Top Ten

December 17, 2013

uWindsor to purchase Assumption University building

The University of Windsor has entered into an agreement with Assumption University to buy the Catholic institution’s main building and large 2-storey home on the uWindsor campus for $2.97 million. The purchase will allow uWindsor to consolidate student services into one central location at Chrysler Hall Tower, as other departments will move from their Chrysler offices to the new Assumption building. The funds for the purchase will come from provincial capital grants that have been reserved for the Campus Transformation Plan. “In our 50th anniversary year, the Assumption University building will become Assumption Hall of the University of Windsor, out of respect for the tradition and in anticipation that Assumption will continue as a vital part of our campus as we look ahead. We will continue to provide Assumption University with space in Assumption Hall for its needs,” explains uWindsor President Alan Wildeman. uWindsor News Release | Windsor Star

Ontario auditor says private schools may be awarding fraudulent diplomas

In 2011-12, 30 private schools in Ontario requested and received 1,500 more diplomas than the number of grade 12 students enrolled in their programs -- suggesting that they could be handing out fraudulent diplomas, says Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk in her annual report. There is a rigorous process in place for public school diplomas, in which the ministry hands out signed diplomas after carefully verifying that all students have successfully completed all courses necessary for graduation. However, according to Lysyk, the ministry is “relying on the good faith of school administrators” in the case of private schools. The report also reveals that the ministry doesn’t evaluate private schools on their curriculum or staff (it only validates newly-registered schools), but that some schools claim that their programs have been accredited by the ministry. Globe and Mail

UFV receives $1 million from BC for agriculture training centre

The University of the Fraser Valley has received $1 million in funding from the BC government towards the construction of a new centre of excellence dedicated to agriculture. The new structures are being built at the Canada Education Park at the university’s Chilliwack campus to replace older buildings. The new centre will include a demonstration barn and greenhouses “that will provide on-campus venues for students to gain practical hands-on experience, pursue applied research and project opportunities, and perform lab and field exercises, all in a controlled environment.” UFV has also received support from the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation, Envision Financial and other community and industry partners for the construction project. UFV News Release | BC News Release

NSCAD considering options for changes to campuses

NSCAD University is currently considering options for changes to its physical space, and is planning to release part of a consultant’s report on the subject later this month. “Eventually we’re looking to simplify the operation,” says NSCAD President Daniel O’Brien. “We have three separate campuses. It’s clear to anyone that it’s more efficient to have a single location than to have three locations.” The university “has been under pressure from the provincial government to cut costs and develop a viable long-term plan for sustainability,” reports the Chronicle Herald. NSCAD is currently renting out storefront space to small businesses. “So in the meantime, what we’re going to do is push ahead as aggressively as we can in optimizing our current space…and use that vacated space for commercialization purposes,” says O’Brien. The university is also waiting for another consultant’s report concerning possible affiliations with Dalhousie University or Saint Mary’s University. Chronicle Herald

Carleton opens new entrepreneurship centre

Carleton University has opened a new campus-wide entrepreneurship accelerator that will be open to all students and new graduates. Each new venture at the centre will have a goal of generating $1 million in 3 years by creating 6 or more jobs in the region. Managed by the Sprott School of Business, the 4,000-square-foot facility will bring together the university’s existing “Carleton Entrepreneurs ecosystem,” which includes students, mentors, internal and external reviewers, managers of university spin-off companies, and academics. “At Carleton, we do entrepreneurship, not just talk about it,” says Tony Bailetti, Director of Carleton’s Technology Innovation Management program. Carleton News Release

Sault College partners with Barbados polytechnic on renewable energy

Sault College has partnered with the Samuel Jackman Prescord Polytechnic in Bridgetown, Barbados to develop training that will support the growing renewable energy industry in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean. The 2 institutions will work together over the next few months to develop a project plan, on which implementation will begin in April 2014. The partnership is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges. Sault College News Release

edX abandons idea to provide job-placement services

The MOOC provider edX has dropped any plans it once had to provide job-placement services after a pilot project on the notion failed, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. In the pilot, edX tried to match 868 high-performing students from 2 University of California at Berkeley computer-science MOOCs with technology companies, including Google, Amazon, and SAP. Of those 868 students, only 3 got job interviews and not one was hired. edX President Anant Agarwal admits that “you can’t just take the top people from the class and connect them with employers. There’s a lot more to it.” The company has, however, considered a few other revenue-generating options, including offering tech support to those who run edX MOOCs and licensing some courses to institutions outside the edX consortium. Chronicle of Higher Education

Study finds no STEM worker shortage in US

A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute finds that there is no shortage of high-skilled STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workers in the US, as some have claimed. The report says that only one of every 2 STEM PSE graduates is hired into a related job each year, that the number of domestic STEM graduates has grown strongly, and that many of these graduates could qualify for IT jobs. “Our examination shows that the STEM shortage in the US is largely overblown,” says Hal Salzman of Rutgers University. EPI is using the study results to argue against expanding the American “high-skill guestworker programs” that allow foreign, high-skilled workers temporary work visas. EPI News Release | Report Summary

Survey suggests many institutions can’t track completion rates

Many universities and colleges have trouble keeping track of how many students complete courses, reveals a Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education survey that compared online and classroom completion rates at US and Canadian institutions. Of the 225 responses included in the survey, 65% “were not able to provide an on-campus rate and 55% did not report an online rate.” The report revealed that among institutions that were able to report completion rates, 5% fewer students completed online courses than traditional courses. “If institutions wish to improve course completion, they will need to collect these statistics. It’s hard to improve what is not measured,” says the report. It also pointed out that in some cases, institutions may simply not have wanted to share their completion rate data. Chronicle of Higher Education | Full Report

UK lifts cap on PSE enrolments

The UK government recently announced it will lift the cap on university admissions beginning in 2015, allowing institutions to take as many students as they want. Critics are questioning how an expansion would be funded, “with potentially damaging implications for the arts and humanities.” The UK Treasury calculates that the system will need £700 million a year, and says the funds would come from privatizing student loans. However, the Russell Group, which represents the UK's top 24 universities, says "quality higher education should be prioritised over quantity, especially in times of limited funding." The move to lift the admissions cap is the latest in a series of reforms "freeing universities." The Guardian