Top Ten

November 12, 2012

Antidepressant use by uOttawa students on the rise

Over the past decade, Canadian PSE students' antidepressant drug use has risen to the point where at many institutions, it has eclipsed oral contraceptives. While birth control pills remain the No. 1 prescription drug claim among students at the University of Ottawa, antidepressant use is a strong second, and rising. In 2011, uOttawa students claimed $119,049 for antidepressants, a slight increase from the previous year and more than drugs for skin disorders, attention deficit disorders, and antibiotics combined. A uOttawa student federation representative puts the blame for increased antidepressant use on the high cost of tuition, but the director of the institution's Student Academic Success Service argues that the cost of PSE is only one of several contributing factors. The de-stigmatization of mental health issues has led to more people seeking help, resulting in more diagnoses and a subsequent rise in antidepressant drug use, the director says. CBC

Leaked PQ report suggests Quebec universities are not underfunded

The Canadian Press reports that the PQ government seems to be challenging the notion that Quebec universities are underfunded, a tactic that could hold significant implications as the PQ prepares to hold an education summit in February. Last Thursday, the province leaked to the media a report from the Department of Education, which states that Quebec universities received 2% more per student than the national average -- $29,242, compared to $28,735 -- in 2008-09. According to those 4-year-old figures, the amount for Ontario was $26,383, while that for the western provinces was higher at $32,976. In leaking the document, the PQ told journalists the report was available to the previous Liberal government and suggested the tuition dispute might have been carried out over nothing. The Charest government repeatedly asserted that universities needed more funding and cast tuition fee increases as the fairest way to attain that goal, given that Quebecers pay the highest income taxes in Canada while students pay the lowest tuition. Having annulled the Liberals' fee hike, the PQ says it plans to propose indexing tuition to the rate of inflation as the preferred solution, but that it will listen to other options at the summit. Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault says the PQ "should start by recognizing university under-funding and establish where it stands before debating solutions." Canadian Press

Ontario political shuffle raises doubts over level of change next tuition framework will bring

Changes within the Ontario premier's office and cabinet have students and administrators of Waterloo-area PSE institutions raising doubt over how much change a new tuition framework will bring. Expiring this year, the current framework caps tuition fee increases at 5% annually. John Milloy, who was recently sworn in as minster of training, colleges, and universities after Glen Murray resigned from that post to run for the Ontario Liberal leadership, says the ministry is well on its way to creating a new framework for the next academic year. "We're not anticipating anything significant as far as the way of change, probably a continuation of the existing tuition policy," says Conestoga College president John Tibbits. "We recognize there is a certain level of funding that universities require to maintain a certain level of quality, but we stress that there is a ceiling where students will no longer be able to afford post-secondary education," says a University of Waterloo Federation of Students representative. The federation and its counterpart at Wilfrid Laurier University are members of the Ontario University Student Alliance, which is calling for a minimum one-year tuition freeze. Milloy says it is too early to tell what the next framework could look like, but affordability is considered a priority. "No framework should ever create a situation where a student can't access college or university for financial reasons," he says. "As the new minister I will continue to reach out to students about what it will look like." Waterloo Region Record

Laurentian aims to be among top 25% of Canadian universities in student satisfaction, engagement

This is one of the priority objectives Laurentian University outlines in its strategic mandate submission. Initiatives to reach this objective include securing and retaining highly talented faculty through multi-year planning and proactive recruitment. Laurentian plans to hire 90 faculty members to replace retiring colleagues by 2017. The university says teaching and learning excellence will be supported by a new Centre for Academic Excellence, created by the senate in 2010, with an incremental investment of $1.4 million by 2017. The institution is undertaking a $35-million campus modernization project, slated for completion by 2017. Laurentian says the project will allow for additional classrooms designed flexibly to accommodate various teaching-learning styles, a "front door/welcoming centre," "onestop" student services leveraging state-of-the-art technology, and new social and gathering spaces that foster a greater sense of community and belonging. Laurentian SMA

Study on teacher education raises concerns about apprenticeship model

"It was the hardest thing I ever had to do emotionally and mentally," states Nathalie, a university student undergoing teacher training and whose experience is highlighted in a Concordia University researcher's study on the student-to-teacher transition. In her university classroom, Nathalie is stimulated and encouraged to "approach teacher education through inquiry, development of interdisciplinary perspectives, collaboration with students and teachers, and ongoing reflective writing and visual expression." But she is stifled in her practicum, where her "sponsor-teacher" -- who is meant to be imparting wisdom, support, and guidance -- questions her authority and abilities. "The scope of Nathalie's emotional experience raises critical concerns about the apprenticeship model and the value of field experience," says the Concordia researcher, whose study brings into question whether such job placements are the most productive approaches to preparing a new teacher for the classroom. Concordia News Release | Abstract

Alumnus announces $1-million deferred gift to HEC Montréal

HEC Montréal announced Friday that entrepreneur and alumnus Aimé Quintal has offered the business school a $1-million deferred gift. Quintal announced the donation during an event last month at which he was paid tribute for his generosity to the school. HEC Montréal will use Quintal's testamentary gift to offer scholarships to talented students who might otherwise not have the financial means to pursue their education. HEC Montréal

Rotman admits largest-ever full-time MBA class

The University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management admitted this year the largest full-time MBA class in its history. The class, which will graduate in 2014, is composed of 313 students in 5 sections, up from 130 students in 2 sections in 1998. The increase is the first step in a growth strategy that will see the class size expand to an annual intake of 400 students. A key part of the strategy is to continue boosting the quality of students while the full-time MBA program grows. This year, the average GMAT score of the incoming class was 673 (median 680), up from the previous class average of 661. The program's executive director says that "while it is satisfying to have achieved our goals of recruiting the largest and most qualified class in the School's history, we now have to focus on ensuring that next year's cohort is bigger and better than this year's." 48% of students in the incoming class are international, representing 32 countries. 31% of students are female, and the cohort has an average of 4.5 years of work experience. Rotman News Release

Recent Western U grads surveyed give institution high marks

According to a survey of Western University's 2011-12 graduating class, 92.6% of respondents said they would recommend Western U to a friend, up nearly a full point from last year's mark of 91.7%. Library access via Web (41.6%), campus safety (36.1%), and library hours of operation (31.1%) topped support unit satisfaction. Quality of programs (44.4%), career-relevant programs (35.6%) and unique programs or specializations (32.5%) were the top reasons respondents cited for choosing to attend Western U. As for plans upon graduation, 27.5% of graduates surveyed said they had a job arranged, and of those 68.7% said the job was closely related to their studies. Western News | 2011-12 Survey of Graduating Students

Canada turns to India to mitigate skills shortage

Canada is exploring PSE partnerships as a form of "soft" diplomacy and as part of a global economic strategy that includes attracting Indian students to ease a growing skills shortage. "Canada is looking to take advantage of India's demographic profile," said the senior advisor to uAlberta's president on the sidelines of a PSE conference held last week in New Delhi. She noted that Canada has the second largest oil sands after Saudi Arabia, "but we don't have enough people to work. We have partnered with IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) Bombay, IIT Roorkee and oil companies such as India Oil to not only train Indian middle-level managers but also to attract students." At the conference, International Trade Minister Ed Fast highlighted Canada's interest in PSE partnerships in India, and in attracting Indian students to Canada. He said Canada was looking at investment in education as a form of soft diplomacy and a means of improving economic prosperity in both nations. University World News

International enrolment in US up nearly 6%

According to the Institute of International Education's 2012 "Open Doors" report, the number of international students at US PSE institutions rose by 5.7% to a record high of 764,495 in 2011-12. The growth is largely driven by strong increases in the number of students from China (23.1% overall), particularly at the undergraduate level (30.8%). The institute says large increases in undergrads from Saudi Arabia (31%), funded by Saudi government scholarships, also help explain why international undergrads studying in the US now outnumber international graduate students for the first time in 12 years. Canada is fifth among the top 25 places of origin of international students, with Canadians accounting for 3.5% of foreign students in the US in 2011-12. The proportion of Canadians studying in the US dropped by 2.6%, from 27,546 in 2010-11 to 26,821 in 2011-12. IIE News Release | Open Doors Data