Top Ten

February 28, 2013

Resignation of Athabasca U executives worries student association

The Athabasca University Students' Union says it is growing concerned about the stability of the institution's programs and services following the sudden departure of 4 top executives last week. A student union official says her organization is frustrated by a lack of notice and lack of information coming from Athabasca U about the departures. She says the departure of so many top executives all at once has created considerable uncertainty about whether students will face disruptions. An Athabasca U spokesman says the positions are being filled on an interim basis while permanent replacements are sought. He says students should not see any significant disruptions to their programs. Edmonton Journal

uRegina will not replace departing VP

Barb Pollock, VP of external affairs at the University of Regina, will leave the institution at the end of April, and her position will not be filled. Her departure comes as uRegina faces pressures from students and faculty to redirect funds from administration into academics. uRegina is undergoing an academic program review and recently eliminated 9 programs while adding 4 others. All faculties have been asked to develop a budget in the event of no government funding increases. The Canadian Federation of Students' Saskatchewan chapter applauds the decision to leave Pollock's position vacant for the time being. "Senior administration salaries have been bloating at the University of Regina for many years, and we are pleased that the university will have one less vice-president to pay." Regina Leader-Post

UPEI, Atlantic Veterinary College face combined $8-million shortfall

The University of Prince Edward Island and the Atlantic Veterinary College are in a financial crunch with a projected deficit next year. UPEI is facing a $5-million shortfall in next year's operating bugdet, while the AVC is projecting an additional $3-million shortfall. Under the University Act, UPEI cannot operate in deficit. UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz says the institution is considering all options to cut the projected shortfall. CBC

Alberta seeks to revise IP rules

The Alberta government wants to change the rules of who owns university inventions to encourage partnerships with private firms and commercialization. Under current legislation, intellectual property rights belong to the universities and the specific researcher, but that needs to open up to encourage commercial partnerships and help raise venture capital, says Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk. A change in how intellectual property is dealt with will likely open the door to contractual arrangements between the university, researchers, and investors on a specific project, and that will be "a win-win," Lukaszuk says. There would be an injection of private capital for the researchers, and any invention that gets commercialized would pay royalties for years to the university and help develop a diversified economy. Edmonton Journal

McGill petitioned to end oilsands-linked investment

McGill University is considering a request to stop investing in companies involved in Canada's oilsands. Divest McGill, a group of alumni and students, presented the board of governors with a petition with more than 700 signatures asking it to remove companies that develop, transport, refine, or sell oil from the oilsands from McGill's financial holdings. It also asks the university to no longer invest in financial institutions that invest in or loan money to oilsands companies. McGill's Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility will review the petition and accompanying documents Divest McGill submitted. The committee is scheduled to meet on March 12. Montreal Gazette

New BC grant supports training aligned with labour market priorities

The BC government announced Wednesday a new, flexible student grant program that will support students enrolled in selected training programs that align with the province's labour market priorities. The Labour Market StudentAid BC Grant will provide up to $2 million in grant funding to be awarded each year to qualified applicants who demonstrate financial need and are enrolled in training programs aligned with identified labour market priorities. Individuals planning to enrol in selected programs at the following PSE institutions in 2013-14 may be eligible for the new grant: College of New Caledonia, Northern Lights College, Northwest Community College, and Thompson Rivers University. BC News Release

HEQCO releases studies on PSE teaching effectiveness

Yesterday the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario released a pair of research reports focusing on post-secondary teaching effectiveness. One of the studies explored teaching-assistant training programs at Western University and observed that a program enhanced with significant intercultural components has a positive impact on the development of international graduate students -- not only as teachers, but also as graduate students. The other report builds on the findings of a previous study on new faculty orientations at Ontario universities. The new report on new faculty orientations and teaching development in Ontario colleges and universities finds opportunities for increased collaboration and sharing of best practices between the 2 sectors and a need for more incentives to encourage and reward innovation in teaching and learning. Report (International TAs) | Report (New Faculty Orientation

6 Canadian institutions win HERM Educational Advertising Awards

6 Canadian PSE institutions were among the winners in the Higher Education Marketing Report's 28th annual Educational Advertising Awards. SAIT Polytechnic earned a gold, silver, and 3 merits. The University of Alberta picked up 2 silver awards and a bronze. Durham College and Mount Royal University each received a gold award and a merit. The University of Saskatchewan received 2 merits and Acadia University was awarded a merit. Durham College News | HERM Educational Advertising Awards

UK student visas drop by one-fifth

The number of UK visas issued to international students has dropped by a fifth, although applications for university student visas have risen by 3%, according to the latest data from the UK Office of National Statistics. There were 209,804 study visas issued for the year ending December 2012, a fall of 20% from the year before. While there was an 8% increase in the number of visas issued to Chinese nationals, there was a sizable drop in study visas issued to students from South Asia. Pakistani (-69%), Indian (-50%), Sri Lankan (-72%), and Bangladeshi (-53%) nationals all saw steep declines. Times Higher Education

uPenn admissions officer fired after mocking applicants on Facebook

A former University of Pennsylvania admissions officer's habit of mocking applicants online has renewed calls for stricter guidelines on university employee conduct on social media. The employee had shared excerpts from application essays on her personal Facebook page -- often alongside sarcastic comments. The information was obtained from screenshots sent anonymously last December to uPenn's student newspaper and dean of admissions. The institution's VP for university communications confirms admissions counsellors are obligated to treat application materials confidentially. Inside Higher Ed