Top Ten

January 9, 2013

St. Clair president decries "preferential" treatment city gives uWindsor

St. Clair College president John Strasser is crying foul over Windsor city council's $10-million deal to help the University of Windsor establish a downtown campus. In a letter to the mayor and city councillors, Strasser decried the "preferential" treatment given to uWindsor, stating the college's expectation that the amount of city taxpayer dollars committed to attracting PSE students into the downtown should be "split evenly" between St. Clair and uWindsor. In response, Mayor Eddie Francis says city council's contribution is less than 20% of uWindsor's downtown investment. He says that figure compares to a 60% city share for the college's downtown investment in the St. Clair Centre for the Arts and the MediaPlex, each housed in facilities the municipality gave up for $1 apiece. "To claim that financing opportunities made available to the University of Windsor have not been made available to St. Clair College is simply false," Francis says in his letter. Windsor Star | CBC

Quebec university budget cuts creating unstable financial environment, says CREPUQ

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities says the $124 million in university budget cuts imposed by the province are dramatic and bound to have an impact on institutions' ability to fulfil their mission with respect to teaching, research and creation, and services to the community. "The universities are forced to make an impossible choice: either cut services significantly or mortgage their future by borrowing," CREPUQ states. "Most universities will have no option but to transfer the bulk, if not all, of the cuts to the current year’s deficit." Last month, Quebec Higher Education Minister Pierre Duchesne said that "overall, the financial framework for the 2013-2014 budget provides for a total envelope of $1.7 billion to be reinvested in higher education from 2012-2013 to 2018-2019." University leaders are greeting this announcement with caution, particularly given the amount indicated by Duchesne takes into account neither the cutbacks being imposed for the current fiscal year, nor those anticipated for 2013-14. "Given the ongoing contradiction between the government’s stated will to provide universities with adequate funding to fulfil their mission and the reality of budget cuts, how can universities possibly plan efficiently?" CREPUQ Statement

Canadian universities setting up foreign campuses with mixed results

The few Canadian PSE institutions to launch branch campuses overseas in recent years have encountered mixed success. For the University of Calgary-Qatar (UCQ), which opened in 2007 and focuses on nursing education, success has been slow to come, says uCalgary's provost. One major obstacle uCalgary faced at the outset was a widespread perception in Qatar that nursing was not an esteemed profession, and the university undertook a major advertising campaign to promote the value of nursing. The support of the wife of Qatar's ruling emir has been significant in the turnaround, the provost says. UCQ has now graduated some 40 students, enrolment stands at about 300, and there are plans to launch a master's program this year. Meanwhile, the University of Waterloo recently announced it will close its satellite campus in the United Arab Emirates in September due to low enrolment. The initiative didn't meet the "central strategic goals and expectations" of the university and its Dubai partner, says uWaterloo's interim AVP international. Foreign regulations are another obstacle for universities. York University's Schulich School of Business has broken ground on a branch campus in Hyderabad, India. The campus was slated to open in September, but continued delays by India's parliament in passing proposed legislation to allow foreign institutions to operate branch campuses there have raised questions about the project. University Affairs

MPHEC launches consultation process on university quality assurance with discussion paper

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission has released a discussion paper to launch a consultation process on the proposed approach to its second cycle of the university quality assurance monitoring process, which involves the validation by MPHEC of Maritime universities' quality assurance policies and procedures against collaboratively defined standards. MPHEC says undertaking a second cycle seems the best approach to address gaps identified in the first cycle: most policies tend to focus on faculty and resources; the process often fails to yield significant follow-up action; and quality of teaching, learning, and the student's overall experience are not at the centre of the process for most institutions. MPHEC will accept input through written response to questions posed in the discussion paper by February 15. A regional forum will take place March 25 where interested groups can reflect upon the input received in the first phase of consultation. MPHEC | Discussion Paper

Dal men's hockey team may be punished over alleged financial award misconduct

Dalhousie University's men's hockey team is bracing for punishment for alleged improper conduct regarding financial awards. Tuition and fees is the maximum award a student-athlete can receive in an academic year, but the men's hockey team may have paid some players too much, reports CTV. Last year, when administrators discovered possible wrongdoing, they disclosed the matter to Canadian Interuniversity Sport, which will decide if disciplinary action is needed. While a Dal spokesman says the details are confidential, 2 people close to the team -- one a former employee -- told CTV that several male hockey players were paid, or at least promised, financial awards that far exceed the per-player cap. CIS could hand down punishment as early as next week. News of the alleged misconduct follows last week's announcement of Dal's women's hockey team forfeiting the remainder of the season due to a hazing incident. CTV

Skills training plans for northern BC released

BC's Northeast and Northwest Regional Workforce Tables have completed their regional skills training plans and are ready to take action to help make sure northern BC communities have skilled workers to fill jobs. To produce the plans, the tables brought together key leaders from industry, employers, labour, First Nations, training service providers, educators, and economic development organizations to identify key opportunities in the regions and training required to address them. Goals outlined in the Northwest Skills Training Plan include providing students with a vision of a bright economic future in the region and increasing Aboriginal people's participation in high-demand occupations. The Northeast Skills Training Plan's objectives include increasing the pool of potential workers for high-demand occupations and enhancing skill development for new and growing businesses in the region. BC News Release | Northwest Skills Training Plan | Northeast Skills Training Plan

Laurier LaunchPad allows WLU students to create businesses for course credit

Wilfrid Laurier University and the Waterloo Accelerator Centre (AC) announced Tuesday a new partnership involving the Laurier LaunchPad, a program that enables students from all WLU faculties to set up strong, viable businesses for full-course credit. Once students have completed the course, they are encouraged to continue developing their venture by remaining in the program and using the LaunchPad's resources and programming. The partnership will integrate the LaunchPad program with the AC's Accelerator Program, providing entrepreneurial-savvy students and alumni with access to the Accelerator Program, including the use of the Laurier LaunchPad office located at the AC. WLU News Release

Ryerson to launch Ethical Leadership Education and Research Program

A recent donation from Jim Pattison, founder and CEO of The Jim Pattison Group, will support Ryerson University's Ted Rogers Leadership Centre to create The Jim Pattison Ethical Leadership Education and Research Program -- focused on educating Canada's next generation of business leaders. Every year, the program will offer ethical leadership workshops for undergraduate and graduate students and ethical leadership executive seminars for business managers, as well as support leadership research that will identify ethical leadership best practices. The Pattison donation will also help drive Ryerson closer to its $200-million goal for the Make Your Mark fundraising campaign. Ryerson News Release

Okanagan College launches upgraded mobile app

Okanagan College has released the third version of its mobile application, now available in both the Apple Store and Android market. The new version includes upgrades such as direct links to the library's mobile website, the college's social media feeds, and an enhanced interface. Through the app, students can quickly access their grades and schedule, ClassFinder, campus maps, and news. The app is also available in a mobile web version for individuals who cannot download and install apps on their devices. Okanagan College will soon release versions of the app for BlackBerry and Windows devices. Okanagan College News Release

Coursera to offer "verified certificates"

Coursera, a US-based provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), announced yesterday that students will have the opportunity to earn "verified certificates" for select MOOCs for a small fee. Called Signature Track, the option is available on a course-by-course basis and aims to verify the identity of the students doing the course work. Students who wish to obtain a verified certificate will have to decide early in the course and pay upfront. Coursera's verification system involves several steps, a key one being what company officials call "keystroke biometrics" -- analyzing each user's pattern and rhythm of typing to serve as a type of fingerprint. Coursera News Release | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)