Top Ten

January 28, 2013

StFX faculty association members go on strike

More than 400 faculty members, librarians, lab instructors, and extension staff at St. Francis Xavier University are on strike and started picketing yesterday morning. A last-ditch effort by StFX and the Association of University Teachers (AUT) to ward off labour action ended last week after 2 days of talks. 3 weeks ago, AUT rejected an offer by StFX to increase salaries by 6.9% after the association said it was arguing for a raise of 10% or 11% over 4 years. AUT is also arguing for better working conditions, permanent status for teachers who are hired on contract, and expanded health and dental benefits. Administration has said AUT's demands have been "well beyond the university's financial capability." All classes at StFX have been postponed until further notice. Chronicle-Herald | CBC | Negotiation Updates

CNC faces $1-million shortfall next year

The College of New Caledonia is facing a projected budget deficit of about $1 million in 2013-14, the board of governors heard during its meeting Friday. According to a budget development update report provided by CNC's senior administration, costs continue to climb at the BC-based institution, while overall funding has not kept pace. The board heard administration plans on asking it next month to approve up to a 2% increase in tuition for the 2013-14 academic year. At the February 22 board meeting, CNC president John Bowman will present preliminary options and recommendations for addressing the projected shortfall. "These options will include a combination of reduced expenditures, reallocations of unused budgets, and inclusion of deferred and other revenues in the budget as well as a limited number of early retirement incentives and voluntary severance packages." CNC News Release

Lambton College unveils new strategic plan

Last Friday, Lambton College released its 2013-18 strategic plan, "Moving Forward with Focus." Lambton's 6 strategic priorities include enhancing the Centre of Excellence in Fire & Public Safety, establishing a Centre of Excellence in Energy and Bio-Industrial Technologies, and renewing the campus environment—including the construction of a new Health & Science Centre, a new Student Centre and Athletics Complex, and the conversion of more traditional classrooms to learning studio space. Lambton also commits to becoming a mobile learning college by 2016, with students able to access course curriculum and resources using their own mobile devices, and to strengthening partnerships with the local First Nations community. (Academica Group consultants Ken Steele and Jacqueline Schach facilitated the development of this plan—let us know if you would like to discuss your own strategic planning process!) Sarnia Observer

Ontario increases education funding for youth in child welfare system

The Ontario government announced last week it is investing an additional $24 million annually to help current and former Crown wards complete secondary school, attend PSE, and cover living expenses when they leave foster or group home care. Beginning in September, the government will provide $500 per month to 21- to 25-year-olds who are enrolled in OSAP-eligible PSE and training programs to help with living expenses. Approximately 1,600 former Crown wards are expected to be eligible for the new funds. Also in September, the government is partnering with 11 PSE institutions to provide full tuition of up to $6,000 a year to an estimated 300 current and former Crown wards. This is in addition to an Ontario grant program that already covers 50% of tuition costs, up to $3,000 annually, for current and former Crown wards. Ontario News Release | Toronto Star

More Ontario university applicants selecting UOIT as their first choice

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology reports that it has received 1,458 first-choice applications for next September, representing an increase of 6.7% over last year. UOIT has received more than 8,000 applications to date from Ontario secondary school students -- a 4.6% year-over-year increase. UOIT News Release

Centennial to take over assets of Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness

Effective January 31, the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness (CCEP) will cease operations and award its assets to Centennial College's Emergency Management and Public Safety Institute (EMPSI). EMPSI's commitments to the CCEP include enhancing the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness Awards in conjunction with the World Conference on Disaster Management, establishing the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness Scholarship Endowment Fund, and nurturing the EMPSI into a centre of excellence. Centennial News Release

UoGuelph educational leadership program receives accreditation

The University of Guelph's Centre for Open Learning and Educational Support has earned international accreditation for a program that fosters educational leadership through faculty engagement. The UK-based Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) has accredited UoGuelph's Educational Leadership in Teaching Excellence (EnLITE) program. SEDA is a professional association for faculty and educational developers that promotes innovation and good practice in PSE. UoGuelph is the third North American institution to earn this accreditation. The EnLite program promotes professional development and engagement in teaching and learning. One part of the program focuses on enhancing teaching practices, the other on enhancing research practices. At Guelph

Selkirk College launches new website

We've recently noticed that BC-based Selkirk College has redesigned its website. Visitors to the homepage can manipulate the large graphic banner, which highlights several programs offered at Selkirk. Above the banner are tabs that, when clicked on, drop down menus with links to information pertaining to programs and courses, admissions, tuition and financial aid, services, and news and events. At the bottom of the homepage visitors will find links to Selkirk's Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel. Selkirk College website

U. of Wisconsin system to offer competency-based degrees

University of Wisconsin officials tout the UW Flexible Option as the first to offer multiple, competency-based bachelor's degrees from a public university system in the US. Officials encourage students to finish their education independently through online courses. No classroom time is required under the Flexible Option with the exception of clinical or practicum work for certain degrees. Under the program, assessment tests and related online courses are being developed by professors who normally teach the related subject-area classes, says the system's president. Officials plan to launch the full program in the fall, with bachelor's degrees in subjects such as diagnostic imaging and information technology, as well as bachelor's and master's degrees for registered nurses. Fees for tests and related online courses have not been set, but officials say the Flexible Option should be "significantly less expensive" than full-time resident tuition, which averages at about $6,900 (US) annually at Wisconsin's 4-year campuses. Wall Street Journal

Millions of US grads have jobs that don't require college degree, report finds

According to research from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, millions of US college graduates overall -- not just recent ones -- are affected by a mismatch between education and employment, having jobs that do not require a college degree. The study says nearly half of all US college graduates in 2010 -- some 3 years after the recession started -- were underemployed, working in relatively low-paying and low-skilled positions. According to a report on the study, out of 41.7 million working graduates in 2010, 48% -- more than 20 million people -- held jobs that required less than a bachelor's degree. 37% held positions that required no more than a secondary school diploma. The report's authors used employment figures from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics to calculate that the number of college graduates is growing at a rate disproportionate to the number of positions requiring a degree. They question whether the US spends too much on PSE, and ask whether society can afford to subsidize PSE for graduates who end up holding jobs they could have gotten without attending college. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Report