Top Ten

December 9, 2013

Ontario announces new tuition rules

The Ontario government has announced several new tuition regulations, aiming to make it easier for students to pay their tuition and “help ensure PSE continues to be affordable.” Starting in 2014-15, tuition fees will not be due before the beginning of August, and students who complete their Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) applications on time will be exempt from paying tuition before they receive their student aid. In addition, all students will be able to pay their fees in per-term installments without having to pay deferral fees or interest charges. Finally, institutions will be able to continue to charge a deposit on tuition, but the amount will be capped at $500 or 10% of the tuition total (whichever is greater); institutions must use the deposits to cover students’ tuition fees. Beginning in fall 2015, university students who take less than a 70% course load will be charged on a per-credit basis; in 2016, that number will rise to 80%. Ontario News | Globe and Mail

Quebec PSE and research ministry officially created

The ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie (MESRST) has officially been created in the National Assembly of Quebec, with unanimous signoff from all parties. Former Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Pauline Marois announced the bill in September 2012. McGill University President Suzanne Fortier said the new ministry is a “powerful signal of the government’s commitment toward PSE, as well as a recognition of the crucial role of university-level institutions in research and innovation.” The Université du Québec also welcomed the new legislation, saying “the challenges facing Quebec in the coming years, including increased global competitiveness and [changing] demographics” call for a formal ministry responsible for higher education, research, science and technology. McGill News Release | Quebec News Release (in French) | uQuébec News Release (in French)

FNUniv releases new 5-year strategic plan

The First Nations University of Canada has released its new strategic plan, “Lighting the Path: 2013-2018 Strategic Plan.” The plan describes the vision and mission of the university, and outlines 4 strategic areas of focus that will guide FNUniv for the next 5 years: Indigenous languages, cultures, and traditions; innovative student learning experience; sustainable growth; and enhanced stakeholder engagement. The plan states that these 4 themes are “aligned with the university’s vision and mission, which speak to the institution’s foundational and ongoing mandate to deliver accessible, high quality education while fostering and promoting Indigenous tradition, culture and values.” Acting President Juliano Tupone told the Leader-Post that he believes the goals are attainable, based on groundwork already laid. FNUniv will establish a small, internal committee dedicated to implementing aspects of the strategic plan. Tupone also spoke to the need to increase student enrolment and retention and outreach to local communities. “The importance of close connection to Indigenous communities echoes throughout the plan as a key element of FNUniv’s distinctiveness,” states the plan. FNUniv Strategic Plan | Regina Leader-Post

Queen’s reaching out to non-unionized staff

The Human Resources department at Queen’s University is developing new, modernized communication structures for connecting with non-unionized staff in several employee groups. HR will be conducting focus groups with the non-unionized staff members to obtain feedback and to encourage engagement with the university. The new communications models are being developed in consultation with the Queen’s University Staff Association as well, “to continue to enable the active involvement of non-unionized staff and to ensure that their perspectives are brought forward on issues of relevance to them.” said QUSA President Maureen Bartram. Queen's News Release

uKing’s receives largest-ever donation to establish scholarship program

The University of King’s College in Halifax has received its largest individual gift in its almost 225-year history. Donald Sobey has donated $2 million for the establishment of the Donald R Sobey Scholarships, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 for successful applicants. The scholarships are open to Canadian students, with an emphasis on those from Atlantic Canada, who are entering a full-time undergraduate program at uKing’s. Sobey stated he was “delighted to be able to support and strengthen [the study of the liberal arts]. In every field of endeavour today – business, medicine, law, government, education – success depends on people who understand the achievements and failures of our past and have the intellectual flexibility to deal with the unknown challenges of our future. The study of the liberal arts produces such people.” uKing’s News Release

Renovated and expanded library opens at Carleton

Carleton University officially opened its newly renovated and expanded MacOdrum Library last week. The $27-million project, partially funded by a $16-million investment by the Ontario government, includes 34,700 square feet of renovations, a 2-storey addition of 45,700 square feet, and a 5-storey addition totalling 28,500 square feet. The amount of student seating has doubled, with 9 new large reading rooms, a Discovery Centre, an archives reading room, expanded New Sun Joy Maclaren Centre for students with disabilities, and space for the future Jacob Siskind Music Resource Centre. Premier Kathleen Wynne was on hand to mark the grand opening, stating, “The building is extremely functional, and it really is a beautiful space. We have to move beyond the traditional ways of learning and support creativity, teamwork and entrepreneurship. That’s what this building does.’’ Carleton News Release

Georgian receives new computer equipment, software for automotive programs

A new strategic partnership between Georgian College and ADP Dealer Services, Inc (ADP), a subsidiary of Automatic Data Processing Inc, will allow automotive students to gain “hands-on experience in dealership management.” The 5-year agreement provides computer equipment and ADP’s dealership management systems software for the newly renamed ADP Lab at the Barrie campus. One student commented, “Learning dealer management software in the classroom allows students to become significantly more employable in this increasingly digital industry.” “The responsibility to give back to the future employees and employers of the automotive industry is something ADP sees as very important,” says ADP VP Dean Anton. Georgian’s Barrie campus is home to a unique Bachelor of Business (Automotive Management) degree, and an Automotive Business (Co-op) diploma. Georgian News Release

GMAC launches new MBA “School Finder” tool

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has launched a new “School Finder” on its website, The tool allows prospective business students to search for MBA schools worldwide, with 6,000 programs and enhanced profiles of at least 1,700. Users can find and compare up to 4 schools side by side, and they can save selected programs to refer back to throughout the school research and application process. Schools can be searched by location or name, and programs can be searched by area of study, degree type, start date, program length, or delivery format.  GMAC News Release | School Finder

uPenn study confirms low completion rates for MOOCs

Preliminary results of a new study on MOOC users provide consistent new data on MOOC completion rates. The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (GSE) study examined results from some 1 million students in various uPennsylvania courses in June 2012 to June 2013. In the course with the highest completion rate, only 13% of the 40,000 enrolled students completed the course. The data show a 4% completion rate across all courses, ranging from 2% to 14%, depending on the course. Across all courses, only half viewed even one lecture within their selected course. The researchers reported that “courses with lighter weekly workloads and fewer assignments had somewhat higher completion rates than those that expected more of participants.” They also explained that the data present numerous challenges because they differ so widely in program type, user, and length. Chronicle of Higher Education | uPennsylvania GSE News Release

US universities overhauling advising efforts to boost retention, graduation

Many American PSE institutions are augmenting their academic-advising operations to boost retention and graduation rates, and to help students find jobs, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. A growing number of states are tying funding to student outcomes – Obama has also proposed a national strategy to do the same -- and universities are changing their approach to advising as a result. However, advisors are discovering that there is a lack of best practices for how to best counsel students -- and how to attract them to advising centres in the first place. Marymount University’s School of Business Administration chose to add a professional advisor to its group of faculty members, which had previously handled student advising. The school now has a freshman-to-sophomore retention rate 6% higher than the university-wide rate. John Carroll University, near Cleveland, and Tennessee State University are both experimenting with tying advising into their programming; they are allowing first-year students to begin studying in subject groupings rather than in one program, and then assigning an advisor to help them chose a more focused subject. Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)