Top Ten

August 21, 2012

Carleton academic staff raise concerns over private donors

The Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA) has issued an open letter to the institution's board of governors in response to concerns over agreements with private donors and corporations. CUASA states in its letter that there is a "troubling trend among Carleton's administration to act in ways that are detrimental to the reputation of our university community." On Carleton's agreement with the Riddell Family Charitable Foundation for the Graduate Program in Political Management, CUASA says it is "gravely concerned over the administration's disregard for academic freedom and quality oversight of our graduate programs. In authoring a deal that allows for the possibility that a majority of a program steering committee be from non-academic institutions, the administration has publicly demonstrated its failure to understand what a university should represent." CUASA calls on the board "to ensure that all necessary actions are taken to remedy this pattern of behaviour that is so harmful to Carleton." CUASA News Release | Letter

Canadian law schools working to attract more diverse students

A free LSAT preparation course for low-income students offered by the University of Toronto's law school is one example of a number of measures Canadian law schools have taken over the years to increase diversity in their programs. In recent years, the University of Victoria has opened up 25 spots per year in its law school for students from indigenous or exceptional backgrounds. As part of its application process, UVic's law school places a strong emphasis on a personal statement from applicants on their desire or challenges they have faced on the path to law school. Canadian Press

UBCO to adopt broad-based admissions process

A broad-based admissions process will be in place for 2013-2014 at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus. Applicants will be considered on factors including their life experiences, out-of-the-classroom learning, and personal goals in addition to academic performance. Under the process, applicants will answer 4 to 6 "personal profile" questions, in addition to submitting high school grades. The broad-based application process has been used across UBC's Vancouver campus since January for applicants to direct-entry undergraduate programs. UBCO News

Thunder Bay students may struggle to find housing following flood

In the aftermath of Thunder Bay's spring flooding, students may have a difficult time in securing a place to rent this fall. Lakehead University's director of off-campus housing says there are fewer listings on the market this year as many basement suites -- once prime real estate for students -- are still damaged from the May flood. There is a waiting list for residence at the university and more students have been adding their names to it every day. The Lakehead official expects that some students may resort to buying a house with friends. Students may also resort to drastic measures, such as checking into motels in groups or sleeping in their cars. CBC

PSE is all about the job, student survey finds

According to a survey of 1,180 Grade 10 and 11 students in Ontario, tomorrow's PSE students are decidedly job-focused today. Nearly 60% of respondents planning to attend university and 70% planning to attend college say their top reason is "to prepare for a specific job or career." "To get a good job" is the top rationale for 58% of university-bound and 75% of college-bound respondents. 40% of university-bound and 13% of college-bound students cite "increasing my knowledge" as their top reason for pursuing PSE. In addition to their focus on jobs, more than 85% of respondents are concerned or very concerned about debt: having sufficient funds to pay for their education and their ability to repay PSE debt. HEQCO News Release

Hispanic student enrolments in US reach new highs

The Hispanic student population in the US reached a number of milestones in 2011, according to an analysis of newly available census data by the Pew Hispanic Center. For the first time, the number of 18- to 24-year-old Hispanic students enrolled in PSE institutions surpassed 2 million and reached a record 16.5% of all PSE enrolments. Hispanic students are now, for the first time, the largest minority group among America's 4-year college and university students. Hispanic students now represent one-quarter of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in community colleges. Pew Hispanic Center

Princeton Review names West Virginia U best party school in US

West Virginia University has been chosen as the top party school in the US in the annual Princeton Review survey, released Monday. West Virginia U replaces Ohio University, which ranked first in the category last year. West Virginia U administrators, who have worked for years to diminish or eliminate the party school image, dismissed the survey. "If you look at the schools on this list, they are mostly large, public universities with strong academic and research profiles, as well as highly successful athletic programs," says a university spokeswoman. "But in the big picture, clearly this list has no real credibility." Texas-based Rice University maintains its top spot in the "happiest students" category. Utah's Brigham Young University is still the top institution in the "stone-cold sober schools" category, retaining the title for the fifteenth consecutive year. Princeton Review News Release | Associated Press

What the Class of 2016 knows

On Monday Wisconsin-based Beloit College released its annual Mindset List for this fall's cohort of first-year students -- the Class of 2016. Most of them born in 1994, these students were "born into cyberspace and they have therefore measured their output in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds." Members of the Class of 2016 "are probably the most tribal generation in history and they despise being separated from contact with friends." These students should keep their eyes open for Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning at freshmen orientation, and, having grown up with MP3s and iPods, never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all. Outdated icons with images of floppy discs for "save," a telephone for "phone," and a snail mail envelope for "mail" have oddly decorated these students' smartphone and tablet screens. Beloit College Mindset List 2016

New book paints portrait of today's PSE student

In their forthcoming book, Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today's College Student, Arthur Levine and Diane R. Dean explore the many significant differences between today's students and their predecessors. The biggest change the writers describe is technology -- how it has rewired students' lives and reshaped their expectations (and experience) of PSE. As rendered by the authors, today's students are wired to a variety of technological devices and forming friendships through their own means, yet they often find face-to-face interactions difficult and struggle to understand the boundary between public and private. PSE institutions, the writers insist, must do more to embrace teaching methods that best serve today's ultra-wired generation. "A majority of students we have want colleges to be more digital, they prefer blended courses," Levine says. "This is difficult for colleges, but the world is moving in this direction. If colleges want to remain relevant, they have to change." The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

India's new regulations for foreign institutions raise questions at home and overseas

India's plan to more closely regulate the many dual- and joint-degree programs its universities have created with foreign partners has been met at home with a mix of anxiety, annoyance, confusion, and even ridicule. A major point of confusion stems from the overlapping authority of India's 2 dozen PSE regulators. Many institutions that offer joint programs are overseen not by the University Grants Commission, which is issuing the new regulations, but by the All India Council for Technical Education, which regulates programs such as management and engineering. Moreover, some education officials note their institutions offer not degrees but diplomas, which are different things in India. Foreign-university officials are also unclear about the effect of the new restrictions, which include allowing only institutions ranked in the top 500 worldwide to partner with Indian universities. Several experts say that rankings are the wrong way to evaluate the quality of programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)