Top Ten

March 21, 2014

Saskatchewan budget commits 2% average funding increases for PSE institutions

The Saskatchewan budget for 2014, tabled this week, provides a $24-million (3.7%) increase over 2013 for higher education—a total of $817.8 million. The increase includes a $12.3-million increase in operating funds, with an average 2% going to universities, federated and affiliated colleges, technical institutes, and regional colleges, and a $19.8-million direct investment going towards First Nations and Métis education. PSE institutions will also be given $134 million towards scholarship and financial assistance programs, $32.6 million in capital investments, and several grants for research projects. SK News Release

FNUniv freezes Saskatoon campus enrolment

First Nations University of Canada will be freezing enrolment to its Saskatoon campus in an effort to deal with a projected deficit of $140,000, reports the StarPhoenix. The university also announced recently that it would be moving the campus to the English River First Nation reserve, but added that the campus’ current students will be able to finish their programs in Saskatoon. “We are focused on meeting the needs of current and future students and managing our resources wisely to do so,” says FNUC Acting President Juliano Tupone. “To be fiscally sound and respond to student demand in ways that will maximize FNUniv’s competitive advantage, we are undertaking a strategic repositioning of program offerings in Saskatoon.” Tupone also said the university is not pursuing closing the Saskatoon campus, and explains that the enrolment freeze is a temporary measure it has taken while it completes a comprehensive evaluation. FNUniv News Release (moving) | FNUniv News Release (enrolment freeze) | StarPhoenix

Quebec university leaders launch ad campaign on inadequate PSE funding

Quebec’s university rectors have come together to launch an advertising campaign that highlights government underfunding to the sector, reports the Montreal Gazette. The campaign includes full-page ads in newspapers that say the lack of funding is “the critical issue no one is talking about.” The campaign also points to the fact that QC universities have an average of $5,000 less per year per student to spend than universities in other provinces; the average per student in the rest of Canada is $15,798, while it is $10,844 in QC. Université de Montréal Rector Guy Breton says the campaign cost less than $40,000. Breton believes that the backlash caused by the former Liberal government’s plan to increase tuition has people scared to return to talking about university funding. “But it’s not because something is dangerous that you should not address it,” Breton says. McGill University Principal Suzanne Fortier says the $1.8 billion the PQ government has pledged to reinvest in higher education by 2020 would only close “about half of the gap” between funding in QC and most other provinces. Montreal Gazette

NS commits $2 million to new “Innovation sandboxes”

The Nova Scotia government has announced $2 million in funding to create 4 "innovation sandboxes," entrepreneurship incubators where students can get help in bringing their business idea to market. The “sandboxes” will be opened by the following partnerships: Cape Breton University and the Nova Scotia Community College Marconi Campus; Saint Mary's University, NSCAD University, and Mount Saint Vincent University; Dalhousie University and Acadia University; and Dalhousie University, Saint Mary's University, NSCAD University and Volta Labs. “Each of the centres will offer a combination of academic programming and entrepreneurial, professional and management resources,” explains an NS news release. The NS government will provide each centre with $150,000 per year for up to 3 years. NS News Release | CBC

uRegina applications increase by 15%

The University of Regina so far has seen a 15% increase in applications over last year, with 75% of the total applications for fall 2014 now submitted; applications to the university have more than doubled in the past 3 years. uRegina explains that more than 80% of the application boost is due to an increase in international student applications, which have risen 7% this year. There are also more out-of-province high school applications than there were last year. “Of particular note is the increase in the number of applicants from Calgary, which shows that our targeted recruitment efforts are well received and effective,” says uRegina President Vianne Timmons. uRegina News Release

Selkirk receives $1 million towards capital project

Selkirk College has received a $1-million donation from Columbia Basin Trust that will go towards the planned upgrades to Selkirk’s Silver King and Castlegar campuses. The donation marks the beginning of a campaign to raise the $32 million needed for the capital project, which Selkirk says will result in “modern facilities that provide the most beneficial learning environments for students.” Proposed improvements to the Silver King Campus include a major renovation and equipment upgrade to the shop areas, work on the classroom block, and the addition of student common learning spaces. The Castlegar Campus renovations include redevelopment of the learning spaces, classrooms and equipment. Selkirk News Release

VIU launches new website

Vancouver Island University has launched a new website that aims to provide greater accessibility for students, alumni, donors, faculty, staff and the public. The new site, VIU’s first in several years, streamlines content, provides better navigation tools, and allows greater access for people using smartphones and tablets. VIU Web Manager Michael Carpenter explains that the new site is part of VIU’s comprehensive Web Services Plan to integrate several campus systems and take advantage of emerging innovations and technologies. Carpenter adds that browser interface improvements will also benefit faculty and staff who manage website content for departmental or faculty websites. VIU News Release

Michigan bill proposes free tuition to be paid back on employment

A bill introduced recently in the Michigan Legislature would allow students to initially attend PSE tuition-free, and then pay a fixed percentage of their income after graduation for a specified number of years, which would go towards a fund that in turn would pay tuition for other students. "We've increasingly placed the financial burden of [PSE] on the backs of the students,” says Michigan State Representative David Knezek. “This is a no-interest plan that allows you to pay back as you go and as you can afford it.” Michigan is the latest of the more than 20 states that are currently looking at similar income-contingent repayment plans. NewsMax

Facebook most popular social media tool for American PSE advancement

A new survey from the US Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) reveals that Facebook is the most commonly-used social media platform for college and university advancement departments, with 95% of respondents reporting they use Facebook regularly. Twitter (82%), LinkedIn (76%) and YouTube (68%) were the next most popular platforms used for advancement. The study, which surveyed 2,000 advancement officials, also revealed that Instagram saw a major increase in use over 2013; the number of respondents who said they used the photo sharing site rose from 27% to 43% in 2014. "With the changing nature of social media and the regular emergence of new platforms, it is essential for institutions to keep an eye on the big picture and ask themselves constantly how various types of media can contribute to achieving the desired results," says William Walker, Interim VP of Advancement Resources for CASE. CASE News Release | Inside Higher Ed | Full Report

Students at Pennsylvania community college bring spring break to campus

Students at Pennsylvania’s Northampton Community College this week brought spring break to campus after the college cancelled the mid-term holiday due to the high number of snow days that interfered with classes. Students arrived for classes dressed in bathing suits, leis and flip-flops; a group of students and faculty members organized “mocktails,” summery music and ping-pong in the cafeteria. NCC News Release | Inside Higher Ed