Top Ten

November 1, 2012

UQAM reports student demonstrations cost it $20 million

The 2012 student movement in Quebec over tuition fees cost the Université du Québec à Montréal at least $20 million, confirmed rector Claude Corbo Wednesday. That figure takes into account losses in revenue as well as supplementary costs, such as security. In a letter to Pierre Duchesne, Quebec's higher education minister, Corbo stated that without immediate financial assistance from the province, UQAM cannot possibly stick to the plan of a balanced budget by 2016. Duchesne said he has received similar missives from other universities. The minister suggested Wednesday the total costs for the months of unrest for all PSE institutions is $40 million and still climbing. "I don't know where (Duchesne) came up with the figure," said the Quebec Liberals' PSE critic, taking the position that the Liberals, who were the governing party before and are the opposition now, bear no responsibility for the tuition fee conflict. "What's clear is he is part of a party that wore the red square and played pots and pans in the street and today he seems to be wanting to blame us, who are in the opposition, for the fact that there were some costs incurred for the universities." Montreal Gazette | Le Devoir (in French)

Concordia responds to international students' homestay issues

Concordia University said Wednesday it is taking action to address homestay issues for students from China, especially for those benefitting from the Concordia China Student Recruitment Partnership Program (CCSRPP). Concordia's VP services initiated a review in late September after student housing issues for students from China and CCSRPP were raised in The Link, a student newspaper. While the university is not involved in providing homestay arrangements, the VP called for a review of the CCSRPP framework to determine whether students were well served by an external recruitment service used by Concordia. The university's Student and Engagement Services plans to conduct interviews annually with a random sample of 15% of CCSRPP students to review their experiences and identify areas needing improvement. A survey on university residence, with a focus on international students, will be conducted this fall. Concordia will launch virtual and on-site orientation sessions in Mandarin on housing and tenants rights for new students coming from China. This service will be provided in other major languages, such as Arabic and Farsi. A Mandarin version of the International Students Office pre-departure guide is currently in development. Concordia News | The Link

Maclean's releases 2013 University Rankings issue

The 22nd annual Maclean's University Rankings issue hit newsstands yesterday. For the eighth consecutive year, McGill ranks first in the medical-doctoral category, followed by UBC and uToronto in second and third place, respectively. SFU places first in the comprehensive category, followed by UVic in second and uWaterloo in third. This top 3 remains unchanged, while UNB moves up 2 spots to fourth. This year marks the sixteenth time Mount Allison has taken the top spot in the primarily undergraduate category. The 18-year-old UNBC places second this year, up from its debut in ninth place 14 years ago. This year UNBC has the highest total research dollars, and the second best student-faculty ratio. Moving into third place is the University of Lethbridge, whose reputation is second overall in its category. One trend noted in this year's rankings is the rise of the west. Every university from Saskatchewan to the west coast maintains or improves its ranking this year. All 4 of BC's ranked institutions place in the top 2 in their categories. Trent, uMoncton, and STU made the most improvement this year, each climbing more than one spot (5 in uMoncton's case). Maclean's ranks universities on performance measures in 6 broad areas: students/classes, faculty, resources, student support, library, and reputation. Maclean's 2013 University Rankings | Methodology

Barrie proposes Centre for Excellence in Education

Yesterday the City of Barrie and the Simcoe Country District School Board opened a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) in the Centre for Excellence in Education -- which combines a high school, an undergraduate university campus, and a support centre for entrepreneurs -- to be built on 11 acres of publicly owned land. With more than 750,000 people nearby, Barrie's chief administrative officer says a university campus is the answer to a complex challenge in a city with fewer people holding degrees, higher unemployment, and a lack of specialized labour. The city official says a best-case scenario would see a university taking shape in 2016. The RFEI closes on December 3.

Aboriginal students a priority in Lakehead draft SMA

Currently, Lakehead University has approximately 1,150 Aboriginal students, representing 11% of its enrolment -- one of the highest proportions of Aboriginal student enrolments at a Canadian university. In its proposed strategic mandate agreement, Lakehead says it "will continue to build its reputation as the university of choice for Aboriginal students through a community-centred, shared learning approach." The document mentions creating a gathering place at the Thunder Bay campus to provide academic support and spiritual, elder, and social space for Aboriginal students. Lakehead says the Gichi Kendaasiwin Centre will allow Aboriginal and campus communities to connect with each other while providing a number of programs and services to help with student retention. The university aims to increase Aboriginal enrolment by 15%. Other goals include increasing the year-one and year-two retention rate of college transfer and Aboriginal students to 85%, and increasing the 6-year graduate rate of these students to 70%. Lakehead News Release | Lakehead SMA

Campus Freedom Index gives mostly "F"s to Canadian universities, student unions

Developed by the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), the 2012 Campus Freedom Index grades the free-speech policies and principles, as well as actions and practices, of 35 Canadian public universities and their student unions. uToronto (policies), STU (actions), and Mount Allison's student union (actions) were the only "A" grade recipients. An "F" grade was handed out 28 times -- 12 for universities and 16 for student unions. When it comes to policies and principles, universities earned a "C" average, while student unions got a "D" average. In terms of actions and practices, both bodies scored a "D" average. Pro-life groups appear to be the "current target" on campuses, said JCCF's president, noting that he was especially troubled by the arrest 2 years ago of pro-life protesters at Carleton, whose trespassing charges have since been dropped. In an e-mail to the National Post, the president of Carleton's student union said the index results "are not fully representative of the current state of affairs" at the university. The Canadian Federation of Student's national chairperson dismisses the index, arguing that it does not explain its methodology well enough to back up its criticism of student unions. JCCF News Release | 2012 Campus Freedom Index | Report | National Post

PSE institutions have important role in producing employees with innovation skills, survey finds

In a new George Brown College survey of GTA employers, 56% of respondents said they want PSE institutions to focus on providing a conceptual understanding of innovation, leaving it to employers to hone and apply innovation skills. Another 28% said PSE schools should equip graduates with innovation skills. Of those who responded to a question about which type of PSE institution is the best place to equip future employees with innovation skills and abilities, 41% said colleges, 32% said universities, and 19% said both equally. The survey found that employers coalesce around "ability to learn new things quickly" and "applying problem-solving skills" as the most important innovation-related skills, while creative thinking stands out as the most important creativity-related skill. Overall, the single most important new graduate skill or ability employers seek is a strong work ethic. George Brown College News Release

Lower costs drawing US students to Canada

More US teenagers are considering spending their PSE years in Canada as a way of attending a top-rated institution at a lower cost, recruiters say. "Students tell us they were looking for a top-ranked West Coast university in an outstanding location," says an official at UBC, which has seen a 33% growth in US applications since 2008. "When they realize it is also an international experience close to home, and an incredible value compared to many other comparable U.S. institutions, (that) often pushes UBC to the top of their list." A UBC student originally from California says that even with international tuition, UBC was way cheaper than her other choices: NYU and George Washington U. Texans often choose the University of Alberta for its engineering and science programs linked to the province's oil and gas industry, says a uAlberta official. The institution has brought high school counsellors from select US schools to uAlberta for summer workshops for the past 2 years, and applications have risen. "The main factor has been efforts by many Canadian universities and the Canadian government to increase awareness across the U.S. about the high quality of education in Canada, at a competitive rate at well-ranked universities not too far from home," the uAlberta official says. McClatchy Newspapers

ACC adds soccer to varsity athletics program

Assiniboine Community College will add women's and men's soccer to its varsity athletics program starting in September 2013. "Varsity athletics is an important aspect of a student's college experience," says ACC president Mark Frison. "Providing our students with another athletic opportunity enhances the athletes' experience; it also engages the entire student body as they rally to support the Cougars, their hometown team." ACC's soccer teams will compete in the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference. Between now and September, the institution will be recruiting athletes and head coaches for both teams. ACC's varsity athletics program already includes men's and women's basketball, men's and women's volleyball, and women's hockey. ACC News

UOIT launches mobile app

UOIT Mobile is a new application to help University of Ontario Institute of Technology students gain quicker access to courses, find their way around campus, stay up-to-date on the latest campus news and events, and search the campus directory. Through the app, currently available for iPhone and Android, users can access library services, report an emergency, and check out UOIT's social media platforms. Along with other new tools to strengthen UOIT's technology-enriched learning environment, the mobile app is complemented by the institution's newly redesigned website. UOIT News | UOIT Mobile