Top Ten

September 23, 2013

uAlberta’s faculty of arts considers raising admission requirements

The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Arts is considering raising its admission requirements to drive down the number of applicants by 300 students following provincial budget cuts, reports the Edmonton Journal. Dean of Arts Lesley Cormack says she has not yet submitted a proposal to uAlberta’s provost, and adds she will have to decide by October whether or not the admission requirement should be raised by 3 to 5% above the current 72% standard. uAlberta recently announced the cancellation or suspension of 20 arts programs with low student enrolment, and the cutting of 600 student places in science programs over 2 years, in an attempt to deal with the provincial government’s cuts to the PSE budget. Edmonton Journal

Canadian scientists’ plight picked up by New York Times

The “Stand up for Science” drive by Canadian scientists, who have called on the Canadian government to stop making cuts to research and restricting communication of publicly-funded research findings, has caught the attention of the New York Times’ editors. The prominent American newspaper’s agriculture, environment and culture editor Verlyn Klinkenborg compares the issue to one in which the US government under George W. Bush asked scientists to “tow the party line on climate policy and endangered species.” However, Klinkenborg adds that “nothing [then] came close to what is being done in Canada.” New York Times

Canadian universities see increase in hacking attempts

Canada’s PSE institutions are seeing a marked increase in the frequency and intensity of cyber-attacks, reports the Toronto Star. Because of the significant amount of research and student information available on university networks, PSE institutions are valuable targets for many different kinds of attacks, whether for identity theft, confidential research developments, or financial information. The problem is compounded by the necessity of open access and the sheer number of network users that universities experience. However, specific information on what has been stolen, or what is targeted, is hard to come by. According to uToronto’s information security officer, “as such information might encourage or facilitate attacks against the university, we don’t disclose data on successful or unsuccessful attacks.” In the US, several PSE institutions have enlisted students and staff to help combat cyber-attacks, including requiring mandatory training. Toronto Star

York U launches refreshed brand campaign microsite

York University has launched a refreshed microsite to accompany its “This is My Time” brand campaign, which was launched in September 2012. The microsite features another campaign initiative new this year: a series of prominent alumni and faculty spotlights to give YorkU more off-campus visibility. “Expanding our profiles to include faculty and alumni will showcase the extraordinary talent at YorkU and advance our mission of pursuing and promoting excellence in research, teaching, and service to society,” says York President Mamdouh Shoukri. YorkU News Release | Microsite

Canadore launches new business incubator

North Bay’s Canadore College has launched a new business incubator in advanced manufacturing that will allow companies to conceptualize, design, prototype, and test and improve new products for the commercial marketplace. The Innovation Centre for Advanced Manufacturing (ICAMP) will give local small and medium enterprises access to technologies and automation, encouraging manufacturing best practices, product prototyping, entrepreneurial leadership and reduced environmental impacts. The federal government recently invested $1 million in the new incubator. Canadore News Release

University College of the North opens northern training centre

University College of the North has opened a new training centre in Norway House to better serve the needs of northern Manitoba. The state-of-the-art facility will house the heavy duty mechanics program, and officials hope to soon offer courses on mining and road construction, as well as specifically-designed courses in partnership with Manitoba Hydro. UCN President Konrad Jonasson stated “the availability of a trades training facility will provide the skilled workers for industry in our northern communities,” while also fulfilling the mandate of UCN to provide “quality education in the communities it serves.” UCN News Release

The “UnCollege” gap year

10 students, including 3 Canadians, who “love to learn but find traditional approaches to education frustrating,” are the first to participate in the newly-launched UnCollege Gap Year program. The new initiative created by former Thiel entrepreneurship fellow Dale Stephens invites students to pay $14,000 for a “year-long journey of self-directed learning.” The program is divided into 4 phases: a 10-week residential program in San Francisco, called the Launch, in which students develop “meta-learning skills” and design the rest of their program; the Voyage, where participants live in a country where [they] haven’t lived and do not speak the language, doing things [they’ve] never done;” the Internship at an organization that fits the participants’ learning objectives; and finally the Project, which can be anything that leads to a tangible deliverable. The UnCollege students are guided along the way by entrepreneurs and other successful individuals who act as mentors. Globe and Mail | UnCollege Website

Anti-NRA tweet leads to suspension of professor at uKansas

A professor at the University of Kansas has been suspended, following a controversial tweet posted in the aftermath of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, prompting some to suggest his academic freedom has been violated. A tenured journalism professor, David W. Guth, was suspended without a university investigation, and according to some, without due process. Guth stated that he has received “thinly veiled death threats” and obscene phone calls and emails, and to put the safety of students first he has “agreed to step away from the classroom – to, in essence, begin a planned sabbatical early – to allow some time for cooler heads to prevail." Guth has said that he was tweeting as a private citizen, but one academic freedom expert noted that it is a “fine line for university faculty and administrators to walk.” Inside Higher Ed

Ex-journalist suggests PSE facing same decline as newspapers

In an op-ed in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Byron P. White discusses the current pressures affecting PSE and compares them to the decline of the traditional print newspaper, suggesting that higher education must make significant changes and recognize the need to adapt to the evolving expectations of students and society in general. As an ex-journalist for the Chicago Tribune, White notes how in the newspaper business, they “missed innovative opportunities to reinvent [themselves] in ways that responded to emerging demands while retaining [their] core values,” and points to the gap between the public’s perception of PSE and the perception that administration has. In order to avoid a similar demise in PSE, White suggests the need to “reject the fallacy that we can just dabble around the edges and expect that higher education's predicament will work itself out.” Chronicle of Higher Education

UK students under higher tuition fees socializing less

Students in the UK under the increased tuition fees framework are socializing less and may be working more than their peers under the lower-fee system, according to the National Student Housing Survey 2013. Of the more than 20,000 students studied, only 54% said they enjoyed socializing in their accommodation compared with 62% last year. Only 63% of students said they had formed close friendships in housing compared with 67% in 2012, while just 36% said there was a strong sense of community among students – down from 43% last year. Times Higher Education suggests that the survey provides support for the idea that 2012-13 students are spending more time focused on their studies. The newspaper also points out that the 2012-13 cohort is the first to be charged fees of up to £9,000. Times Higher Education