Top Ten

April 10, 2013

Briercrest receives degree-granting authorization

Saskatchewan-based Briercrest College and Seminary has received authorization by the provincial government to offer a BA in Humanities, effective July 2013. Authorization was provided through The Degree Authorization Act and The Degree Authorization Regulations, which came into effect last fall. Previously, only the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan had the authority to grant degrees, other than theological degrees, in the province. The newly-created Saskatchewan Higher Education Quality Assurance Board reviews all applications for degree-granting authority before they are approved. Saskatchewan News Release | Moose Jaw Times-Herald

uAlberta community pressures province to reverse cuts

University of Alberta students, faculty, and support staff have formed a united front to protest budget cuts. The draft mandate letters from the province "threaten" academic independence, turning universities into businesses. The alliance -- leaders of graduate students, undergraduates, about 700 post-docs, and 4,400 professors and support staff -- call on the government to withdraw its agenda of "radical change" which is "destabilizing the whole system." Meanwhile, most top leaders at uAlberta have agreed to take 5 days in personal leave without pay. It amounts to a 1.92% salary cut for next year, though all academic staff, including the executive, is due to get a 1.65% increase in July, says an announcement on uAlberta's website. A salary freeze on top positions is not possible at uAlberta because those top managers are all within the contract negotiated with the Academic Staff Association. The executive wants to honour that agreement, so it came up with the alternative of voluntary days off. The offer is open to all staff. uAlberta has to cut $42 million, about 7% of its spending, under the provincial budget. Edmonton Journal

MSVU exceeds $12-million goal in capital campaign

The Mount Saint Vincent University community, donors, and honourees gathered Tuesday to celebrate the more than $12 million raised in the Project TWENTY12 capital campaign to build the new Margaret Norrie McCain Centre for Teaching, Learning and Research. The centre will be the university's first new classroom facility in more than 40 years. Led by the single largest donation in MSVU's history ($2.25 million) courtesy of Margaret McCain, the fundraising initiative brought together hundreds of donors in support of the new academic centre, which will honour the lives of women throughout. The president of MSVU's student union expects students will appreciate how the 4-storey, 49,600-square-foot building will incorporate innovative technologies into teaching and research spaces designed with future student needs in mind. MSVU News Release

Saskatchewan spends $210,000 on PSE commitment ads

The Saskatchewan government is spending $210,000 on a marketing campaign to promote its commitment to PSE. Critics say the campaign is hardly an example of public funds well spent. "To try to convince the world they're spending lots of money on post-secondary education instead of actually spending it on post-secondary education is troublesome to me," says the chair of the University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association. The campaign was designed by officials in the advanced education ministry and approved by executive council, says the deputy minister. "It is a way to communicate to students and parents that Saskatchewan post-secondary education is well-funded," she says. The campaign includes TV and print ads, as well as billboards in Regina and Saskatoon. "Your provincial government offers $117 MILLION ANNUALLY in support for students," read a pair of the Saskatoon billboards. Another billboard says the province has increased PSE funding by 52% since 2007-08. The campaign is a "jarring disconnect" from the reality on campuses, says the NDP opposition critic for PSE. He says the ads are "public money used for political spin," not a tool for communicating program information to taxpayers. SIAST president Larry Rosia doesn't see a problem with the ads. He says every organization -- SIAST included -- incurs costs communicating with the public, and advertising is one of a limited number of ways to do that. "It's just part of doing business." Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

University senate should play larger role, say surveyed senators

A new study exploring the roles and responsibilities of academic senates observes a significant gap between the governance role senates play within a university and the role senators believe they should play. More than 90% of senators who responded to a survey used for the study agreed that the senate should regularly review the performance of the university in academic areas, but less than half said it does so. Given the important role of the senate in relation to academic standards and quality, these responses indicate that further research is needed, the study concludes. Asked whether the senate is an effective decision-making body, nearly half of respondents agreed and 23% disagreed. More than three-quarters said they saw themselves as active senate members, but just 45% said they felt they were able to influence senate decisions. University secretaries identified several matters of concern, including the challenge of engaging senate members, tensions between various senate constituencies, and conflicts arising from the responsibilities of the senate and those of the university administration and board. One way to ameliorate the situation may be to get senate and board members together to discuss their complementary roles in advancing the mission of the institution, suggests one of the study's authors. University Affairs

$1-million donation supports UoGuelph arts scholarships

Edward (Ted) Morwick, a University of Guelph graduate and lawyer-turned-businessman, has pledged $1 million to support arts students at his alma mater. The new funding will provide Ted Morwick Undergraduate Scholarships for close to 20 arts students annually. It will also provide additional support to 2 graduate scholarships in English literature and creative writing in Morwick's name. Morwick says the scholarships will help build UoGuelph's stature by attracting superior students, some of whom might go on to become literary greats. "That's a subject very dear to my heart." Morwick has supported undergraduate and graduate scholarships in UoGuelph's College of Arts for several years. He has given more than $1.4 million to the university. UoGuelph News Release

Georgian College receives top marks in international student satisfaction survey

Georgian College has received the highest score among Ontario colleges in the International Student Barometer (ISB) survey. The college also placed second among all Canadian colleges and universities and third in the world. The largest and most extensive survey of international students worldwide, the ISB covers 4 categories spanning arrival experience, learning, living, and support. Georgian's highest marks included online and physical libraries, eco-friendly attitude, expert lecturers, IT support, arrival support, safety, and orientation. Georgian College News

Universities must be sustainable for present, future generations, says uWinnipeg president

Manitoba remains one of the most affordable places for PSE in North America, but a decade of frozen tuition fees followed by a restrictive legislation and insufficient operating grants is simply not a sustainable way to manage the province's university system, writes University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy for the Winnipeg Free Press. If universities can no longer depend on a traditional government funding model, they must be given the flexibility to attract new revenues through innovative partnerships, research commercialization, fundraising, and other sources, says Axworthy. "We need the province to give us more flexibility both in the choice of courses and the delivery of curriculum, more autonomy in decision making and the capacity to derive revenue from a variety of sources," Axworthy writes. "Overly centralized decision-making that is not directly relevant to the promotion of first-class higher education in Manitoba is simply not helpful. We must build institutions that are innovative, collaborative, and independent." Winnipeg Free Press

Youth employment little changed in March

According to Statistics Canada's latest Labour Force Survey, employment among 15- to 24-year-olds was little changed last month, while their unemployment rate rose by 0.6 percentage points to 14.2%, as more young people searched for work. Employment among young people has been on a slight upward trend since last August. 15- to 24-year-olds in Nova Scotia made the most gains in March with a 1.9 percentage point increase in their employment rate, while Quebec recorded the highest youth employment rate among the provinces at 65.4%. Statistics Canada | Labour Force Survey

Businesses want broadly educated new employees, US survey finds

Business executives care more about their new employees' thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills than they do about their undergraduate majors, according to a survey released yesterday by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). The survey shows employers' support for the idea that students should be broadly educated and apply their learning to the real world during PSE. More than half of employers indicated that recent graduates should have "both field-specific knowledge and skills and a broad range of skills and knowledge." The AAC&U is using the findings to bolster a new compact between college presidents and employers. In the compact, 160 employers and 107 college presidents agreed to help the public understand the importance of a "21st-century liberal-arts education," composed of broad and adaptive learning, personal and social responsibility, and intellectual skills. The signatories also pledged to promote students' access to such an education, expand opportunities for hands-on learning, document progress in students' ability to apply their learning, and advocate for PSE as a path to both career success and civic responsibility. AAC&U News Release | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Inside Higher Ed