Top Ten

March 12, 2013

Documents show York U staff knew of fraud but didn't report it

York University staff knew about alleged fraud in a key campus division but didn't report it to senior officials due to fears of reprisals, according to university documents. An unidentified number of current and former staff members were not willing to come forward in 2009 with allegations of abuse, bullying, harassment, and financial improprieties against a senior official at a time when York U had no whistleblower protection, according to university affidavits and an internal audit report. Part of a civil lawsuit York U launched over school corruption, the documents show a whistleblower finally emerged late that year. That individual provided more information in early 2010 about questionable invoices and purchases of materials and services, which escalated an institutional probe. York U's chief spokesperson says the institution will not comment on whether a whistleblowing policy or procedure at the time of the alleged fraud might have stopped it earlier or reduced financial losses. In June 2010 York U launched a formal whistleblower policy for the first time as the result of its internal investigation of possible fraud. Last year, York U sued 25 people and companies for their roles in a "vast and complicated conspiracy" that led to losses of more than $1.23 million between 2007 and 2009, and possibly earlier. Police charged 2 former York U officials with criminal fraud and laundering the proceeds of crime. Toronto Star

Alternative Federal Budget proposes tuition-fee reduction through new federal transfer

In its 2013 Alternative Federal Budget, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives proposes a new, dedicated PSE cash transfer, at a cost of $1.7 billion per year, that would return PSE funding to pre-1992 levels by 2014-15, allowing for the reduction of tuition fees. The AFB also proposes replacing education tax breaks with new up-front grants at a net cost of $0, boosting federal research grants by 10% at an annual cost of $231 million, and increasing the number of Canada Graduate Scholarships to 3,000 at a cost of $17 million a year. CCPA News Release | Alternative Federal Budget 2013 | Budget in Brief

OUSA calls for minimum one-year tuition freeze

In its provincial pre-budget submission, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance makes several recommendations for improving PSE affordability and accessibility for students while also increasing economic benefit to Ontario. OUSA recommends that the province freeze tuition for at least one year and increase per-student funding to universities to the rate of inflation to partially compensate for the freeze. Should tuition fees increase in the future, OUSA recommends that fees do not increase by more than the rate of inflation. OUSA News Release | Pre-Budget Submission

UFV to face struggle in absorbing budget cuts

Eric Davis, the University of the Fraser Valley's provost, says the institution will face a struggle to absorb new funding cuts to PSE outlined in the BC government's latest budget. Davis says the burgeoning institution has already been contending with too many students and not enough funding for the past couple of years. He says UFV does not have enough physical space or per-student funding to meet current demand as it stands now. Last summer 3,000 students were put on wait lists for courses at UFV, where overall capacity sits at 105%. While the costs specific to UFV from the budget cuts have to be worked out, Davis believes the negative impact will likely range between $1.2 million and $1.5 million. Abbotsford Times

CBIE develops new Code of Ethical Practice

The Canadian Bureau for International Education announced yesterday its new Code of Ethical Practice. Not a legal or prescriptive document, the code offers a framework to guide CBIE members' decision-making in international student services, recruitment and marketing, education abroad programs, off-shore campuses, and cross-border partnerships. The code commits CBIE members to aim high and infuse the organization's core values -- equity, inclusiveness, partnership, and quality -- throughout their internationalization efforts. CBIE News Release | Code of Ethical Practice

Langara to build new sciences and student services building

Vancouver-based Langara College is entering the second phase of its 25-year master plan to upgrade and expand its campus -- the construction of a new building for sciences and student services. The new facility will add 129,587 square feet of much-needed space to Langara's main campus. It will house state-of-the-art astronomy, biology, chemistry, computing science, nursing, and physics labs, as well as lecture halls and multi-purpose classroom spaces. The new building will also provide a home for new student services facilities and offices. The third and fourth phases of the master plan include construction of a new building for the creative arts and the renovation of A Building -- Langara's main teaching facility -- to meet current building standards. The second phase is self-funded. Langara News

NIC revises master plan

With the economy evolving and priorities changing, North Island College has been compelled to revisit and revise its master plan, which was recently presented to the public and NIC staff. As it grows, the institution wants the character, scale, and qualities of the existing college to be maintained. Measures are being taken to preserve one of its main landscape features -- the forested areas surrounding the campus -- as well as wildlife and the environment. A NIC official says the institution needs to expand its facilities in the future because currently, at certain times of the day, some of its facilities are used at full capacity. To reduce parking pressure and demand as the population increases, the master plan aims to explore alternate methods of parking management and transportation options. NIC is also undertaking a feasibility study on building a residence on campus. Comox Valley Echo

MSVU launches Aboriginal Student Centre

February 28 marked the opening of Mount Saint Vincent University's new Aboriginal Student Centre. Part of a larger strategy dedicated to creating a welcoming environment for Aboriginal students attending MSVU, the centre was established as a physical space where students can meet and chat and have access to a resident counsellor who can assist students in navigating questions or concerns relating to student life. MSVU News

Contact North registrations grow by more than 14%

Contact North -- Ontario's distance education training network -- is generating and supporting 14.3% more registrations from Ontarians in more than 600 small, rural, remote, Aboriginal, and francophone communities in online and distance programs and courses from the province's public colleges, universities, literacy and basic skills and training providers. The 16,401 registrations in fall 2012 surpass the 14,355 registrations recorded the previous fall. This is part of a 150% growth curve over the past 5 years with funding from the Ontario government. Contact North News Release

Ottawa invests in mining sector training at COTR

Through Western Economic Diversification Canada, the federal government is providing College of the Rockies with more than $1.7 million in funding to acquire haul-truck training simulators that will train entry-level workers in the mining sector. 5 simulators will be purchased and used for training at several of COTR's campuses. College president Nick Rubidge says the investment "will go a long way in allowing College of the Rockies to continue to play a vital role in preparing skilled workers to support our economy and communities." WEDC News Release