Top Ten

August 2, 2013

BC PSE quality assurance plan unpopular with some

BC’s ministry of advanced education has proposed a new PSE quality assurance framework for accreditations to replace the current system, which many sector stakeholders agree is bogged down with bureaucracy and “vague, inconsistent rules.” The government released a discussion paper in 2011, followed by sector consultations throughout 2012-13. Last March, they proposed a one-accreditation-body system that would cover all PSE institutions, including private-language schools. However, stakeholders have responded negatively, saying the “one-size-fits-all approach” won't work for such a diverse set of institutions. While one system may save taxpayers’ money, Jeremy Sabell, president of the BC Career Colleges Association, says what they save in money could cost PSE institutions in time spent pushing their applications through the system. The Council of Ontario Universities released a new province-wide Quality Assurance Framework in 2011, which is administered through the arms-length Quality Council. The Tyee

uOttawa considers French campus in southwestern Ontario

The University of Ottawa is exploring the idea of establishing a satellite campus in southwestern Ontario that will offer programs and courses in French, according to the London Free Press. uOttawa would offer most of the classes in both English and French, and would also offer an immersion program for Anglophones. Estimates suggest that southwestern Ontario is home to close to 118,000 French speakers, a number that is expected to grow. In its fall 2012 strategic mandate, uOttawa noted the “competitive strength in an increasingly global marketplace” of being able to educate students and conduct research in 2 languages. At this time, uOttawa is looking at the feasibility of such a campus, and has no definite timeline or plans for a specific location. London Free Press

WesternU begins $25-million renovation project on music buildings

Western University’s Don Wright Faculty of Music is beginning construction this week on a $25-million renovation project that will see the construction of a 5-storey tower that will house mostly practice rooms, teaching space, studios and piano technology space, and a 3-storey structure for performance space. There will also be major renovations to the music building, including rebuilding of the recital hall and the addition of classroom spaces. Western is providing the funds for approximately 80% of the construction, with fundraising efforts filling in the remaining 20%. The original buildings were designed to house 400-450 students, but with current enrolment at 700 students, the renovations are “long overdue,” according to faculty officials. The HVAC system in the buildings will also see an extensive update, as musical instruments are very sensitive to temperature and humidity fluctuations. Once the initial construction project is finished (estimated winter 2015), the faculty has plans to begin work on the Music Library. WesternU News | London Free Press

Recent flooding in Calgary to affect student housing

Students who are heading to universities and colleges in areas hit by heavy flooding this past spring may have a difficult time finding housing, according to a report by 660 News in Calgary. As a result, institutions such as the University of Calgary and SAIT Polytechnic are promoting sharing a home with a senior or using off-campus housing websites, and admit they won’t know the full extent of the problem until students return. A SAIT student housing expansion has had to be put on hold, and the suites in the Kensington area cannot be rebuilt in time for this year’s incoming students. Officials at both institutions have expressed concerns that student safety and success could be compromised if they are forced to live in unsafe living conditions or take jobs to pay for rent. Conner Brown, the uCalgary Student Union VP External, said his union is hoping to start a campaign to encourage homeowners living near the university who wouldn’t usually rent out to students to change their mind. 660 News Calgary

Canadian student newspapers cut back on print editions

Canadian student newspapers have been affected by the same decline in print advertising that has hurt other publications in the past few years, which will mean changes to the way students receive their news. Both the Queen’s University Journal and McGill University Daily will cut down on their print publications from 2 weekly issues to one, although Queen’s Journal will add a weekly digital edition. The Cadre, a student paper at the University of Prince Edward Island, went entirely digital last September. The Western University Gazette has one of the largest student fee subsidies in the country at around $15 per student per year, so it continues to print papers 4 times weekly. However, advertising revenue declined from about a third of revenue in 2008 to about a quarter of the total last year, says editor-in-chief Julian Uzielli. As a result, they have made budget cuts elsewhere, such as in reporter travel. The Lance at the University of Windsor has seen its budget cut by roughly 30%, meaning it will publish only 33 issues next year. Macleans On Campus

Business school scholarships offered for LGBTQ community service

HSBC Bank Canada has established new scholarships at 4 Canadian business schools worth $80,000 and potential employment over the next 4 years to build on an established relationship with those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ). The award will recognize academically strong students (gay or straight) who demonstrate leadership and community service through participation in LGBTQ organizations or initiatives on campus. The scholarships will be awarded to students at uToronto’s Rotman School of Business, YorkU’s Schulich School of Business, Simon Fraser’s Beedie School of Business, and UBC’s Sauder School of Business. Globe and Mail

SIAST adds new VP while restructuring senior executive

The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology is undergoing a restructuring at the senior management level that includes the creation of a new position: VP of Strategy and Advancement. The changes are largely a result of an independent review that SIAST contracted out earlier this year, which also resulted in the cutting of positions at both the academic staff and professional services levels. The new VP will be responsible for business development and Aboriginal initiatives, and the overall restructuring will allow SIAST to focus on further supporting labour market development and fostering an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset. Interim VP Anne Neufeld stated that SIAST is focusing on efficiencies and aligning with the SK government’s Plan for Growth. SIAST News Release | Regina Leader-Post

Google searches for PSE info, MOOCs on the rise

Demand is high on mobile devices for PSE info, and online programs from traditional universities are highly sought after, according to new Google research. The demand for higher education info in Google searches has shot up by 4% year over year since 2011 and brand-related terms that include the name of an institution within the query played a large part in this growth. Of particular interest is that searches for traditional universities and their online programs are on the rise, and that searches for terms related to MOOCs (massive open online courses) grew by 142% year over year. Search Engine Watch

How to foster an entrepreneurial culture

Entrepreneurship education has moved from “the margins of higher education” into the mainstream, and helps students solve real-world problems, says a report by the Kauffman Foundation for entrepreneurship in the US. Educators from 16 institutions with notable entrepreneurship education programs gathered to produce the qualitative report. The paper also notes that the field has taken on a larger definition than simply creating startups and offering venture funding, and has expanded from being just a business school subject to a curriculum addition in a range of disciplines. The report recommends the following strategies for creating a campus culture that fosters effective entrepreneurship education: democratize ownership so that faculties and departments can develop their own ideas, blend funding from across the institution, ensure the support of deans, cultivate university champions to promote the programs, and combat stereotypes of entrepreneurship to appeal to students in a range of disciplines. Kauffman Foundation News Release

California State University announces new online course offerings

In the wake of the death of the controversial state bill that would have seen credits granted for low-cost online courses provided by third party for-profit companies, California State University has announced plans to offer more than 30 courses online to all students enrolled in the system, regardless of campus location. The plan is part of an effort to address the lack of space at California PSE institutions, which turn away thousands of students every year due to space restrictions. CSU students will, for now, be limited to one course per term offered at another campus, in addition to any online classes taught by their college's own professors. Credits gained from another campus will automatically transfer and show up on student transcripts. CSU is funding the initiative with $17 million in state funding. The University of California is also working on a plan to increase online course offerings, spending $10 million on the project. CSU News | San Jose Mercury News