Top Ten

July 1, 2013

UCN allegedly shutting down accessibility services office

The Manitoba Government and the General Employees Union say University College of the North will be shutting down its disability services office as part of budget cutsannounced in June, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. The union has launched a petition among staff “demanding that president Konrad Jonasson convene a series of regional meetings to discuss UCN’s vision.” UCN’s earlier announcement about budget cuts included the intake suspension for 10 programs and the cutting of 16 jobs, but did not mention the accessibility services office. Winnipeg Free Press

Independent committee should oversee Quebec’s universities, report

A report written by a former Université du Québec à Montréal rector proposes the creation of a public, independent committee made up of 13 members appointed by the government to “keep tabs” on Quebec’s 18 universities. The report is the second of a series of reports to come out of the higher education summit held in Montreal in February. According to the Montreal Gazette, a similar committee, Conseil national des universités (CNU), was abolished in 1993, but nearly all of the academic stakeholders at the February summit, including students, called for its re-institution. Pierre Duchesne, Quebec’s minister in charge of PSE, has not said how the government plans to move forward to implement the recommendation. However, a press release from the government says that more details will come this fall. Montreal Gazette

Brock president announces program review

Brock University president Jack Lightstone has created a Presidential Task Force to conduct a review of all administrative and academic programs, units and services at the university. Lightstone said “the exercise is intended to put Brock on the road to long-term sustainability by ensuring that its programs and services align with its stated mission and strategic priorities, while at the same time addressing Brock’s financial condition.” He also stated that because Brock’s projected operating budget for 2013-14 has a deficit of more than $7 million, there is a sense of urgency for the review. The taskforce, which is made up of administration and faculty, will later this year submit its findings to Lightstone and senior administration, who will present them to Brock’s senate and Board of Trustees in early 2014. Brock News

uWinnipeg maintains vacant positions, creates new fee, to balance budget

The University of Winnipeg has achieved a balanced budget for 2013-14, largely due to $3.5 million in savings from vacant job positions left unfilled. The $116-million operating budget also carries a third salary freeze for senior executive employees, savings due to executive restructuring, a 1.6% tuition increase for domestic students, and a 5% increase for international students. As well, uWinnipeg introduced a $5-per-credit-hour IT ancillary fee designed to improve wireless access on campus, increase online course offerings, and create back-up systems. uWinnipeg is also planning an energy retrofit in order to achieve $180,000 in utilities savings. The Manitoba government cut back on a planned 5% annual budget increase, instead only providing a 2.5% increase.uWinnipeg News | Winnipeg Free Press

NIC establishes research chair in sustainable aquaculture

BC’s North Island College has received a $1-million research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada for the establishment of an Industrial Research Chair in Sustainable Aquaculture. The grant will help enhance existing applied research, and develop new research projects focused on facilitating solutions to industry challenges and increasing sustainability and efficiency in the aquaculture industry. Dr. Stephen Cross has been named Chair at NIC, and will strengthen the relationship between the working aquaculture industry and the academic research community. The funding will be administered over 5 years, and the Chair will be located at NIC’s Centre for Applied Research, Technology and Innovation (CARTI) in Campbell River. NIC News Release

Education gap persists for Aboriginal peoples

Statistics Canada has released the second round of data from its National Household Survey, and although Aboriginal Canadians continue to fall significantly behind non-Aboriginal Canadians when it comes to PSE attainment, the numbers indicate a cautious increase in PSE success for Aboriginal peoples in Canada. The data reports that almost half (48.4%) of the Aboriginal population aged 25-64 surveyed had a PSE qualification. The data also suggests that younger Aboriginal men and women (age 35-44) were more likely to have higher levels of education than the generation before them (age 55-64), and Aboriginal women were more likely to have higher education than the men of their age groups. Statistics Canada Website | Postmedia News

Pearson expands on OpenClass with exchange features

Pearson has expanded on their free learning management system, OpenClass, with the OpenClass Exchange, which will allow educators to access over 680,000 Open Educational Resources (OER), such as eTextbooks, articles, and video clips. The OpenClass Exchange will contain a collection of courses sourced from the Open Course Library, and will  provide “educators with the 21st century resources, assets and best practices they need to keep students engaged.” OpenClass Exchange will be updated regularly, and should see significant growth in the amount and type of OER available. Pearson also added social networking features to OpenClass, enabling students and educators to connect and “follow” each other. OpenClass is a “dynamic learning environment” that brings social learning and interaction to the classroom.University Business | OpenClass Blog

MBA grads not the stereotype we imagine, study

An INSEAD business school case study has revealed that the stereotypical MBA grad – “a [person] in a tailored suit losing sleep on spreadsheets and racing through airports…while rising through the ranks of a consulting firm” – paints a false picture of the varied lives and careers of actual MBA graduates. An INSEAD professor and her husband studied 19 grads from the business school to reveal a more truthful portrait. “The amazing thing about the stories is their diversity. The stories come from people who live on every continent, who work in corporations, not-for-profits, who have started their own entrepreneurial ventures,” says Jennifer Petriglieri, one of the study’s authors. The case study also found that many MBA grads are concerned with finding balance between work and family, hobbies and other pursuits. “These narratives shatter stereotypes of MBAs single-mindedly pursuing status and wealth simply for their own gain,” says Petriglieri. The study helped Petriglieri show her students that they don’t have to strive to be a certain type of person, or have a certain type of career, which eases some of the stress of an MBA program. Globe and Mail

More traditional PSE-aged students taking online courses, study

The demographics of students seeking online degrees are beginning to look more like traditional average PSE demographics, according to a new study sponsored by 2 US online education consulting companies. The survey, which is now in its second year, continues to show that the typical student taking online courses is a married, middle-aged white woman. However, the overall population of online students is beginning to include more students who are of traditional PSE age, although not studying on a university or college campus. The survey respondents included 1,500 respondents who were recently enrolled, are currently enrolled, or planned to enrol in a fully online undergraduate or graduate degree, certificate, or licensure program.  Inside Higher Ed

Professors concerned with lack of writing skills in MBA students

Financial Times article discusses the growing concern among MBA professors and leaders about weakened writing skills among North American business students. David Abulafia, a Cambridge history professor, said in a talk this year, “people do not know how to write. Command of grammar, punctuation and spelling is atrocious.” The article’s author wonders whether students’ writing is really getting worse, or if “professors [are] imagining a golden age of literacy that never existed.” He suggests that perhaps the reason that MBA students don’t feel the need to brush up on their writing skills is because there actually isn’t much of a demand and because superior writing skills holds no premium in the job market. Financial Times