Top Ten

February 21, 2013

York U says fired executive used "bogus degree" to get hired

York University says it has discovered that fired executive Michael Markicevic -- now facing criminal and civil fraud charges and being sued by the university -- submitted a "bogus degree" when it hired him. Markicevic submitted a resumé for a York U management position indicating he had earned an MBA from Auburn State University, but acknowledged in a pre-trial proceeding last autumn that wasn't the case. York U lawyers found there is no "Auburn State University." Markicevic later said he got a master's degree from Chadwick University, which had an affiliation with Auburn University. York U lawyers said later correspondence with Auburn showed the university did not have an affiliation with Chadwick, an unaccredited online school that reportedly lost its licence in 2007. York U officials will not disclose what the institution or a search firm did to verify Markicevic's academic credentials before his appointment in 2004. A forensic accountant says the situation raises questions about whether York U's work involving the hiring was adequate. He adds that York U has an obligation to disclose its checks of Markicevic because it is a public institution and has a responsibility to taxpayers. Toronto Star

McGill, uToronto new members of edX

The University of Toronto and McGill University have signed on with edX, a US-based, non-profit massive open online course (MOOC) venture founded last year by Harvard University and MIT. edX has so far enrolled more than 700,000 students from 192 countries. It is one of 3 US startups (the others being Coursera and Udacity) pouring tens of millions of dollars into online platforms that some expect could revolutionize PSE access. uToronto, which is already a member of Coursera, will offer 4 edX courses this year. McGill studied a range of options before settling on edX. "It was the emphasis that edX was putting on the ability to learn something about improving on-campus education from this kind of experiment that really attracted us," says McGill's provost. McGill News Release | Globe and Mail

uSask med school accreditation in doubt, says president

University of Saskatchewan president Ilene Busch-Vishniac says the institution's medical school may not have changed quickly enough to stop it from facing probation. A team from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) will be in Saskatchewan next month for a follow-up visit. In 2011, the LCME put the College of Medicine on a "warning of probation" if it did not make changes. That warning prompted uSask officials to propose a restructuring plan for the college, which the university's council approved in principle in December. "We are now working like the dickens to move forward," says Busch-Vishniac, but she worries uSask will not have made enough progress by the time accreditors come in March. When they visit, they will see the institution has ideas about how to make changes, but none of those changes has taken place, Busch-Vishniac says, and that may not be enough to avoid probation. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

Postscript: May 5, 2013

The Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) did not discuss the University of Saskatchewan’s medical school accreditation status at its most recent meeting, although it was on the agenda. The school received a warning of probation from the CACMS and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) due to multiple instances of noncompliance with accreditation standards. uSask has begun a restructuring program for the med school in order to address the issues. The CACMS could decide to continue the warning of probation, place the school on probation, or restore full accreditation. The next meeting is scheduled for fall 2013. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

New UQAM rector outlines priorities for university

At an inaugural breakfast meeting with the media Wednesday, Robert Proulx, the new rector of the Université du Québec à Montréal, said his priorities are to consolidate and develop teaching and research at the postgraduate level, reinforce links to other universities, and focus on internationalization. Proulx said UQAM has always done a good job of developing programs that do not exist elsewhere, to meet a need in society, such as its sexology program. Proulx is strongly opposed to the Coalition Avenir Québec's suggestion to have some elite, more research-oriented universities charge higher tuition while others, like UQAM, offer lower tuition. He said research projects are often shared among universities and you can't have some universities try to be more excellent than others. As for next week's PSE summit, Proulx said he is both pleased and worried -- pleased to have a discussion about PSE, but worried it will be focused on the issue of tuition rather than on the mission of universities. Montreal Gazette

Fanshawe downtown campus may contribute $80 million to core's economy

Fanshawe College's downtown campus, set to open its doors this fall, may eventually contribute $80 million annually to the core's economy. That is the estimate Fanshawe president Howard Rundle offered yesterday when he and other college officials updated the public on the downtown campus project. The City of London is contributing up to $20 million to help Fanshawe purchase and renovate buildings in a defined district downtown. The Ontario government added about $6 million, an amount matched by Fanshawe itself. The college is pushing a fundraising campaign to close the gap in the project's budget. The School for Applied and Performance Arts will open in September with an expected 400 students. The school hopes to eventually purchase one or 2 more buildings, with an eye toward total enrolment of 1,000 students downtown. London Free Press

RRC opens fine dining restaurant

Yesterday Red River College opened Jane's, the anchor restaurant of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, the college's new hospitality and culinary school. "From here we are going to attract people from around the world to Winnipeg," said RRC president Stephanie Forsyth as she opened the doors to the 90-seat fine dining restaurant. "Learning and working in a space like this really inspires staff and students to do their best. The institute will attract and graduate the best hospitality people in Canada." RRC News

CFS makes recommendations for new Ontario tuition framework

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is calling on Premier Kathleen Wynne to take immediate and decisive action to make PSE more affordable by establishing a new tuition fee framework that cuts fees for all students. The current framework, under which the CFS-O says tuition fees have increased by as much as 71%, is set to expire this fall. In a new document released yesterday, the CFS-O recommends the Ontario government implement a multi-year tuition fee framework that reduces fees by 30% over 3 years, establishes a long-term plan to progressively eliminate tuition fees, and ensures that tuition fee billing policies and practices are fair for students. CFS-O News Release | Document

Students with disabilities still facing challenges in PSE

The number of students with disabilities at Ontario PSE institutions has increased in recent years and they still encounter barriers into, through, and after higher education, according to a synthesis of current research from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Research observes that more students with disabilities are pursuing PSE and are choosing college over university. Yet such students are less likely to graduate and often take longer to complete their studies. Students with disabilities are also more likely to drop out of secondary school. PSE applicants with disabilities tend to be older and are less likely to go to PSE directly from secondary school. Of the overall population, those with disabilities have lower employment rates and lower earnings than those without disabilities, although obtaining a PSE credential is narrowing this gap. Research Summary | Full Report

International, Aboriginal student enrolments rise at uRegina

Compared to the winter 2012 semester, the University of Regina has seen an increase of 183 new first-year international undergraduate students, which represents a 22% increase. Currently, uRegina has more than 1,000 registered international undergraduate students. The university has also seen a rise in the number of international students pursuing master's and doctoral degrees. There are 440 international graduate students at uRegina, an increase of 15% over the January 2012 term. Self-declared Aboriginal undergraduate student enrolments at uRegina have also increased by 15%. They now represent 11% of the undergraduate student body. uRegina News Release

New book explores why women outpace men in education

The facts of women being more likely than men to pursue PSE, perform better academically, and major in non-STEM fields are mostly attributable to factors affecting students before they step on campus. But that does not mean institutions cannot do anything to mitigate the consequences. Those are the conclusions of the authors of The Rise of Women, a new book about how and why female students continue to outpace their male peers in education. Starting as early as kindergarten, the authors explain, girls have better average social and behavioural skills than do boys, and that relates to girls' higher average grades at each stage of school and why girls are more likely to earn a degree. The authors found that gender stereotypes are also at play. Boys have historically been trained to think they needn't obey rules or work hard because men used to be able to drop out of secondary school and still earn wages comparable to better-educated women -- but that's not the case anymore. Even today, says a co-author, young men are "overly optimistic" about their ability to earn a livable salary, even though they are less educated than women. That may lead them to "under-invest" in schoolwork, lowering their academic performance and probability of completing PSE. The co-author says one way to address the motivation issue is through better guidance counselling. Insider Higher Ed