Top Ten

October 1, 2013

MRU to cut enrolment in response to funding cuts

Mount Royal University plans to cut enrolment by 10% of its peak level starting in 2015-16, reports Metro News. MRU VP of Administrative Services Duane Anderson says the university actually has the capacity to enrol 10,500 learners, but lacks the funding to do so. “We don’t want to take unfunded students in because it affects their experience at the university,” says Anderson. MRU plans to enrol 7,678 students annually starting in 2015-16 – down from the 8,523 students enrolled in 2012-13. Following a 9.3%reduction in provincial funding, MRU this past spring suspended 8 programs and cut more than 60 faculty positions. Anderson adds that no further program suspensions are on the horizon. Metro News

Camosun struggles with deferred maintenance

According to the Times Colonist, Camosun College needs upwards of $100 million to catch up on deferred maintenance and to fix aging buildings, update classrooms, and replace windows, elevators, plumbing and fire alarm systems. Peter Lockie, Camosun’s CFO, stated that the problems began building up over 4 years ago, when the BC government cut the school’s maintenance budget by 75%. Camosun is expecting $1.7 million from the government this year for maintenance, but that is only a small portion of what is needed to bring the school up to an “acceptable standard.” Lockie recently told the board of governors that the maintenance issues “are threatening the quality of our services essentially, and the quality of our environment for learning and teaching.” A spokesperson for the government said that “when the funding becomes available it will be expended on a priority basis across BC.” Simon Fraser University is also struggling with deferred maintenance issues, with some staff and students reporting health problems due to mold or bad air. Times Colonist

Ontario’s draft differentiation framework sparks reaction

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has expressed concern over the provincial government’s proposed framework for PSE differentiation, saying it “may lead to government intrusion into academic decision making, and could have damaging funding consequences for Ontario’s higher education institutions.” OCUFA also voiced its concern about the fact that it has not yet been asked to comment on the framework, and that the short timelines for commentary make meaningful conversation “almost impossible.” OCUFA states that it will oppose “any attempt to create an artificial hierarchy of institutions, with winners and losers determined by government.” Humber College President Chris Whitaker recently stated that Humber is ready to lead the way in recognizing new models beyond traditional colleges and universities; Humber outlines a “third option” for PSE students: a hybrid model that combines the “best elements of the college and university systems.”OCUFA News Release | Humber News Release

uAlberta alumni businesses generate $348 billion in revenue

A new study out of the University of Alberta examined the economic impact of uAlberta graduates, determining that businesses and non-profit organizations created by alumni generate $348 billion annually, with 20% of that remaining in Alberta. The study estimates that 70,257 organizations have been founded by alumni, approximately one third of which are cultural or non-profit organizations. 15-20 large companies drive a large part of the revenue, but there are also thousands of small companies that contribute to the economic impact. Many of the companies are located outside of Canada, highlighting the international reach of alumni and the university. The study “shows that the value of postsecondary institutions goes ‘far beyond the monetary value’ of new inventions and technology commercialization,” stated uAlberta President Indira Samarasekera. The researchers used a US survey methodology devised at MIT and Stanford University called a scaled estimation technique, using data from 8,853 alumni surveyed in 2012. Edmonton Journal 

Enrolment increases at all 4 Northern College campuses

Northern College is reporting enrolment increases at all 4 campuses this year, with the Moosonee campus quadrupling enrolment numbers compared to last year. As well, Haileybury campus enrolment is up 31%, Kirkland Lake campus is up 24%, and Timmins campus is experiencing an 11% enrolment increase. The various campuses are experiencing growth across a variety of programs, but the most significant are Mining Engineering Technician (and others under the Haileybury School of Mines umbrella), Practical Nursing, Paramedic and Office Administration programs (Moosonee), the School of Health Sciences (Kirkland Lake), and the School of Engineering Technology and Trades (Timmins). Fred Gibbons, President of Northern College, stated “an increase in enrolment at Northern College is positive for all of northeastern Ontario ... as the demand for skilled workers increases across the region, we will continue to produce graduates that meet those demands.” Northern College News Release

SLC introduces new marketing campaign

St Lawrence College has released a new recruitment marketing campaign to help recruit new full-time students for 2014-15. The ‘Say Hello to your Future’ campaign includes photographs of SLC students from various programs, as well as key messages that students and staff submitted via Twitter and Facebook last spring. The campaign includes reference to SLC’s provincial ranking of first for graduate employment, and highlights that at SLC “you won’t be lost in the crowd—you’ll be an integral part of an energetic, close-knit community that is dedicated to learning and is focused on helping students achieve their goals.” The campaign has been launched across all marketing and communications platforms, including the Viewbook, which gives information to prospective students on SLC and various programs offered. SLC has also created a video for the campaign that illustrates key messages from students and staff. SLC News

Success of online resources for students requires instructor support

A recent study into online writing resources and tools for students at Wilfrid Laurier University found that when these resources were introduced into the classroom, many students did not use them, and the few who did saw no impact on their grades. The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) ran the study on 4 large first-year classes and one fourth-year seminar class, in which some students used the online writing tools, and a control group did not. Only 5-15% of students accessed the tools and of those who did, less than 20% used it more than once. While the study revealed no correlation between use of the resource and improvement in writing grades, student and professor perception of the tool was positive. Many students felt that the resource was meant for students with poor skills, and therefore, not relevant to them. The study recommends further research into supports that could be given to instructors to better introduce such tools to students. HEQCO News Release

Profs should focus on education, not teaching

The emphasis on teaching that many PSE institutions have focused on lately comes at a cost, as “the more we as a society emphasize teaching at universities, the less we emphasize education,” writes University of Waterloo professor James M. Skidmore in a recent Globe and Mail op-ed. Skidmore explains that simply teaching -- getting the course content across to students so that they can merely complete the required content and get good grades – can limit what students learn. “An educating professor doesn’t teach the subject; she educates the student. This requires understanding the student not as a consumer of subject matter, but as the product of an educational process,” says Skidmore. Skidmore does clarify that professors should teach students some basic skills and techniques that will help them learn the material; but says that it should be “with a view to preparing students to take on responsibility for their society.”Globe and Mail

Scribd launches Netflix-like e-book subscription service

Document-sharing website Scribd has launched an e-book subscription service, with a partnership with HarperCollins allowing Scribd to start out offering thousands of titles. Similar to how Netflix works for movie and television-show viewing, Scribd will charge users $9 per month for unlimited access to most of HarperCollins’ books and various other books from smaller publishers. The works will be available via web browser and on Apple and Android devices. Scribd CEO Trip Adler says he believes Scribd's subscription service eventually could produce $1 billion in annual revenue, particularly if other big publishers sign on. The Province (Associated Press)

Youth’s “failure to launch” and what it means for PSE

Young Americans, men in particular, are taking longer to begin their career, according to a new report by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. Researchers found that in 2012, young workers reached the middle of the “wage spectrum,” an indicator of financial independence, at age 30, compared to 1980, when workers had reached the middle of the spectrum by age 26. The report also found that only one in 10 of 18- to 24-year olds consider his or her job a career. While the data are not surprising, the report, Failure to Launch: Structural Shift and the New Lost Generation, describes what the revealed trends mean to PSE: "the lockstep march from school to work and then on to retirement no longer applies for a growing share of Americans. ... As a result, the education- and labor-market institutions that were the foundation of a 20th-century system are out of sync with the 21st-century knowledge economy," says the report. Chronicle of Higher Education