Top Ten

March 14, 2014

UoGuelph to close Kemptville, Alfred agriculture campuses

The University of Guelph is phasing out its Kemptville and Alfred agricultural campuses “to improve efficiency, ensure quality and best serve the agri-food sector,” says UoGuelph President Alastair Summerlee. In fall 2014, the university will stop taking new students for programs at both campuses, and then by the end of 2015 the campuses will be closed; currently-registered students at the Kemptville and Alfred campuses will be able to complete their programs. The Globe and Mail reports that nearly all the programs that currently exist at the campuses will be relocated or replaced at other schools, but adds that the move will still result in at least 112 job losses. A UoGuelph news release explains that “despite efforts over the past several years to introduce new revenue-generating educational programs and attract new students, enrolment at both campuses remains stagnant while operating costs have increased.” UoGuelph is currently working with francophone institutions in Ontario to offer French agriculture programs currently offered at the Alfred campus. UoGuelph News Release | Globe and Mail

uAlberta residence association suspended for alleged hazing incident

A University of Alberta student residence association has been suspended for one year following alleged hazing that took place at a student event earlier this year, reports Global News. Lister Hall Students’ Association (LHSA) President Samuel Wright says the group “has been found guilty of breaching the code of student behaviour and will be suspended as a student group effective May 1, 2014.” The uAlberta Office of Student Judicial Affairs (OSJA) says it can’t comment on any specific case, but explains that it investigates both academic and non-academic offences. “We have a section about the way people are treated—so, inappropriate behaviour towards individual or groups. Hazing would fall under that,” says OSJA Director Deborah Eerkes. “It’s a broad range of things which can potentially cause people discomfort, humiliation, embarrassment, all the way up to injury or worse.” Global News

SIAST academic program restructuring aligns with economic sectors

The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology has introduced a restructuring of its academic program divisions that will see 12 new schools that better align with economic and public service sectors, allowing students to more easily select programs based on their career aspirations. “This new academic program model will make our organization more accessible to our 2 main client groups: students and employers,” says SIAST President Larry Rosia. SIAST explains that the 12 new schools will replace the current 7 academic divisions, and says the restructuring “will not result in a change to SIAST’s academic staffing complement.” The new structure will be implemented on July 1. SIAST News Release

Quebec government lowers tuition tax credits

The Montreal Gazette reports that the Quebec government has lowered the tax credit for tuition paid in the 2013-14 school year from 20% to 8%. The Gazette also points out that despite the fact that some students are worried about the effective increase in tuition that will result from the tax credit reduction, student associations actually lobbied for the measure in recent talks with the government. “We wanted the government to abolish the tax credit entirely in favour of financial aid,” says Tierry Morel-Laforce, President of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ). “We found the tax credit helped people who could afford a university education, whereas financial aid gives money to those who really need it.” Economists agree with the student groups. Christine Neill, an economist from Wilfrid Laurier University says, “Almost any economist who looks at tax credits in a serious way has said that a preferable way of delivering aid to students is to reduce upfront tuition fees rather than increase tax credits, which the people who need the most might get later in life. It’s actually a good policy move.” Montreal Gazette

MacEwan receives $30 million from Alberta for downtown arts building

MacEwan University has received a $30-million funding commitment from the Alberta government to construct its new academic building, which will be located adjacent to the Robbins Health Learning Centre on MacEwan’s City Centre Campus. The 5-storey building will allow the university to consolidate its operations in the downtown core, and allow for growth to more than 17,000 full-time students. It will house the visual and performing arts programs. Construction on the centre will begin this summer and it will open in fall 2017. MacEwan News Release

Queen's, Global Risk Institute launch graduate diploma in Risk Policy and Regulation

Queen’s University has partnered with the Global Risk Institute in Financial Services (GRI) to launch what they say is Canada’s first graduate diploma in Risk Policy and Regulation, which will begin in September. “Designed for graduate students in economics and related disciplines, the 4-month diploma integrates formal risk management models, informal traditional and emerging risk management practices and evolving regulatory practices,” explains a Queen’s news release. The program will be directed by Frank Milne, Queen’s BMO Professor of Economics and Finance, and David Longworth, a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada. Queen’s News Release

Booth UC announces $2.6-million expansion

Booth University College has announced a $2.6-million expansion plan that includes the creation of a new School for Continuing Studies and a Business/Learning Centre in downtown Winnipeg. The expansion will also create additional space for the institution’s growing student body and program needs, and allow Booth UC to better serve the education and training needs of The Salvation Army; the School for Continuing Studies will make Winnipeg the educational hub for The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda. Construction will begin in the spring on the renovation of approximately 4000 square feet of space at 290 Vaughan Street, a building that already houses Booth UC’s John Fairbank Memorial Library, The Salvation Army’s College for Officer Training, and the Army’s Prairie Divisional Headquarters. Booth UC News Release

OCUFA responds to HEQCO report on teaching loads

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is refuting the methodology of a recent Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) report that suggests professors could be doing more teaching. OCUFA President Kate Lawson writes in a Globe and Mail op-ed that the HEQCO report measures instructors’ productivity using the number of classes taught, rather than looking at the many other things professors do other than teach classes. “But professors don’t teach courses. They teach students. This happens in classrooms, in laboratories, in the field and in halls between courses,” says Lawson. She also points out that the report only examines 10 of Ontario’s 20 degree-granting institutions, and that “its analysis is confined to three disciplines from the hundreds of academic programs and departments.” Lawson concludes that we should be looking not at professors’ productivity, but at the quality of their teaching. Globe and Mail

US universities using bridge programs to attract international students

A growing number of universities in the US are using bridging programs—which help foreign students transition into being a PSE student in the US—to help increase international student enrolment. Oregon State University has partnered with private company Into University Partnerships to offer a bridging program that prepares students, mostly from China, to move into the university’s “mainstream” after a year. Oregon State officials explain that students need help not only to get used to speaking English, but also to a system in which students are encouraged to speak freely in class and choose what work they do. “This tradition of class discussion and activities is very strange to us,” says Yuqi Zhang, a student from China. Bridge program instructors and students also say that in many cultures, students “are largely expected to repeat information given by the authorities, and they have to learn Western views of plagiarism and attribution.” New York Times

Microsoft partners with Knewton to provide adaptive learning

Microsoft has announced that it will partner with Knewton to provide adaptive learning to students through its network of publishing partners. Microsoft will also be introducing Knewton adaptive learning software to Ministries of Education around the world. Knewton, which offers tailored learning materials through technology that can be personalized based on the student’s learning style and pace, has also established partnerships with Cengage and Pearson publishing companies. Knewton News Release