Top Ten

November 8, 2013

Alberta restores $50 million for universities and colleges

The Alberta government has increased funding to the Campus Alberta grants by $50 million to help Alberta's publicly-funded institutions address specific enrolment pressures and to “help ensure more students get the education they need.” The money is being awarded as a 2.6% increase of the Campus Alberta grant for the 20 institutions that saw a $147-million budget cut in the 2013 provincial budget. Alberta’s Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk says the $50 million is not one-time funding, but will be part of their base grants in future, reports the Globe and Mail. Alberta News Release | Globe and Mail

uSask reports 30% increase in Aboriginal student enrolment

The University of Saskatchewan is reporting an increase of almost 30% in Aboriginal student enrolment this fall over last year, according to Global News. This brings the total number of self-identified Aboriginal students at uSask to approximately 2,000. Candace Wasacase-Lafferty, the uSask First Nations and Métis Engagement Director at its English River facility, says that the facility has been reaching out to First Nations communities as part of efforts to get more students enrolled in university. The English River facility provides cultural and spiritual support for Aboriginal students, as does the Aboriginal Students’ Centre on the Saskatoon campus. “They’re comfortable; they kind of settle into their studies a little better because they know there’s a connection to home, even if it’s a spiritual connection,” said Robert Badger, the facility’s Cultural Coordinator. Global News

Wayne State reduces tuition for Ontario students

Detroit's Wayne State University is offering reduced tuition for students from Ontario and the neighbouring Great Lakes states, just a few months after uWindsor slashed tuition fees for its US neighbors. Out-of-state undergraduates, including those from Ontario, who qualify for the tuition award at Wayne State will pay the same tuition as Michigan students, plus 10%. Wayne State Provost Margaret Winters says it's a way to deal with falling enrolment and to raise the university’s profile outside southeast Michigan. uWindsor Assistant VP Recruitment and Enrolment Dave Bussiere says, "it's a positive thing for Windsor-Essex that we're both dedicated to the region." CBC

Niagara College team wins spot at World Culinary Olympics

A team of current students and recent graduates from Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute has won the title of Junior Culinary Team Canada, having won a national chefs and cooks selection competition in October. The team will represent Canada at the 2016 World Culinary Olympics – held once every 4 years in Erfurt, Germany – where it will compete against teams from more than 30 countries. The title also earns the team the right to represent Canada at international competitions for the next 3 years, including the World Culinary Championships in Luxembourg (2014) and Singapore (2015). Niagara News Release

Mount Allison launches new website

Mount Allison University has launched a redesigned website, the university’s first major rebuild in more than 5 years. The new site presents information by audience, including sections aimed at prospective students, current students, faculty and staff, alumni, and visitors — each containing information relevant to that particular community. It also incorporates intuitive navigation and an updated visual design, with image-intensive pages that allow Mount Allison to showcase its students and campus. The site is being launched in phases over the next several months; the initial launch includes the prospective students’ site and academic departments. Website

Ryerson and St. Michael’s Hospital to open new collaborative research centre

Neighbours Ryerson University and St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto have announced a 20-year partnership to open a new Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Science Technology (iBest). A key part of the initiative will be the creation of a 22,000-square-foot home in St. Michael’s Keenan Research Centre for approximately 15 Ryerson faculty members and 40 Ryerson students involved in ongoing health care research. The space will also include a 2,000-square-foot “incubator” that will specialize in the development and commercialization of innovative biomechanical products to care for and treat patients, similar to Ryerson’s successful Digital Media Zone. A new connection to the hospital via a bridge over the institutions’ common street will also allow researchers to apply their discoveries to patient needs in what is called “bench-to-bedside” research. Construction is expected to start next spring, with move-in spring 2015. Ryerson News Release

Ontario grad students launch anti-bullying survey

Graduate students in Ontario are launching a province-wide survey about bullying and harassment at university campuses. The survey, Not in the Syllabus, asks graduate students to “identify and describe incidents related to bullying, harassment and mental health issues that they have either personally experienced or witnessed.” A provincial report will compile the information and inform workshops to be held at campuses across Ontario. "Whether it is strained relationships with a supervisor or a toxic work environment, graduate students face unique challenges and pressures," said Kevin Godbout, Chairperson of the Ontario Graduate Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students. Not in the Syllabus is a joint project of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, the Public Service Alliance of Canada Ontario and the Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee of the Canadian Union of Public Employees-Ontario. CFS-O News Release | Survey

Incoming uToronto president suggests funding boost

Incoming University of Toronto President Meric Gertler has begun calling on the Ontario government to set up a special funding formula for uToronto to help cover the high cost of the research “for which it is hailed around the world.” “We’re saying to the government, if you’re really serious about wanting different universities to play to their different strengths, this is our strength and you need to adjust the funding for us in a way that acknowledges that,” says Gertler. He also warns that Ontario’s plan to stop institutions from charging a full “flat fee” for as little as 60% of a course load would cost uToronto $16 million a year in lost income that it will struggle to replace. The money from flat fees helps uToronto enhance students’ experience through such initiatives as research opportunities for undergraduates and a grant that allows small classes to study abroad for a week, says Gertler. Toronto Star

Average grades of university-bound students rise slightly

The average grade of Canadian high school students entering universities was 85% in 2012, according to data compiled for the 2014 Maclean’s University Rankings – an increase of 2% since 2007. Maclean’s also points out some regional patterns. Only 4 of the 42 schools considered in the 2008 rankings showed decreased entering grades in 2012, but 3 of them were in Quebec: uMontréal, uSherbrooke and Bishop’sU. Only 4 schools improved their average grades by more than 3 per cent, and 3 out of 4 were in BC: UBC, UNBC and SFU. Meanwhile, data show that a few universities have increased their entering average grade requirement by more than 3%; however, a majority of institutions have held their requirement steady since 2007. Maclean’s

New micro-scholarship site helps institutions shape potential students

A new US online service is offering high school students “micro-scholarships” from participating institutions for completing specific tasks, in the hopes that it will shape users into the types of students institutions would like to have enrolled. Raise, currently in the beta stage, allows students to “follow” any combination of the 20 institutions signed up so far. Each institution chooses which actions it wants to encourage, and how much money to assign to each one. For example, a student could earn a couple of hundred dollars playing a leading role in a school play or earning a B or better in a mathematics class. If a student enrols at one of the institutions from which she earned money, she will receive that money when she starts school. “These are all actions that encourage students' personal development and make them a more competitive applicant for any college," says Raise Co-founder Preston R. Silverman. While the program will eventually be open to all students, Raise is especially interested in helping those from low-income families. Chronicle of Higher Education