Top Ten

February 26, 2014

Thousands of students cheating at university

Results of a CBC survey of 54 Canadian universities show that almost 7,000 students were punished for cheating in 2011-12, representing less than 1% of the total student population. Of these cases, plagiarism was the biggest offender, found in more than 50% of cases; unauthorized aid and inappropriate collaboration accounted for 22%, and cheating on tests made up 10% of cases. However, Julia Christensen Hughes, Dean of the College of Management and Economics at the University of Guelph, said that student surveys show that more than 50% admit to various forms of cheating. “There's a huge gap between what students are telling us they're doing and the numbers of students that are being caught and sanctioned for those behaviours,” noted Hughes. McGill University Professor David Harpp explains that although punishments can act as a deterrent, the penalties may actually be “a little bit soft.” Hughes asserts that in order for an institution to retain its academic integrity, cheaters must be caught and punished. “For those degrees to continue to have value, they have to stand for something. They have to represent that a student has engaged with a curriculum, with a program, has achieved a certain level of mastery," says Hughes. CBC

Maritime enrolment held steady by out-of-region, international students

A report released this week by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) reveals that 70,433 students were enrolled in Maritime universities in 2012-13. While the overall number of students remains steady compared to the year before, the last 10 years have seen the number of Maritimers enrolled decrease by 12%. Over the same time period, the number of Canadians from outside the Maritimes enrolled has increased by 28%, and the number of international students has doubled, shows the report. In PEI, the number of undergraduate students enrolled has increased by 20% over 10 years, but fell by 2.5% over the past year. Meanwhile, in Nova Scotia the number of undergraduate students increased by 4% over 10 years, and 1% over one year; in New Brunswick, the number of undergraduate students decreased by 12% over 10 years, and 1% over one year. MPHEC News Release

uAlberta launches USEED crowdfunding campaign to fund satellite launch

The University of Alberta is reportedly the first PSE institution in Canada to partner with crowdfunding platform USEED, with the launch of a fundraising campaign to fund the $60,000 launch fee for the first made-in-Alberta satellite. The satellite will be launched into space with 49 others in 2015 as part of the QB 50 project. Crowdfunding “enhances the uAlberta’s traditional and existing sources of philanthropy, providing an additional, fun way to help student initiatives and campus projects achieve excellence,” says uAlberta VP Advancement O’Neil Outar. “The power of crowdfunding is that no amount is too small, people can give whatever they feel they can afford, and with a big crowd of supporters, it all adds up to make a difference. By donating, you join a community in supporting a student, a research team, or a project exploring something new.” USEED is dedicated to supporting the crowdfunding projects of PSE institutions, but many other platforms are being used by institutions and students to raise funds for various projects, and even for tuition. uAlberta News

Northwestern Ontario healthcare educators launch health simulation centre

Several healthcare educators in the northwestern Ontario region have launched a new Northwest Centre of Excellence in Health Simulation, which “aims to pool resources and increase training capacity – as well as student access – to training simulations for medical learners of all disciplines…ultimately leading to better patient care.” The partners include Confederation College, Lakehead University, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, St Joseph’s Care Group, and Superior North Emergency Medical Services. One of the resources that will be made more available through the partnership is Confederation College’s Simulation Lab, which features a patient room set up like those at hospitals and an interactive, computerized “patient.” The patient can be programmed to mimic various ailments and their symptoms, and even vocalize like a real patient might. Confederation News Release

COU report finds university grads see best ROI

A new report released yesterday by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) suggests that, contrary to recent reports, university graduates have the best odds of gaining employment in their fields with good wages. The report, University Works, examined empirical data from Statistics Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to determine that university graduates experienced the “highest employment growth of any educational attainment group over the last decade,” and have the highest earnings compared to other educational groups. The report also notes that unemployment rates are similar for both university and college graduates, at around 6% in 2012, and highest for those with high school education only. Those with trades certificates experience unemployment rates of approximately 7%. The demand for university education is growing as well, with a 53% increase in the number of university graduates from 2002-2012. “COU has tested challenges to the value of a university education for the province of Ontario and found that no matter which way you look at it, university graduates succeed in the workplace,” says COU President and CEO Bonnie Patterson. COU News Release | ReportGlobe and Mail | Toronto Star

Centennial launches $40-million “Impact” fundraising campaign

Toronto’s Centennial College has launched a $40-million “Impact” campaign, the college's first major fundraising campaign. The campaign, led by former Green Shield Canada CEO David Garner, will support new capital projects and grow Centennial’s scholarship program to help more students attain a college education. Garner will lead a group of campaign volunteers recruited from Centennial’s executive team, staff, faculty and alumni. The group will also include leaders from industry and community organizations. Centennial President Ann Buller has made a personal donation of $150,000 to kickstart the campaign. Centennial News Release

Report sheds light on US data on higher ed ROI

A new report from the US-based Urban Institute examined data related to the benefits of PSE, finding that although it is clear that those with a PSE degree are likely to make more money on average over their working lives, it is important to remember that outcomes vary widely depending on types of credentials and area of study. According to the report, “there is not one simple answer to the question of the value of a [PSE degree]—even if we focus only on the monetary value. Different definitions and different measures lead to different results. Acknowledging that not all postsecondary paths are productive for all students (and that some are productive for very few) helps put the stories of unfortunate but atypical students into perspective.” The report also cautions that when analysing data regarding the long-term earning potentials of graduates, one must consider that there are no guarantees that the labour market will treat young workers today in the same way it treated workers in the past. Chronicle of Higher Education | Report

uWaterloo apologizes for accidental exposure of personal info

The University of Waterloo is apologizing to 56,000 applicants and 18,000 people named as application references after having accidentally shared personal information online. According to The Record, personal information that could have been seen by other applicants includes an applicant's ID number (but not their name), prior schools attended, GPAs at prior schools, program being applied to and standardized test scores. "We're extremely sorry," says uWaterloo VP External Relations Tim Jackson. "We take data and security very seriously." Jackson added that “this is not a case of hacking. This is not a case where someone did something malicious. It was simply an administrative error, where an option that is normally available to staff had been turned on and had not been turned off, as it should have been for external applicants." Once uWaterloo was made aware of the error, it sent emails to all who were potentially affected, and notified Ontario's privacy commissioner. The Record

CASA launches “Wall of Debt” campaign

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) has launched a “Wall of Debt” campaign to allow students to share their stories and to tell “federal and provincial governments that it’s time to prioritize need-based grants.” The campaign website encourages students to add a “brick” to the “wall of debt,” a graphic that displays each student’s name and total PSE debt amount. CASA has been lobbying the federal government to increase funding to the Canada Student Grants Program, which helps students with the greatest financial needs decrease their debt loads. CASA News Release

Kent State plans to award associate degrees to undergrad students

Kent State University plans to award associate degrees to its students who are enrolled in 4-year bachelor degree programs, in an effort to give students a credential sooner and to get more state funding (funding will now be based on degrees and student success). “A growing amount of research suggests that when you award the associate degree on the way to a bachelor’s degree it helps improve student success,” says Kent State Provost Todd Diacon. “It gives a meaningful milestone for the students to reinforce they are making progress.” Diacon adds that the associate degree would also help students who leave the university before completing their 4-year degrees find employment.