Top Ten

November 28, 2013

IBM donates cloud computing system to 7 NS institutions

IBM will be contributing a multi-million dollar private cloud computing system to a consortium of 7 PSE institutions in Nova Scotia. The system, which will be operational in 2014, is being hosted at Dalhousie University, but will also be accessible to faculty and students at Acadia University, Cape Breton University, Mount Saint Vincent University, Nova Scotia Community College, Saint Mary’s University and St. Francis Xavier University. It will provide the institutions with on-demand access to servers, storage, applications and services, and allow them to “deliver curriculum that reflects the mix of technical and problem-solving skills necessary to prepare students for high-demand careers in analytics.” IBM’s contribution is part of a November 2012 agreement with the NS government, NS Business Inc., and the consortium of PSE institutions to seed analytics skills, locate an IBM services delivery centre, and create up to 500 new highly-skilled jobs by 2020. IBM News Release | Dal News Release

UBC President seeks to ease tensions about athletics review

A University of British Columbia review of campus athletic programs is sparking “wholly inappropriate” attacks and misinformation, said university President Stephen Toope during a recent news conference. Toope held the news conference on Tuesday to ease the concerns of some alumni about a review on how UBC funds varsity sports, recognizing that 29 teams are too many. Toope says UBC is expediting the exercise, and adding 2 new alumni positions to the review team, “so teams that will remain varsity are informed late this year or early next, where possible.” “The primary goal of the sports review is to sharpen the focus on high-performance excellence, to expand and enhance opportunities for a greater number of UBC students to participate in competitive sports at different levels,” says Toope. He added that the varsity budget is not being cut, but said that the university wants to use its funds in a more effective way on fewer teams. Globe and Mail

uAlberta committee recommends reducing number of faculties

A University of Alberta committee tasked to develop recommendations for cost savings amid fiscal constraints has released its final report. The Renaissance Committee, made up of 10 academic staff members, suggests reducing the number of departments and faculties on campus and creating a more “effective and cohesive structure.” There are currently 19 faculties and 65 departments at uAlberta; the report says each faculty should consist of no fewer than 160 members and 4 departments. The committee also suggests creating incentives that encourage staff to retire. The recommendations, which are not binding, have gone to uAlberta’s Association of Academic Staff and the board of governors for consideration and approval. Edmonton Journal

uWindsor to create pedestrian-friendly zone on campus

The University of Windsor Board Of Governors has approved phase one of a new Campus Master Plan, which will see Sunset Avenue, a street running through the main campus, turned into a pedestrian-only area with cross-campus walking routes and recreational areas. Sunset Avenue will close in summer 2014, and the 6 other phases of the overall plan would take place between 2014 and 2017. “The creative designs in this [first] phase provide new campus gateways, and functional outdoor spaces that will offer everyone places to gather and relax, enjoy recreational activity, or celebrate an event,” says uWindsor President Alan Wildeman. The future phases include: a new pedestrian gateway to campus; a dynamic community park offering casual seating, a stage structure, ball courts, green space and new paving and lighting; more landscaping on campus grounds; and a newly-designed welcome centre. uWindsor News Release | Windsor Star

OUSA develops new policy recommendations

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) has recently developed new policy recommendations for PSE in addition to its existing standing policy papers on student success, ancillary fees, and student access. OUSA recommends that universities continue to develop and employ learning-outcome measures at the course, program and institutional levels “to reflect the skills competencies students gain throughout the course of pursuing their degree.” The group also recommends eliminating system-wide fee exemptions from Ontario’s Ancillary Fee Protocol, “which provide universities the ability to skirt student control and consultation when downloading additional costs onto undergraduates.” Finally, OUSA recommends that the Ministry of Education phase out secondary school streaming in favour of a non-streamed model that “provides students the ability to tailor their education to their strengths and PSE/employment aspirations via a diverse array of elective credits.” OUSA News Release

CFI launches online research lab finder for businesses

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has launched a new online tool to help businesses “identify, locate and connect with research expertise and cutting-edge facilities at universities, colleges and research hospitals across the country.” The “CFI Research Facilities Navigator” lists 150 research facilities that are searchable by subject area, location, institution, and via key word search. Search results explain what each institution does, its location, and how to connect with it. “This new online resource is yet another example of how our government is encouraging collaboration among the academic, public and private partners to drive innovation into every sector of our economy,” says Minister of State (Science and Technology) Greg Rickford. CFI News Release | Website

Lakehead receives $1 million from county

Lakehead University in Orillia, ON has this week received $1 million in funding from the County of Simcoe, bringing the county’s contribution to the campus to $3 million since 2009. In recognition, Lakehead President Brian Stevenson announced that the university’s Academic Building would be named Simcoe Hall. Stevenson says the latest gift will go towards the funding of “this world-class campus” and the academic experience of its students. “Without the county, Lakehead University would not be in Orillia today,” added Stevenson. Lakehead News Release

Okanagan reports 21% growth in trades, apprenticeship enrolments

Okanagan College has seen a 21% increase in enrolment in trades and apprenticeship programs this fall, while its overall enrolment rate remains steady. 660 students are taking these types of courses, compared to 547 at the same time in 2012. Also, student numbers in arts programs dropped by about 11%. “It’s important to understand that the fall enrolment snapshot is just that, it doesn’t tell the whole story,” explained Okanagan VP Education Andrew Hay. “The fall numbers are one of several indicators we use to calculate and predict our enrolment for the year.” Okanagan News Release

StatsCan releases enrolment, graduate data for 2011-12

A new batch of Statistics Canada data was released this week on PSE enrolments and graduates, which reveal that almost 2 million students were enrolled in Canadian institutions in 2011-12 -- a 1.9% increase from the previous year. Canadian students made up 90.7% of the total enrolment of 1,996,200, but the proportion of international students increased by 1% from 2010-11. Enrolments rose in most provinces and territories; in Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba, enrolments decreased, while in New Brunswick, they remained at the same level. More than half (56.1%) of PSE students were enrolled in programs at the bachelor level or above, and women accounted for 56.0% of the national enrolment total compared with 43.1% for men. Enrolment increased in all fields of study except education, which decreased slightly. The data also show that about 461,520 students graduated from a PSE institution in 2011, up 3.4% from the previous year. Over half of these graduates (51.7%) completed a program at the bachelor level or above; and female graduates represented 58.2% of the total. StatsCan Daily

Limited francophone PSE offerings threatening French communities

A lack of French-language PSE institutions in Ontario “could be threatening the vitality of francophone communities,” according to the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO). Its research reveals that while opportunities for French-language instruction have increased “dramatically” over the past 5 years, there are still limitations on the availability of programs and the levels and locations of study. The majority of bilingual institutions are located in eastern or northern Ontario, with only one French-language college and one bilingual university campus located in Toronto, and none in western Ontario. Although the provincial government recently announced funding for all PSE institutions to expand French-language programs, the paper suggests that “the lack of geographical representation of French-language studies could be the most significant restriction in choice and a key concern for maintaining linguistic vitality and communities.” While data show that francophones are accessing and completing PSE at a comparable rate to anglophones, the data exclude certain francophone groups or fail to address the diversity of the francophone population, and may not reflect the current status of all francophones pursuing PSE in Ontario. HEQCO Summary | Full Report