Top Ten

February 3, 2014

UNB, AUNBT reach tentative agreement

Faculty at the University of New Brunswick and the university administration have reached a tentative agreement, and classes will resume this week. The roughly 550 academic staff and librarians will vote on Tuesday and Wednesday on an agreement that includes salary increases of 2.5% in the first 2 years of the contract, with any increase in the third year to be determined through arbitration, says Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers (AUNBT) President Miriam Jones. The faculty has been on strike since January 13. UNB President Eddy Campbell said in a statement, “We will deploy all of the university’s resources to help everyone with the transition back to classes."  The university has set up an information page on its website. CBC

Update: February 4, 2014

University of New Brunswick’s student union says its members should be compensated financially for lost class time during a strike that lasted about 3 weeks. UNB has announced that it plans to cancel March break and extend the school year to make up for the lost time. The student union will submit their reimbursement proposal next week; it calls for $50 per day for tuition. Global News

Update: February 10, 2014

The University of New Brunswick has agreed to award its students financial credit in recognition of their "hardships and inconvenience" during the faculty strike that lasted about 3 weeks in January. The exact amounts and details have not been determined, but UNB estimates that full-time students will receive a lump sum credit on their account of more than $200 in late March. Part-time students will receive less. CBC

Manitoba increases education funding by 2%, funds skills training in high school

The Manitoba government has announced that it will increase its education funding by 2%, or $24.4 million, which is on par with the rate of economic growth. Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum also announced targeted funding to help students explore career opportunities and gain valuable skills training while still in high school, preparing them for PSE and their careers. Although Allum didn’t mention funding to universities and colleges, he did say in November that universities can expect to get at least the same 2.5% hike to operating grants that they received for this year. Manitoba News Release

ACCC launches coalition to address skills challenges

The Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) has created a coalition of leading industry and labour organizations to come up with solutions to Canada’s current skills challenges. The group, co-chaired by ACCC President and CEO Denise Amyot and ACCC Board member Paul Charette, will assist in identifying common skills needs across Canada’s economic and social sectors, and seek to increase access to relevant cross-sector labour market information to ensure college programs and services are relevant and of high quality. ACCC News Release

WesternU releases new strategic plan

Western University has released its new strategic plan, Achieving Excellence on the World Stage, which was approved by the university board of governors and senate. The plan includes 4 strategic priorities: creating a world-class research and scholarship culture; providing Canada’s best education for “tomorrow’s global leaders;” engaging alumni, community, institutional and international partners; and generating and investing new resources in support of excellence. The plan also focuses on raising WesternU's profile “among globally pre-eminent universities." High-level targets in this area include increasing international undergraduate student enrolment to at least 15% and domestic out-of-province student enrolment to at least 10% of the undergraduate student body, and doubling the number of academic departments, schools and faculties that rank among the world’s top 100 universities in major international surveys. WesternU News Release | Strategic Plan

uCalgary launches new research website

The University of Calgary has launched a new research website to highlight its Eyes High vision and Strategic Research Plan. The site includes a homepage that highlights the main aspects of the research plan, sections dedicated to each focus of research, and enhanced user navigation. “Our purpose for the new website was to work towards a better online representation of research at the University of Calgary and to have a one-stop shop for students, researchers, academics and the external community while creating unity through the entire research portfolio,” says uCalgary VP Research Ed McCauley. With its Eyes High vision and strategic research plan, uCalgary in 2012 announced its goal to become one of Canada’s top 5 research-intensive universities by 2016. uCalgary News Release

La Cité signs collaboration agreement with local hospital

Ottawa's La Cité collégiale has signed a 5-year collaboration agreement with Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre (CHUSJ) to develop expertise in areas of common interest involving research, training, content and product development, possible practicums, and others. La Cité’s Institute of Health and Life Sciences is particularly interested in CHU Sainte-Justine’s specialization in mother-child health. In all, more than 50 La Cité programs are included in the agreement. “Students, graduates, and staff will all benefit from this agreement that enables our two organizations to collaborate on various projects in many fields,” says La Cité President Lise Bourgeois. La Cité News Release

Group discusses global accreditation process

PSE experts recently discussed the idea of a worldwide accrediting process at a meeting of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s International Quality Group, a notion brought on by the fact that students are increasingly studying internationally and that universities are becoming more international in scope. British Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education CEO Anthony McClaran says students “are seeking practical information about the quality of their education and how their degree would compare to credentials issued by other institutions, both in their home country and worldwide.” However, Patti McGill Peterson of the American Council on Education suggests there is a mismatch between the desire for a global model for quality and a greater diversification of institutions and students. Andrée Sursock of the European University Association added that it would be challenging to impose a model that would fit institutions and PSE systems of different qualities and stages of development. The group decided that it would not attempt to create a global accreditation agency, but would work through individual national quality-assurance organizations to come up with common standards. Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

One-third of UK university employees wants to quit

Nearly one-third of UK university employees would like to leave their job, according to the Times Higher Education Best University Workplace Survey. 31% of academics and 27% of professional and support staff are considering quitting their job, with 32% of respondents saying they feel that their role is at risk. Academics working in education (39%), the creative arts (37%) and the social sciences (34%) were most likely to say that they were looking to leave their current role, while engineering and technology scholars were least likely to do so (25%). THE questioned more than 4,500 UK higher education employees for the survey. Times Higher Education | Survey

UK university applications increase despite youth population decline

The number of applicants to UK universities has grown by 4%, despite a decreasing youth population, according to new statistics published by the admissions body Ucas. 35% of 18-year-olds from England have submitted a Ucas application this year—a number Times Higher Education calls “unprecedented.” The Ucas data also show that much of the application growth stems from a higher number of women applying (58%). “There remains a stubborn gap between male and female applicants which, on current trends, could eclipse the gap between rich and poor within a decade,” says Ucas CEO Mary Curnock Cook. Times Higher Education

Coursera to bring MOOCs to Latin America

Coursera has struck a deal with Mexican philanthropist Carlos Slim to bring its online courses to Latin America, and the MOOC platform aims to translate 50 English-language courses into Spanish by the end of the year. “This partnership will help students develop skills in critical, fast-growing employment sectors in Latin America to make an impact on their lives and their communities,” says Coursera Co-Founder Daphne Koller. The Carlos Slim Foundation is also currently partnered with Mexico National University and Tecnológico de Monterrey to make more original Spanish-language MOOCs available. EdX recently announced a similar partnership with Jordan’s Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development (QRF) to bring online courses to Arabic speakers around the world. Venture Beat