Top Ten

May 31, 2013

UCN suspends intake for 10 programs, announces 16 jobs to be cut

University College of the North announced Thursday measures to address a challenge in achieving a balanced budget as mandated by the Manitoba government. Effective September 2013, UCN will suspend intake in 5 one-year certificate programs and in the first year of 5 two-year diploma programs. Students currently enrolled in the affected diploma programs will be allowed to complete their education. These programs were identified through a review of enrolments and cost factors. UCN will not fill 10 positions that are currently vacant, and there will be job cuts equivalent to 6 FTEs in faculty, administration, and support. UCN is also instituting a vacancy management strategy, in which all vacated positions will need stringent scrutiny prior to measures being taken to fill the position. UCN

Changes in the works to Saskatchewan’s BEd requirements

Saskatchewan’s Teacher Education, Certification and Classification board (TECC) is on the fifth draft of a document recommending significant changes to the education requirements for teachers in the province. Currently, high school level teachers must have “major” and “minor” subject specialties; the recommended changes would require teachers to have classes in 3 teaching areas. At the elementary level, teachers who now are required to have classes in all the main areas of study will be required to choose a “major.” Other proposed changes include increasing the amount of time that teachers spend as student-teachers from 8 weeks to 10 weeks. Members of the province’s 4 PSE institutions who provide teacher training are concerned there has not been enough consultation with faculties. According to James McNinch, dean of education at the University of Regina, the TECC board is listening “to their constituents rather than to the educational stakeholders.” Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Concordia closes Centre for Academic Leadership

Concordia University in Montreal is closing its Centre for Academic Leadership after only 1.5 years; however, the programs offered through the centre will continue under the auspices of the Office of the Provost. The closure is due to budget concerns and is an effort to improve on efficiency, says interim provost and VP academic Lisa Ostiguy. The centre was created to offer academic leaders with workshops and presentations that explored labour relations, collective bargaining, and leadership skills. The centre also created a peer-mentorship program to help new department chairs transition to their new positions. Concordia News

uAlberta raises nearly $120 million in 2012-13

In the last fiscal year the University of Alberta raised $119.4 million – second only to the previous year’s record of $162.7 million – driven by record levels of gifts to the Faculties of Medicine & Dentistry and Arts. More than 20,000 individuals, foundations, and corporations donated in 2012-13, including 4,700 first-time benefactors. Planned giving, in which individuals leave donations to the institution in their will, contributed more than $29 million to the total. uAlberta News

$1.1-million donation to McGill supports fellowships for Greek grad students

McGill University announced Thursday a $1.1-million donation from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, as part of McGill's $750million fundraising campaign. The donation will endow 2 Stavros Niarchos Foundation Fellowships for Excellence in Graduate Education. The fellowships will be awarded every year to talented applicants from Greece, who wish to pursue a master's or doctoral degree at McGill. Each recipient will get funding for up to 2 years of study. The first fellowships will be awarded in fall 2014. McGill News Release

uWindsor standardizes marking system

The University of Windsor is updating its grading system from the 13-point system it has been using to a numeric scale of 0 to 100. The previous system was unique to uWindsor, and was confusing for other institutions and employers to figure out. For some programs where grades are more subjective, professors have the option to state on the course outline that grades will be assigned in intervals of 5 percentage points (80, 85, 90). The changes will take effect as of September 2013, and all grades assigned prior to that date will remain on transcripts as letter grades (A, B, C, D). Windsor Star

Students with learning disabilities excel at UBC opera program

A new UBC study to be presented this week at Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Victoria examines a trend among students with various learning disabilities who excel in UBC’s very demanding opera program. Lead researchers suggest that perhaps the multi-tasking skills required for opera serve to “re-train” the brain to think in different ways, as the program requires intense discipline and concentration. The goal of the study is to discover the “key elements of opera education that are helping learning-disabled students thrive” so that techniques can be applied to students with learning disabilities in other disciplines. UBC News Release

Record number of Chinese students enter UTSC "Green Path" program

The University of Toronto Scarborough is welcoming a record number of top students from mainland China to Green Path, a 12-week academic and ESL program that prepares students for undergraduate studies at uToronto. This year 225 students from 23 Chinese provinces are participating, making it the largest number of entrants in Green Path since it launched in 2005. 613 Green Path students are currently enrolled at uToronto. UTSC News

Some faculty caught off-guard by Coursera deals

Some faculty were surprised by the announcement of a series of business partnerships between Coursera, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform, and 10 US state PSE institutions. In some cases faculty members spoke with administrators about the deal before the announcement or were involved directly. However, in others, faculty leaders say they were caught off-guard by the news. “We are concerned that there is an experiment being done on students and we don’t know the outcome but it could jeopardize their higher education,” says Eileen Landy, the secretary of United University Professions, the bargaining union for faculty at 30 of the State University of New York’s 64 campuses. Inside Higher Ed

What Canadian universities are doing to attract US students

A feature article in last week's Globe and Mail points to efforts by some Canadian universities to enhance their recruitment of US students. The University of Windsor is creating a "US neighbour fee" that will charge American undergraduate students less than standard international fees. The US is one of the University of Calgary's 5 priority sources in its bid to double its international enrolment by 2016. uCalgary is opening 3 new alumni chapters in Houston, New York, and Silicon Valley to spread the word, and launching a new regional council with representatives from US businesses, consulates, and government. Data indicates the movement of students within North America has stayed flat, suggesting that both Canada's and the States' recruiting strategies have grown stale. Still considered one of the most prestigious and highly sought-after honours by North American students, the Fulbright Scholar program is largely funded by the US State Department to engage the 2 nations intellectually and raise the profile of their PSE institutions. Allan Goodman of the US-based Institute of International Education states that the relationship between Canada and the US must be renewed through a new scholarship, perhaps one that's privately funded. Globe and Mail

Tips for spring-cleaning your campus

In his final post before going on a summer hiatus, our guest blogger David Sovka muses on spring cleaning at home and deferred maintenance on campus. In lieu of actual funding to clean up your campus, David offers a few suggestions for physical resources personnel short on financial resources. When it comes to easy-clean furniture, select "fabric with textures and colours that go well with exam season despair and coffee stains." Another tip is to board up your windows, because "you don't have to clean what you can't see." Read David's blog