Top Ten

March 5, 2013

Publisher drops lawsuit against McMaster librarian

Edwin Mellen Press said Monday it would drop a lawsuit against McMaster University librarian Dale Askey. The publisher sued him and the university, seeking more than $3 million in damages over a blog post in which Askey referred to the publisher as "dubious" and said its books were often works of "second-class scholarship." In a separate suit, the press's founder sued Askey for $1 million for personal remarks made in the blog's comment section. It is not clear whether that suit will also be dropped. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Ontario universities call on province to extend existing tuition framework

Following a news report that the Ontario government will likely hold tuition fee increases under 5%, the province's universities call on the government to extend the existing tuition framework, at least until the province's budget is balanced and its fiscal capacity allows greater public investment in universities. COU notes that due to funding reductions announced in the 2012 Ontario budget, universities must find additional efficiencies in their operating budgets of more than $40 million in 2013-14 and nearly $80 million the following year. "These cuts, in addition to those that have already been made by universities over the past several years, present a significant challenge to protecting quality," COU states. "To ensure student success and protect the quality of programs and services, universities need stable, predictable and adequate revenue." COU News Release

uAlberta bookstore closures part of cost-cutting measures at university

The University of Alberta is closing 2 financially unsuccessful bookstore locations as part of its ongoing cost-cutting initiatives. One store is closing immediately, while the other will remain open through April and then will move within the main bookstore in the Students' Union Building. The closures will result in the elimination of 3 jobs. uAlberta News

BC releases PSE Quality Assurance Framework discussion paper

Last April, BC's advanced education ministry began engaging students, stakeholders, and the public on PSE quality assurance through multiple forums. The ministry reviewed more than 100 submissions and met with more than 100 practitioners from the PSE system. The views and ideas received during this consultation period have informed the development of a new Quality Assurance Framework for PSE in BC. Key components of the proposed framework include a continuing commitment to strong student rights and safeguards; streamlining processes for institutional eligibility for the StudentAid BC designation, Education Quality Assurance designation, and to enrol international students; allowing institutions demonstrating high levels of quality assessment policies and practices to gain increased autonomy over program quality assessment; and ensuring that a broad range of educational choices and opportunities are available to learners at various stages of their lives. A discussion paper on the proposed framework has been posted on the ministry's website for public review and feedback. BC News Release | Discussion Paper

CIC releases study-visa data for Chinese, India, Filipino, and Ukrainian nationals

Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced last week that Canada welcomed more than 100,000 international students in 2012. The department has since released data on study visas for Chinese, Indian, Filipino, and Ukrainian nationals. 25,245 study permits were approved last year for Chinese nationals, an increase of 235% since 2004. CIC reports that 13,000 study permits were issued to Indian applicants, an increase of 530% since 2004. Canada issued 941 study permits to Filipino applicants last year, up 429% since 2004. 787 study permits were approved for Ukrainian nationals, an increase of 496% since 2004. CIC News Release (China) | CIC News Release (India) | CIC News Release (The Philippines) | CIC News Release (Ukraine)

uToronto, UBC, McGill make THE World Reputation Rankings

On Monday Times Higher Education released the 2013 edition of its World Reputation Rankings, and the Canadian universities to make the top 100 list this year are the University of Toronto (16), UBC and McGill University (tied at 31). The rankings are created using the Academic Reputation Survey, which targets experienced, published scholars who offer their view on excellence in research and teaching within their disciplines and at institutions with which they are familiar. Top Universities by Reputation 2013

AAU policy paper emphasizes education as primary role of universities

In a new policy paper, the Association of Atlantic Universities writes that it must be understood, "as governments and businesses look to universities to foster social and economic growth, that our universities can only do this by achieving excellence in their primary mission -- the education of Atlantic Canada’s future leaders." But that is not to say that universities are shying away from their obligation to partner with governments and the corporate sector in moving the region forward, states AAU, which points to studies showing that universities, acting in partnership with the corporate sector, are leaders in research and development, R&D commercialization, and new business start-ups. The policy paper says it is only by fulfilling the primary role of education that Atlantic universities and their graduates are able to achieve their wider roles as drivers of economic and social growth in the region. AAU Policy Paper

Brescia using Weibo to reach Chinese students

Brescia University College is using the Chinese social media site Sina Weibo to engage with prospective students, current students, and their parents. The overall goal is to increase international recruitment, retention, and student satisfaction for Chinese students. Brescia launched its Weibo account with the help of an international student from China. The student translates, exchanges, and facilitates conversation with users in China as well as current Chinese students at Brescia. The institution continues to grow participation on Weibo, with 175 followers to date. Brescia News Release

Competency-based education advances in US

Several US institutions have continued to expand competency-based offerings targeted at working adults. Some are getting creative as they try to work around the credit hour. One is Nebraska-based Bellevue University, which has introduced an online bachelor's degree in business administration where students set their own pace and there are no predetermined dates to complete tests or assignments. Students must prove they have successfully completed learning objectives by the end of the semester. If they are lacking in certain areas, they can go back to complete that learning without having to repeat entire courses. The next level for competency-based education is a method called direct assessment, where credit is offered based solely on assessed learning, with no link to time spent in class or on work for courses. At Southern New Hampshire University's new College for America, students work through self-paced material and are tested on their mastery of 120 competencies, which are divided into individual "tasks" that are assessed by faculty reviewers. Inside Higher Ed

Canadians spending fewer hours online

According to a new report from comScore, the average Canadian Internet user was online for 41.3 hours per month in the fourth quarter of last year, down from 45.3 hours in 2011 and 43.5 hours in 2010. That ranked second among the nations comScore tracks, only behind US users, who logged 43 hours online each month. But Canadian Internet users were first when it came to the average number of web pages viewed each month at 3,731, an average of more than 120 per day. The report also found that of the 25.5 million Internet users in Canada, nearly 100% were online every day. Only half of 1% fell into the category of using the Internet monthly rather that daily. Canadian Press | Report