Top Ten

January 27, 2015

uSask volleyball coach placed on leave pending investigation

The head coach of the University of Saskatchewan’s women’s volleyball team has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation for alleged misconduct. The investigation will be conducted by uSask human resources personnel. In a news release, uSask stated that “in mid-January, concerns were raised about the coach of the Huskie women’s volleyball team. Concerns involving our students are our first priority, and we approach these concerns very seriously.” The university noted that an initial review showed that the allegations warranted further investigation. uSask also emphasized that “as this relates to an employment matter, the university must respect the privacy of all those involved.” Consequently, few specific details were made available. Basil Hughton, Athletics Director for Huskie Athletics, said only that “it’s an investigation that’s ongoing” and that “there’s no timeline for the investigation. It’ll conclude when the information has been gathered.” Huskie Athletics Information Officer Nicole Betker added that neither Huskie Athletics, nor any players or assistant coaches, would comment any further on the situation. uSask News Release | StarPhoenix

AB seeing increase in student loan recipients

An analysis performed by Metro News has found that Alberta’s PSE students have been turning to federal and provincial student loans at double the growth rate of the rest of the country. Metro reports that the total number of students enrolled in PSE in the province between 2008–09 and 2012–13 has increased by 9,483, while the total number of students receiving some form of financial aid has increased by 20,939. 16.2% of that aid was provided in the form of provincial grants that do not need to be repaid. A 2013 BMO survey found that students in AB graduate with an average debt load of over $27,300, just slightly higher than the national average of $26,300. Another study found that Albertan students spend more on back-to-school items than students in any other province. AB has in recent years taken steps to improve access to student loans, but student advocates say that there have not been complementary increases to available scholarships and bursaries. Metro News

GPRC announces 2.2% tuition increase

The board of governors at Grand Prairie Regional College has approved a 2.2% tuition increase for the 2015–16 academic year, following increases at several other Alberta institutions. “When we reviewed our tuition levels, we recognized that we are very low [compared to] the provincial norm … We need to make sure we maintain competitiveness, so we have to go back to the maximum. If we were at the top, then we would want to think about regulating back but when we’re very close to the bottom, we need to stay with it,” said GPRC President Don Gnatiuk. The increase, the maximum allowable under provincial rules, came following negotiations with GPRC students and has the approval of the President of the GPRC Students Association. “We work this through with them and they recognize that we’re doing everything we can and we need to stay competitive,” said Gnatiuk. Daily Herald Tribune

CASA responds to report of self-harm among Canadian PSE students

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is responding to a new report on national mental health indicators by repeating earlier calls to increase mental health data and improve funding for mental health supports and services. The new report by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is an early draft of a larger report due this spring, which will cover 63 indicators of the state of mental health in Canada across all ages and in different settings. The report will also examine the supports and services accessed by those with mental health issues. According to the data, in the last 12 months 6.6% of Canadian university and college students reported instances of self-harm. 80% of respondents reported that they had never engaged in self-harm, suggesting that 20% of college and university students had intentionally harmed themselves in the past. “Our organization is deeply concerned with the increase in mental health cases across Canadian campuses. Students are directly affected by mental illness, either through personal experiences or in the experiences of their peers,” said Travis Gordon, CASA Board Chair. CASA released a policy paper in 2014 that recommended federal involvement in a national student mental health policy. CASA News Release | Full Report

CBIE assesses progress of Canada’s International Education Strategy

The Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) has issued a progress report on last year's International Education Strategy (IES), which proposed to double the number of international students studying in Canada by 2022. CBIE reports that there are now nearly 300,000 international students studying in Canada, suggesting that the goal is attainable. CBIE notes that although numbers were already on the rise thanks to institutional and provincial efforts, the federal strategy provided a coordinated approach and allowed organizations to prepare for the necessary student services and supports. Changes to student visa regulations now allow international students to work part-time off campus without obtaining further documentation, making Canada more attractive to those seeking work experience as well as education. CBIE hopes to see an increase in the number of Canadian students studying abroad, in order to strengthen the internationalization of education in general. On this note, CBIE suggests the creation of 15,000 study grants by 2017 to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary and to encourage global engagement. CBIE News

McGill considering its options for future of campus bookstore

As McGill University contemplates moving its bookstore in 2016 to make room for the institution’s Desautels Faculty of Management, some are wondering whether the campus community would be better served by multiple, smaller outlets or even pop-up stores. At a recent town hall meeting, retail consultant Bianca Barducci said that changes in the retail landscape mean that McGill must consider alternative approaches to reaching customers. “Nowadays, a retailer cannot have a brick-and-mortar store and just hope people will come to it,” she said. Participants in the meeting also discussed factors including the increasing costs of textbooks and the need to diversify the range of merchandise being sold at the bookstore. Colleen Cook, Trenholme Dean of Libraries at McGill, said, “you cannot build this business model on textbooks and coursepacks. The electronic versions of these materials are a lot less expensive for students.” Increased sales of souvenirs and branded merchandise were suggested as one way to offset falling textbook sales. McGill News

BC PSE institutions sign shared procurement agreements for natural gas, purchasing cards

PSE institutions in British Columbia have signed procurement contracts that they hope will help them save money and improve administrative efficiency. 17 of the 25 members of the BC Public Post-Secondary Purchasing Consortium have signed an agreement with Access Gas Services Inc and Shell Energy North America that is anticipated to save $1 M annually. Meanwhile, 8 members of the Consortium have signed an agreement with Scotiabank for purchasing cards, which could also save $1 M each year. Other institutions are expected to sign on with Scotiabank as their existing contracts expire. The Consortium was created in May, 2014 to enable BC’s PSE institutions to benefit from joint purchasing and to allow them to advertise for goods and services through BC Bid. “The joint procurement consortium means the sector has a unique platform to innovate, share ideas, and explore opportunities such as the purchasing card contract that will benefit postsecondary institutions,” said Barry Coulson, AVP Administration and Finance for Langara College. BC News Release | Langara College News Release

New Canadian additions to this year’s Financial Times world MBA rankings

The Financial Times has released this year’s rankings of the top MBA programs in the world, with 6 Canadian universities making the top 100. The Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto is the top-ranking Canadian business school, but dropped 3 places from last year to come in at 53rd. Second place in Canada goes to UBC’s Sauder School of Business (81), with the University of Alberta’s School of Business and Queen’s University's School of Business tying for third in Canada and 86th overall. Both uAlberta and Queen’s re-entered the rankings this year. Western University’s Ivey Business School (97) and McGill University’s Desautels School of Management (100) round out the remaining Canadian schools that appeared in the top 100. Harvard Business School topped the list this year, followed by London Business School in second. The rankings are based on surveys of business schools and alumni, including criteria such as the career progression of alumni, “idea generation,” and the diversity of students and faculty. FT 2015 Rankings | FT News | Edmonton Journal

OECD publishes 2015 Education Policy Outlook

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has published its Education Policy Outlook for 2015. The report identifies a number of key issues and goals for each member nation, as well as identifying high-level international trends. The report notes that many countries are looking to expand PSE graduation rates as a means to combat unemployment and overcome skills gaps, and that the proportion of persons aged 25–34 with tertiary education was consistently higher than that of persons aged 55–64. The report also identified what is described as a reverse gender gap at the PSE level; 46% of women aged 25–34 have attained a PSE credential, compared with 35% of men of the same age. The report also recommends PSE institutions increase pathways to the labour market. In its look at Canada, the report notes the importance of increasing the participation of minority-language and Aboriginal students in PSE, and recommends improvements to the apprenticeship system. It also notes that improving access and efficiency of funding will be an important goal for Canada. The report highlights a number of specific policy responses to these challenges that have been implemented by Canadian institutions. University World News | Full Report

US PSE institutions hire data mining firms to learn about potential donors on social media

An article in the New York Times addresses how some US PSE institutions are turning to data mining companies to gather information on potential donors using their activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms. There are a growing number of startups in the US that use advanced data analytics tools to predict whether or not a graduate is likely to donate or volunteer on behalf of their former institution. Some companies also create customized, branded social-media sites for colleges that allow alumni to import profiles from other networks. Alumni connect with one another, while the platform passes information about their activities back to their alma maters. For some, these practices raise privacy concerns. “I do think there’s an ethical issue. It’s one thing to estimate someone’s wealth, but then to gauge how willing they are to give, you have to look deeply into a person’s life,” said Pam Dixon, Executive Director of the San Diego-based World Privacy Forum. “I’m not sure alumni would appreciate or want that—if they knew about it.” However, some fundraisers say that not using the tools could put them at a significant disadvantage against other institutions. New York Times