriously." Key issues in discussions include better treatment of partial-load faculty, academic freedom so that instructors rather than management determine how courses are delivered, and an updating of the workload formula to address increased online learning. OPSEU News Release | Canadian Press

Postscript: Aug 30, 2012

Ontario college faculty and the College Employer Council announced yesterday that they have reached a tentative agreement. Pending ratification of the offer, faculty have accepted 2 years of zero wage increases in a move to improve job security for partial-load faculty and have a contract in place before the start of the academic year. OPSEU says faculty accepted the offer after management agreed to remove all of their proposals and concessions from the table. OPSEU News Release | College Employer Council News Release

Ontario releases 2012 progress report on education

In its annual progress report on education, the Ontario government states that so far, 200,000 students have benefited from its tuition grant. The province reports that over the past 9 years, it has made room for approximately 210,000 more PSE students, including 60,000 more apprentices. Since 2003, Ontario has created nearly 15,000 new graduate seats -- an increase of 57%. In the past 8 years, the government created 260 more first-year medical student spaces. The province's university enrolment rate is up by 46%, and college enrolment is up by 24%, the progress report notes. Annual apprenticeship registrations have risen by about 13,000 in the past 9 years, reaching more than 30,000 this year. Ontario Progress Report 2012 -- Education

Majority of Canadian students surveyed expect to graduate with up to $20,000 in debt

According to the BMO 2012 Student Survey, which polled 1,018 PSE students, 27% of respondents say they are very stressed about paying for school, more so than finding a job after graduation (22%) or achieving academic success (20%). 32% of students surveyed say they will have significant trouble paying their bills while at school, and 27% say they will have just enough money to cover their expenses. The survey found that 58% of students expect to graduate with up to $20,000 in debt, and 21% expect to owe more than $40,000. 44% of respondents expect to pay off their student debt within 5 years following graduation. The survey found that students in Atlantic Canada expect to accumulate the most debt (25% expect to owe more than $40,000), as well as take the longest to pay off their loans (only 30% believe they will be able to pay off their debt within 5 years). BMO Financial Group News Release | Globe and Mail

TRU anticipates 3% enrolment growth

Thompson Rivers University is expecting approximately 3% more students to walk through its doors come September. The enrolment growth is almost entirely due to another double-digit increase in foreign students. The number of students from other nations, including China, is expected to increase by 19% to more than 1,000 students. TRU's associate VP academic says the numbers are positive, particularly because of the declining number of high school graduates in the region. The number of applications to TRU is on par with last year, while registrations that include international students are up by 3%. Kamloops Daily News

uWaterloo to offer free credit course to low-income individuals

Starting next spring, the University of Waterloo will offer for the first time a free 12-week credit course for low-income individuals. The project is spearheaded by a pair of uWaterloo professors who saw the need to remove a major barrier to PSE -- namely affordability -- for people who are marginalized due to mental illness, race, and/or poverty. The professors will attend a forum hosted by Opportunities Waterloo Region next month to gather input from the community into the selection process of students. While details of the course are still being developed, it will be a Humanities 101 course in the arts faculty and will provide students with a range of disciplines. uWaterloo will cover the cost of a daily hot meal, transportation, and child care for students in the free course. Waterloo Region Record

Yukon College showcases faculty members in new ad campaign

Yukon College has launched a new advertising campaign titled "Amazing Faculty," which showcases 7 instructors from across the wide range of programs and courses available at the institution. The campaign includes a series of ads and posters that features images and testimonials from each of the 7 instructors, who share about their specialty, how or why they became a teacher, and what ignites their passion. The campaign will be seen across the Yukon in a number of places, including newspapers, schools, and college campuses. Yukon College News Release | Meet Our Amazing Faculty

Acadia revitalizing Athletics Complex

Acadia University has begun a series of minor renovations and reconfiguration in its Athletics Complex that will improve service to facility users and make the complex more accessible and functional for all visitors. The upgrades build on the significant renovations that started in 2011 when a new fitness facility was installed overlooking both the pool and War Memorial Gymnasium. Improvements include moving the Athletic Service Centre and the access point for the fitness centre, the pool and its observational deck, the gym, and main change rooms to the area immediately inside the main entrance. Acadia News Release

California college counters state cuts with benefactor-sponsored classes

State support cuts have led Las Positas College administrators to resort to a more-direct appeal for public dollars, announcing last week it is soliciting private donors in the community to sponsor class sections at $5,500 each at the California-based 2-year institution. Foundation 55 is a new effort designed to raise the number of sections lost to budget cuts over the past 4 years. The donors will not be able to choose specific classes to subsidize or to influence the curriculum or enrolment. The classes will not bear benefactors' names, and students who register in a new section will not know it is supported by Foundation 55, though donors will be acknowledged elsewhere as "very special friends of the college." While the initiative is intended to benefit the institution and its students, the CEO of the Las Positas College Foundation says a better-educated work force will also benefit the local businesses he expects will be Foundation 55's primary benefactors. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)