Top Ten

November 26, 2012

CAUT drops censure warning against uWaterloo, WLU over Balsillie School governance

Wilfrid Laurier University stated yesterday it is pleased that, after careful consideration, the Canadian Association of University Teachers decided not to support a motion of censure related to WLU's and the University of Waterloo's partnership in the Balsillie School of International Affairs. This past spring, CAUT passed a motion stating that it would impose censure on uWaterloo and WLU at its next council meeting unless the universities amended the governance structure for the Balsillie School to ensure academic integrity. "We believe the Balsillie School governance document protects academic freedom, academic program governance, and faculty working conditions by keeping them completely within the universities and separate from third-party influence," stated WLU. "However, in light of the issues raised by the CAUT, the Balsillie School partners developed a Memorandum of Understanding that provides additional clarification of the protections in the governance document. While providing additional clarity, the MOU does not alter the governance document itself." WLU Statement

TRU to cut spending on faculties, schools

Thompson Rivers University plans to save more than $1 million by reducing spending on faculties and schools. Sunday's TRU senate meeting reviewed budget savings plans that include eliminating some teaching positions and charging students for equipment the university used to provide at no extra cost. The faculties of arts; business and economics; and adventure, culinary arts, and tourism are among the academic units deciding to leave some vacant positions unfilled. In addition to charging students for equipment, the trades department is cancelling low-enrolment programs such as glazier, partsperson, motorcycle and power sports tech and joinery. The cuts are needed after the 2012 BC budget outlined a $70-million cutback to PSE institutions over the next 3 years. Kamloops Daily News

UBCO Social Work dropping bachelor program in restructuring

The UBC's Okanagan senate has decided to discontinue admissions to the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program in order to focus on Master of Social Work (MSW) level education. The director of UBCO's School of Social Work says the decision will allow "the school to reduce the number of courses taught while simultaneously developing highly specialized clinical, practice, policy and organizational evaluation courses." He says the school is "moving to an all-MSW program because both British Columbia and Canada have a growing need for highly trained, specialized graduate-level social workers." Students currently enrolled in the BSW program will be able to complete their current studies. In a recent vote, the move was supported by the overwhelming majority of social work faculty members. Clinical excellence will be the focus of the continuing development of the school, which, as of September 2014, will offer only the MSW program. UBCO News

ASSÉ to participate in preparations for Quebec higher education summit

The Quebec student group ASSÉ has agreed to participate in preparations for the province's Summit on Higher Education in February. But after a meeting Sunday in Quebec City, ASSÉ said it will hold a demonstration during the summit, and threatened to walk out of the summit if it determines the event's conclusions have been reached in advance. The 2-day summit will bring together students, universities, teachers, and the Quebec government. ASSÉ said it will push for free university education in pre-summit forums. It has developed a new website to promote the idea. ASSÉ also plans to organize a "non-partisan" meeting of student associations on December 1 and 2 in Trois-Rivières "to develop a common strategy for the summit." Montreal Gazette | (in French)

Loyalist aims to become Ontario Centre for Virtual Learning Technology

In its draft strategic mandate agreement, Loyalist College notes that it is on the forefront of virtual learning in Ontario. In 2006, Loyalist became the first Canadian PSE institution to set up a campus in Second Life, a multi-user online virtual environment. In 2011, the college started leading migration from public virtual worlds such as Second Life to its proprietary Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which launched this year. "With appropriate support," the SMA states, "Loyalist will become the Ontario Centre for Virtual Learning Technology, thereby increasing its enrolment, customizing learning technologies to better meet learner needs, and providing an ideal platform for virtual in-depth applied education." Loyalist says that if additional opportunities were provided, it would develop a mobile version of its VLE, research and evaluate the integration of end-user movement controls as well as new initiatives to reinforce immersive experiential learning as a powerful teaching and learning tool, and develop enhanced virtual learning modules ideal to create a new economic cluster in the college's region. Loyalist SMA

Competitive PSE market driving universities to be image conscious

When universities began talking about branding a decade ago, many academics worried their institutions were being transformed into commercial operations. But even critics are starting to see branding as a necessity in the competitive world of PSE. "It's about understanding what it is about a university that is better than any other university," says Academica Group's Ken Steele. He points to the University of Waterloo as an example. "At the core of its brand are the concepts of innovation, connection to high-tech industries and global research...whatever the slogan or ads might look like." Other examples include the University of Manitoba, whose evolving marketing campaign embraces typical stereotypes of Manitoba and features bold self-defining statements like "I am a trailblazer"; and Brock University, whose "Both Sides of the Brain" brand expression was inspired by students' perception of the character and uniqueness of the institution. 24 Hours Toronto (page 15 of Nov 26 isssue -- please select date from calendar in e-edition menu)

Labour market improving for PSE grads, CACEE report finds

According to the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers' 2012 Campus Recruitment and Benchmark Survey Report, PSE students graduating in 2013 will find an improving job market, especially if they've mastered core skills and are involved in co-curricular activities. According to a survey of 450 Canadian employers, core skills such as analytical ability, communication, and a strong work ethic are most valued by employers. Respondents also place a slightly higher premium on co-curricular involvement than on academic performance. The report notes that while the overall amount of on-campus employee recruitment will rise, as will the number of offers nationally, there will be a drop in BC and Ontario. The report also states that choice positions are going unfilled. Many employers surveyed were unable to fill the positions they had open. Of the total, one-quarter of vacant positions were for engineers, while almost 20% were in banking and finance. The report notes the average wage for new university graduate recruits in Canada dropped by 5% this year over last, and starting salaries for new graduate hires are not expected to rise significantly in the coming year. CACEE News Release

BC continues support of UVic's LE,NONET Project

The BC government announced Friday $200,000 in one-time funding to continue the University of Victoria's LE,NONET Project, originally a 4-year national research initiative aimed at helping Indigenous students succeed at university. According to findings released in 2010, between 2005 and 2009, UVic students who participated in LE,NONET experienced a 100% increase in term-to-term retention, a 20% increase in graduation rates, and a 67% reduction in withdrawal rates. Friday's announcement follows a $250,000 provincial investment in LE,NONET made in March 2011. BC News Release

uFlorida history profs protest differential tuition recommendation

University of Florida history professors have organized a petition against a gubernatorial task force's recommendation to charge more for majors without an immediate job payoff -- a recommendation the professors worry could discourage enrolments. Quoting the task force's language on differential tuition, one of the petition's creators says "the theory is that students in 'non-strategic majors,' by paying higher tuition, will help subsidize students in the 'strategic' majors, thus creating a greater demand for the targeted programs and more graduates from these programs, as well." Although the task force report does not officially recommend strategic majors, it lists several possible categories, which do not include core humanities disciplines. The task force's chairman says he wonders why humanities professors feel targeted by a plan to improve Florida's university funding system, which would improve the state university system overall. But critics argue that differential tuition could mean a less "richly educated" workforce and create a kind of brain drain away from Florida PSE. Inside Higher Ed

International students boost youth unemployment in Australia, report finds

Efforts by the Australian government to make studying in Australia more attractive to international students seem to have increased unemployment rates among the country's youth, according to a new study from Melbourne's Monash University. The study states tens of thousands of international students are successfully applying to various visas at the end of their studies so they can stay and work in Australia, in the hope of obtaining permanent residency. But the rapidly increasing number of temporary migrants, including students, tourists, and working holidaymakers, is causing rising unemployment among young Australians. "Inevitably, domestic job aspirants are being crowded out, particularly young people seeking to enter the workforce," the report's authors state. The study argues that Australia's intake of migrants is too high and that several of the major visa subclasses international students use to remain in the country need to be culled. University World News | Report