Top Ten

November 28, 2012

Queen's releases final report on mental health strategy

Yesterday the Principal's Commission on Mental Health at Queen's University released its final report, making 116 recommendations for improving students' mental health. The result of a year-long consultation with the Queen's community and health professionals, the report suggests a range of actions, such as reconsidering class and exam scheduling to reduce stress on students, expanding mental health awareness sessions to all faculty and staff, and exploring an "early intervention protocol" that would spur a response to students displaying signs of academic or personal problems. The report targets its suggestions at the transition to university life and at making students more resilient, but also concentrates on promoting "a healthy community," encouraging comfort with seeking and providing help, and strengthening the institution's response through counselling and disability services. Queen's News Centre | Globe and Mail | Report

McGill's new protocol on demonstrations still too restrictive, critics say

After a 5-day student occupation of its James Administration Building last February, McGill adopted a provisional protocol to set parameters on acceptable and unacceptable forms of activism on campus. A revised protocol, to be made public Friday, will still undergo consultation before heading for senate approval at the end of January. Still, some students and employees argue the document is still far too restrictive and would unjustly limit free speech on campus. On Tuesday, some campus groups participated in a Protest the Protocol event in a bid to prevent the adoption of the protocol, which one union argues "conflates mere inconvenience with violent disruption and therefore tramples on the right of McGill community members to express all but the weakest forms of political dissent." Montreal Gazette

Kwantlen student threatens legal action against student union over pro-life group status

A Kwantlen Polytechnic University student is preparing to take the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) to court after it refused to let him create a registered campus pro-life club because it conflicts with its pro-choice position. The student has warned KSA that it has until today to give his group official club status or he will seek a court order that KSA "cease from its illegal discrimination" on the basis of belief. A KSA representative says the student union is mandated to spend money in ways that support its pro-choice position -- because the pro-life group would get funding as a registered club, it didn't meet KSA's standards. However, the club could qualify as a "recognized group," the KSA official says; these groups get access to room bookings and advertising through KSA but no funding. KSA has asked the student's lawyer to extend his deadline to December 7, when its executive will have the results of a review of the student's complaint. The lawyer says court action will be filed Friday morning if KSA does not give the club its status by today. National Post

Aboriginal education a key priority for Sault College

One of the priority objectives Sault College outlines in its strategic mandate submission is the development of an Aboriginal Centre of Excellence, part of a need to expand PSE offerings for the Aboriginal population. Sault College plans to boost delivery of educational programs to 15 Aboriginal communities within 2 years through the development of a cohort of community-based Aboriginal adjunct professors, full-time faculty, and student support. The institution's goal is Aboriginal achievement that equals or exceeds that of non-Aboriginal learners. As it implements in-community partnerships, Sault College will disaggregate its outcomes data to try to identify parity of performance relating to participation, success, satisfaction, and employer satisfaction between the institution's Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations. Sault College SMA

Submission proposes new process for assessing Ontario universities' research performance

Writing for the National Post, University of Toronto professor Ian D. Clark uses California's public university system as a guide for his policy idea to make Ontario universities more productive. "Ontario would get more research and more teaching for its tax and tuition dollars if, like California, it adopted a university funding model that encouraged the minority of faculty who are productive researchers to do more research and the majority to do more teaching," writes Clark. He suggests the province could do this by allocating up to quarter of the $3.5-billion operating grant among its 20 universities based on the research contribution of their faculty. Clark sketches out a process for calculating research contribution in his response to the Ontario government's PSE discussion paper. National Post | Clark Response

$1-million gift to uRegina supports campus renewal project

Yesterday the University of Regina's College Avenue Campus Renewal Project received a $1-million contribution that will support the revitalization of Darke Hall, a performing arts venue. This is the largest donation from one of uRegina's alumni and the benefactor wishes to remain anonymous. The gift brings the total funds raised for the renewal project to nearly $4 million. Once its revitalization is complete, the College Avenue campus will be known as the University of Regina Leadership and Outreach Centre. uRegina News Release

Humber culinary education first in Canada to be recognized by World Association of Chefs' Societies

Humber College's School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism is the latest -- and the first Canadian -- educational program to receive international recognition through the World Association of Chefs' Societies (WACS) Recognition of Quality Culinary Education program. The highest award in the culinary world, the honour specifically recognizes Humber's culinary and pastry programs in meeting or surpassing WACS standards of quality culinary education. "Our goal is to graduate knowledgeable and skilled chefs who are ready to work in any kitchen in the world," says the school's dean. "This recognition will help us to innovate so that we continue to produce world-class chefs." Humber News Release

Survey gauges Alberta, BC institutions' perspective on online learning

According to a survey of 18 PSE schools in Alberta and BC, online learning is a key direction of every respondent. The survey observes that quality assurance is the most important issue facing online learning, and increasing student access is the most important aspect to each educational mandate. The findings suggest that managing growth in online learning is complicated by several factors, such as varying levels of faculty engagement, the need for more robust policy development, the scope and character of supporting resources, and the roles academic units play. All responding institutions expect a continued increase in online programs over the next 3 years, with 60% anticipating growth in excess of 10%. Institutions see a changing landscape of online learning, with 61% of respondents identifying mobile learning apps as one of the most important developments in the next 3 years. Other emerging topics include tablets; e-textbooks; open education policies, licences, and resources; and the integration of social media into formal learning. eCampusAlberta News Release | Executive Summary

uOttawa unveils new website

On Tuesday, the University of Ottawa launched a new website, whose design was based on user needs and wants. For example, "students have told us they want all links to critical academic and service information on one page, and this is what we have delivered for them," says uOttawa's web communications director. Among the changes is the addition of a "Quick Links" feature to every page, allowing visitors to access the most commonly searched content in a more systematic way. Other new features include a link to the events calendar -- uoCal -- integrated into every page, and a new Social Media page under the "Media" tab to help students, faculty, and staff stay connected. uOttawa Gazette | uOttawa website

Missouri community college takes on for-profits in ad comparing tuition rates

Ozarks Technical Community College is naming names in an ad campaign that touts how its tuition compares to for-profit institutions. A TV ad the Missouri-based college unveiled last week compares Ozarks' $3,300 (US) annual cost of tuition, fees and books to that of 4 for-profits, whose costs range between $14,000 to $32,000. The community college sector generally refrains from duking it out directly with for-profit institutions, which have much bigger marketing budgets. But that may change as community colleges, like the rest of PSE, strive to demonstrate a return on investment to an increasingly skeptical public. Ozarks' chancellor says the purpose of the campaign is to help prospective students and their families be better informed about PSE costs. The chancellor says students often do not know how affordable the college is, or how its costs stack up against for-profit schools. Ozarks backs up its assertions in the ad with US Department of Education data. Inside Higher Ed