Top Ten

October 3, 2012

More Ontario PSE stakeholders submit responses to MTCU discussion paper

Like the Ontario Association of Career Colleges, several PSE organizations have released their responses to the Ontario government's discussion paper outlining a proposed transformation to PSE. The proposals put forward in the paper "will damage the quality of post-secondary education and increase government interference in higher education in Ontario," according to OPSEU, CUPE, OCUFA, and CFS-Ontario, which released their respective responses yesterday. Representatives from these organizations argue that the province is not interested in a genuine conversation with stakeholders on how to improve and expand the PSE system; the proposals would take away the ability of students, staff, and faculty to make meaningful academic decisions; the proposals expect institutions to do even more with less; and the province's priority should be increasing funding and dropping fees, not cutting corners. In their responses, the organizations call on the government to work with the PSE sector to improve the quality of PSE institutions and ensure that all students can afford to attend. The Council of Ontario Universities has also released its response, which outlines the council's commitment to a new online educational consortium, improving the province's credit transfer system, advancing the definition and assessment of learning outcomes, and expanding opportunities for experiential learning. COU's submission also discusses ways to leverage existing innovations and share best practices in different areas, such as teaching and learning, credential options, and degree supplements. CFS News Release | CFS-Ontario Response | CUPE Response | OCUFA Response | OPSEU Response | COU News Release | COU Response

Creation of new University of York-Seneca proposed in York U's strategic mandate submission

"York University is committed to creating and sustaining a culture of student success, and to putting students at the centre of everything we do." That's the key message in York U's strategic mandate submission sent to Ontario Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Glen Murray. The institution proposes to continue to increase the comprehensiveness of its programs, most notably through the expansion of engineering programs now underway through the planning for the new Lassonde School of Engineering. York U and Seneca College are proposing to partner on the creation of a new University of York-Seneca that would also be a satellite campus co-located on either York U's Keele campus or an existing Seneca campus. The idea is that the partnership would expand student choice and mobility by combining, under one roof and in a single program, the benefits of a university degree and a college diploma. YFile | Strategic Mandate Submission

USMC kicks off $50-million fundraising campaign

On September 29, the University of St. Michael's College launched its $50-million fundraising initiative, part of the University of Toronto's broader $2-billion Boundless campaign. The campaign's motto, "Boundless Community," stresses the fundamental USMC principles of community connections and engagement with social justice. The campaign's 5 key priorities are: revitalizing campus learning and living spaces; modernizing the John M. Kelly Library and expanding access to its resources; establishing the SMC One Cornerstone Program for first-year students; strengthening the "hallmark" undergraduate programs in Book & Media Studies, Celtic Studies, Mediaeval Studies, and Christianity & Culture; and boosting scholarship and bursary support for undergraduate and graduate students. USMC has already raised $24 million in pursuit of its goal. uToronto News

uCalgary plans $12-million boost for academic hires, centre for teaching and learning

The University of Calgary has bolstered its bid to become one of Canada's top 5 research universities by 2016 with plans for more than 100 new academic hires and the creation of a new Institute for Teaching and Learning. While presenting uCalgary's community report Tuesday, president Elizabeth Cannon said 50 assistant professors and 60 postdoctoral scholars will be hired within the next 12 months, at a cost of $12 million. The initiative will result in a 16% increase in assistant-professorial staff and a 15% increase in postdoctoral scholars at the university. The former Nickle Arts Museum building will be renovated to house the institute. The 4,000-square-metre site will include a simulation centre, mock classrooms, and lecture spaces. Donations from the community will pay for the site renovation. Cannon said uCalgary ensured its "financial house" was in order before adding academic staff and planning the new institute. "It's a significant expense to us, but we look at it as an investment and there are not too many universities in a position to do this right now," she said. uCalgary News Release | Calgary Herald | CBC

NSCAD students push for new institutional financial strategy

NSCAD University students are calling for a new plan to boost revenues at the institution. A general assembly of students held a non-confidence vote Monday on NSCAD's financial sustainability framework, which was submitted to the Nova Scotia government at the end of March. The report recommends increasing student fees, freezing expenses, and eliminating some positions in an effort to improve the university's bottom line. A student union executive says administrators should consider other alternatives, such as fundraising. Acting NSCAD president Daniel O'Brien says the fee increases are pretty modest, and that it's late in the game to ask for a revision. "We have a plan that has been carefully produced, carefully documented, carefully justified, and vetted internally," he says, adding that the report was unanimously approved by NSCAD's board of governors. The student union representative says students were not adequately consulted about the report, and that administration should revisit it with their input. O'Brien says he is willing to listen, but notes that consultations on the framework were attended by a healthy cross-section of students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Metro News

Report finds uAlberta has $12.3-billion impact on provincial economy

According to a new study, the University of Alberta's impact on the Alberta economy is estimated to be $12.3 billion, which is 5% of the province's GDP (or the equivalent of having 135 Edmonton Oilers NHL teams in Alberta). Modelled on similar studies first conducted by UBC in 2009, the uAlberta report concentrated on the direct impact of institutional and visitor spending combined with induced economic impact from university education and research. The study observed that uAlberta alumni earned more because of their university education. It also indicated that uAlberta is a stronger economic driver than the comparator universities used in the study (UBC, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Ottawa). uAlberta alumni resulted in a $4.1-billion education premium, and uAlberta research over the last 30 years was estimated to have an indirect annual impact of $5.7 billion. The uAlberta study follows methodology developed at UBC, but represents the first time comparator universities have been shown side by side, says one of the study's authors. uAlberta News | Study

BC's new advanced education minister focusing on trades training

In an interview with the Canadian University Press, John Yap, BC's new Minister of Advanced Education, said that he is intent on ensuring more trades training is available at PSE institutions. "If I were to sum up the focus in the short-term, it is to ensure we have the facilities and programs to do trades training," Yap said. This aligns with the Liberal government's pledge to prioritize job creation. The minister told CUP that there should be about one million job openings in BC in the next decade, with 43% of these requiring some trades training. "It's important we offer British Columbians the opportunity to fill those positions and encourage those that are in school and thinking about career options that they consider, if it’s right for them, a career that is well paying and rewarding, in the trades," Yap said. His plans are already underway with recent multimillion-dollar investments in trades training facilities at Camosun and Okanagan Colleges

Niagara College, Métis Nation of Ontario sign MOU

On September 30, Niagara College and the Métis Nation of Ontario signed an MOU that is intended to strengthen and formalize the long-standing positive working relationship between both parties. The MOU establishes several key areas for collaboration and partnership, including: increasing Métis participation in, and access to, Niagara College programs and services; engaging in joint Métis research initiatives; and promoting Métis content across the curriculum. Niagara College/MNO News Release

Enrolment hits record level at USB

With an 8.4% jump in university enrolment and a total of 1,267 students, Winnipeg's Université de Saint-Boniface has reached an all-time high for registrations this fall. While the increase of all USB programs combined (university and college) is 6.1%, university programs have exceeded expectations, drawing 76 more students than last year. The institution's Bachelor of Science (+46%) and Bachelor of Social Work (+39%) programs have experienced the highest increases. In addition, there has been a 35% increase in student visas, which bring the number of new international students from 40 to 54. USB News Release

California legislation gives students free access to digital textbooks

On September 27, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law several bills affecting PSE institutions and their students, including 2 measures designed to provide students with access to free digital textbooks for 50 undergraduate courses. These measures form a 9-member faculty council that will identify the classes for which open-source digital textbooks should be developed and oversee the textbooks' development, and establish a digital library to house the textbooks and other courseware. Other measures signed into law prohibit public and private universities from requiring current and prospective students to disclose their usernames or passwords to social media sites; require University of California and California State University officials to provide more advance notice when raising tuition fees; help community college students complete their degrees or transfer to a 4-year institution; and establish a "student-athlete bill of rights." The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)