Top Ten

February 22, 2013

Student dies in Queen's residence

Kingston police are investigating the death of Kevin Cournoyer, a second-year Queen's University student whose body was found in an on-campus residence last Wednesday. Police says the cause of the 20-year-old's death has yet to be determined, and his death is not considered a suicide. "On behalf of the university, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to Kevin's family and friends," says Queen's principal Daniel Woolf. "I am extremely saddened by this loss of a member of our Queen's community." Queen's News Centre | Kingston Whig-Standard |

StFX president blames faculty strike on government

St. Francis Xavier University president Sean Riley says the recent faculty strike was the result of provincial government cuts to PSE, which he warns will take a long-term toll on Nova Scotia's universities. Riley says that with the universities' funding and ability to raise tuition fees capped by the province, the only way to boost revenues is to increase enrolment, something that has not been happening. With a declining rural population on the East Coast, Nova Scotia universities have been recruiting students from central Canada and abroad to increase numbers. "Without international students, Nova Scotia's university system would collapse," Riley says. Unable to boost its enrolment and with cuts to provincial funding, StFX is projecting a $2.8-million shortfall for this fiscal year. Riley says StFX will look after everything not directly tied to academics and students services that it can cut in the lead up to March's budget planning for the next fiscal year. Chronicle-Herald

Saskatchewan government officials raise merger of teacher training programs

University of Saskatchewan president Ilene Busch-Vishniac says she has faced questions from provincial government officials about why uSask and the University of Regina both need teacher training programs. One deputy minister told her it was "so inefficient" to have 2 university education programs in the province. The advanced education ministry has also approached uRegina about merging the 2 education programs. A uRegina official says education is the only faculty consolidation the ministry has broached recently with the institution. If the province is looking for PSE efficiencies, Busch-Vishniac questions why other "duplicate" programs offered at both universities are not a target. The assistant deputy minister of advanced education says there is no deliberate movement afoot to merge education programs at the 2 institutions. He says the ministry is constantly reviewing all university programs to ensure they meet the needs of the province, and is always on the lookout for efficiencies. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

uCalgary med school enrolment cut raises worries of doctor shortage

The University of Calgary's medical school has reduced its enrolment this year in a move opposition critics and a physicians' organization warn will exacerbate a doctor shortage in Alberta. A uCalgary spokeswoman confirms enrolment in July will be 155, the lowest student intake in 5 years. She says enrolment numbers fluctuate each year, depending on how much funding the Faculty of Medicine gets. "It's totally just based on different funding structures that come in year-to-year." While Premier Alison Redford says she is not concerned about the enrolment numbers, opposition critics charge the cuts could leave the province scrambling to find new physicians. According to the Alberta Medical Association, the province had a shortage of about 1,500 doctors last year. Calgary Herald

Unflattering definition of Acadia removed from Urban Dictionary

An unflattering definition of Acadia University was removed Thursday from Urban Dictionary, a popular online dictionary. Acadia was being defined as a university full of drunks, and although Urban Dictionary is known for its slang words and phrases, experts say it is not good publicity for the university. "They have to be really actively seeking out those events and try to limit the damage to their brands," says a social media lab director at Dalhousie University. CTV

NIC receives $4 million from hospital land sale

All the land needed for the new Comox Valley Hospital is now in the ownership of the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA). The biggest portion -- just more than 11 acres previously part of North Island College -- was legally transferred last week after BC's advanced education ministry gave approval. The deal means NIC will receive approximately $4 million from the sale. In addition, says president Jan Lindsay, there will be a program development agreement with VIHA for student courses and training worth an additional $2.75 million. "Combined, these funds will be available to the college to use for capital projects and the development of health technology programs that have the potential to make North Island College a provincial leader in rural and remote health care," Lindsay says. Comox Valley Echo

Ryerson committees to examine online learning at university

Ryerson University's provost announced Friday the formation of 2 committees that will explore the current and future practices of online and e-learning at the institution. A steering committee will engage in a broad discussion of Ryerson's current online learning practices, trends emerging in the online learning education space, and help set direction for where the institution will go over the next several years. An operations committee will support the work of the steering committee by providing insight into how potential new strategies and approaches can be implemented. It will explore issues such as technical support, instructional design, and faculty training. Ryerson Today

UNB launches feasibility study on online BEd in early childhood education

The University of New Brunswick's education faculty is conducting a feasibility student into an online BEd degree in early childhood education. The university hopes the study will provide the foundational information to develop a pathway for students to complete existing early childhood education diploma/certificate programs at the college level and then transfer into a UNB program and complete their education while continuing to work in their communities. The feasibility study will examine opportunities to collaborate with PSE institutions in the Atlantic provinces so as to ensure a comprehenisve program that is accessible to practitioners. UNB Faculty of Education News

uFlorida begins experiment with no-fall-term option

300 first-year students at the University of Florida are particating in an enrolment experiment designed to increase access to the institution. These students can take classes only during the spring and summer terms for as long as they are enrolled. Each year they will get a 4-month break -- the fall semester -- when they can take online courses, study abroad, do internships, or work. uFlorida officials decided that the spring-and-summer option, which was inspired by growing demand and a dwindling supply of seats, must come with an enticement. They launched the Innovation Academy, a mandatory series of courses, including a senior-year capstone project, for all spring-and-summer students. Each student takes 6 courses as part of a minor in "innovation." The Innovation Academy offers seminars, guest lectures, and service-learning opportunities, all to encourage students to develop solutions to problems in their chosen discipline. Participating students also get hands-on experience at uFlorida's new business incubator. The university plans eventually to enrol 2,000 students on the spring-and-summer schedule, and its provost expects the program to become self-sustaining over time. "This could be the prelude to a year-round calendar," he says. "We believe we have sufficient demand to fill up the campus." The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

US study finds online courses can widen achievement gaps among students

A new US study suggests low-cost online courses can widen achievement gaps among studens in different demographic groups. Conducted by Columbia University's Community College Research Center, the study examined 500,000 courses taken by more than 40,000 community- and technical-college students in Washington State. Researchers found that students in demographic groups whose members typically struggled in traditional classrooms are finding their troubles worsened in online courses. The study observed that all students who take more online courses, irrespective of demographic, are less likely to obtain a degree. However, some groups -- including black students, male students, younger students, and students with lower GPAs -- are particularly susceptible to this pattern. One of the researchers says the widening gap is troubling, as it could imply that online learning is weakening -- not strengthening -- education quality. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)