Top Ten

October 24, 2012

Saskatchewan to make training mandatory for PSE institutions' board members

Saskatchewan's advanced education ministry is implementing new training for board members at all provincial PSE schools. The move follows a provincial auditor's report that made several recommendations -- including that boards be better trained -- relating to Carlton Trail Regional College (whose board was dissolved in March 2011) and its failed merger with St. Peter's College. The deputy advanced education minister says Carlton Trail is working with the ministry, which has a 3-year action plan to "strengthen excellence in governance and accountability through the entire post-secondary sector." Up to $326,000 has been authorized until the end of March 2014 to train about 50 board members under a training and certification program. The training, to begin early in 2013, will first be for board members of regional colleges, SIAST, and the apprenticeship commission, followed by those of universities and other institutions. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

Journal retracts uToronto study over "self-plagiarism"

Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews has retracted a study published by a leading University of Toronto researcher and 2 colleagues in the university's Faculty of Medicine after a software program used by the journal revealed the research team had been recycling text from previous studies. A retraction notice published this month by the journal said the researchers "self-plagiarized" texts from 5 other reports in a 2005 paper. "This article represents a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system," the notice said. In an interview with Postmedia News, the Faculty of Medicine's executive director of communications depicted the case as a copyright dispute over a paper that was always intended as a "review." He said of the report that "under the strictest definition of copyright it had to be original, but there are only so many ways to describe the research landscape." Postmedia News | Retraction Notice

McGill report clearing retired asbestos researcher criticized

A group of doctors and anti-asbestos activists argues that McGill University's review that cleared a retired professor of misconduct charges in relation to his asbestos research was biased and a "whitewash." Critics say the conclusions reached by McGill's research integrity officer (RIO) were wrong and that he did not take into account all the evidence provided to the institution. McGill should have an independent panel conduct a review, says an official with the Rideau Institute, an Ottawa-based independent research, advocacy, and consulting group. "This has been a public-relations operation, not a credible investigation, and it brings dishonour on McGill," she says. A McGill spokesperson told the Montreal Gazette that the institution would not comment on the issues raised by the doctors. McGill will follow the RIO's recommendation to organize an academic conference to review the current evidence on asbestos and explore safe alternatives. Montreal Gazette

Ryerson launches Faculty of Science

Ryerson University's Faculty of Science is now an independent faculty preparing to launch a pair of new undergraduate programs next fall. This year, the foundational science disciplines of biology, chemistry, computer science, math, and physics -- previously offered through the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science -- now form the basis of the only new faculty at Ryerson in more than 40 years. The new Faculty of Science reflects the institution's strong and growing academic presence in the sciences. The faculty will launch new undergraduate programs in financial mathematics and biomedical sciences in fall 2013. Ryerson News

uAlberta Science to raise entrance requirement to reduce enrolment

For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Alberta's science faculty is increasing its entrance requirement to reduce enrolment, which is now 600 higher than what provincial funding covers. High school graduates will now need a mark of at least 80% to get admitted to the faculty. At the same time, the science dean has borrowed $1 million annually for the next 5 years to hire more faculty in what he calls "a buyer's market" sparked by tight university funding across North America. Over the past 4 years of tight budgets, the number of science professors dropped from 300 to 292. At the same time, enrolment rose to 6,700 students, with provincial funding for just 6,100 -- resulting in a shortfall of $6 million. Providing professors and classes for the 600 unfunded students is a "significant financial pressure" and considerable burden on faculty and staff, the dean says. With the new entrance requirement, the dean would like to see enrolment drop this fall to closer to 6,100, though he has no exact figure in mind. Raising the requirement was a difficult decision, the dean says, as it contradicts his goal to increase enrolment to 7,300 students. "I want to educate as many students as we can. We are here to provide high quality education to as many Albertans as we possibly can. From a practical point of view, I want enrolment to go down, but in my heart, I want it to go up." Edmonton Journal

Carleton proposes Global Academy in draft SMA

In its strategic mandate submission sent to the Ontario government, Carleton University proposes a Carleton Global Academy to develop the institution as a key gateway for international students arriving in Ontario though the university's summer institutes, as well as enhance international opportunities and global awareness among Carleton students. The SMA says Carleton's School of Canadian Studies will lead the summer gateway initiative for foreign students coming to Canada through a credit course on Canadian society and its cultures, "providing a type of introduction and orientation to Canada and Ontario that could be available only in the national capital." Under the objective of "integrated student-centred learning," Carleton proposes partnering with Algonquin College on the development of a fully integrated model of college/university academic programing in the STEM or other fields that can be scaled to Ontario's PSE system. Carleton News | Carleton SMA

Maclean's supplement explores Canadian colleges' "triple play"

A special report in the October 29 issue of Maclean's reports on the "triple play" Canadian colleges offer students: "investment in state-of-the-art campus facilities, invaluable industry connections and support, and the ability to carve out a rewarding academic experience that leads to sustainable career development." The report cites surveys indicating strong employment rates for graduates and high levels of satisfaction among employers. One employer interviewed for the supplement mentions NSCC's "portfolio learning approach" as one factor drawing her to NSCC grads; "it lets me know that they have hands-on experience working on real projects, instead of just the theory." The report draws examples from institutions such as Centennial, CNA, George Brown, Humber, Lethbridge College, Loyalist, RRC, Seneca, and SIAST in explaining how colleges help students round out their education, through state-of-the-art facilities, workplace internships, and international exchanges. "It's reassuring for parents to know that college doesn't close doors for their kids," says Academica Group's Ken Steele about joint college-university programs, noting that the model works well in fields such as health promotion, human services, and public relations. Supplement

Alberta's Columbia College becomes non-profit entity

Columbia College Corporation announced Tuesday the formal establishment of Columbia College Calgary, a non-profit organization. President J. T. (Tom) Snell says the new organization is committed to the same principles, educational values, outcomes, and educational results that the for-profit Columbia College Corporation has achieved. Snell anticipates this new entity will open more doors for its graduates, enabling them to complete their university education at an even greater number of educational institutions across Canada. Columbia College News

National Council of Deans of Technology creates new brand

The National Council of Deans of Technology (NCDoT), a networking group of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, has developed a new brand: Champions for Canada's Technological Future / Champions pour l'avenir technologique du Canada. NCDoT's chair says the new brand aligns perfectly with the council's mandate, reflecting NCDoT's leadership and advocacy position to help industry and government make sound technology investments in Canada's future. The launch of the council's new brand comes just in time for National Technology Week, which will take place November 5 to 11. NCDoT News Release

Apple unveils iPad mini

On Tuesday, Apple revealed iPad mini, whose design is 23% thinner and 53% lighter than iPad 3. With a 7.9-inch display, iPad mini features the same number of pixels as the original iPad and iPad 2, so users can run more than 275,000 applications designed specifically for iPad. At the launch event, Apple's CEO touted iPad mini's potential for education, noting that 80% of the US's "core curricula" is available in iBooks, the company's digital bookstore. Apple's iBooks Author allows users to create their own textbooks, incorporating math tools and multi-touch widgets (though, as Education Week points out, that functionality is available on other platforms too). Insider Higher Ed's Technology and Learning blog offers some reasons why iPad mini "might hit the EDU sweet spot." One of them is price: $329 (US) for the 16GB Wi-Fi version of iPad mini, compared to $499 (US) for the 16GB Wi-Fi version of iPad 4.  Apple News Release | Education Week | Inside Higher Ed