Top Ten

December 4, 2013

Canadian math, reading performance declines

The OECD has released the latest results of its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which measures the math, reading and science scores of 15-year-olds in 65 countries. In math, Canada placed 13th overall with a score of 518, dropping 3 spots from 2009 and 6 spots from 2006. However, the score remains above the OECD average of 494. Canadian students performed slightly better overall in reading and science, placing 6th in reading with 523, and 8th in science with 525 (OECD averages are 496 and 501, respectively). However, these scores place Canada lower in the world standings than in the 2009 PISA results. Quebec leads the country in math scores, well above Canada’s average, while the largest declines in student performance were in Manitoba, Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Ontario’s Minister of Education Liz Sandals has issued a statement on the PISA results, saying that “there is still more to do when it comes to student achievement in math” and indicating that the province will focus on improving math education. The head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) John Manley recently warned Canadian Club audience members that numeracy and literacy rates must be improved to ensure graduates can transition into the workforce successfully. PISA Results | Globe and Mail | CMEC Canadian Summary | Ontario News Release

PSE institutions in Quebec voice opposition to secular charter

More of Quebec’s PSE institutions have begun to voice opposition to the Parti Québécois government’s controversial secular charter bill. The Globe and Mail reports that the University of Sherbrooke has joined McGill University and the English Montreal School Board in opposition to the bill; the Université de Montréal has not taken an official position against the charter, but Rector Guy Breton said the “initiative is unnecessary.” uSherbrooke Rector Luce Samoisette stated, “It’s not a good idea to do this and it is precisely the role of universities to confront these ideas.” McGill issued a statement in September against the charter, stating it would “run contrary to [the university’s] principles.” Montreal’s newly-elected city council has also taken a stance against the charter, voting for “inclusive secularism.” Globe and Mail 

Updated December 19, 2013

Concordia University has been added to the list of PSE institutions to openly disagree with the PQ government’s proposed Charter of Secular Values, posting an official statement on its website this week. “The Concordia University community wishes to make known its disagreement with certain key elements of the proposed Charter of Secular Values, and urges the Government of Quebec to amend the draft legislation significantly before seeking its passage,” reads the statement. Concordia Statement

uWindsor offered $15 million to move law faculty downtown

Windsor’s city council has approved a $15-million grant to the University of Windsor to move its Faculty of Law downtown. uWindsor President Alan Wildeman said that if the plan moves forward, close to 700 law faculty students and staff would make the move into the downtown, “bringing the legal education experience closer to the courts and Windsor’s legal community.” Wildeman added that uWindsor will now focus its attention on leveraging other sources of funding. The law faculty move would expand an existing downtown campus project, which will see 3 heritage buildings renovated and expanded to accommodate 2,000 students and faculty. Windsor Star

TWU freezes tuition for 2014-15

Trinity Western University recently announced that it will be freezing tuition for the 2014-15 academic year. Halfway through the spring semester last year, TWU notified students of a tuition increase that would affect the following summer and fall semesters. The TWU Student Association (TWUSA) submitted a resolution on behalf of the student body requesting that the university provide students more notice of tuition increases. TWU “took a step further and froze tuition rates for the upcoming academic year,” explains an official news release. “We know that despite what a great educational experience TWU is, and how much many of you love being here, that it’s expensive. We’ve been listening,” says TWU President Bob Kuhn. TWU News Release

uMoncton releases new strategic plan to 2020

The Université de Moncton has adopted a new strategic plan for the institution’s future to 2020. Titled Un rêve qui nous appartient (Our very own dream), the plan presents the conclusions and recommendations of a strategic-planning exercise conducted over the last 6 months. “As the Université de Moncton was marking its 50th anniversary, it was quite appropriate for us to step back and examine where the institution is at and more importantly, where we want it to go,” says Board of Governors Chair Raymond Lanteigne. uMoncton News Release | Strategic Plan (in French)

Carleton’s business school considers new location

The Sprott School of Business at Carleton University is considering options for a new location, reports CBC, and is involving students in the proposal process. Dunton Tower, the current location, is “insufficient to the school's needs, so much so that none of the 2,000 business school undergraduates take any courses in the building,” states Dean Jerry Tomberlin. Architecture and business students have teamed up to work on proposals for 2 possible new locations. The first option is to construct a new building on campus, with an attached hotel to cater to executives and conference attendees. The 2nd option is to be part of the proposed sustainable community being developed off campus on Albert Island, part of the old Domtar industrial area. The students’ proposals will be presented December 11-13. CBC

More PSE students using food banks in Ontario

Two of the fastest growing demographics of food-bank users in Ontario are PSE students and recent graduates, especially in rural areas, reveals a recent study by the Ontario Association of Food Banks. The 2013 Hunger Report says students make up 3.7% of food bank users, and that in rural communities this group has increased to 1.2%, up from 0.2% the previous year. The report also says every college and university in Ontario has a food bank or some kind of hunger-relief program on campus. Overall, food bank use has grown by 18% since 2007. 45% of all people who use food banks in Canada live in Ontario. CTV Toronto | Full Report

Female MBA grads face lower earnings than men

Female MBA graduates earn $8,167 less in their first job than their male peers, reveals a new survey by Catalyst, a women’s advocacy group. The report also reveals that women were more likely to start their careers in an entry-level position than men (at 72% vs. 58%), and that Canadian women received fewer high-visibility projects and "mission-critical roles" that predict advancement when compared to men. Canadian men were more likely to get international positions (29% men vs. 19% women). The report is part of a larger study on MBA programs at 26 leading business schools in Asia, Canada, Europe and the US. 1,574 MBA graduates were surveyed in 2007, 2010, 2011 or 2013. Catalyst Report | Globe and Mail

BC student group establishes constitution, policy statement

The Alliance of British Columbia Students (ABCS), which earlier this year moved to become a formal organization, adopted a constitution, bylaws and an initial policy statement at a recent founding conference. Originally a loose, decentralized group founded by 4 BC student groups under the name Where’s The Funding?! (WTF?!), ABCS has grown to represent over 180,000 graduate, undergraduate, and trades students at 10 BC institutions. “The ABCS does not levy membership fees, has no central head office, and believes in a simple membership approach that allows the organization to focus more on the important issues relevant to students,” explains the ABCS website. ABCS Website | Constitution

US accreditors accused of being archaic in transforming sector

PSE accreditors in the US are facing criticism from those who say the accreditation process isn't adapting to a sector in transition, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. “Accreditors are perfecting the Pony Express as the telegraph wires are being strung," PSE lawyer Michael B. Goldstein told the Council for Higher Education Accreditation at a recent meeting. Critics of the well-established accreditation system say it is hindering the development of new models of higher education. “Accreditation focuses heavily on process, with no ability to analyze what and how much students are learning. But students and employers are thinking more about the skills and outcomes necessary to succeed in the workplace,” explains Richard A. DeMillo, Director of the Center for 21st Century Universities, at the Georgia Institute of Technology. However, accreditors argue that the well-established system is still relevant. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges head Belle Wheelan argues that “the financial model of PSE is broken, but it's not accreditors' job to fix that.” Wheelan does, however, admit that the accreditation process could move a little faster to accommodate innovations in education. Chronicle of Higher Education