Top Ten

April 26, 2013

Several programs in jeopardy as Capilano U trims spending

The textile arts program at Capilano University is among several in jeopardy as the school tries to balance its 2013-14 budget by trimming $1.3 million in spending. Students were advised last week about the possible cuts but a final decision won’t be made until May 14. If the cuts are approved, the university would suspend intakes into some 2-year programs this fall while allowing those already enrolled to complete their studies, said a school official. Other diploma programs could face the same fate as Capilano U continues its transition from a college to a university that offers 4-year degree programs. Capilano Budget News | Vancouver Sun

CNA urges NL premier to reconsider privatization of adult education

Faculty at College of the North Atlantic have sent a letter to Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier urging her to reconsider the privatization of adult basic education. Earlier this month the province announced that it is turning adult basic education over to the private college system. On Thursday Liberal critic Andrew Parsons brought the issue to the floor of the house of assembly. “The faculty of the College of the North Atlantic have made a compelling argument for keeping the college’s ABE program,” he said. However, Premier Kathy Dunderdale said she was not changing her mind, citing the cost of delivery and low graduation rate as among her reasons for the decision. A CNA insider told the CBC in early April that more than 100 jobs could be lost as a result of the program’s cancellation. The premier said her government is working on a recent White Paper on education. CBC    

UPEI suspends research grants amid multimillion-dollar shortfall

The University of Prince Edward Island says it has put its internal research grants on hold for the upcoming school year as it tries to cover a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall. The school says it’s short by about $5.5 million, and in addition, another $3.5 million for its Atlantic Veterinary College. UPEI, by law, is not permitted to run a deficit, so that means finding $9 million to cover the shortfall within departments. The cut will save $125,000, but the faculty association says it will hit some researchers hard. The internal grants help pay for summer students, travel expenses to academic conferences and grants for new scholars. For now, the grants are on hiatus for just one year, but the school says the future of the program won’t be known until after the budget is approved in May. CBC

Fanshawe strategic plan focuses on expansion, renewal

Last week Fanshawe College’s board of governors approved the school’s 2013-14 Strategic Plan and operating budget. The $206-million operating budget will include the launch of 7 new programs in the fall; the offering of “Weekend College,” a convenient alternative learning format geared at working adults; as well as building renewal and expansion. Fanshawe has also targeted a 3% increase in recruitment for 2013. Fanshawe's Capital Projects Plan includes investments totaling more than $52 million in new facilities and facility renewal over the next 5 years. Some of these projects include: the Centre for Digital and Performance Arts, scheduled to open in September 2013, updates and upgrades to building infrastructure, renewal and site services, including energy conservation and demand reduction initiatives, and classroom/laboratory modernization. The budget reflects an in-year deficit of $3 million. Fanshawe News | 2013-14 Strategic Plan

Canadian universities to promote collaboration in Brazil mission

A delegation of Canadian universities is travelling to Brazil to promote higher education in Canada and strengthen existing research collaborations between the 2 countries. 14 universities from across Canada are participating in the delegation led by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. During the week-long visit to Natal, Recife and São Paulo, delegates will meet with institutions and granting councils, and participate in a key conference of Brazilian university leaders. Of particular interest to the delegation is research collaboration in the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Canadian universities continue to build successful partnerships with Brazilian universities. Since September 2012, CBIE has placed more than 2,000 Brazilian students in Canadian universities. The visit seeks to augment this success through the promotion of the variety of in-Canada research opportunities available to Brazilian undergraduate and graduate student. CBIE News

Proposed new student housing complex prompts UoGuelph concerns

The University of Guelph has safety and size concerns about a controversial new student housing complex planned for across the street. A private company has been given the green light by the Ontario Municipal Board to build the student housing complex a stone’s throw from campus. While the board did impose restrictions on the project, they have given permission for one building up to 11 storeys and others up to 9 storeys. The development will likely see up to 1,000 students living in a non-official residence setting. “We’re concerned about shadow effect on our front entrance, we’re concerned about safety issues, cars and large volumes of people crossing an already busy intersection,” said a UoGuelph spokesperson. As for need, he said that the residence situation at the university is currently very positive. All first-year students are guaranteed spots and the demand from returning students for residence has declined over the past few years. Guelph Mercury

UOIT students ordered to write exam with “pen and paper only”

An order that marketing students at Oshawa’s University of Ontario Institute of Technology would have to write their final exam last week on paper rather than on the planned laptop for fear of technical glitches diminished class morale and prompted claims that the campus is not living up to its name. UOIT was dubbed the “laptop university” when it opened a decade ago. But the school pulled the plug on laptops for last Thursday’s final exams after several computers crashed in a Monday exam for a popular advertising course. “It’s not fair to students to change the format that they’ve been practicing on in class -- especially at a place that prides itself on being this technology university where everything is supposed to be online,” said the affected class’s professor. She said Monday’s problems were quickly resolved by the technicians stationed in the exam hall who came equipped with “loner” laptops. But UOIT officials remained resolute that the exam had to be pen and paper only. Toronto Star

CAUT campaign calls for overhaul of federal science policies, funding

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is calling for an overhaul of the federal government’s science policy and funding for science in Canada. “Science in Canada is at a tipping point,” said James Turk, CAUT’s executive director. “From the muzzling of scientists to the serious under-funding of basic research at our universities and colleges, the federal government is making dumb choices that will have serious consequences for all Canadians.” In response to a growing outcry from researchers and academics, CAUT is launching a national campaign, Get Science Right, to highlight the negative impact of the government’s approach to science, to propose a new direction, and to encourage Canadians to take action to protect scientific integrity. Turk said the campaign will call on the government to re-invest in basic research, to make the research funding agencies arms-length and to establish a Parliamentary Science Officer to provide legislators with independent and non-partisan advice. CAUT News | Montreal Gazette

Concordia coursepacks go digital

Concordia University’s bookstore will soon be the first university bookstore in Quebec to offer digital coursepacks. In a pilot program that kicks off this summer, 6 e-coursepacks will be available for purchase. The e-coursepacks represent a savings of up to 50% compared to a paper coursepack. “The advent of e-coursepacks is in line with Concordia’s sustainability objectives. This pilot program also provides us with an excellent opportunity to learn more about emerging digital educational approaches,” says a school official. The e-coursepacks will be accessible via computer, phone, iPad – any device with an internet connection. Features include the ability to highlight, underline, and add notes, drawings and annotations, all of which are saved automatically. An additional 25 to 30 e-coursepacks will be introduced for the fall term, said the official. Concordia News

Students avoid "difficult" online courses, prefer face-to-face instruction, study

Many students stay away from online courses in subjects they deem especially difficult or interesting, according to a study released this month by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College. The study, based on interviews with 46 students at 2 US community colleges, also found that the majority felt that they did not learn the course material as well when they took it online. The major draws for the occasional online course are flexibility and convenience, according to the students interviewed for the study. Some also said the courses allowed them to use their learning time more efficiently. However, only 5 of the 46 students said they would take all their courses online if they could. And almost all of the students interviewed said student-instructor interaction online did not match that of the traditional classroom, calling the online version more distant and impersonal. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Inside Higher Ed