Top Ten

August 19, 2013

uAlberta cuts 20 arts programs

As the University of Alberta continues its struggles to obtain a balanced budget, 20 arts programs have been cut or suspended, reports the Edmonton Journal. According to dean Lesley Cormack, the programs were chosen because of continued low student enrolment in the programs as majors. Cormack stated that she isn’t sure how much money will be saved, as the changes are “slow and incremental.”  The affected programs include 13 Bachelor of Arts majors, 2 majors in the Bachelor of Design program, 4 concentrations in the Bachelor of Music program, and the technical theatre major in the Bachelor of Fine Arts drama program. Students currently enrolled in the programs will be allowed to complete their studies, and graduate students and professors are able to continue research projects, as courses and minors will still be offered. uAlberta is planning for $84 million in budget cuts over the next 3 years. Edmonton Journal

Canada demands information on 2 academics detained in Egypt

Two Canadian academics have been detained by police in Cairo, Egypt amid the ongoing political unrest and violence. Tarek Loubani, an emergency room medical doctor at Western University, and John Greyson, a film professor at York University, were arrested while en route to the Gaza Strip, where they are working on an academic and medical collaboration between Western University and the main hospital in Gaza. The Canadian government is calling on Egyptian officials to release all evidence against Loubani and Greyson. The Canadian Association of University Teachers has written an open letter to Canada’s foreign affairs minister, John Baird, urging him to demand the academics’ immediate release. YorkU’s president, Mamdouh Shoukri, has stated that YorkU is working with government officials on finding out more about the detainment. CTV News | CAUT News Release | YorkU News Release

Update: Sept 19, 2013

Tarek Loubani and John Greyson, the 2 Canadian academics who have been jailed in Cairo, Egypt since mid-August, have begun a hunger strike after finding out that they will be detained for at least another 2 weeks due to ongoing procedural delays. Authorities in Egypt have yet to make any charges or provide reasons for the detention. The pair is using the hunger strike, during which they will consume only juice and water, to ask for either their release, or better conditions. Loubani, an emergency room medical doctor at Western University, and Greyson, a film professor at York University, have received an outpouring of support from family and colleagues, who have issued statements and signed petitions calling for the pair’s release. CTV

Laval student wins lawsuit for lost tuition during Maple Spring protests

A Laval University student has won a lawsuit in Quebec’s small-claims court that will see him reimbursed for tuition for courses he was unable to attend during the Maple Spring protests in 2012. Marc-Antoine Dumas sent an injunction to his student association after being unable to attend classes due to protestors blocking the way. Hoping the strike would end, Dumas waited until the last minute to withdraw from classes, but missed the deadline for tuition refunds. The judge agreed with Dumas that the history students’ association was responsible for him having to withdraw, and ordered the association to pay Dumas more than $1,200. While some students applaud the court decision, others worry that it sets a precedent for students to sue student-run organizations. CBC

uLethbridge sees increase in local, international student registrations

The University of Lethbridge has recorded an 11% increase in first-year registrations so far this year, with more students registering from Calgary and the areas surrounding Lethbridge. To date, registrations at the university from students living in Calgary are up 35% from this time last year, and high-school student registrations are up 16% from last year (1,116 students in total). Andy Hakin, Provost and VP Academic, says that uLethbridge is also checking on international students who may be experiencing visa delays caused by the Canadian foreign service worker strike. “Even with the visa approval issues, we are ahead of last year [in international registrations] by more than 40%. We are hopeful that we can help those few remaining international students attend once current visa challenges are resolved.” uLethbridge News Release

YorkU, Memorial nominated for eduStyle website awards

York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering and Memorial University have both been nominated for prizes in this year’s eduStyle Awards, which celebrate the best work in Canadian and US university and college websites. YorkU’s Lassonde School has picked up nominations for “best visual design,” “best school, department or faculty site,” and “best mobile or responsive site.” Memorial University’s online annual report has been nominated in the “most innovative” and “best annual or community report” categories. On September 9, several awards in different categories will be given as both people’s choice and judged awards; the public can vote on their favourites from now until September 2. eduStyle’s first Canadian-region website awards were given out in June, with 14 institutions winning awards for their designs. EduStyle Website

Canadian universities offering student support during visa backlog

Canadian universities are offering support and advice for international students affected by the Canadian foreign service workers labour dispute with the federal government. Although it is still unclear what the extent of the delay will be for incoming students who require study visas, universities aren’t taking any chances. Institutions are informing international students of their options, which include postponing their start dates, fearing that students will choose to study elsewhere, says Norah Lynn Paddock of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. A spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration says all potential visa applicants should apply as soon as possible, and that they can submit a letter from their university or college that states that the institution will accept a later arrival time. The Toronto Star reports that many of the universities it spoke to say the strike has had little impact because students began the visa application process before the labour disputes began. However, McGill University is reporting “hundreds” of students are still waiting for their visas, and is allowing students to arrive up to 2 weeks later than usual. Toronto Star

Elementary teachers' union wants electronic devices turned off at school

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has updated its policy position on students using “personal electronic devices,” which includes cellphones, recommending that they be turned off and put away unless a teacher says otherwise. In a separate resolution, ETFO recently voted to study the effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, the radiation that is emitted by cellphones. A report on the study is due in February. At the PSE level, faculty-members have tried to ban electronic devices in the classroom, but face an uphill battle; reports say tablet use in the classroom is on the rise. CBC

New book says education must take into account how boys learn

Canada’s current approach to education doesn’t account for the fact that boys and girls learn differently, according to Edmund Dixon, the author of a new book called Helping Boys Learn. Dixon, who has 30 years of experience as a teacher, parent and researcher, says one of the reasons that boys tend not to do as well as girls in a classroom setting is that they aren’t connected with what is being taught. In his new book, Dixon offers 6 elements that must be incorporated into learning, which are “crucial to helping boys learn – both in the classroom and at home:” movement, games, humour, challenge, mastery and meaning. According to CBC, school-aged boys are diagnosed with ADHD twice as often as girls, and are much more likely to drop out of high school. CBC

New “DOCC” learning model launched in NA

FemTechNet has developed a new online learning model that will allow instructors to adapt course material and focus on collaborative learning through a “feminist rethinking" of the MOOC (massive open online course). FemTechNet’s DOCC, or Distributed Open Collaborative Course, is centred on a series of videos that are released by FemTechNet, but individual instructors will provide additional lecture material, background reading, and assignments. Anne Balsamo, co-facilitator of the DOCC, says she hopes this new form of online course will combat the idea that a successful open, online course must involve a "superstar" professor interacting with students everywhere, so that all can learn from that person. "The idea of the one best talking head, the best expert in the world, that couldn't be more patriarchal. That displays a hubris that is unthinkable from a feminist perspective." 15 PSE institutions in the US and Canada will take part in the first DOCC course, “Dialogues on Feminism and Technology,” which explores the role women have played in technological innovations throughout history. The DOCC will be discussion focused, with students able to participate online or on-site for credit at participating institutions, or as a no-credit drop-in learner.  Huffington Post | FemTechNet News Release | Inside Higher Ed

Private US university looks for corporate partner

South Dakota’s University of Sioux Falls, a private Christian liberal arts university, is looking for a corporate sponsor to be “much more than … a name on a sports stadium.” USF has had to make significant cuts to jobs and salaries in the last few years, and a strategic partnership with a corporate sponsor could help to offset future budget deficits. USF is looking for a business that would value and uphold its mission statement while integrating into many facets of the university, including logo representation, professional services, and use of USF facilities. USF president Mark Benedetto stated that although these partnerships are rare in higher education, “institutions that are going to thrive in these challenging conditions have to be thinking outside the box.” Argus Leader