Top Ten

January 21, 2014

uSask, Viterra announce $5M research agreement

The Crop Development Centre (CDC) at the University of Saskatchewan has announced a $5-million investment from Viterra Inc to continue wheat research and breeding. The 5-year agreement will support the CDC’s nationally and internationally recognized wheat-breeding programs, with focus on enhanced yields, resistance to disease and pests, and improved quality characteristics. “This significant investment from our longstanding partners at Viterra will enhance our capacity to provide innovative solutions for Western Canadian farmers and agri-businesses while helping to address food challenges around the world,” said Karen Chad, uSask VP Research. “This exciting collaboration is a further testament to the outstanding quality of our agricultural research.” uSask News Release

Ontario colleges, universities see strong growth in enrolment, applications

Preliminary data released yesterday show Ontario college enrolments are at their highest levels ever, with a nearly 5% increase in first-year, full-time programs over last year. Enrolment in first-year programs has increased to over 125,000 students, with more than 220,000 students enrolled in all programs. “This is a strong indicator of the appetite that exists for the career-focused programs at the colleges,” said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. Ontario’s universities are also experiencing strong application numbers, although the number of secondary student applications has dipped slightly, to 89,272 from 92,554 last year. However, the number of non-high school applicants has increased drastically, by 10.5% over last year, and 35% since 2004. Ontario announced last week a new transfer database to make it easier for students transferring among Ontario’s colleges and universities. Colleges Ontario News Release | Council of Ontario Universities News Release | OUAC News

St Lawrence College launches student-led e-learning production house

A new educational media production house, called Spark, has been launched at St Lawrence College that will provide a hybrid learning environment for students in various programs. Spark will be staffed by students, and will produce e-learning media services, such as video seminars and instructional videos, “designed to supplement and enhance traditional classroom education and facilitate online learning.” Long-term goals include for-profit production house services for outside clients, providing students with experiential learning and the opportunity to build personal portfolios. The Spark project is funded by Ontario’s Productivity and Innovation Fund, and is part of SLC’s strategic mandate to combine online and classroom learning in order to be a “leader in innovative teaching and experiential learning.” SLC News Release 

Ontario expands tuition grant eligibility

Ontario has announced expanded eligibility for the Ontario Tuition Grant program, which provides 30% reductions in tuition for those receiving OSAP loans. Students in their final year of a 5-year co-op program, and students enrolled in private career colleges and other private PSE institutions will now be eligible for the grant – approximately 5,000 more students. Brad Duguid, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities stated, “Expanding eligibility for the 30% Off Ontario Tuition Grant will help ensure that a postsecondary education in Ontario is accessible based on a student’s ability to learn, not their ability to pay.” The Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario is calling on the Ontario government to implement a “true tuition fee reduction” that benefits all PSE students in Ontario. Anna Goldfinch, representative of the CFS-O, stated, "Instead of reducing tuition fees for all students, this government is committed to a program that excludes more than two-thirds of students in Ontario." The tuition grant was established in 2011. Ontario News Release | CFS-O News Release

Ryerson Engineering promotes entrepreneurship

Ryerson University is encouraging engineering students to consider entrepreneurship through a series of initiatives designed to foster innovation. The Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science (FEAS) has established an entrepreneurial ecosystem where students learn in hands-on, multidisciplinary environments, and provides mentorships, award funding, zone learning, workshops and seminars. A new program to begin this spring, the Optional Specialization in Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OSEIE) is a series of courses that “leverages the design principles inherent in engineering to build students’ innovation and entrepreneurial capacity.” FEAS has also established 2 positions meant to offer support and stimulation for students: the innovator-in-residence, and the entrepreneur-in-residence. As well, the Ryerson Design Fabrication Zone (RDFZ), currently in its pilot year, is a “multidisciplinary initiative that promotes experiential learning through research, design and fabrication innovation in built environments.”Ryerson News

uWinnipeg faculty negotiations head for conciliation

Contract talks between the University of Winnipeg and the University of Winnipeg Faculty Association have reached an impasse, prompting both sides to request a conciliator from the Manitoba government. Bill Balan, VP Finance and Administration released a statement on the uWinnipeg website that the 2 parties have “resolved governance issues and language changes, leaving only compensation-related issues outstanding.” No details have been given regarding the most recent offer by uWinnipeg, or the current requests by the UWFA. "It's too early in the process for us to speculate about a strike," Jeremy Read, Senior Executive Officer and adviser to President Lloyd Axworthy, said Friday. The current UWFA contract expired in March 2013. Winnipeg Free Press | uWinnipeg News

Global declaration on the future of internationalizing PSE

More than 20 international education organizations from around the world gathered in South Africa recently to attend a global dialogue with the “express purpose of investigating whether and how higher education internationalization might be made more globally equitable, value-driven and collaborative and how practitioners might go about shaping its future agenda and harmonising their efforts.” Participants agreed on an official declaration that identifies 3 areas of development, including “Enhancing aspects of quality and diversity in programmes involving the mobility of students and academic and administrative staff; Increasing focus on the internationalization of the curriculum and of related learning outcomes; and Gaining commitment on a global basis for the creation of equal and ethical higher education partnerships.” Canada was represented by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE). University World News

Sauder prof turns elevator into smallest lecture hall ever

As part of an existing marketing campaign, a professor from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia delivered a lecture to unsuspecting commuters in an elevator in a busy downtown Vancouver office building. Sauder launched the viral video as part of the “Rewrite the Rules” international branding campaign, describing it as the world’s smallest moving classroom. Assistant professor of consumer marketing David Hardisty lectured on the planning fallacy, which he said was “easy to apply to daily life.” Hardisty reported that he was initally unsure what the response would be, but that while some people just “stared blankly” others rode the elevator up and down several times with him. Leanna Yip, Director of Marketing Communications at Sauder, remarked that “Institutions tend to be very traditional and sometimes don’t see the need to market themselves in unconventional ways. However, business schools in particular are becoming more aggressive in their marketing and it’s becoming more and more difficult to stand out.” Financial Post | UBC News (with video) | Inside Higher Ed  

Currency fluctuations make Canadian PSE a better deal than ever in China

ScholarFX, a currency exchange for international students, has reviewed currency movements in 2013 and observes that the weakening of the Canadian and Australian dollars will make their student fees 5-10% more affordable this year (not accounting for shifts in actual tuition levels). By contrast, the appreciation of the US dollar, British pound, and Euro widen the gap still further, to as much as 15%. (Moreover, Canada looks like a bargain for students paying in Euros.) The rising value of the Chinese yuan, and 6.5% increase in personal disposable income in China, means that Canada will be still more affordable for Chinese students. On the other hand, the Indian Rupee has lost almost 50% of its value in Canadian dollars over the past 5 years, and the Japanese yen weakened by 13% in 2013 alone. Prospective students in Venezuela, Indonesia, Kenya, Ghana, and Turkey will also find that their currency buys less in Canada this year. ScholarFX Blog

Monash U awarded top-level web domain

Australia’s Monash University has become the first university approved to use its name as an internet domain name. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global governing body for such matters, recently began accepting applications from companies and organizations wishing to develop their own domain names. Monash VP Information and CIO Ian Tebbett said “ICANN’s delegation reflects the University’s commitment to embracing new technology and expansion in overseas education and research activities.” Monash will soon release 2 new .monash websites as part of a first phase roll-out, but will retain the as well. Inside Higher Ed  | Monash News Release