Top Ten

February 13, 2013

Former MUHC director ordered to repay McGill $252,000

A Quebec Superior Court judge has ordered Arthur Porter to repay McGill University more than $252,000 for failing to fully pay back a low-interest loan as well as a salary overpayment from his duties as a professor. The judge issued the ruling on January 25 by default, since Porter -- the former CEO of the McGill University Health Centre -- never appeared in court to defend himself. In November, McGill filed legal action against Porter, demanding the reimbursement. Montreal Gazette

ACAD needs to get financial reports in order, says Alberta auditor general

In a report released Tuesday, Alberta's auditor general said the Alberta College of Art + Design made improvements to its financial reporting following a series of recommendations from his office that began in 2008, but noted ACAD "is still unable to produce accurate year-end financial statements." An ACAD official says the institution has been working to improve its financial controls, as noted by the auditor general. In the auditor general's report a year ago, ACAD, along with MacEwan University, Olds College, Northern Lakes College, and NorQuest College, were identified as needing to significantly improve their accounting processes. The auditor general noted that MacEwan had made major progress in its financial practices, but problems continue at the other PSE institutions. Olds College has made improvements in the timeliness of its reporting, but still needed to do more to improve its processes and controls around its annual reporting. Auditor General of Alberta News Release | Calgary Herald | Report

Polytechnics Canada outlines priorities for next federal budget

Polytechnics Canada is calling on federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to consider 6 no-cost to low-cost measures in the next federal budget to help meet the government's goals of job creation, economic growth, and long-term prosperity. Among the organization's recommendations is using federal tendering criteria to create more apprenticeships. Another recommendation is for Ottawa to create an alternative to Employment Insurance for mature Red Seal apprentices or those in the later years of their program. Polytechnics Canada says this would encourage more workers to become qualified tradespeople by offering them the same financial support available to other PSE students. The organization also recommends that the government target new Labour Market Agreement funds to increase the number of pre-apprenticeship training programs at colleges and polytechnics. Polytechnics Canada News Release

BC throne speech hints at school of traditional Chinese medicine

In its throne speech, delivered Tuesday, the BC government said that in the months ahead, it will start work to create the environment for a school of traditional Chinese medicine at a provincial PSE institution. The throne speech also mentioned that in the coming days, the province will announce measures to help families of young children save for higher education. BC Speech from the Throne | Georgia Straight

Ryerson spending millions to cover food services provider's losses

Ryerson University has been spending millions to cover losses incurred by Aramark Canada Ltd., which runs the university's cafeterias and catering operations. In the past 5 years, Ryerson has covered more than $5.6 million in losses that Aramark had earlier agreed to assume under its contract with the institution. Ryerson's VP of administration and finance acknowledges the losses, stating that food services at the university have been an "expense for a significant period of time." She says Ryerson doesn't expect to make money from its food operations and considers the subsidy a cost of doing business. Although Ryerson's contract with Aramark expires in less than 4 months, it has yet to put out a call for tenders. Ryerson officials say the institution has issued a "food expectations survey" to students, held focus groups, conducted research, and consulted with professionals in order to figure out how to make improvements before it issues a request for proposals. Student leaders worry the Amarak contract will simply be renewed, sparking a battle among students who want to replace Aramark's food with higher quality, more affordable offerings. Toronto Star

TWU produces formal statement of Student Learning Outcomes

Trinity Western University has put together a formal statement of Student Learning Outcomes. The outcomes in the document include knowledge and its application, cognitive complexity, social responsibility and global engagement, leadership, inter- and intra-personal wellness, and spiritual formation. The document is the culmination of a 3-year venture in response to the BC advanced education ministry's movement toward using student learning outcomes in their formal program reviews with all provincial universities. The document was developed with input from faculty, staff, students, and alumni, and was unanimously passed by TWU's senate in November. Though never previously documented in this manner, the outcomes have been central to a TWU education since its early days. Student Life has maintained a program of learning outcomes since 1999. "We've tried to capture something we already see going on," says the senate's chair. "We're just putting a name to what's unique about TWU." TWU News | TWU Student Learning Outcomes

More PSE spots urgently needed in Surrey, argues business group

The number of post-secondary student spaces in BC's South Fraser region needs to triple by 2025, or Surrey will suffer both socially and economically, argues the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) in a new position paper. The document says that with 940,000 residents, Surrey and the South Fraser region are the fastest-growing areas of BC and yet there is relatively little local access for those wanting to attend PSE. While the area produces 22% of the province's secondary school graduates, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Simon Fraser University's Surrey campus together provide less than 13 spaces per 100 residents ages 18 to 25. The rest of BC gets 4 times the number of seats, according to the SBOT. The board's CEO says there needs to be a firm commitment from the BC government to invest in a phased-in approach that will triple the current number of PSE spots in the next 12 years. SBOT News | Surrey Leader | Paper

Centennial opens Culinary Arts Centre

Yesterday Centennial College formally opened its new Culinary Arts Centre at its Progress Campus. Centennial's $3.5-million renovation established 2 large professional kitchens and a bakeshop lab totalling 7,600 square feet. In addition to traditional grills and deep fryers, students will make use of a Tandoori oven, wok line, combi ovens, a brick-lined pizza oven, a smoker, baker's ovens, and magnetic induction cookers -- all state-of-the-art equipment found in the best professional kitchens. The centre is a hands-on teaching facility, with students working alongside instructors. Classes make use of large-screen video equipment to record and play back instructive lessons. Centennial Media Advisory

Concordia president on differential tuition fees

Writing for the Globe and Mail, Concordia University president Alan Shepard says one way to ease the university funding dilemma in Quebec would be to levy differential tuition fees, where students pay a greater portion of the true cost of their instruction by discipline. Shepard says this could be balanced upward to reflect higher potential earnings for graduates of fields like law and medicine, or downward to account for lower potential earnings in other fields. Differential tuition fees could be tailored to encourage the participation of students who are the first in their family to attend university. Shepard writes that one big challenge in Quebec, which has the lowest university attendance rate in the country, is to attract students to university in the first place. "We need to spell out better the career and life opportunities opened up by higher education as well as the substantial financial aid available," Shepard says. "And we need better support to help students get all the way through our programs to graduation from university." Globe and Mail

TDSB students surveyed worried about future

Toronto public secondary students are more concerned about their future than their relationships or family matters, and more than half of them say they are losing sleep over their worries, a new report suggests. The Toronto District School Board's latest census of its students observes that 73% of students between Grades 9 and 12 says they are concerned about their future, compared to just 46% and 36% of respondents who were worried about family matters and relationship issues, respectively. 59% of responding Grade 7 and 8 students said they were worried about their future, compared to 45% concerned over family matters and 29% worried about relationship issues. Approximately two-thirds of high school students said they were under a lot of stress, sometimes or all of the time, and 40% of Grade 7 and 8 students felt they were under a lot of stress. The results of the 2011 census, which yielded responses from more than 103,000 students in Grades 7 through 12, will be used to develop a mental health strategy, says a TDSB spokeswoman. TDSB News | CBC