Top Ten

November 21, 2012

George Brown College grads win class-action lawsuit over misrepresented business program

A group of George Brown College graduates has won a class-action lawsuit against the institution for a program description that promised 3 credentials it was not qualified to confer. Of the 118 students represented in the suit, two-thirds came from other nations and paid $11,000 in tuition each for the 8-month International Business Program, which delivered none of the 3 added industry designations -- custom services, international freight forwarding, and international trade -- promised in the course calendar. It was these credentials that attracted students in the first place when the program launched in 2007, noted an Ontario Superior Court judge. Just before final exams, students learned George Brown had no deals with the industry associations that are required to be partners for such training, so no credentials would be conferred. "The students were, to say the least, disappointed. Some were devastated," reported the judge, who found the institution guilty of "negligent misrepresentation" and a breach of the Consumer Protection Act. "George Brown College is highly regarded, and deservedly so. But on this one occasion they were careless and made a mistake," the judge found, "and they should be held accountable." The judge has yet to hear arguments about what monetary damages the institution might owe students for time and money spent on designations it didn't deliver. George Brown changed the online description of the program after students complained, although it has not admitted it had been misleading. Rather, the institution said it had only meant to suggest students could begin preparing for those qualifications with the program. A George Brown spokesman said the institution cannot comment on a case still before the court, but that "George Brown works very hard to provide information that helps students choose the right path." Toronto Star

Uncertainty, disappointment among Quebec PSE community following PQ budget

The budget delivered Tuesday by the Parti Québécois leaves Quebec universities still unsure of how much or when they will be compensated for the annulled tuition increase. The Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities' director general says some elements of the budget were positive but others were worrisome. He acknowledges the PQ wants to leave the door open for the education summit planned for February, but notes there were uncertainties in the budget that were unsettling, such as a suggestion that funding used to compensate universities for the shortfall from the annulled tuition hike would have to be found in the existing budget. Unlike the PQ campaign platform, which promised $150 million to compensate universities over 5 years for the cancelled tuition increase, the budget only vaguely states the province "could compensate universities." Institutions were pleased the budget confirmed a commitment to the university funding plan, which projected $574 million in additional funding for Quebec universities by 2018-19. "There is no new investment in university research and this is a big concern," says the president of the student group FEUQ, who was disappointed in some elements of the budget. "We think the government is financing teaching and the tuition fee freeze with the budget from research." While students benefitted this year from increased financial aid that was put in place to offset the tuition hike, students were upset to see that next year aid will return to 2011-12 levels. Budget | Montreal Gazette | CREPUQ News Release (in French) | uMontréal News (in French)

Thousands of Cégep du Vieux Montréal students stage 3-day strike

More than 6,000 students at Cégep du Vieux Montréal initiated a 3-day strike on Tuesday. The strike is part of a student movement that is demanding the withdrawal of all criminal charges and penalties linked to last spring's tuition fee dispute in Quebec. On Monday evening, nearly 1,000 people voted at a general assembly in favour of staging a strike. A CBC reporter who visited the CÉGEP Wednesday morning said it was quiet, save for the occasional student who attempted to open the locked doors. The CBC reported that the CÉGEP would be closed until today, and normal activities would resume tomorrow. CBC

uWindsor union argues outsourced custodial work violates contract

CUPE members and supporters demonstrated Tuesday against a decision by the University of Windsor to contract out work done by custodial and maintenance staff at 3 campus buildings. CUPE claims the work now done by 29 employees in those facilities will be contracted out. Hourly employees are upset and fear the move by uWindsor is the first step in outsourcing even more union jobs. uWindsor president Alan Wildeman says no jobs will be eliminated due to the contracting out of custodial and maintenance work. "Right now, our focus is on areas where students frequent," Wildeman says. "We have more students on campus than before and we need to find affordable solutions to increase service at the same time protecting the employment of individuals here." CUPE disputes the university's claim that the move fully respects the collective agreement. The union considers the contract work the same as a layoff because unionized workers are being moved out of the facilities they work in and no new full-time unionized hires are being made. CUPE is seeking a legal opinion on the matter. uWindsor, meanwhile, says it is being fiscally responsible. CBC

Entrepreneurship education a priority for Georgian College

Entrepreneurship will be a signature learning experience at Georgian College, states the institution in its proposed strategic mandate agreement sent to the Ontario government. "Georgian will inspire students to not only look for jobs -- but to create them," the document says. The college says this will be achieved through the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre and a partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, as well as by integrating entrepreneurship education into Georgian's existing programs. The next phase of the college's Power of Education fundraising campaign will focus on enabling Georgian's entrepreneurship initiatives. The college says it is poised to partner with the City of Barrie to launch an entrepreneurship centre and will continue to support additional emerging opportunities across its region. Georgian SMA

UVic opens International Commons

On Monday, the University of Victoria celebrated the opening of its new Marnie Swanson International Commons. Through the International Commons, which is located in McPherson Library, international students can find academic help, information, resources, programming, and services to support their success. The initiative will also promote intercultural activities and events for both international and domestic students. The International Commons supports UVic's creation of an inclusive global community that enriches students through connection with their peers from around the world. The International Commons is dedicated to Marnie Swanson, who served as university librarian from 1988 to 2011, in recognition of her long and outstanding service to UVic Libraries. UVic Media Tips | International Commons

Trent "Luminaries" featured in university's new ad campaign

Trent University's new ad campaign is featuring a number of alumni and professors leading in their fields. The campaign uses photographic portraits and headlines that integrate the Trent identity with leadership statements. The first Trent "Luminary" profiled is bestselling author and alumnus Linwood Barclay. The campaign website features videos of Barclay describing his experience at Trent and how it prepared him for his career in writing thrillers. 5 additional leaders from Trent will be revealed over the course of the campaign, which is running through to winter 2013. Ads are appearing in Maclean's, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, community newspapers, subway posters, and online news websites. Trent Daily News | Trent University Luminaries

Western U students to get fall reading break

Western University's senate has approved a 2-day fall reading break for the last Thursday and Friday in October, effective next academic year. The reprieve will give students a 4-day long weekend to catch up on assignments or travel. "It has to be a break where students can leave school if they wish," says the chair of the student group that lobbied for the break. Late fall is one of the most stressful times for students, says a Western U nursing professor who already gives his fourth-year students a study break in the middle of October. Not only does it reduce stress, he says, but it also improves the quality of the students' work. While student feedback has been good, the new reading break could create hassles for faculties such as nursing that have to schedule students for labs or hospital clinical time. London Free Press

Canada's largest virtual PSE fair opens

Canada's largest online student life expo opened on Monday with more than 60 exhibitors. Bringing the traditional university fair experience online, the Canada Online University & College Fair Tour is designed to get students off to PSE on the right foot to maximize their career prospects upon graduation. Participating institutions include Dal, SFU, StFX, uAlberta, uCalgary, and uToronto. Visitors to the virtual fair can chat live with representatives from PSE institutions and student organizations on November 23 and December 1. The fair will run until January 15. In fall 2008 and 2009, both Maclean's and the Globe and Mail staged virtual fairs, which Ken Steele detailed in his blog at the time. DL Strategic News Release | Atlantic Fair | Central Fair | Western Fair

Push for US presidential commission to guide future of PSE

Carnegie Corporation of New York president Vartan Gregorian is working to drum up support for a new national commission of educators, business people, and civic leaders to be convened by US President Barack Obama "to work on the challenges facing higher education." Gregorian says a presidential-level commission in 2013 could have the same type of impact on the coming decades that the Truman Commission had after 1947, which led to the creation of many efforts that broadened educational access for post-WWII America. "The nation was ready for direction" then, Gregorian says. Such direction is needed again today, he argues, even as state and federal policymakers face daunting financial challenges. Gregorian says he envisions a presidential commission with the role of showing the US how all kinds of PSE institutions can serve society, and vice versa, "not to pit privates versus publics versus community colleges." It should be a chance, Gregorian says, for "a dialogue not with each other but with the nation." The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)