Top Ten

July 23, 2013

Queen’s professor receives homophobic threats

A professor at Queen’s University has received threatening, homophobic letters in the mail. The letter purports to be written by a small group of Kingston residents dedicated to “removing the scourge of homosexuality” from the city. The letter states that Karen Dubinsky and her partner of 21 years are not welcome in the city, and should leave before “it’s too late.” A second note followed the first, threatening attacks with BB guns if the family doesn’t relocate. The local police have been contacted and are taking the threats very seriously, stating that the offenders could be charged with criminal harassment and uttering threats to cause bodily harm or death. Dubinsky says that in almost 20 years of living in Kingston, they have never encountered homophobia, and her family is grateful for the supportive community response they have received since the letters became public. Maclean’s (CP)

NIC reaches highest utilization rate in 10 years

North Island College has reached 89.3% of its utilization rate this year, which is the highest rate the college has seen in over 10 years and one of the highest of all BC colleges, according to NIC. "Given the way we operate, the regional delivery that we have to do, multi-campus, smaller class sizes, 100% is just not reasonable — we likely won't ever achieve that,” says NIC’s college and community relations director Susan Auchterlonie. The college had a total of 2,541 full-time students in 2012-13, including 104 international students. Comox Valley Record

uWindsor students to get more off-campus housing

Students in Windsor will soon have another option for student housing, as plans to convert the Riverside Inn into student housing have been announced. The hotel recently changed ownership, and the new owners have contracted a company to oversee the student housing conversion and rental arrangements. The site will offer “luxury” student housing, with bar fridges, microwaves, and vanity units in each room, with single occupancy rooms renting for $745/month, and double occupancy rooms for $425/month per person. The new residence will offer amenities such as a pool, fitness room, and common areas, and rental fees will include all utilities, internet, basic cable, and a bus pass. The site is located right across from the downtown campus of the University of Windsor, and is near the bus station. Students will be able to move in as of this September. Windsor Star

uLethbridge launches student success centre

The University of Lethbridge has launched a Student Success Centre that will pool its various resources and services that help students successfully navigate through their university experiences. The centre will continue the activities that the Recruitment & Student Life office and Counselling Services have offered for the past 5 years to assist high-school students in their transition to university, and they will be extended to all years and levels of study, and to all 3 uLethbridge campuses. Tutoring assistance, time management help and student leadership development will also be added to uLethbridge’s complement of student services. uLethbridge News Release

HEQCO report calls for differentiation clusters tied to funding

Ontario’s 20 universities could be organized into at least 3 distinct clusters based on a set of variables that other jurisdictions have used to differentiate their university systems, says a new report by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO). The report states that this move would “set the stage for a more coherent, diversified and sustainable system,” but that in order for the framework to be effective, the roles, rights and responsibilities of universities in each of the clusters need to be identified and tied to funding by the government. Using a variety of data on enrolment and research outcomes, the report’s authors identify possible clusters of universities that are research- and graduate-intensive, undergraduate-intensive, and research- as well as undergraduate-intensive. HEQCO recently released a report on the strategic mandate agreements that each Ontario university submitted to the government last year. The report recommended that funding formulas should target a proportion of an institution's funding to the achievement of specific outcomes and that it should be tied to specific institutional mandates. HEQCO News Release

Conference Board questions unemployment rate vs temporary foreign workers

With Canada’s youth unemployment rate sitting at 13.8%, and the national unemployment rate at 7.1%, the Conference Board of Canada is asking why so many temporary foreign workers (TFW) are still being imported into the country. As of December 2012, there were almost 340,000 TFWs at work in Canada, a dramatic rise from the 150,000 in 2006. The Conference Board has suggested 3 possible reasons for the increase in TFW employment: a skills mismatch, labour market rigidities (the suggestion that higher jobless benefits in some areas prevent people from moving for work), and the “perception” that employers can pay TFWs less. The TFW program has been the centre of controversy for some time, with some suggesting that the program distorts labour market needs. Globe and Mail

New innovation measure shows Canada lags on patents

A new innovation-quality index reveals Canada’s global standing in innovation is better than we might think, but that the country lacks the number of patents that other countries boast. The Global Innovation Index, produced by Cornell University, French business school INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organisation, puts Canada in the 11th spot, below traditional innovation leaders including the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Japan. The new index focuses on university education, patents and publication of scientific research. What makes this index different from others is that it tracks only each country’s top achievements, rather than its national totals or averages – the idea being that the top achievements make up the most meaningful innovations. In the university education and publication measures, Canada comes out on top. However, where the country loses points is in the patents category, where Canada ranks 19th in the world. Globe and Mail | Global Innovation Index

U of Northern Virginia’s operating license revoked

University of Northern Virginia, an unaccredited institution that was raided by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in 2011 in relation to its enrolment of foreign students, has had its operating licence revoked. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia said the university failed to obtain candidacy status with an accrediting agency approved by the US Department of Education in 5 years. The university has also been instructed to confer with Homeland Security "to determine viable options” for visa holders enrolled at the institution. Inside Higher Ed

150+ US private universities fail financial responsibility test

More than 150 degree-granting universities in the US failed the Department of Education's "financial responsibility" test for the 2011 fiscal year, according to a report released this week by the federal department. Of those failing in 2011, 54 non-profit institutions and 25 for-profits had scores below the threshold that requires them to post letters of credit in order to continue to participate in federal student-aid programs. Groups like the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the National Association of College and University Business Officers say that the department of education “calculates [the scores] in an inconsistent and erroneous manner and has been unwilling to reform its practices.” Public universities are not subject to the financial-responsibility requirements in the US. Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

US families relying on financial help for PSE costs

US families are relying more heavily on grants and scholarships to pay for PSE education, according to a new report released this week by lender Sallie Mae. The report, which polled 800 18 to 24-year-old undergraduates and 802 parents in April and May, says that “free money" now pays for 30% of PSE costs, up from 25% 4 years ago. The survey also revealed that parents are contributing less to their children’s higher education (27% down from 36% in 2010), and that a higher number of families factor college costs into the choice of school. Chronicle of Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed | Report