Top Ten

December 2, 2013

St. Clair College projects $4-million surplus

St. Clair College is on its way to a projected $4-million surplus for 2013-14, reports the Windsor Star. St. Clair President John Strasser says the college has “ended each year in the black” since he took office 14 years ago. He adds that there are several things the college would like to do should the surplus be realized at the end of the fiscal year in March, including investing money towards “more recreation, study and computer areas” for students. “The image of our college is changing,” says Strasser, pointing out the success of programs like health care, manufacturing and sports. He adds that St. Clair has also improved its retention rates, with a 5.4% enrolment spike this year to about 8,400 full-time students. Windsor Star

Montreal ranked 1st in Canada, 9th in world for students

Montreal has been named one of the “top 10 student cities” in the world by QS University Rankings. The city ranked number 9, climbing from 10th place in 2012, for its diverse culture and multilingual population, vibrant music scene, and various international cultural events. The QS Best Student Cities list is based on scores in 5 categories: university rankings, student mix (in which Montreal scored high), quality of living, employer activity, and affordability. Other cities ranked in the top 10 are Paris, London, Singapore, Sydney, Zurich, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Boston and Munich. A recent BBC article gave Kingston, ON kudos for being a “great university town.” QS Rankings | Concordia News Release

$98 billion Europe-Canada research collaboration program expanded

Canada and the European Commission have agreed to expand a joint program that promotes collaboration among researchers in science and technology. Participants of the ERA-Can Plus program, launched in October, will be able to apply for a portion of the 70 billion Euros ($98 billion Canadian) being made available by the EU’s Horizon 2020 fund for 7 years starting in early 2014. Proposals must come from groups of researchers consisting of at least 3 European researchers from 3 different countries. Canadian researchers must tap into European research networks and demonstrate that they are contributing expertise that is not available in Europe. “Canadian participation in international research projects like ERA-Can Plus is important as it increases the likelihood that Canadian expertise and perspectives will be brought to bear on global and cross-border research issues,” says Paul Davidson, President of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. University Affairs | Horizon 2020

OUSA launches videos, infographic for student financial aid advocacy

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) has launched the first half of a series of videos that seek to address student concerns with financial assistance for PSE in Ontario. In the videos, students from Brock University, McMaster University, and Queen’s University raise such issues as the fairness of current expected parental contributions in the OSAP program eligibility, the complexity of the OSAP application process, and financial aid literacy among undergraduates. OUSA also created an infographic on student financial aid in the province, which includes information about why students didn’t apply for financial assistance in 2011-12. OUSA will be meeting with MPPs and members of Cabinet during its upcoming conference to further its advocacy on student financial aid. OUSA News Release | Infographic

uAlberta launches new virtual open house for international students

The University of Alberta is launching a new online international recruitment initiative to connect with potential foreign students. On December 3, the university is hosting a virtual open house “where prospective international students can connect with faculty advisors, housing representatives, international recruiters, and current students through live web presentations with Q&A, text chats, videos, and more.” Registration to the open house is free, and it will be held in 2 sessions to accommodate different time zones. This year, uAlberta also launched its Virtual Tour, which gives students a sense of the “look and feel” of campus from their computer or mobile device. “We hear from many prospective students that they find it a challenge to ‘picture themselves’ at uAlberta because they have never been to Canada,” says Vice-Provost and AVP International Britta Baron. uAlberta News Release | Registration Page | Virtual Tour

Acadia receives $1 million for improved arena, athletic complex

Acadia University recently received a $1-million gift from the McCain family (of McCain Foods) for renovations to the university’s arena, which will now be called the Andrew H. McCain Arena. The newly-named arena will have a new roof, improved heating and ventilation, upgraded lighting, sound and video, interior acoustic paneling, and a new indoor 250-metre running track. Improvements will also be made to the Acadia Athletic Complex entrance and visitor lobby. “With this gift, we wanted to do something that would have an immediate impact on Acadia as a destination within the Valley and its ability to attract new events and activities to campus – not to mention its appeal to prospective students,” said Stephen McCain, one of Andrew H McCain’s 6 children, 3 of whom are Acadia graduates. Acadia News Release

CNA becomes only Cisco training centre in Atlantic Canada

The College of the North Atlantic (CNA) has partnered with the Cisco Networking Academy to create Atlantic Canada’s only fully-accredited Cisco Instructor Training Centre and Academy Support Centre. Cisco Networking Academy offers free curriculum to not-for-profit educational institutions, emphasizing critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and practical knowledge. “Academy students don’t just read about networking, they build networks and complete hands-on exercises in specially equipped labs,” says Jackie Reid, a Cisco IT Instructor. “The program provides students with the internet technology skills essential in a global economy, prepares students for the demands of the workplace, leads to continued education and learning, and prepares for industry standard certifications.” CNA News Release

CEOs warn Canadians of dangerously low literacy, numeracy rates

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), representing 150 Canadian CEOs, says Canada’s educational systems are failing to develop the literacy and numeracy skills necessary to ensure graduates can transition into the workforce successfully. In a recent speech, CCCE head John Manley warned audience members that the issue “must be addressed if industry is to have a viable future workforce.” Manley cited an OECD study that showed Canadian students ranked 8th and 10th in science and math respectively. However, Manley did acknowledge that Canadian business does lag behind many countries in on-the-job training, due to the fact that many believe that “training is something that is the responsibility of the educational system, not the employer.” Manley says greater collaboration needs to take place between industry and educational systems, and that more information needs to be shared amongst education leaders and government to identify solutions to the problem. The CCCE will also be conducting a series of studies that explore the root causes of these educational deficits and their connection to the job market and perceived skills shortage. Financial Post

Gen Y earning less than their parents

Gen Y’s “financial frustrations” come from entering the workforce at a time when the economy is putting them “on track to be worse off than their parents,” reveals a study by University of Waterloo Assistant Professor Markus Moos. Moos examined how earnings for young adults in Montreal and Vancouver changed from 1981 to 2006, accounting for any socio-economic changes such as increased levels of PSE participation. Moos found that young adults are making less than they did 25 years ago. Moos’ results provide further evidence against the commonly-held theory that Millennials are “spoiled, coddled and otherwise not as good as the generations that came before them,” suggests Globe and Mail columnist Rob Carrick. Carrick does point out that some good news within Moos’ report is that Millennials with PSE will still have an advantage over those without it. Globe and Mail

Coursera gets $20 million in funding amidst shaky MOOC ground

Coursera recently announced that it has raised an additional $20 million in funding, for a total of $85 million since April 2012. This news comes after Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun admitted he had a “lousy product” and needed to change course towards more vocational-based training partnerships. “Solving the education problem is a significant challenge and one that requires concerted effort,” says Coursera Co-Founder Daphne Koller. "If Udacity wants to go in another direction, I think it’s useful that people are exploring different areas.” However, Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that Coursera is also considering adding corporate education offerings. “We think that many companies view Coursera as a quality, convenient, inexpensive way to continue employee development,” says Coursera’s other Co-Founder, Andrew Ng. “Is there a contract with a company that might make sense? I don’t have an answer to that yet.” Silicon Valley Business Journal