Top Ten

August 23, 2012

NWCC academic staff initiate legal action against college

Northwest Community College's Academic Workers Union has applied for legal action against the institution, alleging that the college board failed to adequately consult the education council in its course content and program planning for the coming academic year. The union claims NWCC violated Section 23 of the BC College and Institute Act, which legislatively governs the process involved with program and course content and delivery and the education council's role in its planning. NWCC says the action comes as a surprise, noting that consultations with both stakeholders and the board were conducted during the deficit mitigation process. NWCC News Release | Terrace Standard

Opposition forces special meeting on uSask med school reforms

Dozens of petitions have prompted University of Saskatchewan president Ilene Busch-Vishniac to call an unprecedented special meeting of more than 1,000 academics to revisit sweeping reforms at the College of Medicine. In May the university council voted in favour of medical school restructuring following a heated debate and work on the reforms began shortly after. However, over 50 letters of petition were filed with the president's office recently. This triggered a clause in uSask's 1995 legislation that has never been used; it forces the president to call a meeting of the general academic assembly. The assembly could pass a motion to direct the university council to reconsider its approval of the medical college reforms. Critics say a lack of consultation and rushed reforms will drive away students and faculty, and they worry about the effect the process will have on recruitment efforts. Reform supporters say there has been an abundance of dialogue and the changes are necessary to ensure the medical school's survival. The special meeting will take place on September 6. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix | uSask College of Medicine Concept

TRU unionized support staff to hold strike vote

After 2 years disputing a net-zero contract while new management is hired and raises are handed out, Thompson Rivers University support staff will take a strike vote between August 28 and September 6. A walkout by TRU's 600 support workers could effectively shut down the institution. "If there was any sort of action in say, September, there could be a fairly heavy impact depending on what the action would be," says CUPE 4879's president. The union plans to keep the faculty association and the student union updated on what support staff intend to do and "hopefully try to make the impact as minimal as possible." The union leader says management has not met with the union since last October, but she hopes that will change. "If the strike vote goes well, the employer may just come back to the table and there may not be any kind of action." Kamloops Daily News

East Gwillimbury proposes hosting satellite campus

East Gwillimbury, located north of Toronto, may not have sewage capacity for the next few years, let alone a secondary school, but this York Region municipality has a bigger vision in mind: to become your choice destination for PSE in Ontario. An abundance of developable property could be enough to land East Gwillimbury one of the 3 undergraduate campuses as proposed by the provincial government. East Gwillimbury's mayor says the town is open to exploring options and has organized a charette at the end of September to discuss ideas. Her priority is simply landing a campus that could help get the municipality on both the academic and infrastructure map. Toronto Star

UFV continues to burst at the seams

The University of the Fraser Valley is struggling to meet students' needs and deal with rising enrolment in the midst of a continued government funding freeze in the coming year. UFV has been running at 105% capacity in the last couple of years, and its Abbotsford campus is especially stressed at 130% capacity, says UFV's provost. With 3,000 students on wait lists for courses, UFV is trying to address the crunch by adding more class sections where possible and tinkering with the registration process, but it is not resorting to increasing class sizes. Although sympathetic to political pressures faced by the BC government, the provost says students in Abbotsford and Chilliwack should not have to go universities further away when they have one in their own backyard. "Other institutions are not making their quotas...logically the funding should be shifted from there to here, but politically that's hard to do." Abbotsford Times

Jobs a focus of new Ontario Youth Action Plan

In its new Youth Action Plan, the Ontario government will expand its Summer Jobs for Youth Program across the Toronto area to provide 320 new after-school jobs during the school year, increasing to 400 part-time jobs next year. The province will also expand the Youth in Policing Initiative across Ontario to provide 270 new after-school jobs during the school year. The government will launch a Private Sector Jobs Initiative that will include a jobs/internships stream, a mentorship stream, an entrepreneurial stream, and a stream to engage schools and the community. Ontario News Release | Ontario Youth Action Plan

U Texas system launches performance-pay system for campus presidents

The finance committee of the University of Texas System's Board of Trustees has approved a proposal to adopt an incentive-pay system for the heads of the system's 9 universities and 6 health centres, as well as 11 system administrators. Under the plan, the system's chancellor will meet with each administrator eligible for the incentive plan. With each he will develop 3 or 4 areas on which to evaluate that administrator's performance, on either one-year or 3-year time horizons, and specific outcomes for which to aim. The chancellor would then submit those goals to the board for approval. In a state that has faced numerous complaints in recent years about governing boards -- and the politicians who appoint them -- micromanaging university policies, many consider the incentive-pay system another step for boards to dictate university policy rather than working collaboratively with campus leaders, which could lead to more confrontations between campuses and the system. Inside Higher Ed

US report suggests adjuncts' working conditions affect student learning

A new US report suggests that PSE institutions that want to set the stage for their students to succeed should stop hiring adjunct professors at the last minute and then denying those professors access to the resources and technology they need to teach effectively. "The 'just-in-time' staffing model is unjust for faculty and for students and clearly compromises education quality," states the report from the Center for the Future of Higher Education. Adjuncts who are hired before the start of a semester can opt to prepare their classes while they are not on the payroll or resign themselves to teach courses for which they are not adequately prepared, states the report. Mix in a lack of access to personal office space, computers, library resources, and curriculum guidelines, among other things, and "the education experience of students suffers, both inside and outside the classroom." The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

International admissions offers to US grad schools up 9%

American graduate schools' admissions offers to international students rose by 9% this year, but offers to prospective students from India and South Korea -- 2 of the largest sources of international students -- remained flat, according to a new report from the Council of Graduates Schools. The overall increase is due largely to China, with a seventh consecutive year of double-digit growth (20%) in admissions offers. Offers to students from Brazil and the Middle East also increased, but they send far fewer students to study in the US than does China, the largest source of foreign students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Admissions offers to Canadian students rose by 10%, while applicants in Europe and Africa experienced smaller gains. Offers to students in Taiwan and Mexico, however, declined. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

2 Kentucky universities bar athletes from using certain words on Twitter

Student-athletes at the University of Kentucky and most at the University of Louisville surrender their online privacy to their coaches under a social network monitoring system used by both institutions and others across the US. As a condition of participating in sports, the universities require athletes to agree to monitoring software being placed on their social-network accounts. The software sends e-mail alerts to coaches whenever athletes use a word that could embarrass the student, the institution, or tarnish their images on social media platforms. Louisville flags 406 words or slang expressions that relates to drugs, sex, or alcohol. Kentucky flags a similar number, of which 370 are sports agents' names. Monitoring students' social media accounts has become an issue on the national level, with some states taking measures to ban the practice. On Tuesday the California Senate passed legislation that would prohibit PSE institutions from requesting access to students' social media accounts. Louisville Courier-Journal | Inside Higher Ed