Top Ten

August 28, 2013

New UBC commons mixes on- and off-campus student space

The University of British Columbia has opened a new residential and academic hub that will house 603 residence spaces for upper-year students as well as a “home away from home” for commuter students. The Ponderosa Commons will feature modern studio, 2-bedroom and 4-bedroom suites and a “collegium” where commuter students can spend their time on campus, with a fireplace, a big screen television, a cozy library with books, games, a big couch, a quiet study area, and a full kitchen including 2 fridges. The commuter space will be open to 250 first-year students on a membership basis, and “if all goes well,” membership will be open to all first-year students who live off-campus. The new residence spaces at Ponderosa Commons bump UBC’s total spaces to 10,066, giving it the largest housing program in Canada, according to UBC. UBC News Release

Faculty concerned by “helicopter parents”

Universities in the Maritimes are concerned that students’ transitions from high school to PSE become more difficult when they have “helicopter parents,” the CBC reports. Faculty at the University of New Brunswick’s Fredericton campus say these overprotective parents who are excessively involved in their children’s lives cause some students to arrive on campus “completely wrecked” because their every move has been shadowed. “Some of the students don't even want to be there anymore because they feel their parents not only dictated every decision they made, but some of them are rather significant [decisions]," says Andreas Decken, assistant dean of science at UNB. Meanwhile, a Globe and Mail article by University of British Columbia assistant director of residence life Cate Morrison explains the changes to technology and the economy that make “helicopter parenting” more prevalent now than in the past, and offers some tips for how parents can stay connected, but not stiflingly close. CBC | Globe and Mail

How to encourage international students to stay in Canada

As Canada continues its efforts to grow the international student population, the Globe and Mail’s James Bradshaw looks at how these students fit in to Canadian life, suggesting that their ability to integrate into Canadian culture as students can play a large role in whether they remain here after finishing school. A recent survey of 1,509 international students found that 78% would like more chances to fit into Canadian “culture and family life,” and that 58% have few or no Canadian friends. Programs such as uToronto’s Green Path and UBC’s Jump Start aim to help international students settle in Canada through academic and social initiatives, but the survey suggests that “many students are still getting too little support.” Globe and Mail

Universities offer bike, car programs to students

The University of Dayton in Ohio is launching a campaign that offers free bikes to 100 first-year students in exchange for pledges not to bring vehicles on campus during their first 2 years of study. uDayton advertised the campaign on a section of its website and inserted postcards promoting the drive in admission packets. The campaign is paired with a new bike-sharing program at uDayton through a company called Linus Bikes, and both initiatives aim to help protect the environment and reduce carbon emissions. On this side of the border, the University of Windsor will offer a car-sharing program through Student Car Sharing, a program that is set to launch at 16 college and university campuses across Ontario and Quebec for students 18 years and older, according to its founder Michael Lende. "While other car sharing programs require a minimum age of 21 to reserve a car, Student Car Share has an 18-plus reservation policy,” says Lende. New York Times | Windsor Star

Open access is here to stay

According to new research presented to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, open-access research publications are growing in prevalence and popularity in Canada and throughout the world. The study found that approximately 40% of peer-reviewed articles published between 2004-11 are now available online, with certain disciplines more likely to offer open-access publications, such as general science and technology, biomedical research, biology, and mathematics and statistics. The study also found growing support by governments and funding bodies, evidenced through increased open-access policies. In addition, the study found open access to scholarly publications is more developed and easily implemented than open access to scientific data. The University of California recently adopted an open-access policy for research publications. Science-Metrix News

Participation in music classes leads to higher grades

A new study by Harvard researchers has found a connection between studying music and scoring top grades. The study was conducted in Quebec, and followed 180 secondary school students through an International Baccalaureate high school program. Music studies were mandatory for the first 2 years, but optional for the remaining 3. Researchers tracked the grades of students across all classes, and found that the mean grades of students enrolled in music courses were higher than those who had opted out of the music courses. The researchers acknowledge that this may not prove or disprove causality, as perhaps the “smartest and most motivated” of the group were the ones who chose music courses, but they do “believe that music’s value, from an evolutionary perspective, revolves around its ability to help people cope with cognitive dissonance,” allowing people to be more open to new, challenging ideas. Pacific Standard

Americans not willing to adopt new funding model for PSE

Although a majority of Americans (62%) in a recent Huffington Post poll stated that they do not think most people can afford a public college education, only 30% of respondents said they would rather pay 3% of their income for 24 years then pay tuition up front. The poll is referring to a radical new funding model proposed by several American states, including Oregon, which operates on a “pay it forward” model. In the 10 years between 2000 and 2010, tuition and expenses at public colleges in the US rose by over 40%, according to the Huffington Post. But even as 53% of people surveyed said that a college education is essential to “get ahead in life,” 71% said they either opposed, or were unsure of, a funding plan similar to Oregon’s. Huffington Post

US institutions introducing religion to residences

Several private and public universities are adding various types of faith-based residences to their housing. The University of Nebraska at Lincoln has just opened a new Roman Catholic fraternity house, which is run by the university’s St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Newman Center. Faith-based residences are also opening up at Florida Institute of Technology, Troy University and Texas A&M University at Kingsville. Another at Purdue University is slated to open within the next few years. Interfaith living-learning communities, where students learn about spirituality but aren't required to believe in any religion, have also become popular in the last few years. Some of these residences and communities have met with resistance by those who claim they violate the First Amendment’s separation of church and state; however the residences are often privately-owned, meaning there is no taxpayer money involved, and students don’t have to be affiliated with any religion to belong. Inside Higher Ed

Small institutions streamline by appointing CIOs as librarians

Inside Higher Ed reports on a trend within small PSE institutions in the US to appoint their chief information technology officers to a second post as institution librarians, signaling the increased digitization of PSE and the need to streamline administrations. 12% of CIOs oversee libraries, according to annual surveys by the Center for Higher Education Chief Information Officer Studies. “Libraries have become extremely computerized and automated,” says Linda Hodges, head of the information technology practice at executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. “Many, many things have gone digital and, as a result, they are using technology in ways you have not thought of previously,” Recent surveys of PSE libraries reveal that they are focusing more on online catalogs and databases than on physical books. Inside Higher Ed

Song used in online lecture prompts legal battle with record company

Harvard University law professor Lawrence Lessig and an Australian record company are tied up in a legal battle over a song that Lessig used in one of his online lectures. Lessig used Phoenix’s song “Lisztomania” in a lecture, which prompted record company Liberation Music to threaten to sue the scholar of Internet law over his use of the song. Lessig, in turn, is suing the record label in federal court, accusing it of abusing copyright laws and of singling him out even though his actions constituted fair use of the material. In Lessig’s claim, he cites a doctrine that allows the general public to use excerpts of copyrighted material for education or non-profit purposes, and when the use does not infringe on the copyright holder. Boston Globe | Chronicle of Higher Education