Top Ten

April 17, 2013

Death threats against teacher leads to charges against Oshawa PSE student

A 50-year-old PSE student in Oshawa has been charged with making death threats against his teacher. The incident happened on the joint UOIT/Durham College campus, but police would not say which institution the student attended. Police say the male student met with his Durham teacher in mid March to discuss a failing grade. A heated argument ensued and the student threatened to kill the teacher and the teacher’s family if he did not bump him up to a passing grade. The suspect’s identity is not being disclosed to protect the identity of others involved, say Durham police. The Oshawa man is facing 4 counts of threatening death and is being held in custody pending a bail hearing. Canadian Press | City News | Durham Regional Police News Release

Manitoba budget leaves PSE leaders disappointed, but “not surprised”

Manitoba PSE institutions were left disappointed after the government’s 2013 budget revealed that the province was going back on its promise regarding university funding increases. This was to be the third year of a government commitment to increase university operating grants by 5% annually, but Finance Minister Stan Struthers reneged and reduced the increase to 2.5%. “We recognize our province is facing fiscal pressures and we appreciate that this is a tough budget year,” says University of Manitoba president David Barnard. “We also know that it is even more important during difficult times to invest in post-secondary education since our graduates will drive our economy out of its current challenges.” The 5% promise would have meant more than $15.5 million to uManitoba, but instead the school will get half that. Red River College president Stephanie Forsyth said the 2% increase for colleges will leave RRC's budget $6 million short. The University of Winnipeg will be $1.5 million short, says president Lloyd Axworthy. Manitoba News Release | Budget | Budget Summary | uManitoba Newsroom | uWinnipeg News Centre | CFS –Manitoba News Release | Winnipeg Free Press

Program cuts planned at MRU

Mount Royal University put several program on the chopping block on Tuesday in an effort to plug the institution’s $14 million budget hole. The school’s provost said that 3 diploma programs, 4 certificate programs and an engineering transfer program will likely stop accepting students this fall under an austere budget. “I was sick by the time I talked to people today,” he said outside a closed-door town hall meeting. The 3 diploma programs on the block are disability studies, music performance and theatre arts, while the 4 certificate programs are aging studies, forensics, journalism and perinatal care. MRU’s provost also announced that the nursing program aims to slash its fall intake by one-third. Campus administrators are dealing with a 10% reduction to planned spending after the Alberta government axed $147 million from PSE operating grants in its spring budget. MRU students took part in a rally outside of the premier’s office last week. About 700 students attended the protest and presented a petition asking the government to reinstate funding for PSE. Calgary Herald | CBC | CTV News

uLethbridge community holds “Cause U Matter” protest against PSE cuts

On Tuesday, more than 100 University of Lethbridge staff, students and supporters held placards, waved flags and marched in solidarity to protest last month’s cuts to PSE by the Alberta government. The “Cause U Matter” rally was the latest reaction to the March 7 announcement of a 7.3% reduction to the university’s operating grant. The cut of $11.9 million from the school’s current budget of around $152 million, coupled with the government’s revocation of a promised 2% increase, will damage academic programming, support for students, scholarships and “everything,” says the president of uLethbridge’s faculty association. “They are trying to fix something that doesn't need fixing. It's going to drive students away from this province, it's going to drive faculty away from this province. We'll end up with a much poorer system at the end of it,” he added. Lethbridge Herald

uOttawa denounced for refusing to support 2 profs’ research confidentiality plight

20 members of the University of Ottawa’s research ethics boards have written to university president Allan Rock protesting the school’s refusal to support 2 of its criminology professors’ legal efforts to protect the confidentiality of their research records. They pointed out that the research had been approved by uOttawa on the explicit condition that the research participants’ confidentiality would be protected. The criminology professors’ difficulties began last June when Montreal police indicated their intention to seize the researchers’ interview recordings and transcripts from their 2007 study of sex workers. The criminologists refused to give the records to the police, citing assurances of confidentiality that had been made to the research participants. The Canadian Association of University Teachers covered Chris Bruckert and Colette Parent’s substantial legal costs while the university considered its position. In December, Rock advised CAUT the university would not assist the criminologists. The issue is now being presented before Quebec Superior Court. “This is a landmark case that will set the precedent on how courts will deal with confidentiality between academic researchers and research participants,” said CAUT’s executive director. “We hope the university will reconsider its refusal to assist professors Bruckert and Parent, as it is both the right thing to do and an obligation under tri-council policy,” he said. CAUT Bulletin

83% of Ontario college graduates find work within 6 months

According to Key Performance indicators (KPI) released yesterday for Ontario colleges, 83% of graduates entering the labour force in 2012 found jobs within 6 months. The KPI data also found that 93% of employers were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of the graduates they hired. More than 87% of graduates reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their program in terms of it giving them knowledge and skills that will be useful in their future career. Just over 80% said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of the learning experiences in their program. Colleges Ontario News Release | KPI Results

Seneca launches new wesbite

Seneca College recently unveiled a redesigned website, whose homepage is dominated by a large, rotating graphic banner. Above the banner are tabs directing to information pertaining to future and programs, current and future students, campuses, admissions and the institution itself. Below the banner visitors to the site will find links to college news and to Seneca’s social media platforms. Seneca Website

Safety on US campuses priority following Boston explosions

In the weeks and months following Monday’s shocking bombing of the Boston Marathon, many colleges across the US will revisit their security measures to make sure they are doing everything possible to ensure safety at their major sporting and other events. And they should, says the director of the security studies graduate degree program at the University of Massachusetts. But they should also recognize that when it comes to terrorism, there’s only so much security measures can do. “There is no 100 percent security possible in this world. Terrorists are humans, and humans figure things out; they figure out ways to overcome obstacles,” he said, noting that safety precautions do not help gather intelligence or undermine the ideology that drives terrorists. Pennsylvania State University announced Tuesday that no bags, umbrellas, footballs or purses would be allowed inside any campus venues hosting events through Sunday. An official at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln said the institution would probably wait for more information about the Boston blasts before making big changes in plans for their own events. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Inside Higher Ed

New MOOC provider NovoEd makes debut

The field of massive open online course providers just got bigger. That’s even more so at Stanford University, where Udacity and Coursera, 2 of the largest providers, got their start. Now there’s a new platform to add to the list. NovoEd, which officially opened on Monday, will begin offering 7 courses to the public next week, as well as 10 private courses for Stanford students. There are key differences between the new platform and existing MOOCs, says the start-up company’s founder: peer interaction. NovoEd is designed specifically with teamwork in mind, he says. Students form groups at the beginning of each course, conduct class discussions by messaging one another or in discussion boards under an assignment, and evaluate their peers’ performance, much like team projects in face-to-face lecture courses. Since their introduction, some MOOCs have struggled to foster teamwork because of their size. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

PSE increasingly dependent on social media to raise funds and court donations, survey finds

According to the fourth annual social media survey conducted by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education/Huron Education/mStoner, schools, colleges and universities worldwide are increasingly using social media in campaigns to raise funds and steward current and potential donors and to connect more often with current students, prospective students, parents, faculty and staff. Facebook continues to be the most popular platform with 96% of respondents using it versus 82% on Twitter, 75% on LinkedIn and 71% on YouTube. However, the use of platforms other than Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube has decreased as compared with results from the 2012 survey - blog and Flickr use have both declined by 13%. This year's survey also delved into the use of social media for fundraising - 35% of institutions use social media to raise private donations, and among those, 41% are using social media for stewardship or donor communication. CASE News Release