Top Ten

April 19, 2013

McGill, UBC, uToronto share $75-million grant to develop next-generation African leaders

The MasterCard Foundation announced Thursday McGill University, UBC, and the University of Toronto as the newest partners in its Scholars Program -- a $500-million global education initiative. The Scholars Program will provide high school and university education to an estimated 15,000 young people from developing nations, primarily in Africa. The MasterCard Foundation will provide $75 million to the 3 Canadian institutions to educate and develop 270 young Scholars from Africa and prepare them to return to the continent and lead change in their communities. Of the 270 Scholars in Canada, 112 will study at UBC, 91 at McGill, and 67 at uToronto. The first cohort of Scholars will arrive in Canada this fall. MasterCard Foundation News Release | McGill News Release | uToronto News | UBC News Release

Alberta freezes tuition rates for 2013-14

At a visit to NAIT Thursday, Alberta Premier Alison Redford announced a one-year tuition freeze that had already been announced a week earlier by Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk. Her visit, though, comes as PSE institutions look for program cuts and layoffs, with leaders such as Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi speaking out against the decision. The province will spend $16.5 million to cover the cost of next year's scheduled 2.15% increase, and is also urging student unions not to increase the fees their members pay to support them. While some student groups welcome the surprise tuition freeze, graduate student leaders were caught off guard and voiced their displeasure. A VP with uCalgary's Graduate Students' Association warns the freeze is a one-year measure, meaning students could be hit with double the tuition increase next year when the one-time provincial funding runs out. He also questions whether the funds could have been better used to protect the quality of education at a time when funding has been cut so drastically. Hours after Redford made the announcement, NAIT began discussions of staff reductions -- 30 to 40 teaching staff alone -- to meet the cutback in operating grants. The head of NAIT's faculty association warns the cuts to teaching staff this year are just "the first phase" and there will be more cuts next year as the institution has to do more on a smaller budget. Inevitably, there will be larger classes, he says. Alberta News Release | Globe and Mail | Edmonton Journal

STU rejects student union funding offer to reduce shortfall

The St. Thomas University Students' Union (STUSU) says administration has turned down a $50,000 donation that was intended to help save scholarships. STUSU members voted last Monday to make the one-time donation to alleviate STU's shortfall and prevent cuts to scholarships. But the donation was contingent on the university's president and vice-presidents taking a 4% pay cut, a move that the STUSU says would have saved the institution between $25,000 and $30,000. The students' union says STU declined the offer in an e-mail on Wednesday morning and has refused to meet with the union on the matter. STU is expecting a $600,000 shortfall if it does not raise additional revenue. The institution has already said tuition fees will rise by $150, which is the cap imposed by the New Brunswick government. But STU has indicated the tuition increase could be larger. The president of the students' union said earlier this month that STU's scenarios included increases of between $1,100 and $1,400 over the next few years. STUSU News Release | CBC

COU creating online learning consortium

The Council of Ontario Universities announced Thursday it is creating a consortium called Ontario Universities Online (OUO) that will build upon the thousands of university courses and many degree programs already being delivered online in the province. COU president Bonnie Patterson says the OUO will improve access to high-quality courses and programs, streamline the transfer of credits between universities, and support collaboration among institutions in developing and delivering online and blended courses. Brock, McMaster, Ryerson, UoGuelph, uWaterloo, WLU, and York U have committed resources to provide core leadership needed to finalize details of the plan. The OUO will be in a position by this fall to invite other provincial universities to join the initiative. The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations believes online learning can play an important complementary role to face-to-face forms of student engagement, and can be of particular benefit to students who live a great distance from university, or who have responsibilities that make in-class attendance challenging. OCUFA favours a consortium model that allows institutions and faculty members to retain control of their own courses, while maintaining academic freedom and autonomy in academic planning. COU News Release | OCUFA News

East Gwillimbury university proposal taking shape

The plan for the East Gwillimbury university proposal is gradually taking shape after a preliminary report was tabled at council last week, outlining what makes the Ontario town, located north of Toronto, a ripe location for such an institution. The report outlines a vision for a multi-location university in York Region, with a central hub in East Gwillimbury. The financial model for the university is based on a student population of 10,000. The report estimates a university of that size would bring 1,000 jobs and $350 million annually to York Region. The capital investment for the project is estimated to be about $750 million over several years, and the startup operating funding would be $25 million over 2 years. Consultants who prepared the report will take input from councillors and submit a draft report to council on May 6, with recommendations and further details for next steps. Newmarket Era

Cambrian launches downtown studio space

Thursday marked the grand opening of Cambrian College's new artistic presence in downtown Sudbury. Cambrian's Open Studio adds 1,200 square feet of new instructional and community space to the downtown, bringing artists together throughout the year to collaborate and inspire one another. The Open Studio will also be a venue for other events, such as alumni gatherings and student exhibitions and shows. The Open Studio will also enhance students' 4D learning experience, as it will offer hands-on opportunity for them to learn about mounting and curating exhibits, art promotion, and marketing. Cambrian News Release

Queen's provost forms advisory committee on mental health

Queen's University's provost has established a new Provost's Advisory Committee on Mental Health (PACMH) to coordinate the implementation of mental health initiatives on campus. PACMH will play a lead role in evaluating mental health priorities at the university, assessing budgetary and organizational impacts of new initiatives, and identifying opportunities for collaboration within and outside Queen's. The advisory committee will also work to streamline relevant policies and will report annually on the institution's progress. PACMH will build upon the work of the Principal's Commission on Mental Health, which was formed in September 2011 to help Queen's with its ongoing efforts to be a proactive and responsive community. In November the commission released its final report, which included 116 recommendations to actively improve mental health awareness and to strengthen support services on campus. Queen's News Centre

uWaterloo releases draft strategic plan

A draft of the University of Waterloo's strategic plan for the remainder of the university's sixth decade (2013-17) is now available online, and uWaterloo is seeking feedback on the draft document from the campus community by May 1. Goals outlined in the document include ensuring uWaterloo's leadership in entrepreneurship education and practice continues to be unrivalled among Canadian universities, being the world-leading university in co-op education and other forms of experiential learning, and becoming the most internationalized university in Canada. Among the objectives related to these goals are ensuring entrepreneurship and co-op education are major components of uWaterloo's brand, enhancing the interaction between the university and the co-op employer base, and producing graduates who are globally literate and comfortable in a cultural diverse workplace. uWaterloo Daily Bulletin | Draft Strategic Plan

International students give COTR, Sheridan top marks in satisfaction survey

College of the Rockies and Sheridan College have received high scores in the International Student Barometer, the largest annual survey of international students in the world. COTR came out as first in Canada and second in the world for overall student satisfaction in arrival, support, learning, and living. The college rated first in Canada and internationally in arrival experience, with registration and accommodations both receiving top honours. Program content and organization also placed first while class sizes and the career advice foreign students received were rated number one in Canada and number two worldwide. 93.3% of Sheridan respondents said they were satisfied with their overall experience with their institution. Sheridan scored higher on this question than any of the 25 participating Canadian institutions. Sheridan's international students also gave the college the top score in Canada in the category of host friends, a second place score for catering, IT support, and the health centre, and third best score for language support and college orientation. COTR News Release | Sheridan News Release

US colleges urged to track student success, retention by sexual orientation

PSE institutions need to start considering sexual orientation in the development of programs and services that support student success, according to a US paper released by ACPA: College Student Educators International and Campus Pride. Colleges and universities look at a number of background characteristics including sex, transfer status, race, and age. By not knowing the count of their out lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students they cannot adequately implement LGBT-inclusive policies and practices, argues the paper. There are only 2 campuses in the US that ask sexual identity questions on their admissions forms. The paper argues that in order to best serve the needs of out LGBT college students, it is imperative that PSE institutions give these students the option to self-identify at the point of college admission or other enrolment activity. This way campuses will be better positioned to take responsibility for their LGBT students' experience, their academic retention, safety, and success from the beginning as they do with other campus populations. Inside Higher Ed | Paper