Top Ten

February 15, 2013

Teaching quality declining along with number of profs, says Quebec prof union

Quebec needs to hire at least 800 new faculty members, and invest a minimum of $300 million annually, to maintain even a measure of quality in its universities, according to a new study by the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d'université (FQPPU). The union says the gap between the number of students and professors has been growing, while administrative costs have been soaring compared to teaching costs. With the number of faculty members waning, teaching quality is diminishing, FQPPU's president said at a press conference last Thursday. There are labs but no proper instruction to accompany them, he said, and it's now more difficult to offer specialized classes at higher levels because class size has swelled. Also, in a competitive, research-oriented environment, professors are forced to spend too much time securing research grants. FQPPU News Release (in French) | Montreal Gazette | Report (in French)

Ryerson profs want university to account for food services provider's losses

Ryerson University professors are upset with the institution's decision to spend more than $5.6 million to cover the losses of its food services provider, Aramark Canada Ltd., and they are determined to hold administration accountable. Among the faculty association president's concerns are where the funds came from, why Ryerson amended its contract with Aramark in 2006 agreeing to take on the risk, and why an audit was not conducted to look into the quality of Aramark's goods and services. Particularly perplexing is that all departments were asked to find 3% in potential cuts from their operating budgets, yet Ryerson found millions to give to a private company. The faculty association executive will meet on February 26, where it will discuss next steps. Ryerson officials have said the institution, with a small base of students living on campus and competition from hundreds of downtown restaurants, does not expect to make money from its food services operations. Toronto Star

COU urges Ontario to maintain commitment to fully fund growth in university spaces

In its pre-budget submission, the Council of Ontario Universities states that although the provincial government has made commitments to continue to fully fund growth, universities are worried about the trend toward discounting the support for growth through a number of different measures that will reduce their operating grants. COU calls on the province to maintain its commitment to fully fund the growth in spaces for new undergraduate and graduate students. In order to protect the quality of the student experience, universities urge the province to extend the existing tuition framework. COU also urges the government to extend temporary solvency funding relief measures in order to allow universities to satisfy their pension obligations over a more manageable time frame. COU Pre-Budget Submission

Capilano U receives NWCCU accreditation

Capilano University has been accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), an independent, non-profit organization based in Washington State and recognized by the US Department of Education. Because Canada does not have a national PSE accreditation system, Capilano U began exploring US accreditation in 2005. While accreditation is required for all US-based PSE institutions seeking federal funding, Capilano U voluntarily started pursuing accreditation as a mechanism for a more formal approach to identifying and validating the effectiveness of its current practices as a teaching-focused university. Capilano U is only the second Canadian public university to receive accreditation in the US and the first Canadian university to be accredited by the NWCCU. Capilano U News Release

ASSÉ to boycott Quebec PSE summit, promises demonstrations

The Quebec student group ASSÉ has decided to boycott the province's upcoming PSE summit as provincial leaders refuse to consider eliminating tuition fees. ASSÉ's leaders are working to rally thousands of students for street protests on February 26. Tensions over matters such as tuition fees and government cuts to higher education funding continue to simmer, casting doubt on whether the summit can produce a solution that will satisfy stakeholders. ASSÉ worries the province has already decided to index tuition fees to inflation, and considers the summit more as a public relations exercise than a real debate. Premier Pauline Marois says ASSÉ members "are depriving themselves of a place to speak," and that "it's a shame but that is their choice and I respect it." Globe and Mail

High demand forces ACC to suspend applications to Brandon nursing program

Assiniboine Community College announced last Thursday it will not be accepting new applications for the 2-year Practical Nursing program in Brandon. With more than 180 applications on the Brandon wait list, ACC has enough qualified applicants to fill the program for the next 2 years. Currently, the college has the capacity to accept 190 new Practical Nursing students each year. 70 of these students are accepted in Brandon, 70 in Winnipeg, and the remainder at 2 rural rotating sites throughout Manitoba. ACC suspended applications for the Winnipeg Training Centre in August 2010 with enough applicants to fill the program for 3 years. ACC News

Applications from high school students to Ontario universities up 4%

New figures from the Ontario Universities' Application Centre show that the number of applications secondary school students have submitted to Ontario universities sits at 413,532, up 4.1% from February 2012. The number of applicants totals 92,892, up from 91,052 recorded last February. OUAC Undergraduate Application Statistics -- February 2013

HEQCO report explores reasons why college students drop out

New research published by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario observes that the most common factor influencing students' decision to leave college early is a change in career goals. Other factors frequently provided as reasons for leaving college early included dislike of program, personal and family issues, costs, and issues of time management. When asked to cite just one primary factor for their decision, family, personal, and health issues were most frequently given, accounting for 17% of those surveyed. A significant percentage of early leavers intend to return to some form of higher education in the future. Of those who had not already returned to PSE or already had previous PSE credentials, 85% said they intended to resume their studies in the future. The research found that more than half of all early leavers did not seek any advice before making their decision and less than a quarter sought out some form of academic or non-academic counselling before making their decision. This rate was slightly higher for academically stronger students than those with average or poor marks. Research Summary | Full Report

Hyper-parents a threat to college-aged students' happiness

According to new US research, helicopter parenting is on the rise and it can cause anxiety and depression in college-aged students. The study is based on an online survey of 297 US undergraduate students who were asked to describe their mothers' parenting behaviour and their sense of independence. The study concluded that students with over-controlling and over-involved parents were more likely to be depressed and dissatisfied with life. "To find parents so closely involved with their college lives, contacting their tutors and running their schedules, is something new and on the increase. It does not allow independence and the chance to learn from mistakes," the study's author says. Fears for their children's chances of success given the competitive marketplace and pressure for top college spots and the best jobs are among the reasons for the increased involvement of parents in their college-aged children's lives. Reuters

Young adults more likely than others to use major social media, report finds

According to a late 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, young adults are more likely than others to use major social media. At the same time, other groups are interested in different websites and services. Internet users under the age of 50 are particularly likely to use a social networking website of any kind, and those between the ages of 18 and 29 are the most likely of any demographic cohort to do so (83%). The survey found that women are more likely than men to be on those sites. Those living in urban settings are also significantly more likely than rural Internet users to use social media. Report