Top Ten

June 10, 2013

uWaterloo students angry about retroactive fee increases

Today, students at the University of Waterloo are planning to protest tuition fee increases implemented for the current spring semester, for which they’ve already paid, The Record reports. According to uWaterloo, they had to make the retroactive fee change because of the timing of the new tuition framework from the provincial government on March 28. "It was mainly a timing issue from the government," said Geoff McBoyle, uWaterloo's VP academic and provost. "We have to have our fees associated with the fiscal year, so we have to charge the students who come in May the same as we charge the students in September." The Record reports that uWaterloo informed students that they would extend the fees from the previous year, but notified students through a series of emails that adjustments would be made later in the spring term, pending the government framework. "Students were aware that there was potential for an increase, but there was no explicit communication that their tuition would increase by whichever amount," said Adam Garcia, VP education for the Federation of Students. The Record

uRegina hoping to attract more students from Alberta

Officials at the University of Regina are hoping to capitalize on the recent PSE budget cuts announced in Alberta, and are investing in advertising initiatives to help. Presenting uRegina as a viable alternative to Alberta universities, they are running a $25,000 ad campaign in Calgary, and so far, it seems to be working. Applications to uRegina from the Calgary area are up, with more than twice the number of last years’ applications currently being processed. uRegina officials are “guardedly and cautiously optimistic” about the official enrolment count for fall. In Alberta, university officials are less concerned about where the students go to school than they are about the general lack of space for new undergraduate students in that province, reports the Regina Leader-Post. Regina Leader-Post

Ontario universities continue to go “greener,” says report

Ontario universities are shrinking their environmental footprint by reducing waste and increasing recycling, according to the fourth annual Going Greener report released today by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU). The report lists various ways that universities have made progress towards greater environmental sustainability, despite the challenge of budgetary restraints. Measures include an increase in staff dedicated to sustainability, measuring emissions and energy consumption, free or discounted transit passes, infrastructure retrofits like low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucets, and a push to serve local foods. Also, 15 of 22 campuses across the province have introduced new courses related to the environment in the past year. COU News Release | Full Report

Cambrian College program receives accreditation

The Child and Youth Worker Program at Cambrian College has received national accreditation by the Child and Youth Care Educational Accreditation Board. This is a first in Canada, according to the Sudbury Star, and will prepare graduates for potential legislation that will require all child and youth workers in the country to be accredited by the national board. There is “strong support for professional accreditation to ensure adherence to professional standards and to demonstrate competencies” in the child and youth care field, and the program will help Cambrian graduates prepare for the future. Cambrian News Release | Sudbury Star

Partially-published CFS budget gets mixed reaction, says Maclean's

The push for greater transparency in the Canadian Federation of Students’ (CFS) funding met with mixed results at last week’s AGM, according to Maclean's. The magazine reports that an independent blogger published CFS' proposed  2014 budget and 2012 audited financial statements, but that other requests by the CFS budget committee were met with refusals. Details regarding how much individual staff members make, as well as the amount being spent on lawsuits with local student unions have not been made public, despite motions to the contrary. CFS operates on a $3.4-million budget, collected largely from fees attached to tuition at campuses that have voted to join the national lobby group. According to Maclean's, one ex-CFS commissioner stated that requests for transparency are requested at every AGM, and are usually rejected. Maclean’s on Campus

Let more international students play varsity sports, says Civil Liberties Association

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is urging the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) to drop a discriminatory practice that limits the participation of international student athletes in varsity sports. The CCLA reports that for the last 20 years the regulatory body has enforced a policy limiting the number of international students per team in basketball, volleyball, and soccer. The policy is being reviewed at a conference this week and members will be asked to vote on a motion to extend the restrictions to a number of other varsity sports, including badminton, golf and curling. According to CCLA, Holland College in PEI has been pushing to have this policy reversed for several years, arguing that “it is contrary to the values of inclusion and participation that are a core element of [their] brand and that it hurts its ability to recruit internationally.” The association has also urged all college presidents to vote to eliminate the policy. CCLA News Release

McGill broadens preferred first name procedure

McGill University is expanding its Preferred First Name Procedure. Students' preferred name will now appear instead of their first name on class lists, campus ID cards, exam rosters, and student advising transcripts. McGill's registrar says "the expansion of the Preferred First Name Procedure will be of special benefit to trans and gender non-conforming students whose legal first name does not align with their gender identity or presentation. It will also benefit many other students, such as those who prefer to be addressed by a nickname or middle name rather than their legal first name." Last fall, Concordia University began allowing transgender students to use their chosen names in class and on their student ID. Montreal Gazette | McGill Student Records

uOttawa again topped list of formal requests for information last year

The University of Ottawa plans to add a new staff member to the department that deals with freedom of information requests as it deals with the highest number of requests of all Ontario PSE institutions. In 2012, uOttawa received 90 requests under access-to-information legislation, which puts it well ahead of all other institutions in the province. The extra employee will bring the number of people dealing with requests to 3. To explain the large number of requests, a university spokesperson told the Ottawa Citizen that “the university is one of the largest PSE institutions in the country, and that it’s in a city of residents who are quite familiar with how governments and freedom-of-information laws work.” Ottawa Citizen

Boom in Alberta diploma exam tutoring raises questions

A recent enrolment boom in preparation tutoring for Alberta’s diploma exams -- an important admissions factor for universities and colleges -- has been raising issues of inequality in education. Private institutions and freelancing high school teachers are increasingly offering extra exam tutoring, often for a hefty fee, due to the growing importance of exam marks for getting into PSE institutions. The increase is causing some to raise concerns that the tutoring is unfair to those who cannot afford the extra help, widening an inequality gap. The Calgary Herald points out that there is a lack of research or data about the issue. The Calgary Herald

New book suggests having children has impact on academics

Having children does make an impact on academic careers, according to a new book written by 3 researchers from US PSE institutions. The book, Do Babies Matter? Gender and Family in the Ivory Tower, is getting much attention from academics on social media, and, according to Inside Higher Ed, may be the most comprehensive study of gender, family and academe ever published. Building on existing data and using new studies, the book looks at the effects of childbearing and rearing on men’s and women’s careers in higher education, from graduate school to retirement. The authors make the case for more family-friendly institutional policies, as its findings include “baby penalties,” men in academe being favoured, and a gender imbalance in fields that allow less scheduling flexibility or long hours in the lab. “In the individual work we’ve done on the topic, we’ve looked at bits and pieces of the story. Now we have the whole story, soup to nuts,” said one of the authors. Inside Higher Ed