Top Ten

May 30, 2013

Ontario colleges pleased premier will consider 3-year degrees

Colleges in Ontario are praising Premier Kathleen Wynne for agreeing to consider allowing 3-year degree programs in the province. When the premier met with the presidents of Ontario's 24 colleges earlier this week -- a meeting designed to discuss measures to strengthen PSE in the province -- she said she would investigate the idea further. The idea of a 3-year degree was originally recommended in a discussion paper by the former government under Dalton McGuinty on how to strengthen PSE in Ontario. Colleges Ontario urged the government to adopt the proposal and allow colleges to grant 3-year degrees, giving students more options for degree completion. Northern College News Release | St. Lawrence College News Release | Seaway News

Budget restraints lead to centre closure at uWindsor

The University of Windsor announced plans to close the Centre for Studies in Social Justice as of July 1, 2013. Some faculty and students are extremely unhappy with this news, and there is a protest planned for June 3 to register students' displeasure. One student remarked that the centre "does the critical work of bridging the distance between academia and activism," distancing the university from the label of "ivory tower" that can plague PSE institutions. The centre, created in 2002, provides a forum for research and discussion on a wide range of social justice issues. AVP academic Bruce Tucker pointed to necessary budget cutbacks of $4 million, stating that "some very deserving things have to go." Windsor Star

Concordia approves new program in University Teaching

The senate of Montreal’s Concordia University approved a new graduate certificate program in University Teaching. The program is the first of its kind to be offered in English in Canada, and will provide doctoral students with knowledge and skills in university teaching. The program includes an apprenticeship with a discipline-specific faculty mentor, as well as a teaching internship that involves the design, planning, and delivery of a 3-credit course. The program will allow students who desire more actual classroom experience the opportunity to receive instruction while completing their PhD degrees. Concordia News

RDC signs agreement with Chinese institution

Red Deer College this week announced a new cooperative agreement with Henan Trade and Industry Vocational College in Zhengzhou, China, which will allow up to 50 Chinese accounting students to attend the Donald School of Business at RDC’s downtown campus. “This collaboration is a tremendous opportunity for us,” says Darcy Mykytyshyn, dean of the Donald School of Business. “The idea for this partnership is rooted in a strong relationship that our faculty have been nurturing with the Canada China Business Association through our collaboration with them in our Global Business course offered in our Bachelor of Business Administration degree.” RDC News Release

Brock spring term registrations up 30%

Brock University reports that its spring term undergraduate course registrations have risen by nearly 30% over last year, and the growth is attributed to enhanced course offerings of traditional, online, and accelerated classes. So far Brock has experienced an increase of 2,300 course enrolments above last year's spring/summer term. Anecdotally, students also appear to be enrolled in more than one course this term, says Anna Lathrop, Brock's VP of teaching and learning. Looking ahead, Lathrop says the university will continue to build on its online course offerings. Brock News

Academic entitlement does not equal higher grades

A group of student researchers at the University of Windsor has released their findings on the relationships between attitudes of academic entitlement and academic and workplace achievements. While the researchers did find that attitudes of academic entitlement are relatively uncommon, those who do exhibit such behaviour are more likely to engage in acts of academic dishonesty such as cheating, as well as being more likely to have lower grade point averages than students who have a low sense of entitlement. The research also found that high levels of academic entitlement were strong indicators of future workplace entitlement, including high expectations of job placement, raises, and bonuses. One researcher summed up the message their research has created: "you're not here to buy your degree...You're here to learn and work hard for it, so that you can eventually get a good job afterwards." uWindsor Daily News

Coursera in deals with 10 US state PSE institutions

Coursera, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform, has announced that it is working on new deals with 10 US state university systems and public university flagships. In many of these deals, institutions are not only making their course content available online, but they are also exploring how to use MOOC technology on their own campuses and online within their own courses. Coursera states that faculty will have the opportunity to develop online courses and adapt existing MOOC content, which they can then incorporate into their own classrooms. The collaborations also mean an opportunity for institutions to offer for-credit offerings to some students. "We think the coming decade will see a transformation in the way education is delivered, where teachers and online content come together to better serve students on campus and beyond," said Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera. Coursera News Release | Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Inside Higher Ed

English communication skills on decline among Chinese students

There is a marked decline in English communication skills among a number of Chinese students planning to study abroad in English-speaking countries, according to the company Zinch China. The company surveyed 25,000 prospective Chinese students, from a grade 8-equivalent age to senior high school students, in unscheduled phone interviews. The survey found that 62% had “poor” or “subfunctional” spoken English, a marked increase from the 38% that fell into this category in a similar survey conducted last year. The report gives several possible reasons for change in spoken English skills, including an increased emphasis on reading and writing abilities, as well as a considerable increase in the number of students interested in studying abroad. The study has implications for universities that recruit heavily in China, as many of these incoming students could need months or years of English language studies before being able to participate in a class discussion. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Northwestern U's jest about angry parents goes public

A fake classification system in an internal admissions database that puts complaining parents in categories such as "%$^& You" and “Shove It" has been leaked to the public. A Northwestern University associate provost for enrolment created the filing system in jest. However, someone who saw the database didn't find it humorous and sent screenshots out to a number of people, one of them the parent of a rejected applicant, who sent copies to Inside Higher Ed, and posted a copy on a website popular with applicants. A spokesperson for the Evanston, Illinois-based university said via e-mail: "It was an ill-advised attempt at humor by a member of our staff. Northwestern strives to treat all our admission applicants respectfully and appropriately. This was an error in judgment and we apologize for it." Inside Higher Ed