Top Ten

April 8, 2013

Manitoba reportedly to halve expected increase in university funding

The Winnipeg Free Press reports that sources have confirmed that the Manitoba government will cut in half the increase in total funding to universities that was expected this year. The universities had planned on a 5% increase in base funding this year, the last of a 3-year funding agreement. The newspaper reports that sources confirmed the funding increase provided in the 2013-14 budget will now be 2.5%. The province will table its budget on April 16. Winnipeg Free Press

Program, job cuts at CNA

College of the North Atlantic president Ann Marie Vaughan says funding cuts in the Newfoundland and Labrador budget will result in several programs being axed and the loss of more than 100 jobs. "Right now we are looking at about 143 people who will face layoffs, about 88 which will be direct layoffs," Vaughan says. "The others would be people who would normally be expected to be called back in the September period." She says the college was strategic with the program reductions, targeting programs that had significantly low enrolment. Vaughan says CNA must now focus on addressing approximately $4 million in reductions on the management and administrative side of the operation in order to balance the college's budget. News of the program and job cuts follows the announcement that CNA's Adult Basic Education program will be privatized, resulting in job losses at the institution. CNA News Release | CBC

Quebec asked to postpone university degree requirement for nurses

The Quebec nurses' federation warns that requiring new nurses to have a university degree as of 2014 could aggravate understaffing in the already overburdened health-care system. The federation's president has asked that the Quebec government hold off on its plan to require all new nurses to have a bachelor's degree for a few more years, because the conditions needed to make the new system work still are not in place. But the Quebec Order of Nurses says the 5-year phasing-in period, from 2014 to 2019, gives the health-care system plenty of time to adjust to the new requirements. Only in 2019 will a university degree become compulsory for all new nurses, the order's president says. The order says Quebec lags more than a decade behind other provinces in requiring a degree for nurses. But the nursing federation's president says there is already a shortage of spaces in nursing programs at Quebec universities. She wonders how universities will cope with the increased cohort of nursing students once a degree becomes compulsory in the profession. Montreal Gazette

George Brown College breaks ground for new sustainable construction facility

On Friday, George Brown College held a ground-breaking ceremony for a new facility that will support the growing Canadian green and smart building market. When completed in 2014, the facility will house full-scale applied research development projects in partnership with local businesses and train students in advanced construction systems, green energy, and computer-enabled, efficient buildings. The facility is supported by a $6.6-million contribution from the federal government, matched by the college's own investment of $6.8 million. George Brown College News Release

Confederation College considers building student village

Confederation College president Jim Madder says a lack of affordable housing in Thunder Bay is keeping prospective students away. That's one reason why the institution is looking to construct a student village that would include more on-campus housing. "We have a residence. It is absolutely completely filled," Madder says. "I have many parents who call me and say, 'I'd send you my son or daughter, but there's no safe place for them to stay.'" The new village would include space for recreation and more services for people who are new to Thunder Bay and college life. Madder says college officials will search for a location and may make it adjacent to buildings that are already there. CBC

Wait until after election, says BC premier of NWCC trades centre funding plea

BC Premier Christy Clark says any discussion of Northwest Community College's proposal for $45 million to construct a new trades training centre at its Terrace campus is going to have to wait until after the provincial election on May 14. NWCC had requested the funding to help it meet an anticipated need for skilled workers and to modernize facilities dating back to the 1950s. NWCC president Denise Henning says this funding is "absolutely vital to our school. Right now we are having trouble keeping up with demand." "There are two legs to this stool," Clark says of the $45-million request. "You have to create the jobs which we are doing and then we have to train British Columbians up to be first in line for these jobs." Terrace Standard

MacEwan to commit $2 million to Edmonton community rink

MacEwan University's board of governors has set aside $2 million in one-time funding toward an Edmonton community hockey rink attached to the proposed downtown arena. MacEwan president David Atkinson says the funding won't come from the operating budget but from funds set aside every year to buy new land, build new facilities, or renovate. Atkinson says MacEwan's contribution will increase the seating in the arena to 1,000, up from 300, so that it meets the requirements of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association. The agreement also guarantees a home for the men's and women's Griffin hockey teams with dedicated practice and game time still to be worked out among MacEwan, the municipality, and the Edmonton Oilers, who will practice there when the proposed main arena is tied up for other events. Edmonton Journal

$1.5-million donation funds ethical leadership initiative at Dal business school

Dalhousie University's Rowe School of Business announced yesterday a $1.5-million donation from Scotiabank, which will support a new program called the Scotiabank Ethical Leadership Initiative that is aimed at engaging business students and the Canadian business community in shaping ethical business leadership. The gift will support an annual November conference called Ethics in Action, which will feature a case competition, a student video and essay contest, and a national ethical leadership award program for corporate, non-profit, and government leaders. Scotiabank News Release | Globe and Mail

Survey aims to meet need of data on Canadian postdoctoral fellows

In 2009, the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars (CAPS) conducted its first survey of postdoctoral fellows (PDFs). The findings revealed that the average PDF in Canada was between 30 and 35 years old, earned less than $40,000, and had limited access to extended health coverage or other benefits. The survey was conducted at a time of great unrest for PDFs, as Ottawa had recently revised its taxation policy to make student scholarships -- but not postdoctoral fellowships -- tax-exempt. As a result, a substantial number of PhD graduates who continued into academic research as fellows now earned less pay than they received during their graduate student years. In a bid to see if the situation has changed, CAPS is conducting a new survey of PDFs, with the help of Academica Group and Mitacs, and is encouraging all fellows in Canada to participate. A former CAPS chair and leader of the current survey says there is a pressing need for more complete and up-to-date data. The need for data goes beyond policy as many fellows are having to make career decisions without adequate information. The transient and focused nature of postdoctoral positions presents a challenge to gathering data, says Julie Peters, Academica's research director. "The greatest challenge we face [in the survey] is the reality that there is no comprehensive list of PDFs in Canada," she says. "In the absence of this, there is always the danger of missing an important segment of the population. That is why it is so important to get the survey out through multiple channels to try and reach PDFs at a large variety of institutions and in different types of positions." University Affairs

Chinese applications to US grad schools drop 5%

Following 7 consecutive years of double-digit increases, the number of Chinese applications to graduate programs in the US this spring dropped by an unexpected 5%. "Disturbing" and "precipitous" is how the Council of Graduate Schools' president characterizes the drop in Chinese applicants. "This is a post-9/11 kind of drop," she says, referring to steep declines in foreign students following the 2001 terrorist attacks. Overall, international graduate applications did climb, but by just 1%, the smallest growth in 8 years, according to a report issued yesterday by the council. The report notes that graduate applications from overseas this year surely would have dipped into negative territory were it not for a 20% increase in applications from India, the second-largest sending nation behind China. Following a 7% increase in graduate applications from Canada from 2011 to 2012, Canadian applications fell by 4% from 2012 to 2013. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Inside Higher Ed | Council of Graduate Schools