Top Ten

June 17, 2013

Universities receive funds from alleged Iran government front

According to Maclean’s, McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies has been receiving funds from the Alavi Foundation, an organization that US authorities say is a front for the Iranian government, several years after, in 2009, the US government took it to court to seize the group’s assets and alleging it was channeling money to an Iranian state-owned bank. The New York-based foundation has given Canadian universities more than $300,000 since 2004. Both the University of Alberta and Carleton University received gifts from the organization, but claim they have not received any money since 2007 and 2008, respectively. Maclean’s reports that “the claim, which is not resolved, alleges that, following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran’s new government took control of the property and the foundation, which it renamed, running them through Iran’s ambassadors to the United Nations. “As far as I’m concerned, when we receive money from the Alavi Foundation, we’re not receiving money from Iran,” says McGill’s arts and science dean, Christopher Manfredi. “We’re simply receiving money from a philanthropic foundation that has an interest in supporting cultural activities around Persian language, literature and culture.” However, a professor of international law at McGill says, “The acceptance of funds from an organization suspected of acting as a front for a regime with an appalling human rights record raises serious ethical questions.” Maclean's On Campus

Canada Jobs Grant deeply flawed, report says

Ottawa’s proposed Canada Jobs Grant is deeply flawed public policy and should be abandoned, says a joint report by the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation and the Caledon Institute for Social Policy. The new program would provide cash grants of up to $15,000 for training sponsored by employers. However, the report, “The Training Wheels Are Off ,” points out that this would be financed by cutting $300 million annually out of federal funding to provinces and territories for the Labour Market Agreements, which provide employment training funding for those not eligible for unemployment insurance – often the most vulnerable workers.  “The program will likely deliver inferior results at higher costs compared to the programs under the current Labour Market Agreements,” said Michael Mendelson, co-author of the report. The Toronto Star | Full Report

Colleges Ontario launches “skills mismatch” webpage

Colleges Ontario has launched an interactive webpage about the skills mismatch that many have identified as an issue both in Ontario, and internationally. The new page, which features a graphic of a large gear and the tagline “closing the skills gap,” includes 4 different links to “quick facts” about the skills mismatch, a graph that shows the projected gap between unskilled workers and unfilled jobs, a stream of the latest news on the issue, and the Twitter hash tag, “#skillsmismatch.” Colleges Ontario also recently praised the Ontario government’s Youth Jobs Strategy, which includes funding for measures aimed at preparing students with skills necessary for the jobs of the future. Colleges Ontario News Release

uWinnipeg sports teams to remain “Wesmen”

The University of Winnipeg announced in September 2012 that it was launching a campaign to examine changing the name of its sports teams from the “Wesmen” to something more gender-inclusive. However, the campaign appears to have fizzled out with no changes planned. A spokesperson from uWinnipeg stated that “an idea was floated to look at refreshing the name of all our sports teams. We discovered there is a deep loyalty to the Wesmen brand, which is great, and we respect that tradition. As a result, we never moved to a more formal consultation process." Winnipeg Free Press

$4 million to support WesternU coaching, academic exchanges

Western University student-athletes will benefit from a $4-million gift from alumni Jack and Sharon Cowin for 2 new initiatives. $1 million will go towards the Jack Cowin/Lone Star Coaching Excellence Fund designed to support WesternU’s efforts to retain and recruit top-level head or assistant coaches for its varsity teams. A $3-million gift through Bond University in Australia will create the Jack and Sharon Cowin Scholars Award, a partnership between Bond U and WesternU that will encourage student mobility and academic exchange opportunities between the 2 universities beginning this fall. Jack Cowin is the founder and chairman of Competitive Foods Australia Ltd, an Australian franchisor whose units include Hungry Jack’s and Domino’s Pizza. WesternU News Release

Better international student supports needed in NS, says report

A new report by StudentsNS suggests that more should be done to encourage and support international students and their eventual transition into employment in Nova Scotia. The report outlines NS’s declining youth demographic, and argues both PSE institutions and the provincial economy would benefit by easing access for international students. The report suggests that institutions should cap international tuition rates, and provide more transparency concerning provincial funding for international students, by establishing a Language Education Grant and an International Student Services Grant. The report also makes suggestions for strengthening employment programs for international students who want to immigrate to NS. Other organizations in Atlantic Canada have suggested the potential for a future workforce of international students. StudentsNS News Release

Study finds students stressed, exhausted, not partying

Students at PSE institutions across Canada are overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed, according to a new report. The study, considered the first-ever nationwide health survey of PSE students in Canada, was presented at a conference of the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services. The findings will help create greater awareness of the need for more robust mental health supports for students. The survey also found that a surprising number of students were not engaging in the stereotypical PSE party scene, although their opinions of fellow students are skewed in that direction. Some of the reasons given for the increase in mental health issues are tuition increases, job anxiety, and a lack of support systems when students leave home to attend PSE institutions. The study’s authors would like to reach out and connect with other researchers so that more work can be done to determine the factors responsible for students’ health issues and examine what can be done to help them. Toronto Star

Postscript: June 20, 2013

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) has issued a response to a recent report on the health of Canadian students, underlining the fact that mental health issues on campuses can no longer be ignored. Recognizing that student stress comes from a variety of sources, including finances, CASA chairperson Amanda Nielsen states the need for government involvement, by “helping them make ends meet, and better funding mental health supports on campuses.” CASA Media Release

UQAM first French MBA to certify management consultants in Canada

The École des sciences de la gestion (School of Management Sciences) at the Université du Québec à Montréal has announced that its MBA in management consulting has become the first French MBA program to certify students to become Certified Management Consultants (CMC). Students already enrolled in the program as well as current graduates will benefit from the agreement beginning the fall of 2013. "This agreement addresses a critical need to better equip management consultants and therefore, to raise standards in the management consulting industry,” says Chantal Dalpe, president of l'Ordre des administrateurs agréés du Québec (OAAQ). UQAM News Release (in French)

NWCC launches redesigned website

Northwest Community College has launched a redesigned website powered by Drupal, a reliable open-source content management platform. New features and improved functionality include easy access to important information about NWCC’s programs and courses, services, news and events; icons that give users direct access to NWCC’s social media pages; and a consistent design with horizontal drop down menus, side bar menus, and a quick search tool to make navigation more intuitive. The website steering committee sought out input from students, employees, partners and members of NWCC’s various communities. NWCC News Release | NWCC Website

Chinese students learn BC curriculum to prepare for Canadian PSE

A private academy in China is certified to award British Columbia high school diplomas, and the focus is not only academics, but also culture and language. The mandate of Grand Canadian Academy is “to prepare its students for that Western style of learning,” with classes taught in English in science, math, and other subjects. One teacher noted that one of the biggest obstacles to teaching Canadian culture and current events is the Chinese ban of YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. The majority of students at the Academy hope to attend university in Canada, but plan to return to China when those studies are completed. Globe and Mail