Top Ten

November 8, 2012

AAU co-presents conference on student mental health care

University officials and student leaders gathered at Mount Allison University on November 1 for "Making the Connection: Developing a University Team Approach to Student Mental Health Care," presented by the Association of Atlantic Universities and the Medavie Health Foundation. Short- and long-term objectives for this event include bringing greater awareness and focus on student mental health, developing an institutional policy framework, and creating a regional policy framework. The day-long event included a presentation from Queen's University on its approach to student mental health and a keynote speech from a Mount Saint Vincent University student on her experience in dealing with mental illness in academia. One outcome from the event is Memorial University's commitment to use its Distance Education and Learning Resources to engage university faculty, staff, and students in a dialogue on student mental health care. AAU News Release | Conference Page

Quebec to hold university funding summit in February

The financial future of Quebec universities will be determined at a summit in February, following 3 smaller forums to provide a foundation for a debate on tuition fees and funding of PSE schools. The Parti Québécois government has maintained that it wants an open dialogue, hoping to use the summit to reach a consensus. Opposition parties have attacked the PQ, claiming that cash-strapped universities were now short an extra $32-million after the PQ scrapped the tuition hikes. The Liberals claim the government has already decided to extend the tuition freeze into the 2013-14 academic year without providing a new source of university funding, which, the Liberals argue, would represent another $80-million shortfall for universities next year. They released a letter signed by Higher Education Minister Pierre Duchesne to a government education advisory body confirming a tuition freeze in 2013-14. Duchesne denied the charges, explaining that the Liberals had misinterpreted the letter's contents. "I can't say that we have already decided on a freeze or the amount of a tuition-fee increase before holding the summit. I can't say that I will consult people and then have already decided on an increase." Globe and Mail

Homestay issues prompt call for review of Concordia's international recruitment efforts

A small group of Concordia University students rallied Wednesday to demand an external investigation into the institution's handling of international students following allegations by some Chinese students of substandard homestay conditions. The students want the Canadian Bureau for International Education to look into claims of students being recruited on false pretences and then mistreated upon arrival in Canada. A CBIE official says there is no reason to doubt Concordia's adherence to the bureau's code of ethics. She says there are no plans to initiate an external investigation into the matter, as it is not a major issue. A Concordia spokeswoman says the institution knows of no crises with its international students, and that after distributing letters to all 5,200 international students last month asking them to come forward with any issues, it had 2 or 3 responses. While it is not involved in homestay arrangements, Concordia is responding to concerns by reviewing the framework of the Concordia China Student Recruitment Partnership Program, as well as organizing orientation sessions in Mandarin with information on housing and tenant rights. One homestay program operator calls the students' attack on accommodation quality and high cost a "malicious" provocation that is unfounded. "One of the students complaining is still living in her homestay and has asked to extend her stay, as did (another)," the operator says. Montreal Gazette (November 7) | Montreal Gazette (November 8) | CBC | CTV

ACAD president responds to CBC report on external relations practices

In a statement issued Wednesday on a recent CBC story, Alberta College of Art + Design president Daniel Doz said "that at no time has ACAD used public dollars to make donations to a political party or to purchase tickets to political events." Doz said that when ACAD was contacted by the CBC in July through a freedom-of-information request, the institution was open and honest with respect to its working relationship with Hal Danchilla and Joe Lougheed, whose services were retained by the college to provide strategic advice on community and government outreach in Canada. "I participated fully with the reporter and gave an on-camera interview explaining our external relations practices," said Doz. "Then as now, ACAD operates completely above-board, and we were dismayed to be painted in a negative light by the CBC two months after the initial interview took place." Statement

8 Canadian universities selected to host 11 new CERCs

Yesterday the federal government announced that proposals from 8 universities have been selected to recruit 11 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERCs). Launched in 2008, the CERC program awards host universities up to $10 million over 7 years to support the chairholder and their teams in ambitious research programs. The first group of chairholders was announced in May 2010. The successful universities awarded CERCs in the second group are École Polytechnique de Montréal, McGill (2 chairs), Queen's (2), UBC (2), uLaval, uCalgary, uSask, and uWaterloo. UBC, uLaval, uSask, and uWaterloo were previous winners in the inaugural round. CERC News Release

Enrolment growth top priority for Algoma U

"Because of our unique situation as a new and still very small university, enrolment growth is the obvious path to increased productivity," states Algoma University in its proposed strategic mandate agreement. The Sault Ste. Marie-based institution estimates that a 25% increase in overall enrolment over the next 3 years will result in a 10% to 15% increase in productivity. Algoma U's strategy for enrolment growth focuses on Indigenous students, students from other parts of Ontario, and international students. The university is exploring a "first-year-at-home" program with KenjgewinTeg Educational Institute, as well as developing a 4-year Anishinaabe Studies degree in collaboration with Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig. Existing initiatives to attract students from other areas of Ontario and abroad include the BA program feeder-operation in St. Thomas and a BA scholarship program for top interational students. Algoma U SMA

Program suspension at NWCC, cancellation at Camosun

Northwest Community College has suspended its heavy duty mechanics programs due to low demand and old equipment. An NWCC official says applicants and registrations dropped as people realized the type of equipment with which they would train was outdated compared to industry standards. NWCC has applied for a portion of the BC government's $17-million investment in skills training equipment upgrades. Meanwhile, Camosun College's board of governors voted this week to cancel an applied communications program outright. The popular 2-year program had been in limbo since April when Camosun suspended intake as part of cost-cutting efforts to balance its budget. The remaining second-year class will finish the year to become the last graduates of the 40-year-old program. Terrace Standard | Victoria Times-Colonist

uAlberta's School of Public Health first to be accredited in Canada

Last month, the University of Alberta's School of Public Health was awarded accreditation by the US-based Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). This makes the school the first accredited school of public health in Canada, the second outside the US, and the 50th in the world. Bringing together the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research, Centre for Health Promotion Studies, and the Department of Public Health Sciences, uAlberta consolidated its public health strengths and established Canada's only stand-alone public health faculty in 2006. Since then, faculty and staff have been working toward the goal of getting accreditation -- an effort uAlberta has been championing all along. The CEPH accreditation "reflects excellence in teaching and learning, and the innovative research done at the University of Alberta," says the institution's acting provost. uAlberta News | Edmonton Journal

US survey gauges campus IT officials' perspective on MOOCs

According to a new Campus Computing Project survey, just over 50% of US campus technology officers surveyed said they believe massive open online courses (MOOCs) present "a viable academic model for the effective delivery of online instruction." There was some variation across the different types of PSE institutions: 43% of community college officials were optimistic about the academic potential of MOOCs, while respondents from private universities were the most favourable (60%). The IT officials were less optimistic about the prospects of their institutions generating revenue by developing MOOCs of their own. More than two-thirds of respondents indicated they were uncertain about whether MOOCs "offer a viable business model for campuses to realize new revenues." Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

US institutions providing quiet housing to students wanting calm environment

For PSE students who prefer physics problem sets to parties -- or at least want the option of studying on a Saturday night -- many US institutions offer quiet housing, though it takes different forms. Some designate certain floors in a residence as quiet housing, while others devote entire buildings to quiet housing. The "quiet" label can vary, too: some institutions require 24-hour quiet time in the designated areas, while others simply extend the normal quiet-hour policy. The associate dean of students at Pennsylvania's Bucknell University decided to introduce quiet housing 14 years ago. The 2 options he created -- quiet housing and substance-free housing -- were meant to add to the range of choices available -- such as fraternities and sororities, residential colleges, and affinity houses based on student interest -- and perhaps appeal to a different group of students. "We're trying to make sure students have whatever they need to succeed," the Bucknell U official says. "We wanted students to have many, many housing options." Inside Higher Ed