Top Ten

May 1, 2013

Former York U executives cleared of fraud charges

2 former York University executives accused of fraud and money-laundering have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing and charges against them have been dropped. There is no reasonable prospect of conviction due to the unreliability of the 2 key witnesses, a short hearing was told yesterday morning. Michael Markicevic and Phil Brown had pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud over $5,000 and laundering the proceeds of crime. The pair was arrested last June, accused of defrauding York U of more than $1.2 million over a 3-year period for work that was never done, through what university officials called "a vast, unlawful invoices scheme." Markicevic's lawyer says the charges should never have been laid in the first place and he rebuked York U for the way in which it handled the matter. Both Markicevic and Brown remain defendants in a separate $3-million civil suit, launched jointly by the university and nearly 20 other individuals and companies. Globe and Mail

Job cuts, program suspensions at Lethbridge College

Lethbridge College has balanced its budget, and as a result the college is cutting jobs and suspending intake in a couple of programs. The institution announced Tuesday it will lay off 12 full-time staff members, as well as suspend intake to its Office Administration and Fashion Design and Marketing diploma programs. The college has confirmed that a quarter of the layoffs are due to the closure of 2 rural campuses. The institution still anticipates a reduction in term-certain and contract positions, although specifics are not currently available. Other staff impacts include a 0% cost of living adjustment for many employees. Program rollbacks are expected to impact 20 to 40 students. The affected programs were chosen due to low enrolment figures. A Lethbridge College spokesperson says students will be able to make up courses through another institution. Lethbridge College News Release | Global News 

B'nai Brith urges UBC to prevent Leila Khaled speech

The Jewish advocacy group B'nai Brith has called on UBC to prevent Leila Khaled from speaking at a conference devoted to Palestinian issues, arguing the controversial figure's past should preclude her from having any public platform in Canada. Known for her role in hijackings in 1969 and 1970, Khaled is scheduled to speak via Skype on Saturday at a conference to be held at UBC. B'nai Brith argues that Khaled is a terrorist whose views should not be aired in Canada, especially at a time of heightened concern about youth being wooed to radical groups and causes. For its part, UBC points out that while the conference is being held on its campus, it has been organized by a student group and is not affiliated with the institution -- and that free expression is a core tenet at the university. A UBC official says the university expects on-campus events to be managed in a way that prevents any group or individual from being targeted or threatened. Globe and Mail

NB to invest more than $609 million in PSE, training in 2013-14

The New Brunswick government announced Tuesday it plans to invest more than $609 million in PSE, training, and labour in 2013-14. Measures targeted to PSE this year include maintaining the level of funding for public colleges and universities, increasing the New Brunswick Bursary program to $130 a week from $90 a week, continuing last year's commitment to fund 72 second-year seats at New Brunswick Community College and Coll├Ęge communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick, and providing $6.2 million as part of a 5-year, $80-million innovation strategy to strengthen research activities at PSE institutions. NB News Release

NAIT celebrates opening of new Nanotechnology Centre

Industry leaders gathered at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology on Tuesday to officially mark the opening of the institute’s new Nanotechnology Centre for Applied Research, Industry Training and Services (NanoCARTS). NanoCARTS was created in the spring of 2012 with $1.75 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. To date, the centre has already attracted $2.7 million in projects, funded through Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures. "NanoCARTS has provided a hub for our nanotech partners in the region," said NAIT's AVP of academic research. "This means, through the centre, nanotech start-up companies have an easy path to access the services available in the province." Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating matter at a molecular scale. NAIT News

uWindsor OKs $32-million tender for former Windsor Star buildings

The University of Windsor's board of governors has approved the tendering of the project to convert the former Windsor Star buildings into the school of social work at a cost of more than $32 million. The university purchased the collection of 3 buildings for $2 million last November. The new building will accommodate more than 800 students, faculty, and staff of the school of social work, as well as the Centre for Executive and Professional Education. There will be 7 classrooms that will each seat between 40 and 60 students, 2 multi-purpose seminar rooms, individual and group study spaces, computer labs, and a rooftop garden. Funding for the project is comprised of $4.5 million from operating funds and reserves, a bond debenture of $16.3 million, and financing for $11.3 million. Completion of the complex is expected by the end of 2014. Windsor Star

Outdated restrictions limiting apprenticeship opportunities, says report

Outdated provincial rules are needlessly limiting the number of apprenticeships available to trades workers, according to a new C. D. Howe report whose authors argue that reforming those tight regulations is crucial to meeting demand for skilled workers. Despite skilled trade workers being a crucial component of Canada's labour force, many employers report shortages of skilled workers such as carpenters and electricians, note the authors. "While federal and provincial governments have targeted many grant and tax credit programs to encourage workers to become apprentices, myriad provincial regulations limit how many apprentices firms may hire," says a co-author. "This red tape is stymieing program efforts and limiting apprenticeship opportunities." Governments set regulations on journeyperson-apprentice ratios and on whether workers must complete a certified apprenticeship to legally work in an occupation. Such rules are meant to protect workers and the general public by encouraging workers to gain the proper training in skilled trades. However, the authors say, entry restrictions are not the best means by which to regulate work quality and safety. Rather than regulating the rate of apprenticeship entry, governments should instead focus on regulating quality of work and safety standards. C.D. Howe News Release | Report

Lakehead Orillia granted OCAA sports membership

Lakehead University's Orillia campus has been accepted as an affiliate member of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA). Lakehead Orillia's official membership status went into effect on May 1 and opens up opportunities for expanding varsity sports and athletic competition. The OCAA is the sports governing body for intercollegiate sports at colleges and smaller universities in Ontario. Lakehead's successful application, which required the support of 2 existing members, was endorsed by Humber College and Georgian College. The first varsity sports that Lakehead Orillia will field for OCAA competition are men's and women's curling, beginning in the 2013-14 season. Within the next 5 years, the campus plans to introduce more varsity sport teams, according to interest and the development of community partnerships. "Lakehead's membership will not only contribute to sport competition in the province, but will also enhance the Lakehead Orillia student experience," says OCAA's executive director. Lakehead News

GPRC unveils new website

Grande Prairie Regional College recently launched a redesigned website, which features a red, black, and white colour scheme. The phrase "Your Choice in Learning" appears at the top of the homepage, which features a small, rotating graphic banner linking to information about class registration, upcoming events, campus venues, and degree programs. Below the banner are links to graduate profiles and news updates, a spotlight on events and instructors, and an events listing. At the bottom of homepage you'll find links to GPRC's Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Flickr accounts, as well as the college's mobile application. GPRC website

Coursera rolls out K-12 teacher training with new MOOCs

Coursera, the Silicon Valley-based provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), is entering the teacher education market. The company is partnering with teachers' colleges and other educational institutions to provide online professional development courses for K-12 teachers and parents. With this, the company is eyeing a professional development market that includes about 3.7 million teachers in the US, plus millions more across the world. "Many schools just don’t have the resources to provide teachers and parents the training and support they need. By providing free online courses on how to teach, we hope to improve this," said Coursera's co-founder. Some of the new teacher-education MOOCs will be part of the company’s Signature Track program, where students pay for the opportunity to take proctored examinations and receive special certificates. The Signature Track program, unveiled in January, has quickly become one of Coursera’s more promising revenue streams, generating $220,000 in its first few months. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Inside Higher Ed