Top Ten

May 23, 2013

uManitoba president questions province's low tuition policy

University of Manitoba president David Barnard says it's time the provincial government looked at the cost to universities of keeping tuition fees low. "This province has chosen to keep tuition fees among the lowest in the country. We do seem to be out of alignment with the rest of the country," said Barnard after uManitoba's board passed a budget including nearly $5 million in cuts. Barnard wonders why students in Manitoba pay so much less than students in most of the country. An aide to Manitoba's advanced education minister says it's not the first time the cap on tuition has been questioned. The aide says capping tuition at the rate of inflation will remain. Winnipeg Free Press

UBC medical school receives bequest of more than $6 million

UBC’s Faculty of Medicine is one of 3 recipients sharing a $40-million bequest from the estate of Judith Jardine. In her will, Jardine left $6.4 million from her estate to the medical school. At her request, the estate gift to UBC will go toward medical research and medical student scholarship. A permanent endowment has been established and named the Willard Kitchen Memorial Fund in honour of Jardine’s maternal grandfather. Vancouver Foundation/UBC/United Church of Canada News Release

New name among recommendations for uRegina's Institut français

A new name and director for the University of Regina's Institut français, lobbying the Saskatchewan government for extra funding, and greater consultation with the Fransaskois community are some of the recommendations of a task force that explored the future of the institute. Other recommendations include awarding credit status to the institute and increasing French-language program choices. uRegina president Vianne Timmons says she has accepted all recommendations "in principle" and hopes the institute, Fransaskois community, and the wider campus community will be able to come together to provide the "best pathway to the future" for the Institut français. The next step will be the formation of a working group to analyze the recommendations. Critical of the entire process, a spokesman for Friends of the Institut français says Timmons needs to outline the mandate of the committee to give the Fransaskois community confidence. uRegina News Release | Regina Leader-Post

CFS-NS calls on NDP to reduce tuition, restore funding to 1990 levels

The Canadian Federation of Students – Nova Scotia has presented a report to the Ministry of Labour and Advanced Education with a number of recommendations to make NS universities competitive and affordable. Recommendations include moving away from funding based on Key Performance Indicators; supporting the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) and its efforts to improve quality assurance monitoring programs; restoring PSE funding to 1990 levels; reducing tuition by 10%; and redirecting funding from the debt cap and the Graduate Retention program to provide students with grants instead of loans. The report concludes with a call to allow communities and students to determine which programs would best serve them, using MPHEC benchmarks. As CFS-NS states, “empowering students to create that satisfaction for themselves is the only way to build a flourishing university community in Nova Scotia.” CFS-NS Report

Alberta's push for more commercialized university research raising questions

The Alberta government's push for increasing commercialization of university-led research is prompting concerns about growing pressures to produce for profit and how to protect academic freedom. The government needs to keep its eyes wide open as it travels this path, says Tim Caufield, a health research ethics expert at the University of Alberta who has written about the impact of "creeping commercialization" on campuses. There are social costs and serious questions, like how to protect research from bias if there is commercial pressure for a certain outcome, Caufield says. He says safeguards must be built in to ensure the researcher, not the company, keeps control over the results so integrity is not compromised. The head of the University of Lethbridge's faculty association says many professors are "extremely enthusiastic about taking research to commercialization." He says "the faculty association has no problem in principle -- but they want to be consulted" on the rules regarding private sector partnerships, for example. Edmonton Journal

uToronto president calls for new fund for research excellence

David Naylor, president of the University of Toronto, gave a speech on May 7 to the Economic Club of Canada that called on the federal government to establish a fund to support Canadian research excellence. Naylor spoke in response to the federal budget’s commitment to hold consultations on reinforcing excellence in post-secondary research. Naylor argued that Canada is “losing ground in research excellence,” which is crucial to innovation and long-term economic and social prosperity. Currently, “Canada compares poorly to other countries particularly in federal support for the indirect costs of research,” and according to Naylor, rewards for research excellence could help to balance this discrepancy. uToronto News

Province partners with businesses to keep graduates in NS

The Nova Scotia government has partnered with local businesses to create jobs for NS graduates with the Co-operative Graduate Placement Program. The program provides a 50% wage subsidy (max $7,500) for the first 3 months of permanent, full-time employment for a graduate of a co-operative education program at a Nova Scotia college or university. Many colleges and universities in NS offer co-operative education programs and any NS business is eligible to apply for the program, whether private sector, government-funded, or non-profit organizations. NS News Release

WLU breaks ground for Global Innovation Exchange building

Last week Wilfrid Laurier University broke ground for its $103-million Global Innovation Exchange building. The facility will house WLU's business school and mathematics department, allowing the university to meet the growing demand for enrolment in these programs and expand WLU's ability to deliver integrated and engaged learning opportunities to students locally and globally. The design for the 215,000-square-foot building boasts 4 storeys, a 1,000-seat auditorium, a 4-storey atrium, lecture halls, and a Finance Research Lab with real-time trading facilities and Bloomberg terminals. WLU News Release

MBA grads in Canada, and globally, have better odds of landing jobs

A new survey of corporate recruiters by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) released this week found that of 935 respondents, 75% said they would hire MBA graduates this year, up from 71% in 2012. Also in demand by employers are those with a specialty master’s level degree, especially in fields such as energy and utilities, and health care and pharmaceuticals. In a companion survey of 5,300 business students worldwide, 60% of job seekers had a job offer prior to graduation, on par with 2012’s findings. In the US, employers expect to pay a median entrance salary of $95,000 annually. In Canada, only 46% of students said they had a job lined up before graduation, but that is a significant increase from last year’s 25%. For some, these increases signal a growing confidence in the global economy as it recovers from the financial instability of previous years. GMAC News Release | Globe and Mail

Studies take aim at "Academically Adrift" findings

The 2011 book Academically Adrift found that many students showed no meaningful gains on key measures of learning during their PSE years. 2 recent reports from the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) purport to challenge the book's conclusions. The studies show that students taking the Collegiate Learning Assessment made an average gain of 0.73 of a standard deviation in their critical thinking scores, significantly more than that found by the book's authors. But there were differences between CAE's studies and those of the book's authors that CAE says may explain the differences they measured in growth. One of Academically Adrift's authors agrees that much of the discrepancy could be attributable to differing methodologies. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Inside Higher Ed