Top Ten

July 22, 2013

Malcolm Gladwell calls for ban on university football

Malcolm Gladwell, a journalist and best-selling author, is advocating for the banning of university football on the grounds that research has increasingly linked the head-injuries that football players regularly suffer to neurological disorders. One such research study showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease with similarities to Alzheimer’s, in the brains of former university and professional football players. It also revealed that, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just head injuries that cause concussions that can cause long-term brain problems, but a series of “pre-concussive hits that football players endure several times per game.” Gladwell is calling on high-profile universities with successful football programs to set a precedent for other institutions by banning the wildly popular sport. Forbes Magazine

uLethbridge instates definite layoff days for AUPE employees

The University of Lethbridge has taken a step towards addressing the $11.8-million shortfall in its 2013-14 budget by assigning definite layoff days for members of the Alberta Union of Public Employees employed by uLethbridge. AUPE employees will work 11 fewer days next year, with the layoff days falling mostly around non-busy times such as Christmas, reading week, and during the summer. uLethbridge has approximately 500 AUPE staff in a variety of supporting positions. AUPE president Guy Smith stated that the union will file a grievance, as they believe that uLethbridge is “misusing the layoff article in the collective agreement.” The 2 parties will meet in the coming weeks to discuss interpretation of the collective agreement, which expires in June 2014. Smith also noted that universities have been put into a position of having to make cuts in new ways, with the blame falling “right at the feet of the minister, Thomas Lukaszuk, for his budgetary decisions.” Lethbridge Herald

4 Canadian MBA programs make Economist’s rankings

The Economist magazine has ranked York University’s Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA program first globally in its new survey of top executive MBA programs. The Kellogg-Schulich program, also ranked number one by the Financial Times, is a partnership between the Schulich School of Business at YorkU and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Illinois. McGill University and HEC Montréal’s EMBA ranked 29, University of Toronto Rotman School of Management’s Omnium global executive MBA, offered in partnership with Switzerland’s University of St. Gallen, ranked 35, Concordia University’s Molson School of Business ranked 47, and Rotman’s one-year EMBA came in at 50. To come up with its rankings, The Economist used a variety of criteria in 2 general categories: personal development/educational experience and career development. The magazine plans to run the rankings every 2 years. The Economist | Globe and Mail

Canadian PSE institutions implement sustainability measures

A recent article in the New York Times is highlighting the many initiatives by Canadian universities to be more environmentally conscious. McGill has implemented several measures, including gardens that produce food used on campus and for local charitable organizations, such as Meals on Wheels. McGill also has a Sustainability Projects Fund, where students pay 50 cents per credit, and the university matches the contribution. uVictoria is another institution with measures to improve the environmental footprint, including campus-wide transit passes and showers for cyclists. uToronto focuses on the behavioural and cultural side of sustainability, by encouraging staff and students to turn out lights and recycle. Many Canadian PSE institutions have implemented sustainability strategies and policies, and continue to work towards improvement, even in the face of budgetary pressure. New York Times

SFU launches redesigned website

Simon Fraser University has launched a redesigned website, making it more mobile- and user-friendly. The refreshed site features responsive design, which means it will be “as easy to use on a large desktop as on a tiny mobile device.” The new design includes improved search, enhanced visuals and more intuitive navigation, as well as information portals aimed at specific audience groups such as students, alumni, employers and media. Over the next several months, most SFU faculties and departments will begin moving their pages into the new design. SFU Media Release | Website

Millennials investing early, despite negative outlook

Millennials are beginning to invest for the future at a much younger age than their parents' generation did, undeterred by higher tuition costs, reports of shrinking job prospects and higher housing prices, according to a study by TD Bank. The “TD Investor Insights Index” reveals that the average Gen Y investor reported making their first investment at age 20. In contrast, previous generations waited to make their first investment until closer to 30, with Baby Boomers holding off until age 27. "Despite the perceived Gen Y plight, we're seeing young investors take action early on when it comes to planning for their financial future," said Cynthia Caskey, a VP and portfolio manager at TD. "While family support can certainly help shape good financial habits, millennials face a very different financial reality than their parents did.” TD News Release | Infographic

Conference explores the future of PSE in Canada and globally

The University of Alberta and Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada recently hosted a conference, “Canadian universities in a global context: A dialogue on international trends and opportunities,” that explored the future of PSE. Attendees discussed issues affecting PSE institutions such as government budget cuts and decreased funding, the increasingly competitive global market for students, researchers, and knowledge, and the changing expectations of key stakeholders. Organizers hoped the conference would be a “wake-up call” to the PSE sector, especially in Canada, in order for institutions to begin to implement measures in a proactive way. Delegates from England, Germany, China, and other countries discussed the challenges those PSE institutions and sectors have encountered in recent years, and the ways that they have been dealing with such challenges. Edmonton Journal

Penn State to settle former football coach victims’ claims

Pennsylvania State University’s Board of Trustees announced recently that it has made settlement offers of $60 million to men who claimed to be victims of Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach who is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence for sexually abusing boys. Last year, Penn State launched an intensive public relations strategy to rebuild faith in the university. Later in 2012, Penn State announced that, although the scandal cost about $20 million, it was not affected in enrolment or donations. Chronicle of Higher Education

France boosts student grants by €318 million

The French government has announced that it will increase funding by €318 million ($435 million CDN) for PSE student grants. The grants will be introduced in two stages, with the first (beginning in September) focused on students with the greatest needs: students from the most disadvantaged families and those who have to take paid work while studying. In 2014-15, the system will be widened further to include more students. French students’ union Unef said that the program’s funding represented “more than all the measures taken for students in the past 15 years,” and that the reform would mean less of a struggle for 100,000 students. University World News

The rise of English in European PSE sparks controversy

The idea of using English as the global academic language is “picking up legal steam” in Europe. This past spring, the French National Assembly approved changes to one of its language laws that would ease restrictions on courses taught in English at French universities. However, the next day, a regional court in Italy struck down plans at the Polytechnic University of Milan to offer all masters- and doctoral-level courses in English beginning with the 2014 academic year. Both cases have ignited strong support for or opposition against the increase of the English language in academia. In Italy, the Milan polytechnic’s academic senate and board of directors have jointly decided to appeal the decision, defending “its duty to guarantee its students the ‘right to the best possible education and training’ and the institution’s autonomy in defining the instructional program.” But the courts maintain that the move towards English would demote non-English speaking faculty to basic courses “without considering which subjects might lend themselves better to one language or the other.” University World News