Top Ten

January 16, 2014

Canada launches strategy aiming to double number of foreign students

The Canadian government has launched a new International Education Strategy that seeks to double the number of international students studying in Canada (to 450,000) by the year 2022, “without displacing Canadian students.” Ongoing funding, approved in the most recent federal budget, of $5 million per year will be dedicated to the strategy, with most of the money going towards “branding and marketing Canada as a world-class education destination.” The strategy will target Brazil, China, India, Mexico, North Africa, the Middle East and Vietnam, and will aim to improve links to and partnerships with international PSE institutions. It also includes a $13-million investment over 2 years in Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization that helps Canadian university students obtain placements in academic institutions overseas. Canada News Release | National Post

Carleton decides not to use private builder, manager for new residence

Carleton University has decided not to have a private organization build and manage its new 500-bed student residence, reports the Ottawa Citizen. The university had been considering the idea for the past several months, and had even short-listed 3 companies to take on the project. “After comparing the best proposal with details of an in-house project, the university determined that the return on investment would be greater if the university handled everything itself," says Carleton AVP of Facilities Management and Planning Darryl Boyce. Following the decision, Carleton issued an RFP to design teams and plans to hold interviews this week. The university hopes to begin construction by August and open the residence by fall 2016. Ottawa Citizen

Post-recession budget restraints causing European PSE institutions to merge

Almost all PSE institutions in Europe are considering or are in the process of merging with others to cope with public spending cuts, reveals a study by the European University Association. The report says that university mergers have recently taken place in Belgium, Germany, Finland, Hungary, Poland and Sweden, and that institutions in many more countries are mulling similar actions. In 13 of the 22 countries examined, the public funds available are lower in real terms than they were in 2008, so the mergers and partnerships have been made to save costs. “Mergers have [also] been driven by a desire to reposition institutions in response to growing international competition,” the report says. Times Higher Education

MTCU launches ad campaign to promote youth jobs fund

Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities last week launched a new campaign to promote its Youth Employment Fund, which funds job and training placements for youth looking for employment. The “Ready. Set. Work.” campaign features 2 commercials, set to run on television, cinemas and online, which depict young people going to extreme lengths to land a job and gain work experience. For example, in “Hire Jim,” a young man dangles outside the window of a business meeting in an attempt to get noticed. Since launching in September, the Youth Employment Fund has helped employers across Ontario offer more than 5,700 placements. Marketing Magazine | Campaign Site

MTA strike vote, tentative agreement at STU

Faculty and librarians at Mount Allison University have voted 86% in favour of a strike, with 99% of members turning out to cast a ballot. Part-time faculty also voted 85% in favour of striking, with an 88% turnout. Mount Allison Faculty Association President Loralea Michaelis says the negotiation disagreements are over salary, pension and benefits, with key differences being workload and the control faculty have over their own teaching and research. Meanwhile, St Thomas University has reached a tentative agreement with its faculty, reports a local radio station. STU spokesperson Jeffrey Carleton says they are now finalizing contract details for ratification by the university’s board of governors and the faculty associations. CBC (Mount Allison) | Capital FM (STU)


Postscript: The faculty association at Mount Allison University has issued a strike deadline for12:01 am on January 27. Negotiations with a provincially-appointed mediation officer are scheduled for Friday. A university statement said it remains "committed to working to achieve a negotiated settlement that delivers on our objectives of maintaining quality at Mount Allison in a sustainable way." Mount Allison News (January 22, 2014)

Some UVic faculty members call for pause on union vote

While faculty and librarians at the University of Victoria work out details on an upcoming vote on whether or not to unionize, some staff members are calling for pause. A group of professors, calling themselves “UVic Why Certify?” has launched a petition and website that asks that the vote be put off until mid-February. “I think it’s happening way too fast,” says Martin Farnham, an associate professor of economics and one of the people organizing the petition. “I think it’s a really important decision. I think that there are arguments for unionizing and there are arguments against unionizing…but I think that everybody should have the time to get the information they need.” However, faculty association President Doug Baer says the discussion has been going on for some time. “We had meetings extending all the way back to 2009 where we articulated the pros and cons of certification,” says Baer. The BC Labour Relations board has not yet announced a date for the vote, but it’s expected to take place online or by mail to allow those on study leave or away from campus to participate. Victoria Times Colonist

e-portfolios now popular part of teaching and learning toolkit

University Affairs reports on the momentum that e-portfolios, online tools that allow students to store assignments and reflections on their educational experience, have gained among PSE institutions across the country. Writer and recent uOttawa PhD grad Suzanne Bowness says e-portfolios have reached “that point in the technology curve where the tool has moved beyond the hype and even beyond the grumbling-about-the-hype to settle into position as just another tool in the kit.” McMaster University launched its e-portfolio project this past fall, and it is being integrated into some courses as a way of handling assignments. One McMaster student using the tool explains that his portfolio space has a “Courses” section, for outlining specific aspects of his programs, and an “Experiences” section, containing photographs and reflections on his activities. Meanwhile, the University of British Columbia and the University of Guelph have both been using e-portfolios for several years. “Portfolios are valuable beyond assessment because you’re able to see the whole person,” says UBC researcher Lucas Wright, who studied the medium as part of his graduate degree. University Affairs

Pan Am Games volunteers to get help with student loans

The Ontario government has announced that about 4,500 college and university students who volunteer for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games in Toronto will be exempt from making a pre-study financial contribution, ensuring they can receive a larger student loan, to account for the fact that they volunteered instead of taking paid jobs during the summer. Also, new graduates who volunteer during the Games will be able to defer paying back their student loan until one full year after completing full-time studies, which works out to be an additional 6 months before interest is charged on the loan. "We know that many students might be interested in volunteering but are also concerned about working … to pay for their [degrees]," says Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Brad Duguid. "They shouldn't have to choose."  The Games will require approximately 20,000 volunteers. Ontario News Release

US online enrolment growth, enthusiasm slows

A recent US survey of online education reveals that online enrolment growth is slowing, though not yet plateauing, and that a divide is forming between institutions that offer online courses and degree programs and those that don’t. "Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States" also shows that the number of academic officers who say online education is a critical component of their long-term strategy dropped from 69.1% in 2012 to 65.9% in 2013 – after rising steadily since 2003. The authors attribute this decrease entirely to officials at institutions without any online offering; among those institutions, the number of officials calling online education a critical component has decreased from 32.9% in 2012 to 14.3% in 2013. However, overall the number of institutions that say online education is not critical to their long-term strategy dropped to 9.7% -- the lowest since 2003. Inside Higher Ed  | Full Report

2003 high school students, 10 years later

A US government study that tracked for 10 years a cohort of students who were in grade 10 in 2003 reveals some positive results. A third (33%) of the students earned a bachelor's degree or higher, 9% have associate degrees, 10% have undergraduate-level certificates, and 32% had attended PSE but lacked a credential. In all, about half of the students earned a PSE credential. The study, which was published by the National Center for Education Statistics, also revealed that those who went straight to PSE after high school were far likelier to earn a degree, and that the bachelor's degree holders among them were less likely to be unemployed or to have lost a job since 2006. Of those who attended PSE, 40% had no student loan debt, 36% had borrowed less than $25,000, and 11% had more than $50,000 in student loans. Inside Higher Ed