Top Ten

February 8, 2013

McMaster to close Confucius Institute due to hiring issues

McMaster University will close its Confucius Institute at the end of July, severing a 5-year relationship with Hanban, the Chinese government agency that has hundreds of Institutes worldwide and 11 others in Canada. The move to sever the partnership comes in the midst of a human rights complaint against McMaster from a former teacher at the Institute. It was sealed by concerns over hiring practices that seemed to bar instructors Hanban hired and sent abroad to staff the schools from having certain beliefs. "It's really around the hiring decisions, and those decisions were being made in China," says a McMaster official. "We were uncomfortable, and felt that it didn't reflect the way the university would do hiring." The university's Chinese partners responded with a letter expressing "some disappointment," the official says. Chinese authorities have maintained that the Institutes are harmless, designed as a "bridge reinforcing friendship and co-operation between China and the rest of the world" through teaching the Chinese language and culture. The McMaster official says the university spent months making "a concerted effort" to save the partnership, but never got the assurances it needed. "We have a very clear direction on building an inclusive community, respect for diversity, respect for individual views, and the ability to speak about those." McMaster Daily News | Globe and Mail

Students' personal information jeopardized in computer theft at UoGuelph

University of Guelph students may have had their personal information compromised following a computer theft late last month at the institution. Last Wednesday, UoGuelph notified 20,000 students that information -- including SIN digits, names, addresses, and student ID numbers -- might be in the hands of thieves. The break-in took place on January 27 in a University Centre office. 15 computers -- both desk and laptops -- a handheld device, and a portable hard drive were taken. A UoGuelph official says one of the devices taken was used to transfer student information to other computers. Because that device was in constant use, it is unknown precisely what data was on it at the time of the theft. "We are taking this matter very seriously and are working diligently with the appropriate authorities, including the Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario," says the university's chief information officer. She says UoGuelph is reviewing operations to reduce the risk of recurrence and is taking all possible precautions to secure personal information. UoGuelph Campus Bulletin | Guelph Mercury

uLethbridge raises nearly $10 million in 2012

The University of Lethbridge reports that more than $9.89 million was raised in support of the institution in 2012, with 251 different areas impacted. As the university has evolved from a primarily undergraduate institution to one that offers both undergraduate and graduate programs, research opportunities for both faculty and students have experienced significant growth. "Through the support of our donors, we are able to further engage these research activities and provide a unique environment whereby students are exposed to research opportunities early in their undergraduate studies," says the VP of research. "This provides valuable experiences for our next generation of researchers." More than 950 new donors contributed to uLethbridge in the past year, while faculty and staff at the institution contributed nearly $200,000 to student scholarships and programs. uLethbridge News

6 business schools come together to promote Canadian MBAs

Some Canadian business schools have joined forces to promote Canadian MBA programs to both domestic and international students. The self-appointed group of 6, to be called the Canadian MBA Alliance, include the business schools at McGill, Queen's, UBC, uToronto, Western U, and York U. The aim of the group is to attract top international students to Canada but also to retain local talent. The group will hold 2-hour information sessions for prospective students in Calgary, Ottawa, and Vancouver, followed by events in other Canadian cities. Strategic international markets will be targeted later this year. Financial Times | Canadian MBA Alliance

Western U board approves environmental sustainability strategy

Western University's board of governors recently approved "Creating a Sustainable Western Experience," which represents the institution's clearest statement on sustainability to date. Setting down both 5- and 10-year goals, the document stresses the need to embed sustainability into every aspect of campus culture -- how the community lives, works, and learns. Among the strategy's 11 goals are: every student entering Western U having the opportunity to be exposed to the theory and practice of sustainability; students seeking expertise and knowledge in sustainability having access to curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate levels; and opportunities being made available to the entire Western U community, and beyond, to acquire education and experience in sustainability topics of interest and relevance. Western News | Creating a Sustainable Western Experience

HEQCO report assesses effects of student success programs

New research published by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario observes that programs aimed at supporting first-year students' academic and social needs do have a positive impact on grades, particularly for those with weaker GPAs, but show no indication of preventing students from dropping out or improving overall student satisfaction. The report discusses the evolution of George Brown College's Student Success Program (SSP) in 2 college programs over 3 academic years from 2008 to 2011. The report found that participation in at least one SSP initiative outside of class time was associated with higher GPAs, particularly for students with weaker marks. The programs had a strong effect in the fall term, suggesting these types of supports may be most beneficial to students early in their program. While there was no measurable impact of SSP on preventing students from dropping out of their program, the results for overall student satisfaction were mixed. The report notes that satisfaction rose in one program and decreased in the other, making any clear conclusion difficult. Research Summary | Full Report

Dual PhDs in Canada gain popularity

According to the findings of a recent survey on joint and dual PhD programs in Canada, a growing number of doctoral students are electing to study under a thesis supervisor at 2 universities - one in Canada and one abroad. This joint arrangement, commonly referred to by its French name, cotutelle, is most common with students studying at francophone universities in Quebec who are doing a joint degree with another institution in France. However, interest in cotutelles and other types of collaborative international programs has spread to the rest of the country. The survey, undertaken by Fred Hall, former vice-president of graduate studies at the University of Calgary, found that nearly half of the academic institutions that responded offered some kind of joint or dual PhD program. University Affairs

Employment edges up among Canadian youth

In its latest Labour Force Survey, Statistics Canada reports that employment edged up last month among 15- to 24-year-olds. The unemployment rate for this group dropped 0.6 percentage points to 13.5%. 15- to 24-year-olds in Alberta made the most gains in January with a 3.0 percentage point increase in their employment rate, and Manitoba recorded the highest youth employment rate, which sits at 63.7%. Statistics Canada | Labour Force Survey

uPhoenix launches "Let's Get to Work" ad campaign

The University of Phoenix has dropped its "I am a Phoenix" campaign, replacing it with another that uPhoenix marketers hope will "project a hopeful, positive message for America." uPheonix's new "Let's Get to Work" campaign reflects market research that found that many uPhoenix students do not enrol for a degree per se. "They come," says the university's chief operating officer, "for what the degree will do for them." The "hopeful, positive" aspect of the campaign started in September with a minute-long commercial narrated by "The Cosby Show" star Phylicia Rashad. The script makes no mention of uPhoenix (its name appears on screen at the end) but does remind viewers that, "for every one of those 3.7 million unfilled jobs, there's someone amazing out there who deserves a chance to show the world what they're capable of." Additional advertisements made their debut last month, including one called "Lucky Socks," which highlights the career connections students can make through uPhoenix's alumni network. The university has bought 63,000 pairs of the bright-red uPhoenix socks that appear on characters in the ad to send to alumni leaders. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | uPhoenix YouTube feed

UK university student marketing spending up 22%

According to a Times Higher Education investigation, UK universities boosted their spending on marketing to prospective students by nearly a quarter in the run-up to the introduction of higher fees, yet suffered a 7.4% drop in applications. Spending at the 70 universities that responded with data to a THE freedom-of-information request increased from £26.1 million in the 2010-11 financial or academic year to £31.9 million in 2011-12. This represents an increase of 22.4% (following a 0.1 fall from 2009-10 to 2010-11) and an average spend per university of £455,461. Spending rose at 53 universities, dropped at 14, and was static at 3. Times Higher Education