Top Ten

September 26, 2013

David Gilmour's teaching comments spark controversy

Comments made recently by University of Toronto literature professor David Gilmour about only teaching books written by heterosexual men have sparked controversy and media attention. Gilmour, who is also an award-winning author and former CBC TV host, is quoted in a Random House blog as saying, “When I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women.” He adds later, “I’m not interested in teaching books by women.” (He makes an exception for Virginia Woolf) Social media soon erupted with comments condemning Gilmour’s quotes. uToronto issued a statement on Facebook Wednesday saying that it does not endorse Gilmour’s views, and explaining that the instructor focuses on his areas of expertise, leaving other areas to colleagues who can teach them more effectively. Globe and Mail | CTV

CÉGEP teachers worry about salaries following re-classification

CÉGEP instructors have been sending messages of concern to the Quebec government after finding out that the province is considering lowering their job classification, reports the Montreal Gazette. The QC Treasury Board has begun to re-examine the pay of CÉGEP instructors, using in their calculations time teachers spend preparing courses, teaching and correcting, but not time spent taking part in additional research, participating in committees, or any other activities associated with the job. The Treasury Board also decided it would no longer allow increased salaries for CÉGEP teachers with a master’s degree or PhD. Fred Jones, President of Dawson College’s teachers’ union, says the instructors would see their salaries reduced by about 5%, or 3 to 4 weeks of salary per year. Treasury Board Chair Stéphane Bédard insists that no CÉGEP instructor salaries will be cut, but Jones believes the board may freeze salaries until they catch up with the re-classification levels. Montreal Gazette

uCalgary raises record $123 million

The University of Calgary has set a new fundraising record, with $123 million raised in the last academic year. This places uCalgary among the top 5 PSE institutions in Canada for fundraising, and will help establish research chairs, scholarships and new learning centres. $40 million of the money raised, the largest donation given to uCalgary to date, came from the Taylor family for the creation of the new Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, set to open in 2016. uCalgary is also expecting a financial infusion in the form of loans to build 2 new student residences, one for undergraduate and one for graduate students. The new residences are estimated to be complete by 2015-16, and are part of a larger housing master plan that uCalgary drafted last year. Despite the successful fundraising year, uCalgary is still wary of future budget challenges, and is planning town hall meetings next month to discuss constraints. Calgary Herald

STMU sees 17% enrolment increase this year

St. Mary’s University College in Calgary has experienced a 17% enrolment increase compared to this time last year. “The fact that we could guarantee that there was space for [students] at a time of uncertainty across the postsecondary system reassured many students that they had made the right decision,” says Mark Charlton, VP Academic and Dean at STMU. STMU News Release

Funding for research, graduate students lacking at uManitoba

University of Manitoba President David Barnard said in his recent state-of-the-university address that the province is losing some of the best and brightest students to other provinces, as Manitoba graduate students are among some of the lowest funded in the country. 46% of graduate students who leave Manitoba to study in other provinces do so because of better funding, and according to Barnard, $60 million more in provincial funding is needed each year to match graduate student funding in Ontario. Research funding is also behind other provinces, with $20 million more needed each year from the province to match average research funding among similar institutions. Earlier this year, Barnard questioned the provincial government’s low tuition policy, suggesting it was out of alignment with the rest of the country. However, news out of uManitoba isn’t all bad; for the first time ever enrolment is over 29,000 students, and efforts to create efficiencies and reduce costs have resulted in $6.1 million in savings per year. Winnipeg Free Press  | Full Address

Fall enrolments decrease at NIC

North Island College has reported a 4% decline in enrolment this year compared to this time in 2012. NIC’s VP of Student and Educational Services and Planning Lisa Domae says the shift in enrolment is to be expected because the college has seen historic highs in the past few years. Domae also explains that NIC continues to shift towards more in-community programming, “which occurs throughout the year and is not yet on the registration system.” NIC News Release

Are “out-of-control” tuition claims a hoax?

According to Canadian Business columnist Duncan Hood, tuition in Canada is not as outrageous as some advocates have led us to believe. Although Hood does indicate that tuition fees have almost tripled in the last 20 years, he says they are offset by the even more rapidly rising tax credits, scholarships and grants available to students. Hood suggests that Canadian PSE has simply entered a new rebate model, where “well-off students with mediocre grades ... are now effectively subsidizing the smart kids and the ones who need financial aid.” Hood explains that despite increased per-student university funding, which amounts to almost $10,000 from 1992 to 2010, tuition continues to increase partially because universities have increased scholarship spending by 7 times since 1992. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) recently released a study that projected tuition and fees will rise by almost 13% over the next 4 years. Canadian Business

Experts recommend athletic trainers focus on student mental health

An expert panel in the US is recommending that student-athlete trainers focus on looking out for signs of mental health problems among students as the trainers are in a unique position to reach out to the students and suggest counselling. Dr. Thomas Schwenk, Dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine and specialist in mental illness among athletes, says it can be especially hard to convince a student athlete that it’s okay to have mental health issues because there tends to be a stigmatization among the athlete population. The panel also recommends that trainers should develop a relationship with their institution’s mental health services and be prepared for the need for an emergency referral for instances when students become a threat to themselves or others. Globe and Mail (Reuters)

What will PSE look like in 2020?

A new report by the UK’s Observatory on Borderless Higher Education predicts the future of higher education, based on interviews with 21 international education professionals. The report finds that the impact of MOOCs on pedagogy and university business models will be “profound,” but “an evolutionary shift rather than an avalanche of change.” On student mobility, the paper predicts that the demand for PSE worldwide will continue to grow, but at a slower rate than in the past 2 decades. Also, the overall demand for PSE will outpace the growth of international student mobility due to an increase in PSE institutions in developing countries, and a growing number of opportunities available for international students to study from their home country through Western institutions. However, branch-campus activity will also become more intra-regional and “south-south” in nature, says the report, adding that China and Malaysia will rise as exporters of higher education. The report also predicts more degrees that can be obtained credit-by-credit at various institutions; decreased funding, which will lead to more “user pays” models, and more public and private institutions partnerships. Inside Higher Ed

UK can bet on its students, literally

British online gambling company Ladbrokes is now offering bets on the success and academic standing of students. Friends and family can place bets on any student enrolled at one of 20 UK universities, and bets can be made on any possible outcome, including degree with distinction, merit, or even a fail. A Ladbrokes spokesperson stated, “We always get requests for degree bets at this time of year so we thought we'd launch a dedicated service with a unique microsite for the first time to cater to the demand.” Ladbrokes has determined the odds of certain outcomes, based on the student’s university entrance exam results, the program studied, and the chosen university. Independent