Top Ten

April 29, 2014

UPEI to increase tuition by 3%

The University of Prince Edward Island will increase tuition for the second consecutive year. The UPEI board of governors announced a 3% increase for undergraduate and international students on Friday as it approved a balanced budget for 2014–2015.UPEI President Alaa Abd-El-Aziz says the university worked to increase revenues while reducing expenditures. By reducing non-salary expenditures as much as possible, administrators were able to minimize the impact on its people, he added.  UPEI Student Union President Anastasia Smallwood said, “While the student union cannot support a tuition increase, we understand that the university faces a number of budgetary pressures … We do appreciate being included in discussions about the budget and are pleased that the budget does not include any cuts to core student programs and services, or any increases to ancillary student fees.”  The University of Guelph and the University of Windsor have also recently announced tuition increases. UPEI News Release | CBC | Journal Pioneer

RRC president refutes CBC report

Red River College President Stephanie Forsyth has refuted allegations made in a recent CBC report regarding the college’s finances and staff departures. The report contended that the college was facing a $2-million deficit as well as a “mass exodus” of employees. Forsyth writes in her personal blog that the CBC story included erroneous information. The deficit figure, Forsyth says, was derived from a mid-year forecast; since that point in time, she says, the deficit gap has been closed and the college is on track for a balanced budget. Forsyth also clarifies that the CBC report “mischaracterized” a number of salary figures, broadcasting total compensation figures for 5 positions and representing them as salaries paid for 2 executive positions. Forsyth also says that claims of a “mass exodus” of people from the College were exaggerated and that the number of arrivals and departures is typical of an organization of RRC’s size. Stephanie Forsyth | Winnipeg Free Press| CBC

Ontario invests $51 million in student entrepreneurs

As part of its Youth Jobs Strategy, Ontario has launched 5 new programs intended to assist young entrepreneurs, investing a total of $51 million. The government is providing $5-million to the On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities (OCEA) program and $20-million to the Campus Linked Accelerators (CLA) program to help students develop entrepreneurial skills and transfer academic learning to the marketplace. The province is also investing $9 million in the SmartStart Seed fund, a program that helps 18–29-year-olds build technology companies. Ontario will also provide $7 million to the Youth Business Acceleration Program, as well as $10 million to Talent Edge, a program that “bridges the gap between academia and the workforce” by facilitating collaboration between students’ academic institutions and industry partners. Ontario News Release

WesternU receives $1.6-million bequest for grad student scholarships

Students in Western University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Department of Pathology received a $1.6-million bequest from former WesternU laboratory technologist Marion Murray. Murray’s will provided for the creation of 3 endowed scholarship funds for graduate students studying at WesternU’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. The bequest will provide over $60,000 in annual support that will be dispersed in scholarships of varying amounts. The scholarships will be named for Murray’s father, a distinguished pathologist and former professor at WesternU, as well as her husband, Robert Murray, who was chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology for 25 years. “We want to thank Dr Robert Murray and his late wife for their steadfast support of our university and its students, not only in their philanthropic contributions, but also in their many years of teaching and assisting students,” said WesternU President Amit Chakma. WesternU News Release

Med schools cut mandatory dissections

Canadian medical schools are debating whether all medical students should be required to perform complete dissections of human cadavers before becoming MDs. The issue is students’ time: the use of pre-cut bodies and imaging technology is a faster way of teaching basic anatomy, but some critics argue that eliminating mandatory dissections limits students’ experiences and expertise. At the University of Saskatchewan, the issue became a point of debate as the medical school looks to revise its programming. The school will phase dissections out of its core undergraduate curriculum, instead offering them as clerkships or electives. The move is expected to cut the number of hours devoted to gross anatomy at uSask from 92 to 22. About half of Canada’s medical schools use pre-cut body parts or imaging technologies to teach basic anatomy to students who are not training to be surgeons or hands-on specialists. Complete dissections are still mandatory at medical schools at the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, and McGill University, as well as most US medical schools. The Globe and Mail

Aboriginal women learning trades but struggle to find careers

More aboriginal women are enrolling in trade schools, but they continue to face significant barriers in finding careers after graduation. As many as half of the aboriginal women enrolled in BC’s Squamish Nation Trades Centre leave their trade after completing their training. The attrition rate may be due to a number of factors, including childcare—statistically, aboriginal women have children at a younger age—and a lack of drivers’ licenses, which are required for many trades jobs. Others suggest that women in general leave the trades after facing sexism on the job site. “I was the only female carpenter on site and I found that right away, the guys really didn’t think that I could hold my end of it,” said one Trades Centre graduate. Some are now suggesting that the BC government should take a look at labour regulations that will encourage hiring more qualified women and marginalized persons to complement its public training programs. CBC

McGill and uCalgary unveil innovative printing and computing technologies

McGill University recently became the first purchaser of an innovative 3D printer that is capable of printing at microscopic scales. The device recently entered the Guinness Book of World Records for printing a magazine cover that can only be seen with the help of an electron microscope. McGill researchers, however, are more interested in its practical applications in areas including electronics, physics, and life sciences. The printer cost $500,000, and was purchased with an $11.3-million grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, in partnership with McGill and the Quebec government. Meanwhile, the University of Calgary has installed a new supercomputer they have dubbed “Hyperion,” which will help researchers analyze huge volumes of genomic data. Hyperion is capable of performing 30 trillion calculations per second. “Hyperion is facilitating our work into new algorithms for large-scale inference that bridge the ‘Big Data’ emerging in genomics with detailed biological models,” said Jason de Koning, a geneticist in the Faculty of Medicine at uCalgary. McGill Headway | CTV | uCalgary News

New book examines arguments for the humanities

A new book from Oxford professor Helen Small historicizes and evaluates 5 primary claims made in support of humanities scholarship, concluding that “the value one attributes to the humanities is to a large degree circumstantial and contextual.”  Small considers claims for the humanities in terms of their role in making meaning of culture; their instrumental use value; their contribution to human happiness; their role in fostering a democratic society; and their value for their own sake. She adopts what she describes as a “pluralist” approach that treats each of the 5 arguments as persuasive depending on the situation. However, Small eschews the notion of her book as a “defense,” suggesting that assuming a hostile audience can lead to an ineffective rhetorical emphasis. She says that her hope is to “help advocates for the humanities to think self-critically about the claims we make for our work and its wider social and political effects.” Inside Higher Ed

US students expect better access to course evaluation data

A growing number of students in the US are clamouring for their right to see course evaluation data. Some faculty and administrators favour open access to evaluation data, citing the right of students to make an informed decision as well as improved accountability. One student said that “this would increase professors’ competition with one another to see who can get the highest score.” Critics, however, say that such a move will create a superficial, consumer model based on evaluations that do not accurately reflect course or teacher quality. Some US universities do make evaluation data available as a matter of course; however, even in these situations, students have pushed for easier access to quantitative data. Yale University recently blocked a student-created course evaluation website. The Chronicle of Higher Education

US institutions concerned about hard drug use among students

US universities are beginning to expand the purview of their drug prevention programs to include harder drugs, such as heroin. University of Rochester President Joel Seligman last month made a plea to students to “get help” with their substance abuse problems following the death of a freshman student. At Yale, a campus medical director issued a campus-wide email raising concerns over a spike in LSD-, cocaine-, and heroin-related incidents. The University of Vermont, meanwhile, will in the fall begin screening students for hard drug use. While national data show that less than 1% of students are users, campus health centres are concerned that a traditional focus on alcohol and marijuana has allowed students who use hard drugs to slip through the cracks. “We don’t think of college students as IV drug users. A lot of people have images of what IV drug users look like, and it’s not college students” said Robert Reff, substance abuse prevention coordinator at Oregon State University. Inside Higher Ed | Education Dive