Top Ten

August 28, 2012

COU outlines priorities for 2013 federal budget

In its pre-budget submission to the federal government, the Council of Ontario Universities urges the government to invest in 3 key areas: a Data Infrastructure Program, which would support job creation by giving students and researchers access to essential tools to strengthen Canada's existing competitive edge in data analytics; continued investment in high-profile research programs like the Canada Research Chairs, as well as in nimble and flexible resources for Canadian researchers to pursue and maintain global research partnerships; and continued investment in core research programs through tri-council as well as the Canada Foundation for Innovation, with a particular emphasis on student training as provided by graduate and post-graduate scholarships. COU also encourages the federal government to explore new areas of investment that will increase Aboriginal secondary school completion and expand access and success to PSE for Aboriginal learners. COU Pre-Budget Submission

Ontario university enrolment up 2.5%

Ontario universities are welcoming 2.5% more students to their campuses this fall, reflecting 12 years of annual increases. The total number of Ontario high school students who have confirmed their offers of admission rose this year by 2.4%, and non-secondary school applicant confirmations increased by 3.1% this year. COU News Release

Enrolment rises at some northeastern Ontario colleges

Colleges across northeastern Ontario are reporting a small increase in enrolment this year. Officials at Canadore, Sault, and Northern Colleges are all reporting an increase in student numbers in the range of 1% to 2%. Meanwhile, Cambrian College is predicting its number will stay the same. CBC

Windsor approves transfer of downtown properties to uWindsor

The transfer of city-owned properties to the University of Windsor will advance planning for the development of the institution's downtown campus, said uWindsor president Alan Wildeman Monday, after the Windsor city council voted to turn the Armouries, the former Greyhound bus depot, and the Chatham Street parkette over the institution. The transfer of these lands is in addition to the $10 million the city has given to uWindsor toward the development of these properties. The Ontario government has also allocated $15 million toward the institution's expansion into the downtown core. Construction is slated to begin next summer and be complete by fall 2014. In all, 1,500 students will attend classes downtown. uWindsor Daily News | Windsor Star | CBC

Medical schools turning to robots, video games to train students

Over the past few years, some Canadian medical schools have increasingly been using new technologies, including robots and video games, to teach the next generation of physicians. The teaching clinic at Queen's University boasts 5 state-of-the-art pliable plastic mannequins for students to practice everything from properly inserting an IV to learning how to resuscitate someone who goes into cardiac arrest. The school also uses a program similar to a Nintendo Wii console with which students hone their budding surgical skills. UBC's medical school has moved toward adding more interactive web lessons to the curriculum. The school uses a computer game program with virtual patients to teach students how to perform a diagnosis. The school also uses technology to make medical education more accessible, particularly in rural regions throughout BC. Canadian Press

Western U, Fanshawe on campus bandwidth

Today's students arrive on campus bearing laptops, smartphones, and tablets and expect to get quick access to their favourite websites, streamed shows, and download songs. That means PSE institutions with thousands of students in residence have to provide -- and limit -- enough bandwidth for academic and personal use. At Western University, students in residence are limited to 4 gigabytes a day. Fanshawe College students in residence do not have a bandwidth limit, but the more students use the network at once, the slower the system gets. The speed is always the same at Western U, but when a user reaches the limit, the institution -- without warning -- cuts off the user's Internet access for 5 days. A second and third violation will result in the Internet being cut off for 10 and 15 days, respectively. "As an academic institution, we're not here to facilitate your gaming," says an official at Western U, which has increased its bandwidth limit every year. "I foresee a day when it's unlimited." London Free Press

uWaterloo, Japanese university sign agreement

A delegation from Japan's Chiba University visited the University of Waterloo's campuses yesterday in advance of the inking of a new international exchange agreement. The agreement builds on an MOU signed between the 2 universities in 2010 for the exploration of various forms of research and collaboration. Yesterday's addendum to the existing MOU will establish international exchange centres at each institution, using existing resources to facilitate joint research projects and other forms of collaborative activity. uWaterloo Daily Bulletin

OCAD U rolls out campus safety app

OCAD University students, faculty, and staff have a new personal safety tool available for them this fall. The Guardly Safe Campus™ mobile app promises to dramatically impact the accessibility of campus security to the university community. The app works with Guardly Command™, a Web-based incident management system that helps dispatch personnel to monitor, manage, and respond to emergencies within campus boundaries, defined by a geofence. Outside the OCAD U geofence, the app can be used to notify 911 services and a caller's personal security network. The rollout of the app is the result of 2 years of collaboration between the university and the makers of Guardly. The company is a graduate of OCAD U's Mobile Experience Innovation Centre incubator program. OCAD U News Release

New report explores spectrum of international students

The number of foreign students has grown significantly in recent years, yet US PSE institutions could do more to enhance their recruiting by development a better understanding of the different populations seeking their degrees, says a new report from World Education Services, a non-profit group that evaluates international credentials. The report analyzes the educational aspirations, habits, and pocketbooks of prospective international students. It is based on a survey of nearly 1,600 students in 115 nations who say they plan to study in the US, and it classifies them into 4 categories based on their academic abilities and finances. "Strivers" are well prepared academically for the rigours of American PSE, but their financial resources are low; "Strugglers" are poorly prepared academically and lack financial resources; "Explorers" are poorly prepared academically but have significant financial resources; and "Highfliers" are both academically prepared and financially well-off. Of the students surveyed, 30% were strivers, 25% were explorers, 24% were highfliers, and 21% were strugglers. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Measuring social media usefulness remains a challenge for US institutions, survey finds

According to the 2012 CASE Social Media Survey, US college officials remain as faithful as ever that social media tools are useful to achieving institutional goals, and that their own schools' efforts have been successful, but measuring usefulness remains a challenge, and the methods institutions are using to gauge success have not grown in sophistication in recent years. 96% of the 1,187 CASE members surveyed agreed that "social media have great potential for achieving important goals in my unit." Almost 90% assessed their unit's social media efforts as at least "somewhat successful." Asked whether it is "too soon to say whether social media will be useful at all in our line of work," 86% of respondents disagreed. The survey found that when evaluating the "outcomes" of social media campaigns, officials still primarily look to the most visible yet some of the crudest metrics: "number of active 'friends,' 'likes,' 'members,' participants, people who post, or number of comments," as well as "volume of participation." The institutions do not seem to be as interested in deeper study of those with whom they are ostensibly "engaging" through social media. Asked for specific areas of success, most officials say "increasing engagement with our target audience." At the same time, just a slim minority said they used 2 outcome measures -- "penetration measure of use among target audiences" and "survey of target audiences" -- that would shed significant light on the extent of that success. Inside Higher Ed