Top Ten

May 28, 2013

Job cuts, program suspensions at MRU

Mount Royal University's board of governors has approved a budget proposal that gives the institution a balanced budget addressing the challenges caused by cuts to its provincial operating grant. Tasked with finding $14 million in savings, MRU suspended intake of 8 non-degree programs to save $3.3 million. It also cut 63 full-time equivalent positions (of which 29 were vacant), slashed $3 million from its campus maintenance budget, and reduced institutional costs -- including campus-wide compensation -- by $4.5 million. MRU will now look to negotiate another $1.6 million in voluntary furlough days. The proposal will next go to Alberta's Advanced Education department for ministerial approval. As Alberta PSE institutions reveal how they plan to cut millions of dollars from their budgets, Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk says he will consider enrolment rates and whether similar programs are offered elsewhere before he approves any program closure. He says he will step in if department officials believe a closure is "inappropriate or not justified." Report from MRU Board Meeting | Calgary Herald | Edmonton Journal

Postscript: May 30, 2013

Following an approved budget proposal that includes the suspension of 8 non-degree programs and cuts to 63 full-time equivalent positions, some Mount Royal University faculty and student leaders say the cuts will impact aspects of the institution as well as the greater community. "Morale is low, people are very disheartened," says the faculty association's president, who suggests education quality will be diminished and there will be less support. MRU's board chair says the board carefully considered a number of criteria in its decision to suspend particular programs, including whether it would be part of a future degree program, and whether it would be too costly as a degree. Calgary Herald

uOttawa students shut down board meeting with tuition protest

Roughly 75 noisy students shut down a board of governors meeting this week when they protested a proposed tuition fee increase at the University of Ottawa. The board met to approve proposed one-year tuition increase of 3%, but was forced to adjourn shortly after the meeting began. That suggested increase was amended from an original proposal to increase fees by 3% annually for the next 4 years. CBC

uManitoba education students punished for social media abuse

In the last 7 months, 4 students in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba have been investigated by a professional misconduct committee for their use of Facebook and Twitter to post “nasty messages” about professors. The teachers-in-training crossed the boundary between personal and professional with their posts, and must now face consequences ranging from writing letters of apology to expulsion from the department. Improper use of social media is a new issue at uManitoba; until this point there have been no incidents of students being disciplined for improper use of social media. University officials and the Education Student Council are now working together to develop guidelines around the appropriate use of social media. CBC

Boréal New Liskeard campus renamed Témiskaming

At its latest executive committee meeting, Ontario's Collège Boréal ratified the decision to change the name of the New Liskeard campus to Témiskaming campus. This change highlights the growing place Boréal occupies in the Témiskaming region as reflected by its strategic participation in the regional initiative "Tisser des liens avec les communautés" (Building bridges with communities). In 2012-13, Boreal's Témiskaming campus served about 500 students through academic upgrading, learning services, PSE, and continuing education. Boreal News Release

International students in Atlantic Canada willing and able to fill skills gap

In a new policy paper, the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) wonders: "How can Atlantic Canada attract and retain skilled professionals inside what is a highly competitive market for their services?" We could start by looking at the international students already enrolled in Atlantic Canada's universities, says the paper. According to new research commissioned by the AAU, one-third of international students surveyed ranked a "desire to live in Canada after graduation" as the single most important reason for their decision to attend a Canadian university. More than three-quarters said they were interested in applying for permanent residency through the federal Canadian Experience Class (CEC) immigration stream. Many international students would like to thrive and prosper in the East Coast following graduation and to contribute to the region's development and prosperity, and "we should do everything that we can to make it so," says the paper. "Governments, our universities and the private sector should now partner in transforming the CEC program into an East Coast success story." AAU Policy Paper

UoGuelph improves on learning outcomes

On Monday, the University of Guelph Senate approved learning outcomes for graduate programs, following up on earlier institution-wide undergraduate learning outcomes. The 5 outcomes are: critical and creative thinking, literacy, global understanding, communication, and professional and ethical behaviour. While these mirror the undergraduate outcomes, at the graduate level there will be “intellectual independence” and “independence of thought” under critical and creative thinking, and professional and ethical behaviour. UoGuelph is a leader in learning outcomes, as the first Canadian university to implement institution-wide learning benchmarks in all degree programs at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Departments will now work on determining how to assess and measure the outcomes for each program. UoGuelph News Release

College preparatory program deemed a success

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario released a research report this week on the value and efficacy of college preparatory programs for non-traditional students who either lack admission requirements, or who have been out of school for an extended length of time. The study, which focused on programs at Conestoga College, found that, overall, the programs appeared to be successful, and program participants “experienced a great deal of intellectual and academic growth.” The study also found that, of the students interviewed, the most common reason given for taking the preparatory program was concern over academic abilities. In addition to educating individuals on possible education and career paths, the programs were deemed successful in creating meaningful relationships between instructors and students, with instructors willing to try different teaching/learning methods in order to best serve individual learning styles. Research Summary | Full Report

UNB forms Accessible Learning Committee

The University of New Brunswick has formed the Accessible Learning Committee (ALC), a joint committee between the university's Student Accessibility Centre and the Centre for Enhanced Teaching and Learning that is primarily composed of students and faculty who offer support to instructors on teaching-inclusive techniques. The ALC promotes the use of instructional methods that accommodate student diversity and special needs while benefitting everyone, according to Universal Design for Learning principles. The ALC's activities involve raising awareness of the issue, providing resource materials to instructors, conducting workshops, and providing consulting and coaching to instructors needing assistance. UNB News

UNBC signs agreement with Chinese university

The University of Northern British Columbia has signed an MOU with Wuyi University in Jiangmen, China, as part of the city of Prince George’s sister-city project with Jiangmen. The agreement is meant to foster international cooperation in education and research through various partnerships and information sharing agreements. This year, UNBC has 462 international students, up from only 112 a decade ago. Bill Owen, dean of Student Success and Enrolment Management, stated that the students would be accepted at domestic tuition rates. UNBC News Release | HQ Prince George

Harvard profs call for greater oversight of MOOCs

Several dozen arts and science professors at Harvard University have signed a letter asking their dean for formal oversight of massive open online courses offered by Harvard through edX, a MOOC provider co-founded by Harvard and MIT. While “some faculty are tremendously excited about HarvardX,” the professors wrote, referring to the university’s brand within the edX platform, “others are deeply concerned about the program’s cost and consequences.” They go on to ask their dean to appoint a committee of faculty members who would consider the ethical issues related to MOOCs and create a set of principles to govern their colleagues’ involvement in Harvard-branded MOOCs. Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)