Top Ten

November 9, 2012

Concordia student sues institution over lowered mark

A Concordia University student is taking the institution to court over grading practices. The student says he earned an A- in an energy policy class last year, but was arbitrarily marked down to a B+ as a quota of As in the class had already been reached. After spending the first half of 2012 lodging complaints with Concordia and getting nowhere, the student filed a suit against the university in small claims court in June. The case has raised the issue of grading practices on campuses -- and just how far universities go to curb grade inflation, reports the Montreal Gazette. While grade inflation might be an issue on many campuses, the student says what happened in his class was simply unfair. "The chair of the (political science) department had a hidden policy that the rule is no more than 25 per cent of any class gets an A," the student claims. "But they didn't bell curve it, they just eliminated some As -- and that's a biased policy." Concordia's contestation of the case, which was filed in court, states the marks were bell-curved. Although the student says his case probably will not even be heard for 2 years, he hopes the outcome will level the playing field for other students. Montreal Gazette

Quebec PSE stakeholders at odds on university financing

The Quebec government is trying to reach consensus with a series of public consultations prior to the education summit in February, but parties are divided when it comes to financing PSE. Small business owners say they are paying too much in taxes while students get off easy because of the Parti Québécois's decision to annul this year's tuition hike. Students are prepared to mobilize and take to the streets to demand free PSE; some are even calling for limited strike action this week. Premier Marois said Thursday that "it would be very difficult" to abolish tuition fees, "but we shouldn't stop youths who want to defend this point of view to express themselves." She reiterated her government will propose to index tuition to the rate of inflation as the preferred solution, but that other funding formulae will also be considered. The Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities says the current tuition freeze represents a $42-million shortfall for universities this year, and believes this figure only reflects a fraction of the hundreds of millions in shortfalls Quebec universities are facing. Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault, who was education minister under the PQ government in the 1990s, believes the summit will be doomed if Marois refuses to recognize that universities are under-funded. Globe and Mail | CBC | CREPUQ Statement

6 Nova Scotia PSE institutions among partners in Canada's first IBM Global Delivery Centre

The Nova Scotia government and IBM Canada, along with a consortium of 6 PSE institutions, led by Nova Scotia Community College, announced Thursday new agreements to create an IBM Global Delivery Centre in the province -- the first IBM centre of its kind in Canada. Through Nova Scotia Business Inc., the government is investing up to $12.24 million in exchange for up to 500 new jobs in the province. IBM is making a multimillion-dollar investment and collaborating with NSCC, Acadia, CBU, Dal, SMU, and StFX to establish a province-wide centre of excellence in analytics education, certification, training, and research. IBM says the collaboration will deliver post-secondary analytics curriculum to produce workers with in-demand analytics skills, train graduates in skills to make them more employable, and retrain valuable employees with aging skill-sets. The company says students studying analytics, computer science, supply chain, and engineering will all be candidates for employment in the new Global Delivery Centre. IBM News Release | NS News Release | NSBI News Release

Racist graffiti upsets uOttawa law students

A racial slur scrawled on a bathroom stall in the University of Ottawa's law faculty building has upset students and the university's Black Law Students Association is asking uOttawa to be more pro-active in tackling racism. The association says a first-year student found the "n-word" scratched in large letters across a stall door and reported it to administration. An association member says the scrawls "definitely (had) racist intentions," adding that "students have been complaining that some of their white colleagues have been displaying hostilities." uOttawa's administration has since described the incident as "cowardly," while university president Allan Rock met with the student association's president to discuss the matter. The gesture was appreciated, the student leader says. He hopes uOttawa will follow up on his recommendations, which include forming an equity committee to follow up on student grievances and making anti-discrimination training mandatory for all students. CBC | Ottawa Sun

Boréal outlines opportunities to better meet francophone student needs in central-southwestern Ontario

"As the leader of French-language postsecondary education in Central-Southwestern Ontario, Collège Boréal must be the designated institution for the development of French-Language postsecondary in the region" -- that's one of the priority objectives outlined in Boréal's draft strategic mandate agreement. The college proposes creating a PSE francophone milieu in Toronto in collaboration with bilingual universities. It says it would develop an organizational structure that could eventually be adapted to a university model. Boréal also proposes increasing its program offerings in central-southwestern Ontario by 2019 to match those offered in eastern and northern regions. The college has identified 14 potential new programs -- including bachelor degrees in nursing and education -- to meet the labour market needs in central-southwestern Ontario. Boréal SMA

uMontréal makes strong gains in 2012 Global Employability Survey

The New York Times recently reported on results from the 2012 Global Employability Survey, based on interviews of 2,500 recruiters in 20 different nations to ascertain what expectations they have of young graduates and to rank the top universities in the country and worldwide. The Canadian universities to make this year's top 150 are uToronto (24), McGill (29), uMontréal and its business school HEC Montréal (30), McMaster (53), Queen's (56), Western U (85), and uWaterloo (108). uMontréal made a significant advancement in this year's ranking, moving up from 46th place in 2011. Rector Guy Breton attributed the advancement to a successful combination of several cultures. "We teach in French; we are the most European of the North American universities, and I think that is of added value to employers," he told the Times. Breton says Montreal's multiculturalism and multilingualism contributes to uMontréal's openness and worldliness, something international employers are increasingly seeking. "We are exposed to the international reality." uMontréal News | HEC Montréal News | New York Times | Ranking

Polytechnics Canada releases "Success Infographic"

Polytechnics Canada has unveiled its new "Success Infographic," which provides a snapshot of polytechnic education in Canada in 2011. Developed by graphic design students at BCIT, the infographic displays 4 interlocking gears -- applied research, industry talent supply, innovation skills, and maximizing potential -- that represent the intermeshing components of polytechnic education. The infographic shows that in 2011, the 9 members of Polytechnics Canada conducted more than 1,300 applied research projects for small and medium-sized business -- activities that engaged nearly 9,000 students. Polytechnics produce every year nearly 60,000 graduates equipped with state-of-the-industry skills, according to the infographic. Nearly a quarter of polytechnic students have completed a post-secondary diploma or bachelor degree prior to enrolling, and 84% of all graduates are employed 6 months after graduation. Message from Polytechnics Canada CEO | Success Infographic

ClevrU to deliver WLU innovation program on mobile devices

Waterloo-based tech firm ClevrU has partnered with Wilfrid Laurier University to deliver the university's innovation and entrepreneurship program on smartphones and other devices. ClevrU says it will use its multilingual software platform to deliver the WLU program to students across all faculties. The executive director of WLU's Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship says the platform will allow educators to tailor lessons to students' needs and observe how they use the material. It will also enable the university to share the content with students in other nations and in other languages, the WLU official says. Waterloo Region Record

MSVU enlists therapy dog to destigmatize mental illness

Mount Saint Vincent University is using a certified therapy dog -- a 3-year-old Shih Tzu named Oscar -- in a bid to get more students into the counsellor's office to talk about their stress or anxiety before a crisis hits. The counsellor who spearheaded the idea says "Cuddles with Oscar" sessions on Thursdays are full because it makes it less intimidating for students to talk when the dog is around and snuggling visitors. One student told the CBC that it's good to drop by and have fun with Oscar, to relax and forget about school. Oscar is part of a broader campaign at MSVU to reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues. Other Canadian PSE institutions with therapy dogs include Canadore College and the University of Ottawa. CBC

China fuels growth in international enrolment at US grad schools

First-time international-student enrolments at US graduate schools grew by 8% this fall, an increase that matched similar growth a year ago and was fuelled by students from China, according to new survey results from the Council of Graduate Schools. This fall, enrolments of new students from China rose by 22%, slightly surpassing last year's increase of 21% and marking the seventh consecutive year of double-digit growth. The survey results show that enrolments among students from Brazil also rose significantly, by 14%. Council of Graduate Schools News Release | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)