Top Ten

October 4, 2013

UoGuelph program prioritization report informs budget planning

The University of Guelph last week announced the results of a Program Prioritization Process that ranked programs and services to help determine the ones to which limited financial resources should be allotted. Programs that ranked in the bottom fifth of the analysis included 7 school of language and literature programs, and 6 programs each in mathematics and statistics, sociology and anthropology, and English and theatre. Meanwhile, intercollegiate athletic teams, the food services division, undergraduate residences, and the annual giving and alumni relations unit all scored in the top fifth of the analysis. The report also singled out UoGuelph’s International Development unit, reporting that “the program has little curricular control, lacks resources, and, in short - needs attention before it flounders.” UoGuelph AVP Communications and Public Affairs Chuck Cunningham said of the report’s impact: "Instinctively, there might be some who look at the report and assume automatically that anything in a lower ranking will be cut, but that's simply not the case." Cunningham adds that the report is one of the tools the university will use to make decisions about how to reduce a $32.4-million budget shortfall over 3 years starting in 2014. Guelph Mercury | Full Report

Ontario launches PSE student mental health help line

The Ontario government last week launched a new mental health help line for PSE students that provides professional counselling, mental-health information and connections to local resources. Students who are concerned about student life, health or mental well-being can call Good2Talk, a free, province-wide service that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The province also announced that it will support 10 new projects at colleges and universities that will aim to improve access to mental health services and connect students more quickly to support services. The help line is part of Ontario’s $257-million Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, announced in the 2011 Budget, and is delivered by Kids Help Phone, ConnexOntario, 211Ontario, the Ontario Centre for Excellence in Child and Youth Mental Health, and PSE institutions. Ontario News Release

Durham College enrolment increases 9%

Durham College has seen a 9% enrolment boost at its Oshawa and Whitby campuses and Pickering Learning Site, welcoming more than 10,900 full-time students this fall. The increase includes more than 5,700 new students and 346 international students. Durham VP Academic Judy Robinson says the growth is “reflective of [Durham’s] commitment to fostering student success through high-quality academic programs designed to meet the needs of today’s employers.” Durham this year also opened its new Centre for Food, which can accommodate approximately 900 additional students enrolled in culinary, hospitality, tourism, agriculture, and horticultural programs. Durham College News Release

Community-based program launched to help student retention

First Nations University of Canada has launched a new community-based program designed to improve the retention rates of Indigenous students. The Indigenous Access and Transition Education Certificate (IATEC) program was launched in September on the Piapot First Nation as an answer to problems many students face when transitioning to PSE. Officials at FNUniv say there is a large number of students who struggle with the transition to their second year of studies. The IATEC program is 10-months long, with transitional courses in math, English and science, as well as personal and cultural university preparedness. Students can receive 30 university credits upon successful completion of the program. Larry Gauthier, FNUniv Registrar and program co-developer, said that “the extra work put into ensuring first-year students are successful will pay off in the long run.” Regina Leader-Post

MUN’s Marine Institute launches new brand campaign

Memorial University’s Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) has launched a new marketing and branding campaign with the message, “It’s a Big World. Be at the Centre of It.” The campaign features photos of MI alumni in career positions attained since graduating, and highlights 3 areas of MI’s strength: the world-class facilities and programs, the balance of sea- and land-based career opportunities, and extensive connections to industry and alumni. The campaign has been launched with a new view book, lure piece, parent and guidance counsellor resource book, and poster and exhibition display, and over the fall and winter the campaign will spread to YouTube, Facebook, and transit and cinema advertising across NL and parts of Atlantic Canada. MI News

Feds determined to go ahead with Job Grant program, with or without provinces

According to Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney, if the provinces and territories do not sign on in support of the Canada Job Grant program, the federal government will go ahead with administering the program federally. The premiers met last week with business and labour leaders about the controversial program, and the resulting message was the provinces will not participate unless there are changes made to the plan as it now stands. Kenney stated that the plan has already seen significant changes since first introduced, and will be flexible and not a one-size-fits-all approach, as has been suggested. Kenney told CTV that the plan is to “actually empower businesses, employers, who know better than government bureaucracies who is going to benefit most from training and will actually [be] able to get to work.” Kenney hopes to meet with his provincial counterparts to further discuss the program in the next few weeks. CTV News

Summit recommends re-organization of high schools

The Waterloo Global Science Initiative held the Equinox Summit: Learning 2030 last week at the University of Waterloo, and one of the recommendations to come out of the summit is to eliminate high school groupings by age in favour of groupings by ability and area of study. According to one summit participant, "the current model of grade levels and ages is flawed. We need to progress students through high school, not by their ages, but by the stages they're at." Summit participants also discussed the use of new technologies in the classroom, ways to increase student engagement, teacher training, and the benefits of local school autonomy. Participants came from close to a dozen countries, including the UK, Australia, Singapore, Finland, Qatar, several African nations, the US, and Canada. uWaterloo News

uSask expands retail development, generates revenue for scholarships

The Preston Crossing retail development in Saskatoon, SK will be expanding with a fifth phase of development, meaning more revenue for the University of Saskatchewan, which will be redirected to scholarships for students. uSask will issue an RFP to select a developer for the 14-acre plot owned by the institution, and the new zoning regulations will allow for small stores as well as services like restaurants and financial institutions. Preston Crossing currently generates about $2 million per year in revenue for uSask and about $10 million in scholarships have been awarded since the project began. uSask News

Liberal Arts campaign launches in US

The US-based Council of Independent Colleges has launched an online public information campaign for the liberal arts and liberal arts colleges. The national, multi-pronged campaign Securing America’s Future: The Power of Liberal Arts Education highlights the value of a liberal arts education, and directs attention to “compelling evidence that smaller independent colleges produce graduates who are among the best prepared for success in their personal, career, and community lives.” The site includes research data, op-eds, articles, speeches, career information, blog posts, and videos highlighting the value of a liberal arts education and dispelling stereotypes. The site also offers resources for those interested in promoting liberal arts education. Inside Higher Ed | Campaign website

New England’s small colleges face difficult times ahead

According to Jay A. Halfond, former Dean of Boston University's Metropolitan College, “New England's rich mosaic of over 150 colleges and universities is potentially at risk.” Although the region of New England is somewhat of an academic mecca including some of the world’s most distinguished PSE institutions, the smaller colleges will face a wealth of adversity in the coming years. As Halfond puts it, “Current models for how schools price themselves and deliver their education are simply unsustainable and in serious need of repair.” Halfond issued a stress test to presidents of smaller colleges in New England, and found that although the majority feel that their own institution has the necessary talent, agility, and quality to confront the challenges of the future, the majority also believed that many local peer institutions would be closed within 5 years. Halfond notes that academic institutions “will need to inspire their people to build new educational and financial models,” and will need to collaborate with each other, and with communities, to succeed. Huffington Post