Top Ten

March 22, 2013

Skills training a priority in federal budget

Noting that Canada is not sufficiently aligned to the skills employers need or to the jobs that are actually available, the federal government announced in its 2013 budget the launch of the Canada Job Grant, which will provide up to 130,000 Canadians a year with $15,000 to retrain -- $5,000 of which will come from Ottawa. Provinces and employers will be expected, at the very least, to match the contribution. The federal government will also invest $4 million over 3 years to reduce barriers to accreditation for apprentices. Research investments include $37 million in new annual support for research partnerships with industry through the granting councils, including $12 million to enhance the College and Community Innovation Program, and $225 million to be used by the Canada Foundation for Innovation program to support advanced research infrastructure priorities. Education-related investments include reallocating $19 million over 2 years to inform young people about fields of study that are relevant to existing and forecased demand for labour in particular occupations, $10 million over 2 years for Indspire to provide PSE scholarships and bursaries for First Nations and Inuit students, and $23 million over 2 years for Canada's International Education Strategy. While some PSE stakeholder groups welcome the investments in PSE, particularly in skills training and international education efforts, others criticize the budget for short-changing basic research and failing to address student debt and PSE access and affordability. Canada News Centre | Budget Plan | Budget in Brief | ACCC News Release | AUCC News Release | CASA News Release | CAUT News Release | CBIE News Release | CFS News Release | FHSS News Release | Polytechnics Canada News Release | National Post | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Program cuts on the horizon at uCalgary

The University of Calgary may cut low-enrolment programs and seek to significantly increase some tuition fees as it struggles to close a deficit gap that will mount to $113 million over the next 4 years. While uCalgary could dip into its savings to cover some of its $41-million shortfall this coming year, top administrators warn that major changes are necessary following deep cuts to provincial funding. Despite a 7% cut to a provincial operating grant, uCalgary remains committed to hiring 50 new academics and improving below-average student satisfaction levels as it seeks to become one of Canada's top 5 research institutions by 2016. Alberta has limited next year's tuition hike to inflation, but uCalgary's provost indicates the university may seek permission in the future for targeted increases in some programs like engineering, where the student levy is 27.5% below the national average. The provost says uCalgary also has 55 unspecified programs in 3 faculties that have been chronically short of students and could soon be axed. Calgary Herald

Input sought on PSE opportunities in Whistler

An extensive process on PSE that started last summer in Whistler, BC will present its findings to the public at the beginning of April and seek feedback from the community in order to make recommendations to town council in its final report expected in June. Almost a full year after the process began, sparked in part by the Whistler International Campus's proposed $270-million development on the Zen Lands, the task force expects to provide town council with a framework to evaluate PSE opportunities. Presentations have been heard from Quest University, Capilano University (which has proposed to bring classes to Whistler), UBC's Sauder School of Business, Coast Mountain Academy, Whistler Education Group, Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and the Whistler International Campus. The task force's open house is scheduled for April 4. Whistler Question

UQAM considers keeping graffiti from student demonstrations

The Université du Québec à Montréal is considering keeping artwork and writings scrawled on its hallway walls during last spring's student demonstrations. A UQAM spokeswoman says there is a divide in the community between those who want the drawings to stay and those who want them removed. "We want to submit the ideas to our community to make sure that they want to keep the graffiti." The spokeswoman says there are only about 10 walls in 30 campus buildings that are painted over. She notes there is one building on campus where students are permitted to paint on the walls. CBC

Students participating in on-campus activities more likely to hone key skills, study finds

Students who participate in on-campus activities like student government, residence associations, and peer mentoring are more likely to improve several skills valued highly by the labour marketing and PSE, observes new research published by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. The study found that students involved in these activities scored significantly higher in core skills such as mobilizing innovation and change, communication, personal time management, problem solving, and analytical skills. The study explored the benefits of participating in peer academic support programs, like the University of Guelph's Peer Helper Program, and observed that participants who volunteer to help other students score even higher on mobilizing innovation and change than those involved in other campus activities. Research Summary | Full Report

Queen's, local school board form international-student partnership

Queen's University and the Limestone District School Board (LDSB) are partnering on a new initiative to help attract top international students to Kingston. Queen's and LDSB are developing a pre-admission initiative that will provide foreign students with a seamless path for completing secondary school and obtain direct entry into the university. The initiative will target a small number of high-achieving students worldwide who wish to continue their education in Canada. Accepted students will first participate in a joint summer English language program at Queen's and LDSB and then undertake Grade 12 studies with the school board. While completing secondary school, students will be billeted with local families through LDSB's homestay program. Queen's News Centre

Douglas College, Keyano, and RDC win North American college marketing awards

Douglas College, Keyano College, and Red Deer College are the Canadian winners in this year's National Council for Marketing & Public Relations' Paragon Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in communications at community and technical colleges. RDC's "Find Your Match" campaign picked up gold in the Successful Recruitment Marketing Program category. The college also won silver and bronze in the College Promotion Video and Class Schedule categories, respectively. Keyano earned gold in the Viewbook category and Douglas College won bronze in the Banners and Outdoor Media category. Keyano News Release | RDC News Release | Paragon Awards

uWinnipeg Youth In Care Tuition Waiver pilot a success

Last year the University of Winnipeg launched Manitoba's first Youth In Care Tuition Waiver Program to ensure that youth who have grown up in the child welfare system can dream about and plan for an academic future, irrespective of socio-economic circumstances. Of the 25 students admitted to the program in September, 5 tried university and discovered it was not for them at this time, one has now graduated, and 19 are in class and doing well. uWinnipeg had expected to support 10 students this initial year, in the pilot project stage of the program, but more than doubled that number to meet the demand as qualified students applied. The program will now continue at uWinnipeg as a permanent program. uWinnipeg News Release

NS invests in training equipment at NSCC

The Nova Scotia government announced Friday $615,000 in training equipment to be used by Nova Scotia Community College to support apprenticeship program delivery. Equipment includes automotive training aids, electrical systems trainers, laser alignment technology, and welding simulators. Most of the equipment and training aids will be mobile so apprentices and employers can take advantage of this equipment closer to their work site. NS News Release

US women's college distributes scent-laden brochure to admitted students

Agnes Scott College, a Georgia-based women's college, will soon mail a booklet containing scented pages to its 800 accepted applicants. The scent of pine accompanies a picture of campus trees. A few pages later, an aerial shot of the Quad comes with a whiff of freshly mowed grass. The idea is to convey the experience of strolling through campus, especially to students who have not yet visited it. The college plans to e-mail students a description of the scented brochure ahead of time, so students know to get their noses ready. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)