Top Ten

September 8, 2014

uWaterloo student killed by lightning strike

An 18-year-old University of Waterloo student was killed by a lightning strike on campus on Friday morning. The student’s name will not be released by the university out of respect for her family's wishes. “On behalf of our entire community of students, faculty and staff, I express heartfelt condolences to this student’s family, friends, and fellow students at this profoundly difficult time,” said uWaterloo President Feridun Hadullahpur. “Orientation week is a time when campus is especially vibrant and filled with optimism for the future, which makes her passing a source of immense grief.” uWaterloo is offering counselling services to any students who need them. Academica Group extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the student. CTV News | uWaterloo News Release | Hamdullahpur Statement

Controversy between Queen's athletics and student newspaper

A brief controversy erupted at Queen’s university last week when its student newspaper The Journal was informed by the Athletics department that only one media pass would be granted for the upcoming year instead of the 8 passes requested and granted in the past. According to The Journal, this was in response to the reporting of the varsity ‘team of the year’ award last spring, which prompted Jeff Downie, Associate Director of Athletics, to write in a letter to Journal staff, “we will be reevaluating our relationship, and the privileged access we provide the Journal moving forward.” The Journal’s Editor-in-Chief Nick Faris commented in an article last week that the refusal to grant the passes as a way of “punishing [The Journal] for reporting on the team of the year vote is a slap in the face to the entire student body.” The Queen’s Gaels have since announced on Twitter that they will provide the “additional media passes as requested.” The Journal | Globe and Mail

CapilanoU releases first Academic Plan

Capilano University has released its first Academic Plan, highlighting the strengths of the university and opportunities to excel. The Academic Plan will serve as a starting point for the 2015-18 Strategic Plan, to be developed in the coming months. The document outlines potential pathways for institutional renewal and represents the “collective will of our community to embrace change and participate in growth.” The Academic Plan consists of sections detailing CapilanoU’s vision for academic principles, academic programming, academic support, and moving forward, with an appendix that addresses possibilities for the upcoming Strategic Plan. “The Academic Plan is the first step in reimagining Cap’s future. The strategic planning process that follows will continue to be collaborative and lead to the collective transformation of learning, teaching, and academic work at Capilano University,” stated Rick Gale, CapilanoU VP Academic and Provost. CapilanoU News Release | Academic Plan

Collaborative nursing program offered by UBCO and Okanagan College gains approval

The College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia has granted a 7-year approval to UBC Okanagan’s collaborative nursing program with Okanagan College. The 2+2 UBC/OC Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program allows students to take the first 2 years at Okanagan College before enrolling at UBCO to complete years 3 and 4. The approval was granted without terms or conditions, and occurred in 2 steps: the 4-year BSN program at UBCO was granted a 7-year approval in 2012, and the college received approval of their 2-year program this summer. “Our collaborative efforts and joint commitment to quality education lie behind this extended approval,” explained Okanagan College’s Dean of Science, Technology and Health, Yvonne Moritz. “That makes a good piece of news even more inspiring for the 2 departments and our students.” UBCO News Release

Outgoing Northern Lights President says funding changes "erode" community-mindedness in BC PSE

Northern Lights College President Laurie Rancourt has accepted a position as Vice-President at Humber College to be closer to her family, but said she is concerned about cuts at Northern Lights to programs like Visual Arts. That program was eliminated after BC asked institutions to trim $50 M from their budgets over 2 fiscal years, even as colleges were asked to invest in training workers for a forecastedboom in the liquefied natural gas industry. “There’s a real risk of eroding programs that are critical to the health of the community,” Rancourt told the Alaska Highway News. “I wouldn’t go to the extreme that [Northern Lights] becomes a training camp for industry, but the capacity to be community-minded definitely erodes.” Rancourt admits that Visual Arts was not meeting its enrolment targets, but said that she feels linking PSE funding to expected labour market needs is shortsighted. “We need a funding mechanism that gives you a multi-year indication of what your budget is going to be, so you can plan, you can be strategic,” she said. Alaska Highway NewsNorthern Lights News Release

Canada releases report on national student loans program

Canada has published its annual report on the Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP), reflecting data from 2012–2013. According to the report, the CSLP distributed funding to more than 472,000 full-time and 9,600 part-time students, amounting to more than $2.6 B in loans. 357,000 full- and part-time students also received a total $695 M in grants. The report also notes that 209,000 borrowers received support from the program’s Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP), which launched in 2013. Most (55%) students receiving loans were 21 years of age or younger. 60% of students receiving loans were female. The majority (64%) of students receiving loans resided in Ontario, followed by British Columbia (13%) and Alberta (10%). The data also indicate that 59% of full-time student borrowers attended university, 31% attended college, and 10% attended a private institution; these figures remain virtually unchanged compared to the previous year. The report also says that the default rate on Canada student loans has declined to approximately 13%, compared to 28% in 2003–2004. CSLP Annual Report

CFS-NS launches mental health awareness program

The Canadian Federation of Students – Nova Scotia has launched a new campaign to raise awareness about student mental health and to prompt PSE institutions to invest in mental health support. “Student mental health has been a growing concern for years … Students have become very concerned with, often, the lack of services [on] campus,” said CFS-NS Chairperson Anna Dubinski. Dubinski said that the challenges faced by many students, including moving away from home, part-time jobs, and academic pressures, can exacerbate mental health issues, but claims that student debt is the primary stressor. “Increasing tuition fees and student mental health aren’t different issues. They’re actually one and the same,” she said. Nicholas Hatt, Dean of Students at the University of King’s College, said that his institution provides many services that help create a healthy environment, but acknowledged that more can be done. “It’s great to work with CFS and with the students on improving access to the services,” he said. Global News | CFS-NS

St Clair SMA highlights support for regional economic development, industry partnerships

Ontario’s strategic mandate agreement (SMA) with St Clair College highlights the institution’s support for high-quality, accessible education that meets the needs of the southwestern Ontario labour market, through programs including Cross-Border Logistics and Security Management; International Manufacturing and Trade; Hospitality; and Health and Community Wellness. St Clair is noted to support regional economic development in a variety of areas. The college supports health and community wellness innovation through its partnerships with regional hospitals and universities, Local Health Integration Networks, and its international partners in Michigan; and supports international manufacturing, cross-border security, and supply chain management innovation through its training of highly qualified personnel and applied research initiatives. The SMA also notes St Clair’s work with industry partners including Uni-Fab, MEDA Engineering, and Night Glow. The SMA identifies 5 proposed program areas for growth: technical & skilled occupations in health; technical occupations related to natural and applied sciences; skilled sales and service occupations; professional occupations in health; and technical and skilled occupations in art, culture, recreation, and sport. St Clair SMA

WesternU SMA cites interdisciplinary research, commercialization as core strengths

The strategic mandate agreement (SMA) signed between Ontario and Western University identifies as areas of differentiation WesternU’s comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs and mentions its particular strengths in imaging, materials and biomaterials, philosophy of science, big data, management, neuroscience, and finance, among others. The SMA recognizes WesternU’s contributions to jobs, innovation, and economic development through its WORLDiscoveries commercialization office, the Fraunhofer Project Centre for Composites Research, and Western Research Parks. As further strengths, the SMA mentions Western’s high performance on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), as well as the institution’s support for experiential and technology-enabled learning. The SMA notes that 98.9% of WesternU’s main campus entering class had admission averages above 80%, the highest in Ontario, and that admission averages have remained constant even as enrolment has increased. WesternU is also cited for its focus on interdisciplinary research delivered through the Ivey Business School, the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, and its economics, social sciences, and arts and humanities programs. The SMA identifies 4 proposed program areas for growth: STEM disciplines; business, management, finance, and law; medical, health, and behavioural sciences; and education. WesternU SMA

US campus booksellers push back against online retailers

US campus booksellers are fighting back against their online competition. The success of Chegg, Amazon, and other online retailers has forced campus booksellers to be more defensive when it comes to advertising on campus. Chegg, for instance, recruits students as on-campus brand ambassadors, gives away Red Bull and Starbucks products, and hosts their own book buy-backs. Campus booksellers argue that such tactics violate campus exclusivity agreements. At Southern Connecticut State University, university officials sent a cease-and-desist letter after learning that students were distributing Chegg fliers on campus. Other institutions force Chegg representatives to cover the company logo on their marketing materials. Chegg President Dan Rosenweig dismissed campus booksellers' complaints. “There’s no legal basis for it, and we’ve never been sued … The school should not be working against the interest of the student financially.” The Chronicle of Higher Education