Top Ten

February 6, 2013

DeVry to close Calgary campus

The DeVry Institute of Technology will shut down its Calgary campus and go completely online beginning in July. Ranil Herath, president of DeVry in Calgary, says the move will make for a better student experience. The Calgary Herald reports that students at the private PSE institution are saddled with larger debts when they complete their studies and are up to twice as likely to fall behind on student loan repayments as those at publicly funded institutions. In the wake of news of the campus's impending closure, critics say loan default data show why the Alberta government should never have given DeVry the right to grant academic degrees a decade ago. "This is proof the primary preoccupation of private schools like DeVry is to get students in the door, not on ensuring they get a quality education," says Canadian Association of University Teachers executive director James Turk. "The government often gets left holding the bag when they default." Herath says the numbers also reflect the socio-economic background of students and the unique challenges they face. "Our students are often the first generation to attend a post-secondary institution and holding down a full-time job or supporting a family while going to school," he says. "I would expect students with like demographics at other schools would have similar default rates." Calgary Herald | CBC

Quebec PSE summit offering few details, says McGill principal

With Quebec's PSE summit approaching, McGill University principal Heather Munroe-Blum says there is still no sign of an agenda, guest list, or which proposals will be debated to solve the problems facing the province's universities. "I've attended two of the pre-summits and haven't seen any evidence of constructive proposals being put on the table to debate or discuss," Munroe-Blum says. But she is welcoming any effort "to get through this impasse which has us now deeply underfunded and has the university sector and importance of post-secondary education diminished in the eyes of the public. We really need a breakthrough." Munroe-Blum is pleased the idea of differential tuition has been raised and would like to see it debated at the summit. She prefers it to the idea of indexing tuition fees to the cost of living, which the PQ government seems to favour. Student groups remain opposed to both indexation and differentiation. Whatever new type of funding formula is eventually settled upon, Munroe-Blum says the bottom line is that universities need everyone who benefits to contribute a fair share according to their ability. Montreal Gazette

uWindsor president commits to making institution a preferred destination for more students

In an address Tuesday, University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman said the institution must become a "preferred destination for more students" if it hopes to reverse a trend of lagging enrolment and chronic underfunding. In the past 2 decades, enrolment at competing Ontario institutions rose between 44% and 110%, while uWindsor enrolment lagged, Wildeman said. That problem has been worsened by a government trend to align enrolment more closely to funding, he said. The completion of the engineering building, the relocation of campuses downtown, and the location of the border with the US can ensure the institution is able to increase enrolment by improving the student experience, Wildeman said. One way to offer a unique education experience is for uWindsor to focus on its location and stress programs that fit area needs. "Let's be known as a place that is about healthy Great Lakes, viable and safe communities, sustainable industry and understanding borders," he said. "I would bet in a blind test, if someone listed those themes, the University of Windsor would be the only institution you would pick as being the place where that particular set of grand challenges is being pursued." uWindsor Daily News | Windsor Star

Measuring learning outcomes gaining support

A rising number of universities are adopting student learning outcomes as a means of ensuring degree quality, as well as helping students transition between institutions within Canada and abroad. It is not an entirely new concept -- learning outcomes and competencies are common in professional programs like business and medicine, often to meet accreditation standards. But now universities are moving toward campus-wide learning outcomes. For example, the University of Guelph recently adopted 5 learning outcomes for all its degree programs. Other institutions, following in the footsteps of their global peers, are also contemplating adopting learning outcomes, but the trend has not been universally accepted. Some professors vigorously oppose learning outcomes, arguing that they infringe on their academic freedom and autonomy over how courses should be designed and delivered. Some consider the trend as the creep of corporate sector quality-assurance methods in education, threatening to diminish universities to little more than training institutions. University Affairs

uCalgary Nursing launches 4-year strategic plan

The University of Calgary's Faculty of Nursing has launched a 4-year strategic plan that will map its path to the institution's 50th anniversary in 2016 and beyond. The plan highlights 3 pillars that closely align with uCalgary's "Eyes High" strategic direction: creating a culture of community (includes strategies designed to share knowledge, experience, and expertise and more actively seek partners for innovation that promote nursing excellence); excellence in scholarship of teaching, learning, and practice (focuses on advancing exceptional learning environments for students and supporting developments in nursing practice); and strengthening research and knowledge translation (aims to develop the nursing faculty's research capacity through the recruitment of new research talent, including 4 professorships, 2 research chairs, and a strong investment in research supports for faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows.) UToday | Strategic Plan

RRC recruiting in India

Building on the success of its relationship with China, Red River College is actively recruiting in India this week and will sign agreements with 5 educational institutions to bring hundreds of new students to Manitoba. The enrolment of Indian students will increase opportunities for Manitoba students and help address the province's skilled labour shortage. This year the college has more than 150 students from China alone, and another 380 from several other nations, enrolled at 3 campuses. These models will be repeated to attract students from India with 5-year agreements. After recruiting in India, RRC will target more foreign students working with sister campuses and educators in South America. RRC News

Concordia to offer Canada's first BA in Canadian Irish Studies

The Quebec government has approved a 42-credit major in Canadian Irish Studies at Concordia University, and as a result the institution will be the first in Canada to offer a BA in Canadian Irish Studies. Concordia notes that while a handful of North American universities offer a degree in Irish studies, it is the only university that closely links the examination of contemporary Ireland with its historical importance to Montreal, Quebec, and Canada. Applications are now being accepted for entrance to the major in the 2013-14 academic year. Concordia News Release

OCC report recommends fostering entrepreneurship in the classroom

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce follows up on its Emerging Stronger 2012 report with a new publication that identifies Ontario’s challenges and advantages with respect to economic growth, and sets outs some recommendations. Among them is fostering entrepreneurship in the classroom. "If we accept that culture accounts for at least part for the entrepreneurship gap with the US, then we must address it via the education system," the report states. "This includes building entrepreneurship via high school and university curricula, not just our MBA programs." Other recommendations include Ontario PSE institutions expanding recruitment initiatives aimed at international students, making commercialization part of university mandates, and allowing colleges to play a bigger role in driving innovation. OCC News Release | Windsor Star | Report

York U unveils new safety app

York University has developed a safety application for smartphone users. Available for iPhone and Android devices, the Safer Together app allows users to make direct calls to York U's Security Services and/or 911 emergency services. It includes a photo feature and a flashlight so users can take a photograph of a safety concern and send it to Security Services. The app also includes links to campus maps, goSAFE and Village Shuttle information, and information about the Centre for Human Rights and the Sexual Assault Survivors Support Line & Leadership. The app also comes with a loud alarm that gives users who are concerned about their safety a way to draw attention to themselves. Y-File

MOOCs, tablet computing among top tech trends in 2013 Horizon Report

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) and tablet computers top the list of emerging PSE technologies in this year's Horizon Report, prepared by the US-based New Media Consortium. The report describes 6 technologies that are expected to influence teaching and learning during the next 5 years. The technologies are grouped into 3 tiers of varying time horizons: near term, midterm, and far term. Both MOOCs and tablet computing are expected to enter mainstream use within the next year, according to the report. Learning analytics and the ideas of "game and gamification" are listed in the second tier, of 2 to 3 years. 3-D printing and wearable technology are listed in the third tier, of 4 to 5 years. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Report