Top Ten

January 31, 2013

Redeemer settles $6-million suit with families over tax deduction fund

Redeemer University College has settled a $6-million class-action lawsuit filed by the parents of some of the students at the Ancaster, Ont.-based Christian institution. The lawsuit by 450 families was over a fund that was supposed to give them generous tax deductions in exchange for donations. Instead, the Canada Revenue Agency refused to allow the donations, and charged the parents with back taxes and hefty interest. In the settlement, the parents will receive 10% of what they contributed and Redeemer will pay all the legal costs. The lawyer who represented the parents says the settlement is a fair deal. A Redeemer official says the institution settled with the parents because it was the right thing to do, but it still says it did nothing wrong. "We established this in consultation with the CRA, but then the rules changed to disallow donations from related people." Hamilton Spectator

StFX alumni urge professors to return to work

The St. Francis Xavier University Alumni Association has called on striking faculty members to return to work. "We hope the faculty union executive will consider continuing classes while negotiations continue so as to not disrupt students' academic careers," says an association letter addressed to alumni. "As StFX alumni, we know the university is committed to resolving this issue as quickly as possible, minimizing any impact to the entire StFX community and, most importantly, students. This strike will hurt StFX., both in reputation and future recruitment." The letter was signed by the alumni association's president and StFX's VP of administration. The Association of University Teachers' president says it was "inappropriate" for the alumni association to join with administration in producing the letter. As for calls for professors to return to class, AUT's president says faculty taught through last fall's negotiations, even though they were without a contract for several months. The alumni association's president says the alumni are not siding with either the administration or the AUT -- they are only advocating for a settlement. Chronicle-Herald

uRegina considers suspending or cutting several arts programs

Several arts programs at the University of Regina could be on the chopping block, reports the CBC. They include Latin America studies, double major in theatre arts, and bachelor of francophone studies. uRegina is considering either suspending the programs or eliminating them completely, largely due to low enrolment. The university's VP of external affairs says the proposed changes are coming from the faculties and are a routine process. "The faculties track them for a while and say look this isn't really something that's attracting any student base so we need to move on and put our resources somewhere else," she says. Final decisions will be made by the university senate on February 9. CBC

MUN dean calls for more women in engineering

Greg Naterer, dean of Memorial University's Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, is pushing for the increased participation of women in the university's engineering programs. Women have represented only between 23% and 27% of MUN's undergraduate engineering students over the past several years, and at the doctoral level only 15% of students are women. While these rates are high relative to other Canadian universities, Naterer would like to see the number at 50%. All universities should reassess their outreach efforts to make engineering more appealing to women, he says. Specifically, universities should promote engineering as a career that helps people and communities. "Studies have shown that one of the important factors that women look at, in terms of a career they want to select, is to have a positive impact on society, and make the world a better place," says Naterer. The Muse (student newspaper)

Students at UFV to cast vote on inter-city bus plan

The University of the Fraser Valley student union society is lobbying to hire a private shuttle bus to transport students between the Chilliwack and Abbotsford campuses and the issue will come up in a referendum vote in early March. Travel between the 2 campuses is significant, and will continue to increase rapidly as UFV moves more of its programming to the Chilliwack campus. Currently, the only transportation options for students who take courses at both locations are private car, taxi, or the Greyhound bus. In partnership with Abbotsford and BC Transit, the City of Chilliwack has already planned the cost, route, and schedule of the bus. It is now waiting for the issue to rise to top priority for all 3 partners, and hopes the new bus will be set up within the next year or 2. Should the plan be approved the service would cost $6.75 per student annually. Chilliwack Progress

Queen's Initiative Campaign set to meet fiscal year target

Queen's University reports that its Initiative Campaign has added another $30 million to its coffers since formally launching last September. The campaign is now well on track to reach its goal of raising $500 million for Queen's by 2016. $330 million has already been pledged toward the goal, which includes an additional $100-million in planned estate giving. Among the most recent donations is $1 million from Drs. Alfred and Isabel Bader, whose gift will be used to create a fund in honour of Robert Charles Wallace, who served as Queen's principal from 1936 to 1951. That fund will support refugee and international students who want to study at Queen's. Queen's News Centre

Cenovus Energy contributes to Lakeland's Centennial Campaign

Cenovus Energy announced Wednesday a $1.5-million donation to Alberta-based Lakeland College's Centennial Campaign, making it the largest private gift to the campaign to date. The gift will go toward the construction of a Petroleum Centre at the Lloydminster campus, as well as the creation of new scholarships for students. In appreciation of the donation, a simulation lab in the Petroleum Centre will be named the Cenovus Energy Lab. Lakeland News

Winter term enrolment rises at UQTR

For the fifth consecutive year, winter term enrolment has risen at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. Overall, 12,221 students were registered at the university by the deadline to drop courses (January 22), representing an increase of 4.4% compared to this time last year. The increase in the number of students was observed at all academic levels. The number of undergraduate students enrolled is up by 4.2%; enrolment at the master's level totals 1,550 students (+3.6%); and the number of doctoral students sits at 484, an increase of 10%. uQuebec News (in French)

MOOCs face some challenges before transforming education, says RRU provost

Pundits say massive open online courses (MOOCs) are going to topple ivory towers, but Royal Roads University provost Steve Grundy argues in the Victoria Times-Colonist that there are a few challenges MOOCs face before they can truly transform education. The quality of content distribution varies, and the quality of students' work is difficult to verify on such a large scale. MOOCs can play an important part in giving prospective students a taste of PSE and the confidence to pursue their goals, but at this point these courses are simply more content in an already crowded content environment, writes Grundy. "Admittedly, they will evolve and undoubtedly produce excellent content, but they have some distance to go before they replace the collaborative, team-based learning overseen by expert guidance that is the hallmark of our university." Victoria Times-Colonist

North Carolina governor proposes funding PSE based on students' ability to get jobs

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory told a national radio audience Tuesday that state community colleges and universities should be funded based on how well they do at placing students in the labour market. McCrory said he has instructed his staff to draft legislation "in which we change the basic formula and how education money is given out to our universities and our community colleges, not based on how many butts in seats but how many of those butts can get jobs." University of North Carolina president Tom Ross says the 16-campus system is already revising its funding formula to include measures relating to student achievement and academic and operational efficiencies. Still, he has reservations about gauging university success solely based on students' and graduates' employment rate. Associated Press |