Top Ten

September 6, 2013

Talks break down between uWindsor and CUPE 1001

Local 1001 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees has issued a no-board report after 2 days of negotiations with the University of Windsor and a conciliator broke down this week. The no-board report requires the Minister of Labour to appoint a mediator to continue collective bargaining, and sets a 17-day deadline before strike or lockout action can ensue. The current agreement expired July 31, and parties are currently at an impasse over contract workers. CUPE 1001 represents 118 full-time and 202 part-time housekeeping, grounds, maintenance and food services staff. uWindsor’s skilled trades and technical staff recently issued a strike mandate over job security and seniority rights. Windsor Star | uWindsor News

UVic welcomes 13% increase in undergrad enrolment

The University of Victoria is welcoming 4,700 new students this fall, marking a 13% increase in undergraduate enrolment, the first double-digit increase the school has seen in years. Officials credit the efforts of international recruitment programs, which enabled many international students to beat the delays caused by the foreign service officers strike. Engineering enrolment is up 35%; humanities was the only department that did not see at least a minimal increase. Metro News

UBC supports new methods of teaching with “flex learning”

The University of British Columbia has joined a growing number of PSE institutions experimenting with new methods of teaching, with the Flexible Learning Initiative. UBC’s new program, often called “flex learning,” blends technology and online tools with traditional classroom elements to create different teaching models that benefit students. For example, many UBC instructors are using the “flipped classroom” model, which has been pegged a PSE tech trend not to be ignored, in their classes. Claudia Krebs, a senior neuroanatomy and gross anatomy instructor, will have students attend the lecture online at home and then do their “homework” in the classroom, discussing the material and doing clinical case studies. In another example of flex learning, a “Basic Chinese 1” course includes short 3 to 5 minute assignments that students can complete on a smartphone app during their lunch breaks, while waiting for a bus, or wherever else they choose. UBC News (1) | UBC News (2)

New AUS marketing plan to focus on market-driven sports

Atlantic University Sport (AUS) is developing a new marketing plan that will place an increased focus on “what the market dictates as the highest revenue-generating sports: football, basketball and hockey.” The theory, according to the Chronicle Herald, is that the more profitable these market-driven sports are, the more revenue there will be to put towards the lower-profile sports. The plan will also take advantage of the latest advancements in communications and technology to provide wider coverage of AUS sporting events. AUS released a wider strategic plan in November 2012 that included the goal of “boosting the profile of AUS student-athletes and university sport through new digital media initiatives.” Chronicle Herald

NBCC introduces new logo

A new logo has been unveiled by New Brunswick Community College, reflecting “NBCC’s dedication to stay current with regard to New Brunswick’s education and skills development needs.” The new logo features a stylized “N” representing New Brunswick’s varying landscapes and includes the well-known NBCC phrase “College Works.” The new logo will be transitioned in over the next few weeks across all NBCC advertisements and documentation at all 6 NBCC campuses, under the “Change is Good” campaign. The new logo is part of the momentum created by NBCC’s 2012 strategic plan, which included creating the first NBCC alumni association earlier this year. NBCC News

UoGuelph students using palm-sized computers for programming

Over 750 programming students in the University of Guelph’s computer science department will be among the first in North America to use tiny, credit-card sized computers in class. The device, called Raspberry Pi, fits in the palm of a hand, and can work as a substitute for a desktop tower. It has audio and visual input, USB, HDMI, and Ethernet ports and slots to hook up a mouse and keyboard, and can be used to control lighting, home entertainment systems and appliances. The Raspberry Pi was developed in the UK, but local non-profit organization Diyode supplied the computers to students for $110 each. Students can dismantle the devices to learn about inner workings without risking damage to personal computers or laptops. Guelph Mercury

Almost half of PSE students can see themselves going entrepreneur after graduation

Nearly half of Canadian PSE students (46%) say they can see themselves starting their own business after graduation, according to results of a Bank of Montreal survey. The data also show that only 29% of students are “very confident that they can find a job in their own field after graduation.” Regionally, the survey revealed that students from British Columbia are most likely to start a business after graduation at 50%, and that Alberta students are least likely, although not far behind BC, at 41%. Hamilton Spectator

2 Texas institutions to offer latest competency-based degrees

Texas A&M University - Commerce and South Texas College are 2 of the latest institutions to offer competency-based degrees, which award degrees based on demonstrated competency rather than credit hours. Both institutions are working with Pearson Education to offer the Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program in organizational leadership, which uses a hybrid course model that combines an academic coach and a competency-based curriculum created by Pearson and the 2 state institutions. Students will take assessments of their knowledge about particular subjects and then, depending on the results, either prove they’ve mastered the subject or continue to work on areas of weakness. Each 7-week session in the program will cost less than $1,000. Chronicle of Higher Education

Dual credits in high school a growing trend that pays off

Roughly 1.3 million US students took classes for university credit before completing high school in 2010-11, up by 67% since 2003, according to the US Department of Education. CNN reports that the trend is partly driven by “skyrocketing” costs of PSE. However, there’s also evidence that suggests that completing some PSE credits early can give students a leg up in university or college. A report released in June by the American Institutes for Research revealed that more students who take college-level courses in high school go on to PSE than their peers who don’t. Another study by the Community College Research Center suggests that they’re also more likely than their classmates to stay in PSE once they’ve enrolled. CNN Money

UK report ranks countries for partnership favourability

The British Council, which encourages international partnerships with the UK, has released a report that ranks countries according to “how favourable their climates are for transnational PSE,” and evaluates the pros and cons of cross-border PSE partnerships – such as branch campuses, double-degree programs, and articulation agreements -- for the host country. The report finds that Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates have the most favourable environments for “transnational education,” while Nepal and Sri Lanka are the least favourable. The report also finds that nearly half of the countries analyzed don’t have an organization dedicated to international PSE partnerships. Several countries in which Canadian PSE is active, such as India, China and Brazil, are called “average” and “below average” by the report. Inside Higher Ed | Full Report