Top Ten

November 16, 2012

uSask suspends Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus operations

On Thursday, the University of Saskatchewan announced an immediate suspension of courses and activities at its Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus, north of Prince Albert. The suspension will be through to 2016, during which time the campus's future will be re-examined. The 77-year-old campus, which has maintained a focus on the arts and ecology, is in need of millions of dollars in repairs to bring it up to current standards -- money that uSask does not have at this time. The suspension is expected to save uSask $500,000 in operating expenses over 3 years. uSask On Campus News | CBC | Canadian Press

uRegina faculty concerned over plans for possible budget cuts

Last Wednesday, nearly 70 University of Regina professors gathered in a town-hall meeting to raise questions about proposed changes to faculty structures and cuts if the Saskatchewan government doesn't increase funding to uRegina. Faculty members are now being asked to consider scenarios in which there are no provincial funding increases. The head of the English department and Faculty of Arts committee member says the only thing the committee could find to cut in such a scenario was the sessional and TA budget. Cuts to such positions would be devastating to the department, he says, because most uRegina students are required to take English 100, which is often taught by sessional instructors. Until the 2013 provincial budget is announced in March, uRegina administration will be exploring its options through a series of consultations and task force meetings. "We're looking as we allocate budget throughout the institution to the 10 faculties and 25 departments on how we make effective allocation of our resources to meet student demand," says uRegina's provost. Potential changes could reduce the number of faculties at the institution by combining them. Regina Leader-Post

Disclosing grade data could harm enrolment, reputation, Carleton says

In a Freedom of Information dispute with the Ottawa Citizen, Carleton University argues that disclosing student grade records, even without names attached, would result in economic harm by damaging its competitive position against other universities. Carleton filed legal submissions last month in response to an inquiry by Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner into the institution's handling of an open-records request from the Citizen. The newspaper made an FOI request for grade data last year in order to analyze trends in the marks Carleton awards to see if they have been subject to grade inflation over the past decade. In its submissions, Carleton expresses concern that the chance of getting good grades would become the main factor students consider in choosing a university. The Citizen maintains that prospective students decide where to study based on numerous criteria, and that adding grades to this list would not significantly alter their choices. If it does, the paper argues, that's all the more reason to share the data with all students. The Citizen also argues there is compelling interest in comparing marks from publicly-funded universities to ensure they are awarded fairly and are comparable from one institution to another. Carleton's arguments will be considered by an adjudicator, whose decision could be challenged in Ontario court by either party. Ottawa Citizen

Queen's honorary degree for Jimmy Carter upsets Jewish alumni

Queen's University is facing backlash from Jewish alumni following its decision to award former US president Jimmy Carter -- a strong critic of Israel -- an honorary degree this Wednesday. The CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) says his group has received about 50 "angry and frustrated inquiries" in the past month from Queen's graduates, who are worried their alma mater will be tarnished by Carter's view of Israel as an apartheid state and his controversial relationship with the Arab world. Carter and his wife are expected to attend convocation Wednesday to accept the degrees honouring "their philanthropic and advocacy work in areas such as housing and mental health," according to statement from Queen's principal Daniel Woolf on the institution's website. While he's sure Queen's fully intends to honour Carter for his human rights work, CIJA's CEO says the institution "failed to do their due diligence that would have flagged [his views on Israel] as problematic." One Queen's graduate says he had a "freakout moment" when he received news of the honorary degree in an alumni e-mail. The alumnus wrote a letter to Queen's chancellor David Dodge, then forwarded it to Woolf. The principal responded, in part, by saying: "While I regret that the committee's decision displeases you, it is a broad-based committee whose work we value and whose choices we support." National Post

Students' right to strike to be discussed at Quebec education summit

Quebec Higher Education Minister Pierre Duchesne says he is willing to consider officially enshrining the right of students to strike. He argues that this year's tuition-hike protests became a crisis for Quebec society because the previous Liberal government chose to view the red square movement as a class boycott rather than as a strike. Duchesne says an official recognition of a right to strike would prevent confrontations between strikers and students who want to continue attending classes. The minister says the idea will be discussed at the education summit in February. CJAD 800

Centennial proposes Centre for Degree Completion

In its draft strategic mandate agreement sent to the Ontario government, Centennial College says it intends to establish a Centre for Degree Completion. The purpose of the centre, says Centennial, is "to expand our degree offerings as well as increase our capacity to develop collaborative and joint partnerships with interested universities for degree completion and to position us as a lead institution in the transformation of advanced diplomas to three-year degrees with baccalaureate completion." The centre would offer students supports and services to improve access and mobility between PSE institutions and identify individual educational development plans to determine the quickest and most efficient pathway to degree completion. Centennial SMA

$2-million bequest brings science labs to WLU Brantford

A $2-million bequest from the estate of a local chemist has allowed Wilfrid Laurier University's Brantford campus to broaden its program offerings to include biology and chemistry, and launch its new Bachelor of Arts and Science in Health Studies. The gift from William Martin, who passed away in 2010, also allows the campus to provide lab space for faculty and student research. In recognition, the William Nikolaus Martin labs will officially open tomorrow. WLU News Release

STU opens Frank McKenna Centre for Communications and Public Policy

St. Thomas University has launched a new centre designed to educate the next generation of Canada's communications and public policy leaders. Named for the former New Brunswick premier, the Frank McKenna Centre for Communications and Public Policy will organize symposia and conduct policy forums, as well as regularly bring speakers to campus as part of a Distinguished Speakers Series. The first speaker in the series was former prime minister Paul Martin, who delivered his speech after the centre's launch last Tuesday. "The modern study of communications now demands an understanding of the complex ways of engaging citizens rather than simply informing them," says STU president Dawn Russell. "And this conversation happens while public policy is being developed, approved, and then implemented. As an institution of higher learning, we want to explore this change. And we want to educate our students to excel in this profession, for whatever cause inspires them." STU News Release

Top high school students in Ontario plan early for PSE, report finds

High-achieving students in Ontario plan earlier for PSE and most consider it as a given in their lives, according to new research from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Top students were more likely to enrol in science and engineering programs than the general student population, and less likely to pursue business and the arts. The report notes that in 2008, 80% of the highest-achieving students enrolled in an Ontario university, down 6 percentage points from 1994, and the students tended to be clustered among just 5 institutions. According to counsellors and advisors interviewed for the study, many high-achieving students cited the desire to go to an elite, prestigious institution and felt few Ontario or Canadian institutions met that standard. However, those who did enrol in Ontario universities wanted a unique educational experience and sought out programs with smaller class sizes, more contact with professors, innovative teaching strategies, and interdisciplinary approaches. Many counsellors and advisors interviewed noted the limited number of such program options in Ontario. Research Summary | Full Report

NAIT opens student advising centre

On Thursday, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology opened its first student advising centre, where students can explore academic options, learn about new pathways, and enhance their experiences at the institution. NAIT says the centre represents an important aspect of its new academic model, currently being implemented. The model allows for more flexibility, including the ability to explore options by taking classes in different programs areas, and provides more part-time and online course options. "We are very excited about the opening of The Advising Centre and what it means for NAIT," says the institution's provost. "As students benefit from the increased flexibility and number of pathways created by the new model, we recognize the need to provide them with central advising services to help guide them in their decisions." One new pathway at NAIT is Trades to Degrees, which gives certified tradespeople the opportunity to move directly from a trades certificate to the third year of a degree program. NAIT News Release