Top Ten

February 25, 2013

Quebec to index university tuition fees

The Quebec government will implement a form of indexation of university tuition fees despite strong opposition from student organizations. The indexation will come into effect in September with the start of the fall term and will be adopted by government decree, according to government sources. The indexation may involve a yearly increase of about $40 to $80 annually, depending on the formula to be adopted. The province will propose to mitigate the increase either by reducing extra fees universities charge or improving the student loans and bursaries program. Globe and Mail

University demand exceeds supply in Surrey

As more students flock to university in Surrey, BC, university officials worry they may be a victim of their own success, with demand for seats outpacing supply. Enrolment at Simon Fraser University's Surrey campus is already over capacity, with more than 7,000 students enrolled. At Kwantlen Polytechnic University, officials are estimating that capacity is at 103%. An SFU Surrey official says that as demand increases, so too will the GPAs needed to enter the university, making it more difficult for some students to attend the Surrey campus. A Kwantlen spokeswoman says the university is "pretty much continually filled," yet demand continues to increase. She expects in the next 15 years that demand in trades programs will be huge as those working in the trades retire from the workforce. Kwantlen president Alan Davis notes there has been a shortage of investment in PSE seats south of the Fraser, which has led youth to travel to institutions in other municipalities. But he expects that will change as Surrey becomes a "full service city" and the demand increases for a variety of courses. Vancouver Sun

uCalgary dean of medicine calls for national doctor plan

The dean of the University of Calgary's medical school is calling for a national blueprint to stabilize doctor supply, in the wake of news a decline in government funding will see fewer medical students enrolled at uCalgary. The dean says it makes "very little sense" to adjust student intake on a yearly basis and notes there is a need to mirror funding with future demand for doctors. His appeal for a national strategy follows word that medical school enrolment at uCalgary will be trimmed from 170 spots to 155 due to reduced government funding. Calgary Herald

Hopes still high for an architecture school at uSask

Saskatoon will host some of North America's leading architects at an upcoming symposium to garner support for a long-awaited architecture school at the University of Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is the only province west of the Maritimes without a professional school of architecture and the majority of students who leave the province for their education do not return to Saskatchewan to practice architecture. "It's very difficult, ultimately, to attract and retain architects in Saskatchewan," says a Saskatoon architect who helped put together the 3-part symposium, which runs from February 28 to March 18. If and when the school gets up and running, the architect says, a distinctly Saskatchewan style of architecture could emerge that reflects the culture and climate of the Prairies. Discussions about building an architecture school in Saskatoon began in 2008, but the university has yet to decide if it will build the school. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

Lakehead students criticize change to Aboriginal law course

Some Lakehead University students claim that changing a course at the new law school thins out the Aboriginal studies component -- a claim Lakehead refutes. The initial plan was for law students to take a full-credit class on world views from the perspective of Aboriginal people, but Lakehead's senate has replaced it with a half-credit law course on how those views fit in the legal system. For one student, the change "effectively takes the course from being one which focuses on the law from the perspective of aboriginal peoples to being a course which focuses on aboriginal peoples from the perspective of the law." The law dean denies that the focus of the course is now much more narrow. "What I want to do is ensure that indigenous studies, aboriginal issues, are front and foremost in terms of our program, and I think that's achieved by making it a law course." The student says he feels Lakehead tried to keep the change quiet and that his group will take its concerns to Lakehead president Brian Stevenson. CBC

uAlberta launches "What's Next" awareness campaign

The University of Alberta has embarked on a campaign called "What's Next" in an effort to raise awareness of the institution across Canada. At the heart of the campaign is a series of letters in which campus community members describe the projects they are working on and why they matter, all while explaining the uAlberta community's vision for the future and highlighting the university's provincial, national, and international impact. The campaign is using print and out-of-home advertising, online advertising and radio, and will be featured in publications such as the Globe and Mail and Maclean's. The letters are being showcased on large posters and banners in elevators in the Toronto airport and other targeted business buildings. All advertising will direct viewers to the What's Next website, which features a series of 2-minute videos with campus community members telling their own story of What's Next. uAlberta News | What's Next

UBC faculties can now mandate minimum grade cut-offs for high school courses

Starting in 2014, UBC faculties will be able to mandate minimum marks in certain secondary school courses for those applying to the university. A UBC official says the measure is aimed at the growing number of applicants who load up on easier electives to inflate their overall admissions average. UBC's hope is that mandatory minimum averages in specific courses will allow each faculty to better select applicants who will be successful in their studies. The Ubyssey (student newspaper)

Applications to Brandon U up 20%

Applications to Brandon University have jumped this year and are now running at 20% higher than a year ago. Following a faculty strike in fall 2011, Brandon U has bounced back and expects enrolment to grow in September, says president Deborah Poff. The Brandon Sun reports that where the university has shown success is in paying more attention to retaining its current students, to recruiting more intensely and focusing more attention to the students it is hoping to enrol. Brandon Sun

US study finds high debt loads may deter men from completing PSE

New US research offers a new theory for why more men than women drop out of PSE: men are more adverse than are women to student-loan debt, and may be swayed by their perceived ability to earn a decent wage without a degree. Women face an immediate disadvantage in the job market if they drop out, earning at least $6,500 less each year than do female college graduates, the study found. That penalty, the article speculates, may compel women to tolerate higher levels of debt to complete PSE -- and land a better-paying job. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Campus networks feel the strain with increase in digital devices

Students are now bringing an arsenal of digital devices to connect to campus networks, often using multiple devices simultaneously. And campus networks, as well as some IT staff members, are buckling under the pressure. In a report released last year by the Association of Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education, approximately 76% of chief information officers surveyed said they were worried about increased bandwidth use. In the same report, 77% cited increasing number of mobile devices as a major concern about future network strain. Administrations must decide how to balance academic uses of the campus network with recreational uses, which can be a tricky combination to figure out, especially for students who reside on campus. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)