Top Ten

July 17, 2013

US universities face increase in cyber-attacks

The New York Times reports that research universities in the US are increasingly becoming victim to cyber-attacks, with millions of hacking attempts weekly. Tracy B. Mitrano, the director of information technology policy at Cornell University, says that the largest numbers of hackers come from China, but that they are becoming good at routing their penetration attempts through multiple computers, even multiple countries, making them hard to trace. Universities are now facing the dilemma of needing to protect themselves from cyber-attacks while also preserving the free flow of information that they try to promote. The problem has also caused an increase in IT security spending as well as a need for consultations with the FBI. Some universities have even begun to forbid faculty from taking their laptops out of the country, and in some cases, from taking them off-campus. New York Times

uOttawa plans $12-million residence on campus

The University of Ottawa has made a significant move towards addressing its chronic student housing issue by issuing a request for expressions of interest from local architectural firms. The Ottawa Citizen reports plans for a 165-bed facility that would have potential for conversion to condominium units, cost approximately $12 million, and be completed by August 2015. Current plans include a “suite style” residence, with a shared bathroom in each 2-bedroom unit, and communal laundry, dining, kitchen, and study space. Although the much-needed student beds will help the current situation, estimates suggest that upwards of 1,000 more beds are needed by 2016-17. Ottawa Citizen

CAUT investigates UPEI's Atlantic Veterinary College

The University of Prince Edward Island’s Atlantic Veterinary College is the subject of a national investigation recently launched by the Canadian Association of University Teachers. UPEI’s Faculty Association has made several allegations regarding AVC, including irregular hiring procedures, ignoring staff input, and failing to clarify staff’s roles. The UPEIFA acknowledges that “unresolved tensions” exist between staff and administration, which VP Academic Christian Lacroix says is due to “ongoing staff and program cuts.” UPEI administration is so far refusing to take part in the CAUT investigation, stating that such problems should be resolved internally. CAUT will make the first of several visits to UPEI in late August. Once the investigation is complete, a report will be issued to faculty and administration with non-binding recommendations to address the issues. CBC

Montreal ranked best of 80 cities to attend university

Montreal’s university-city reputation has been deemed in jeopardy due to policies that are need of change, but a new study indicates that this hasn’t yet affected the city’s international reputation. Montreal has topped a list of 80 cities that offer the best return on investment for foreign undergraduate students, according to the Chinese Bank of Communications Ltd’s “Sea Turtle Index.” Montreal, with an overall score of 72, topped London and Hong Kong due to its financial returns, range of academic programs, and positive social experience. The city was also given a perfect score of 100 for its student mix, quality of cultural attractions, and openness and diversity. Unlike university rankings that consider specific universities or majors, the Sea Turtle Index looks at education as a type of investment, and has factored in elements that influence its returns. CBC News Montreal

RBC launches web series to reconnect with students

RBC has launched a new YouTube web series in an attempt to reconnect with the youth market. The 3-part series follows an RBC executive as he goes “back to school” at the University of Toronto to learn what students need from an institution and how challenging it can be to live within a student budget. Each short webisode “tells students that the financial institution empathizes with their budgetary limitations, and understands the challenges they face.”  RBC is also running a contest that offers daily prizes of $1000 to students. Marketing Magazine | RBC Web Series

Loyalist Group acquires MTI Community College in Vancouver

Loyalist Group, the owner of private education schools in Toronto, Vancouver, and Victoria, has acquired MTI Community College for $8 million. MTI is an accredited community college with 7 campuses in the Greater Vancouver Area that specializes in the areas of healthcare, early childhood education, business, and travel, tourism and hospitality. “[The acquisition] allows us to further pursue our plan of offering everything from basic ESL through English-language accreditation in multiple professional disciplines," says CEO Andrew Ryu. Loyalist Group News Release

The cost of differential tuition

A new working paper issued by the US National Bureau of Economic Research explores the issue of differential tuition, examining 50 universities that have raised tuition for nursing, engineering, and business programs. The author found that the effects of implementing differential tuition vary among groups and areas of study, with women and minority students in particular negatively influenced by higher tuition rates. The report also concluded that raising tuition for programs that cost more to run, such as engineering, may not increase revenues as policy makers had hoped, because the higher tuition could mean lower enrolment numbers. Differential tuition has been gaining popularity over the last couple of decades, with many in the PSE sector connecting tuition to potential post-graduate earnings. Inside Higher Ed | The Wall Street Journal | NBER Paper

Students prefer printed text for academic reading, study

Some millennials still prefer reading long texts and academic selections in print, according to a small study done by the City University of New York. The study tracked the reading habits of 17 CUNY students through diary entries, interviews, and discussion groups over the course of 2 weeks. The research shows that the students almost always used e-book readers, mobile devices, and tablet computers for non-academic reading, but turned to paper printouts for academic reading. Some of the participants said that embedded links found in e-books were distracting, and that they could not interact with the medium like they could print text. For instance, they couldn’t highlight sections or take notes in the margins on digital formats. The study also found that many of the participants, who are mostly under 25, felt they belonged to the generation before the first “truly digital generation,” and that perhaps later cohorts would be more comfortable reading academic material digitally. Chronicle of Higher Education

US PSE institutions increase fundraising goals

The US-based Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has released new data on the fundraising campaigns and endowments of institutionally-related foundations. The survey, which included a range of foundations from research universities to community colleges, found that in 2012 63.6% of respondents experienced some drop in the value of their endowments, with the median decrease at 1.6%. Of those that saw an increase in endowment value (31.8%), the increases were minimal, with a median increase of 1.2%. Although the median amount of private money raised per institution increased in 2012, this could be partially due to the increase in research/doctoral institutions surveyed this year compared to last. The report also found that a majority of institutions are increasing their fundraising goals, with community colleges tripling previous median campaign goals. Chronicle of Higher Education | CASE News release

New online learning platform focuses on new technology

Edudemic, an education technology website, has launched a new online learning platform that teaches users how to use popular technology. “Modern Lessons” will offer a mix of free and paid courses in subjects ranging from introductions to social networks like Twitter and Learnist to “how to” lessons on “registering African domain names and instituting BYOD programs.” Edudemic hopes to have the number of courses up to around 200 by the end of the year. “The site is not meant to be like Udemy or other online learning market places. We want just a few teachers who are passionate and able to offer premium courses for free,” says co-founder Jeff Dunn. Education Dive