Top Ten

August 30, 2012

Heavy alcohol consumption a problem at most universities, says NS report

"Harmful drinking by university students is a problem for most, if not every, university," states a report by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness in response to an Acadia University student's alcohol-related death last year. "The university environment has a significant role in shaping student behaviours, and as such, the campus context needs to be altered so that it does not support a heavy drinking culture." One estimate observes that nearly 90% of Canadian university students drink alcohol, while 32% reported drinking heavily at least once a month; the percentage was higher in Nova Scotia (51%). "The current evidence supports universities taking a comprehensive approach that includes collaborating with the local community to raise awareness and implement local solutions; implementing interventions that will alter the drinking environment on campus; and implementing interventions that will reduce student demand for alcohol. Population level policies are also needed to reduce overall prevalence of drinking and to de-normalize overconsumption and this will require working with the provincial and federal governments." Acadia announced yesterday new alcohol policies to curb binge-drinking. University Affairs | Acadia News Release | CBC | Report

Fort MacLeod considers legal action after Alberta withdraws police college plans

The southern Alberta community of Fort MacLeod may sue the provincial government after it cancelled a long-planned $122-million police training facility for which work is already under way in the town. In announcing its decision Wednesday, the government said "concerns about utilization" were raised, which prompted the province to reach out to police agencies for their input; the government concluded that a single, stand-alone facility would not be "financially viable." Fort MacLeod town council is seeking legal advice. "My community has suffered a tremendous wrong and I will...make sure it's righted," says Mayor Shawn Patience. Alberta News Release | Globe and Mail

uWindsor law prof withdraws human rights complaint against institution

After 5 days of hearings, University of Windsor law professor Emily Carasco has withdrawn the human rights complaint she filed against the university after her failed bid to become dean of uWindsor's law school. In her claim, filed in 2010, Carasco alleged race and gender discrimination following her unsuccessful candidacy for the dean's position. She asked the human rights tribunal to require uWindsor to fire the dean it has since hired and give her the position instead. The dean's job is safe now that Carasco and the 2 parties she accused of discrimination -- uWindsor and a fellow law professor -- have reached a settlement. uWindsor Daily News | Windsor Star

Boréal confirmations up 15%

Collège Boréal is reporting a 15% increase in its confirmations as compared to last year. These numbers represent the highest increase in confirmations Boréal has experienced since its creation in 1995. The growth significantly exceeds the average 2.9% increase among Ontario's 24 colleges. Recording the highest growth among northern Ontario colleges, Boréal also stands out in the central-south-west region where enrolment has quadrupled after just 10 years of existence. Boréal News Release

UFV gathering explores integrating First Nations values into PSE

Canadian educators and administrators met this week at the University of the Fraser Valley's Chilliwack campus to discuss ways to better integrate First Nations values and culture into PSE institutions. In workshops and meetings, participants discussed what could be done to incorporate more First Nations perspectives in the curriculum, not just for Indigenous students but for everyone. One way some PSE schools are indigenizing is by incorporating First Nations cultural icons. For instance, UFV has built a replica of a Sto: lo longhouse with a capacity of 300. Gathering spaces on campuses "help aboriginal students feel welcome," says UFV's provost. "Other things aren't monetary. The culture of the institution and how it embraces indigenous traditions and values -- those costs are less tangible, but if we don't do them, that has costs as well." Vancouver Sun

McGill clarifies medical training remarks made by CAQ

McGill University is challenging the logic of Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault's plan to recoup educational funding from Quebec doctors who leave the province. Legault stated that much of Quebec's medical school funding is wasted, claiming that about half of the doctors who graduate from provincial medical schools leave to practice elsewhere after graduation. On Wednesday McGill issued some clarifications: more than 90% of the students admitted to its medical school are from Quebec, and 75% of them remain in the province after their studies. McGill also notes that it plays a big role in attracting high-quality doctors and researchers from around the world whose studies were not funded by Quebec but who work in the province and pay taxes there. McGill News | CTV

International education a benefit to Canadians

"Too often, the public sees international students as a drain on the system, or as foreigners taking places in universities and colleges that rightfully belong to the sons and daughters of Canadian taxpayers. Neither could be further from the truth," writes Western University president Amit Chakma for the Globe and Mail. International students' contributions go well beyond their spending power, states Chakma, who is chair of the expert advisory panel to Canada's international education strategy, which recently released its final report. "Studying and engaging with the best young minds from around the world enriches the lives of Canadian students and increases their comfort with different cultures, something they will increasingly need if they are to excel in the global economy." Chakma concludes that "international education, in all its forms, will create economic prosperity for the benefit of Canadians across this land. And it will enable us to continually build on the knowledge and talent Canada needs to succeed on a global scale." Globe and Mail

Brescia launches recruitment portal

On Wednesday Brescia University College launched, a prospective-student portal that bears the statement: "Go Ahead. Label me a Leader." The site opens with a video of several Brescia students explaining why they chose to attend the institution. The site features testimonials from students, graduates, professors, and principal Colleen Hanycz about the benefits of an education at Canada's only women's university. Through the portal, users can engage in live chats with admissions personnel, following Brescia on Twitter or like its Facebook page, visit the university's admissions page, or send a message to the institution.

Penn State board agrees on campaign to restore university's image

Pennsylvania State University's trustees have charted a proactive strategy to rebuild faith in the campus following the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. The approach includes implementing several recommendations offered last month in an internal report on Penn State's handling of the crisis, as well as launching a media campaign to emphasize the institution's achievements. The board's PR consultant describes an expansive media strategy that includes recruiting students and alumni to evangelize on Penn State's behalf, lobbying often-quoted experts on corporate governance and college athletics in the hope of influencing news coverage, and continuing a commitment to transparency. To start off, the campaign will consist primarily of on-campus posters, social media, and a variety of efforts at football games to emphasize the university's academic and service accomplishments. Though the PR consultant raises the specter of a national good-will ad campaign, he advises trustees against deploying such a tool in the short term. "A BP kind of solution is not appropriate at Penn State," he says. "There will be more criticism for us if we try to advertise our way out of this crisis." Philadelphia Inquirer

"My World of Warcraft character died"

This is one of the excuses offered to City of Bath College professor John Curry by students who failed to submit assignments on time. One student asked for extra time after he was wrongly held as a spy in China, while another gained an extension as he had been declared legally dead and the India government was trying to seize his home, Curry told Times Higher Education. Variations on "the dog ate my homework" claim have met with little sympathy -- these have included pets deleting work or eating a USB stick. More unusual, but bona fide, reasons Curry has been given include students being held at gunpoint, being unable to fly to the UK because rebels were shelling an airport, and being kept awake by a ghost. "That person genuinely believed there was a ghost and I actually accepted their word and gave them a few more hours." Times Higher Education