Top Ten

August 30, 2013

uWindsor calls for a budget adjustment anticipating shortfall

The University of Windsor is looking at “realigning” its department budgets by 2.2% in the 2014-15 school year due to a $1.8-million revenue shortfall that stems from the province’s capping of tuition at 3% for the next 4 years. uWindsor drafted its original budget based on the 5% tuition cap that was in place prior to the latest tuition-framework change. "It's not a problem unique to the University of Windsor," says president Alan Wildeman. "Similar universities are going through similar processes. It's that our cost structure is increasing faster than revenues." To deal with the shortfall, uWindsor plans to shift money from department budgets to pay for additional wage and pension expenses, and decrease its contribution to the Strategic Priority Fund by $1 million in 2014-15. uWindsor is currently in labour contract negotiations with about 1,100 university support staff, and will be heading into collective bargaining with its faculty in the new year. Windsor Star

Retailer selling look-alike of trademarked StFX ring

Nova Scotia’s St. Francis Xavier University has requested that clothing store Forever 21 stop selling rings that closely resemble the iconic “X” rings that St. FX alumni wear. Although the Forever 21 rings come in a 2 pack, with one ring donning an “X” and the other an “O,” the one with the “X” printed on it is the one the university is concerned about. According to Cindy MacKenzie, manager of communications and marketing for St. FX, the X ring has been trademarked for years. MacKenzie says St. FX contacted the franchise last week to make them aware of the situation and to request that the rings be taken off store shelves immediately. The gold rings from St. FX cost about $1,000 each. The Forever 21 rings cost $5.80 for the 2 pack. Forever 21 does not currently have a retail store in Nova Scotia, but plans to open one in Dartmouth this fall. CBC

Update: Sept 12, 2013

Clothing store Forever 21 has pulled off its shelves rings that resemble the iconic “X” rings worn by St. Francis Xavier University alumni, after a social media backlash by former students. “We would like to thank Forever 21 for their prompt cooperation,” said Cindy MacKenzie, Manager of Communications and Marketing for StFX. CBC

Laurentian sees increase in GTA student enrolment

Students from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) represent a third of the student population at Laurentian University this year, a figure that has doubled since 2009. Director of student enrolment Justin Lemieux says that part of the reason for the increase is that schools in southern Ontario are becoming too full in certain programs, and that Laurentian has become more aggressive in its recruitment efforts lately. “We have all these students living in residence or [the] downtown core, [and they are] spending some of their income or their money towards restaurants, entertainment, those kinds of things in our city,” says Lemieux of the benefits the boost brings to the area. CBC

Ryerson finds way to commemorate historic Toronto store

The City of Toronto has approved a Ryerson University plan to commemorate the historic Sam the Record Man store that was once housed on Yonge St. at Gould St., where Ryerson is constructing its new Student Learning Centre. Ryerson dropped its original plan to display the store’s historic neon sign on the new building due to several safety and economic concerns. The city has approved a revised plan to insert an image of the storefront sign into the sidewalk, featuring 2 discs and “SAM” 4 times in its distinct lettering. There will be explanatory text on the sidewalk and a plaque on the wall. Ryerson also plans to launch an online tribute to “Music on Yonge — celebrating 70 years of Sam’s” on a Ryerson-affiliated website. A Ryerson spokesperson says the university is working with the city to find the original neon sign “a new home.” National Post

Old-fashioned email marketing still best way to communicate

New research out of the US suggests that although social media websites continue to grow in popularity for multiple types of communication, when it comes to introductions to new brands or post-purchase follow ups, consumers prefer email as a means of communication with companies. 19% of respondents in the 20-30-year age range said they preferred email, while only 5% said they preferred social media. Of particular importance for PSE, the study also found that customization of emails, geared directly to the potential “buyer” with customized interests or location information, could boost email open rates by close to 10%. Customized student recruitment models that offer relevance to the student break through the standard personalized subject line email, which is becoming outdated, according to the researchers. The University of Alberta’s website is mentioned as an example of positive customized recruitment efforts; uAlberta has landing pages in various languages to assist potential international students. ICEF Monitor | uAlberta website

“Social schedulers” next wave in PSE technology

The popularity of online “social schedulers” like WikiRoster and Scheedule is growing among high school and PSE students in North America, reports the Globe and Mail. These interactive tools, often linked to Facebook, allow students to post and compare class schedules in order to take the same classes or have the same breaks as their friends. According to one UBC sociology professor, “social schedulers are the next step for students empowering themselves with technology,” as students continue to become consumers of PSE. The sites urge collaborative learning through social networking, and can help alleviate first-day anxieties and feelings of depression, suggest some. Others note the downside of not being connected to school administrations, therefore causing headaches for school staff when students insist on scheduling changes. Globe and Mail

Moodle launches MOOC to show teachers how to use platform

Moodle, an open-source learning platform often cited as Blackboard’s alternative, has launched its first MOOC for teachers on how to teach on Moodle. In one of the first cases of an organization using a MOOC for marketing or promotional purposes, Moodle’s online course begins on September 1 and involves weekly web tutorials, activity-based learning with each participant having his/her own free “sandbox course area,” and the opportunity to earn “badges.” University Business

College student arrested over threatening tweet

A student at St. Louis Community College’s Meramec campus was arrested last week for issuing a threatening post on Twitter. The non-specific threat was directed towards the financial aid office at Meramec, and expressed frustration and wanting to kill someone, according to a school spokesperson. Police responded and contacted the student, who turned herself in. She was subsequently released, but charges may be pursued. St Louis Post-Dispatch

Post-graduation exam determines learning outcomes for employers

A new post-PSE exam seeks to test the critical thinking skills of students in order to determine their potential value to employers. Created by the US non-profit Council for Aid to Education, the Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus (CLA+) will test students in critical thinking, problem-solving, scientific and quantitative reasoning, writing, and the ability to critique and make arguments. The test builds on an earlier one that tested students in first year and again in fourth year to determine curricula effectiveness. The CLA+ is partially in response to calls for determined learning outcomes by employers, who are increasingly less-interested in specific majors. The test will be available for a fee to anyone, and more than 200 PSE institutions in the US will administer the exam to students this spring, who can then share results with potential employers. USA Today

Moody's increasingly downgrading elite colleges

Inside Higher Ed reports on the increased number of private colleges that have had their credit ratings downgraded by Moody’s Investor Service over the past year and a half. Although said institutions -- Haverford College, Morehouse College, Oberlin College and Wellesley College -- are still highly sought after by students, they have been “showing signs of fiscal stress” since the recession. “We do see pressure on small private colleges as a group and that’s primarily because they don’t have a lot of different things they can do, so they are primarily dependent on tuition revenue,” said Moody’s analyst Edie Behr. Behr warns institutions against the dangers of relying on too few revenue streams; however, these small colleges depend on just tuition, donations and money from endowment growth. “It’s like a car dealership being sales-of-car dependent,” says Oberlin’s VP Finance, Ronald Watts. “I mean, it’s our industry, what do you want us to do?” Inside Higher Ed