Top Ten

July 4, 2013

Bow Valley College to resume classes, locations undetermined

One of the-hardest hit PSE institutions during the recent floods in Alberta, Bow Valley College, announced it will resume classes as of July 8. However, several BVC campuses remain closed, and officials are not yet sure when they will be open. BVC’s downtown Calgary campuses remain closed to students, although limited services are being provided by the Office of the Registrar and Learner Success Services at the North Campus. BVC’s computer systems and email services are still largely unavailable, but they have introduced a temporary email platform to deal with inquiries. BVC is cautioning students to watch for further updates regarding class locations, as some may be moved until all campuses are open to students. BVC Update

SIAST approved to grant psychiatric nursing degree

The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) has been authorized to provide its first degree program, a Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing. Applications will be accepted on a first-qualified, first-admitted basis for 15 seats, and the program is slated to begin in September. Applicants must already hold a diploma in psychiatric nursing to be eligible. SIAST is only the second institution in the province to be authorized to grant a degree, other than the two universities. SIAST president and CEO Larry Rosia stated that by providing the degree program, they are responding to industry and student demand. Regina Leader-Post

uAlberta wants academic freedom, autonomy

The University of Alberta has released a first draft of a MOU with the province, in response to mandate letters sent by Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk earlier this spring. uAlberta says the “province must balance respect for academic freedom with overseeing the institution’s performance targets.” Lukaszuk’s mandate letters drew criticism for their perceived focus on specific performance targets that could affect the ability to conduct pure research. Another concern by some members of the uAlberta community is the loss of reputation and visibility under the adoption of the Campus Alberta umbrella brand. The draft is still in the internal consultation stage, and uAlberta has incorporated suggestions made in response to the original mandate letters. Lukaszuk says that there is no MOU document, that it is still a “mandate letter;” “that’s the only letter issued and that’s the only one that will be signed.” Edmonton Journal | uAlberta MOU

Manitoba PSE students concerned about ancillary fees

PSE students in Manitoba are worried that the recent introduction of a new ancillary fee at the University of Winnipeg could be just the beginning of the province offloading operating costs onto students. uWinnipeg introduced a $5-per-credit-hour IT ancillary fee in order to fund upgrades to computer and internet system after the provincial budget cut back on a promised funding increase. In Manitoba, tuition increases are capped at the rate of inflation, and PSE institutions that need further funds must apply for permission from the province before implementing ancillary fees. The Manitoba representative for the Canadian Federation of Students agreed that the IT systems at uWinnipeg need upgrading, but questioned the direct billing of students, suggesting that the province and universities should be providing the funds.Winnipeg Free Press

PEI expands eligibility for recent grad employment program

The PEI government has expanded the criteria for eligibility in its Graduate Mentorship Program, which gives private sector employers wage subsidies for recent graduates. To be eligible for the program, graduates used to be required to have a current or recent claim for employment insurance (EI) benefits. These requirements have since been removed, allowing students who are not EI eligible to apply for the program as well. The University of PEI Student Union has applauded the move, but also says more can be done to help recent PSE graduates find work, especially those from other provinces and international graduates. PEI News Release | UPEI Student Union News Release

Dal president kicks off “100 Days of Listening”

Dalhousie University’s incoming president, Richard Florizone, has launched “100 Days of Listening,” a drive to “gather ideas and opinions on Dal’s current state of affairs and its future direction.” It consists of a series of meetings, consultations and information-sharing opportunities designed to inform “not just the early days of Dr. Florizone’s presidency, but also the next chapter in Dalhousie’s history.” Dal has launched the 100 Days of Listening website, which explains the consultation process and provides an opportunity for Dal stakeholders and the public to share general thoughts as well as answer several questions on a variety of topics: academic programs, enrolment, research, global and local impact, managing resources, technology, human resources, the overall reputation of the university, and how Dal can work together with stakeholders. Dal News Release

uCalgary law students using their education to help flood victims

Law students from the University of Calgary have teamed up with several pro-bono legal organizations in the city to provide information and advice to people affected by the recent southern Alberta floods. “With many people displaced from their homes due to the flooding, questions related to landlord-tenant, employment, mortgage, family and insurance laws have come up,” says Ben Leung, student director with Student Legal Assistance at uCalgary. Leung, along with Kevin Stenner, president of the Society of Law Students, and Eleanor Carlson, program co-ordinator with Pro Bono Students Canada, have organized 4 consultation sessions over 2 days, which will include a panel of lawyers specializing in the pertinent areas of law. The sessions will provide an opportunity for people to meet with lawyers to ask specific questions about their situation. uCalgary’s UToday

StFX gets front-page praise

St. Francis Xavier University is enjoying some positive media coverage amid recent unwelcome news of budget cuts, the faculty strike, and president Sean Riley’s stroke. A Globe and Mail article lauds StFX for its brand-building, which is represented by the traditional X-bearing ring that has not changed since the 1940s. The Globe author points out that StFX is promoting itself as the “Canadian version of an American Ivy League school with the help of devoted alumni,” which include former New Brunswick premier and ambassador to Washington, Frank McKenna, and former prime minister Brian Mulroney. The author also praises Sean Riley’s long-time presidency, in which he “raised nearly $250 million and transformed a crumbling campus into a state-of-the-art facility.” Speaking about getting through a period of provincial funding cuts and a 3-week faculty strike earlier this year, McKenna (who is finishing his term as chair of the StFX board) said, “I think if our brand wasn’t so strong, it would have [had] more impact.” Globe and Mail

UBC Okanagan research funding has more than doubled since its opening

The University of British Columbia Okanagan campus has announced that its research funding has grown by 110% since its inception in 2005. UBCO received $14.05 million and 538 grants in 2012-2013, up from $6.69 million and 335 grants in 2005-2006. The Faculty of Applied Science, mainly through the School of Engineering, quintupled its research dollars to $5 million in 2011-2012 and quadrupled its grant total to 137. UBCO News Release

Engineering, computer science grads make the most money, study finds

Engineering and computer science degree holders enjoy higher salaries than those with degrees in marketing, business and humanities, but any university is best in terms of long-term return on investment, says a new study by a Canadian job-search firm. The study found that civil engineering alumni are the best-paid grads in Canada, with an average entry-level salary of $68,356, followed by software engineers at $67,274. It found also that humanities degree holders earned on average less than $30,000 in their first year of work. However, all university graduates, regardless of their degree type, earn almost $15,000 more than those without a university degree when they begin their careers, with a potential boost of $466,476 over their working lives, according to the study. Toronto Star

uMoncton signs agreement with French-language health network

The Université de Moncton has signed an affiliation agreement with New Brunswick's French-language health network, Réseau de santé Vitalité. The agreement outlines the intentions of both parties to work in partnership towards identifying and meeting the training needs of health professionals in Francophone NB. Students will benefit from the alliance through increased opportunities to conduct research and receive hands-on training in the network, while health professionals will have resources available to them to conduct field research. uMoncton News Release (in French)

Conference Board VP cautiously optimistic on youth job rate

Youth employment numbers for the month of May could be the signal of some relief to a 5-year slump, says Conference Board of Canada senior VP and chief economist Glen Hodgson in recent commentary. Roughly 95,000 jobs were created in Canada in the month, and 54,000 of them went to young workers, causing the Canadian youth unemployment rate to fall by almost a full percentage point, to 13.6%. Hodgson points out that one month does not make a trend, but that “if the labour market for young workers in Canada has reached a positive turning point, it would be a further and welcome sign of a sustained growth recovery.” Still, Hodgson warns that the Canadian labour force participation rate will steadily decline over the coming decade, due to the number of baby boomers at or nearing retirement age, and that engaging young Canadians in the workforce should be a higher national priority than relying upon temporary foreign workers. Globe and Mail

RRU renames School of Peace and Conflict Management

Royal Roads University has changed the name of its School of Peace and Conflict Management to the School of Humanitarian Studies to reflect a growing field and breadth of study within the Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences. “Humanitarian Studies captures the trans-disciplinary scope of our student and faculty work,” said Matthew Heinz, dean of the Faculty. RRU News Release

MUN’s engineering programs receive accreditation

Memorial University of Newfoundland has received accreditation from the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) for its undergraduate co-operative programs in civil, computer, electrical, mechanical and process engineering. The programs have received full accreditation status until June 30, 2017 CEAB accreditation is recognized globally and involves multiple evaluations of curriculum, program environment, and learning outcomes to ensure that program graduates have the necessary requirements for licensure as a professional engineer in Canada. 38 other Canadian institutions have CEAB accreditation. MUN News Release

Students need help completing apprenticeships

Discussions around the skills gap in Canada’s labour force often centre on attracting students to training in trades and apprenticeships, but a recent article in the Edmonton Journal highlights the importance of ensuring that students who enter the trades are able to successfully complete their apprenticeship. The national average for apprenticeship completion is about 50%, and experts say one of the biggest barriers to completion is weakness in “essential skills including reading, writing, numeracy, oral communication, working with others, and computer use,” because 20% of the apprenticeship program is in-class training and industry exams. The article suggests that extra tools and resources are needed for students who lack such essential academic skills. Apprenticeship preparation programs can help students focus on building skills before the actual apprenticeship begins, and can make the completion of an apprenticeship much more attainable. Edmonton Journal

Major US publisher files for bankruptcy protection

Cengage Learning, Inc., one of the largest US publishers of PSE course materials, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing $5.8 billion in outstanding debt. A company statement says that the move will help reduce the debt as well as help Cengage reach their long-term goal of switching from print to digital learning and research material. “[The print side of the operation] has seen a pretty steep drop in terms of unit sales," says Michael E. Hansen, CEO. This has reduced overall performance, and he expects it will be another 2 or 3 years before sales of digital products offset that loss. Inside Higher Ed | Chronicle of Higher Education

Planned foreigner health levy in UK would affect overseas students

A UK government proposal suggests charging foreigners at least £200 a year to use the National Health Service (NHS), which currently allows visitors and people who are living in the UK temporarily to use the services, often free of charge. As Times Higher Education points out, this would affect international students studying at UK universities. The proposal seeks to make up for “health tourists” who “take advantage of the current generous entitlements and are able to avoid detection or payment.”Times Higher Education

India and US announce new partnerships in PSE

India and the US have announced 8 new partnerships in health, technology, energy and sustainable development, and training of human resources – amounting to around US$2 million – as part of the second round of the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative. The initiative was first announced in November 2009, and will amount to a total of US$10 million. The funding goes towards projects with the objective of cultivating educational reform in areas that include online education, fostering economic growth, generating shared knowledge to address global challenges, and developing junior faculty at Indian and American PSE institutions.University World News

New Australian government reviews PSE policies

The recently-appointed Australian minister for higher education, Kim Carr, has pledged to re-examine A$2.3 billion in cuts to universities planned by the administration under the former prime minister. Carr also said he would consider re-imposing a numbers cap on undergraduate admissions, which was taken away in 2010 to increase the number of young Australians earning degrees from 32% to 40% by 2025. Critics of the 2010 legislation say a rise in undergraduate numbers comes at the expense of quality at PSE institutions. Times Higher Education

Women know less about current affairs than men, research shows

New research funded by the UK government has concluded that women are significantly less aware of current affairs and politics than men. The report also determined that in industrialized countries with the most gender equity, there is a larger knowledge gap than in countries that do not have strong gender equity established. In Canada, men answered close to half of the multiple choice survey questions correctly, while Canadian women answered about one-third correctly. The report gives 3 possible reasons for the gender gap, including “historical hangover,” the fact that women are often busier than men, and the prevalence of men being featured in politics and current affairs. According to the report, “in this cross-national, comparative study, we confirmed that women’s inferiority in political knowledge is a global phenomenon.”National Post