Top Ten

January 17, 2014

Canada revises Job Grant plan following province complaints

The Canadian government has revised its Job Grant plan following complaints from several provinces over concerns that the grant would pull money away from programs that benefit youth, First Nations, people with disabilities, and other groups. Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Brad Duguid says he’s pleased the discussions have led to a revision of the plan, but explains that the new plan means Ontario would still lose $116 million over 3 years in cash transfers from Ottawa. “As of today, I’m still very concerned that the offer appears to still have the Canada Job Grant being funded on the backs of Ontario’s vulnerable workers,” says Duguid. Meanwhile, federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that an agreement on the grant program can be reached with the provinces before April 1. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says the revisions are a “step in the right direction,” but adds that talks with the federal government on the program are ongoing. Toronto Star

Algonquin e-textbook program aims for 100% access

Algonquin College has launched the next phase of an e-textbook initiative that aims to “provide 100% of the students with 100% of their resources 100% of the time.” The project began last year with a pilot phase in which some 700 first-level students in 6 programs were provided with free, digital texts -- amounting to almost 2,300 e-textbooks in 27 courses. In September 2013, the initiative was expanded to 34 programs with 363 courses, about 4,000 first-entry students and 16,800 e-resources. Students paid 63% of what they would pay for a print book to have access to the online texts for 3 years. This year, Algonquin has added student kiosks for e-text connectivity and informational support, and in September 2014 the college will implement the e-texts in all of its full-time programs. In September 2013, with 34 programs participating, Algonquin estimates that students saved about $250–$300 each per semester, or about $1 million overall. Contact North Blog

uSask launches “TOOC,” a truly open online course

The University of Saskatchewan will next week launch a new “truly open online course” (TOOC) that will teach faculty, instructors and teachers about effective uses of learning technologies. “The course was initially designed to be a blended course with a small group of participants coming in for face-to-face class meetings five times throughout the term, but with the bulk of the materials being open to anyone who wished to access them,” explains uSask official Heather M Ross. “We decided to stick with that small cohort who will receive hands-on help throughout the course, but to simultaneously run it as an [open, online course].” The course, Introduction to Learning Technologies, is offered through uSask’s Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness (GMCTE). uSask Blog | Course Website

Camosun gets green light to build trades centre

Camosun College has been given permission by the district of Saanich, BC to construct its $30-million Centre for Trades Education and Innovation at the Interurban Campus. The 80,000-square-foot building will include programs in marine and metal trades, welding, sheet metal, metal fabrication and shipbuilding. The BC government announced in fall 2012 that it would fund the centre, which will accommodate an extra 370 full-time students. Camosun plans to break ground before March. Times Colonist

Ontario launching “Course-to-Course” transfer database for students

The Ontario government is launching a searchable, online database of PSE course credits that are recognized by other colleges and universities. The database, which will be available through on January 20, is divided into 3 categories for secondary, college and university students, and guides the user through the various transfer pathways available to them. “Under the new database, a student majoring in business who wishes to transfer to another institution could save an average of $11,000 in tuition, with an additional $7,500 average savings to taxpayers,” explains a government news release. Ontario News Release

TRU partners with German, Austrian university network

Thompson Rivers University has partnered with the International University Network (IUN), which comprises 3 universities with multiple campuses in Germany and Austria, to create a program that will see TRU programs offered in Europe to Canadian students and learners from all over the world. The partnership, called the International Strategic Network (ISN), will begin by offering 4 new programs in summer 2014. “We have developed programs for the World Campus in Unna, [Germany,] and have opened admission to TRU certificate programs in Tourism, Social Media, Global Competency, and Environmental Sustainability,” says Kathleen Scherf, TRU’s Academic Lead for TRU-ISN programs in Europe. The ISN will also undertake shared sociology research. TRU News Release

International student numbers slip for first time in UK

The number of non-European Union students studying at UK universities fell for the first time in 2012-13, creating concerns amoung institutions over the impact of the government’s drive to cut immigration. The government recently abolished the post-study work visa, which universities say has deterred students from coming to the UK. The data published this week by the Higher Education Statistics Agency also show a 25% drop in the number of Indian first-year students starting courses in 2012-13, following a 32% dip the previous year. Non-EU students made up 13% of the total student population at UK universities in 2012-13. Times Higher Education

Dual credits in high school leads to quicker PSE completion

Offering PSE credits to high-school students is a popular practice at PSE institutions, and a new US study shows that the initiative could speed up completion times. The American Institutes for Research data reveal that about 23% of students who receive PSE credits while still enrolled in high school obtain an associate degree within 2 years, while only 2% of students who don’t receive early PSE credits obtain one in that length of time. The study also showed that 81% of the “Early College” students enrolled in college, compared to only 72% of students who attended high schools that didn’t offer PSE credits. Inside Higher Ed

uTexas launches student stats database to promote ROI of degree

The University of Texas has launched a new tool that allows current and prospective students to compare the salaries, student-loan debts, and job prospects for people in hundreds of majors and occupations. The seekUT website contains a database of 68,000 alumni who graduated from 2007 to 2011 and who remained in Texas. The website comes at a time when media and students are calling for proof of PSE's return on investment. "We didn't need this tool to tell us that petroleum engineers make more than history teachers, but you may be surprised to learn that those history teachers and college professors and others in the liberal arts and fine arts are making a solid living five years out," says uTexas Director of Strategic Initiatives David R. Troutman. The university hopes seekUT will grow to become a national model. Chronicle of Higher Education

Blog celebrates acts of kindness in academia

A new blog, Academic Kindness, allows students and professors to post acts of kindness they’ve witnessed during their studies or work, to remind readers that “not all academics are brutish self-centered narcissists who delight in tearing apart the work of others for sport.” Examples include a “big shot” academic inviting an undergraduate to talk to him for 90 minutes about his work after meeting at a lecture, and a journal author giving a student $1000 worth of data for free. “If even a few readers are inspired to shift their own behavior and be a bit more generous, that's fantastic,” says the blog’s moderator Rabia Gregory, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia. Inside Higher Ed