Top Ten

October 21, 2013

uCalgary receives its largest corporate donation, $7 million for engineering school

The University of Calgary has received the largest single corporate donation in its history, with a $7 million gift to the Schulich School of Engineering from Canadian Natural Resources Limited. “The gift will enable the school to provide exceptional learning experiences for students and to create an environment in which engineering experts thrive, leading to groundbreaking and widely recognized research,” says a uCalgary news release. A newly-named Canadian Natural Resources Limited Engineering Complex will serve as a hub for teaching, learning and research within the Schulich School of Engineering, providing tools and resources for the education of future engineers. The expansion of the Schulich School of Engineering, which will allow the school to increase its capacity by at least 400 additional undergraduate and graduate students, also received $142.5 million in funding from the Alberta government this month. uCalgary Today

YorkU launches prioritization review

York University this week announced that it will be undertaking an Academic and Administrative Prioritization (AAP) process to review its programs and inform its future decision making, during “the most difficult budget situation in YorkU’s history in an uncertain higher education context.” The review will be conducted by YorkU’s Provost Rhonda Lenton and VP Finance and Administration Gary Brewer, and should be completed by the end of 2013-14. The University of Guelph recently released the results of its own program prioritization report. YorkU News Release

6 PSE institutions on 2014 Canada's Top 100 Employers list

Dalhousie University, Georgian College, Simon Fraser University, the University of New Brunswick, the University of Toronto, and Western University are all among the Top 100 Employers for 2014. The Globe and Mail’s annual list of the country’s best employers is based on 8 criteria: physical workplace; work and social atmosphere; health, financial & family benefits; vacation and time off; employee communications; performance management; training and skills development; and community involvement. Any employer with a head office or principal place of business in Canada may apply for the competition. The number of PSE institutions to make the list has grown by 2 since last year. Canada’s Top 100 Employers Website

Canada launches new visa stream for entrepreneurs

Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander this week announced a new visa for foreign entrepreneurs to Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada will designate eligible business incubator programs in consultation with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation (CABI). “This new stream will partner Canada’s world class business incubators with immigrant entrepreneurs, driving economic growth and placing Canada ahead of its competitors in the global economy of the 21st century,” says Alexander. The program will begin accepting applications on October 26. Citizenship and Immigration News Release

COU campaign asks “What matters now?” in research

The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) has launched a new phase of its “Research Matters” campaign, which features a speaker series by a group of Ontario researchers who will attempt to answer the question: “What matters now?” in research. The event series spans 5 Ontario cities over 6 months, with top researchers discussing their work on a wide range of topics, from home-grown terror to planet hunting and artificial brains. The campaign also has a redesigned website, which includes blogs about individual researchers and their projects, and answers some interesting questions like “Is there life on other worlds?” and “How can sculpture save a baby’s life?” COU News Release | Research Matters Website

CFS lobbying on Parliament Hill this week

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) has organized a lobby week at Parliament Hill to “pressure the federal government to take immediate steps to address increasing student debt.” Students are meeting with MPs and Senators this week to advocate for a series of recommendations, which include a proposal to convert all new student loans to grants and investments – a move the CFS says would cut student debt in Canada by half and return federal funding to colleges and universities to 1992 levels. CFS News Release

Students reaching for ADHD drugs to deal with academic stress

Some Canadian PSE students are being driven to using study drugs to help them cope with the pressure of exams and essays, reports the Globe and Mail. Following a national study that said 4% of students who have no medical need for a range of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) drugs take them to deal with academic demands, the Globe and Mail asked student journalists to investigate the use of study drugs on their campus. Students replied, in more than 20 interviews, that they used the drugs for various reasons, including too many non-academic commitments, feeling anxious about getting good marks to be accepted to graduate school, and having procrastinated. Many students reported that the drugs often had unpleasant side-effects, such as interrupted sleep, loss of appetite, and dehydration. “Researchers have found the typical study-drug user is a B student with extracurricular commitments trying to keep pace and looking for a just-in-time solution,” says Cynthia Forlini, a research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia. Globe and Mail

86% of students admit to texting in class

90% of students admit to using their devices for non-class activities during class times, reveals a new University of Nebraska at Lincoln study. In the study, which was based on a survey of 777 students at 6 colleges and universities in the US, most students were undergraduates, and graduate students were less likely to use their devices for non-class purposes. Undergraduates reported using their devices for non-class purposes 11 times a day, on average, compared to 4 times a day for graduate students. The top reasons for students using their devices in class included texting (86%), checking the time (79%), checking e-mail (68%), social networking (66%), web surfing (38%) and playing games (8%). About 30% of students reported that their instructors did not have a policy on the subject. Inside Higher Ed

6 ways CIOs can revolutionize universities

At a recent conference in the US, several PSE chief information officers (CIOs) offered their peers advice on how CIOs can play a transformational role at their institutions. 6 takeaway messages included: be relevant, constantly being on campus and listening to the problems and concerns of faculty and students to develop solutions; reach out to the community, which includes other academic and staff departments, to meet local employers’ needs; don’t be afraid to “take staff and faculty by the hand” to walk them through a technology; try teaching along with other duties; optimize new services for mobile and take advantage of the cloud; and convince others within the organization that things are their idea, giving credit to others. Education Dive

Low-cost BA making slow progress in US

The idea of offering students bachelor's degree programs that cost no more than $10,000, introduced in the last 2 years by both Governor Rick Perry in Texas and Governor Rick Scott in Florida, is starting to catch on at PSE institutions, but “not for many students, not for many majors and not on the flagship campuses.” Broward College, a 67,000-student institution in Florida, is offering the low-cost BA in its 4 smallest bachelor’s programs, but so far there has been little interest. Miami Dade College, the biggest in the system, is offering 8, $10,000 bachelor’s degree programs; so far, they have drawn 62 students. Furthermore, the Florida system is already among the cheapest in the US, with average tuition and fees of $13,264 for a 4-year degree.  In Texas, 13 institutions now offer $10,000 degrees, but so far, most of them are based on students’ amassing college credits while they are still in high school, or at a community college, whose tuition may not be included in the total. New York Times