Top Ten

April 6, 2015

Students in MB, ON, and QC protest budget cuts, tuition increases

Students across the country are launching protests aimed at governments and PSE institutions against tuition increases and education budget cuts. In Manitoba, students at the University of Manitoba are protesting impending job cuts in advance of the release of the institution’s budget. At least 25 positions have been cut so far, mainly office assistants, administration assistants, and IT workers. The Canadian Federation of Students said that students are concerned about the loss of support services and potentially larger class sizes. Meanwhile in Ontario, students at Lakehead University are pushing the board of governors to reject a proposed 3% tuition increase and to tie fee increases to inflation. "These non-stop tuition fee hikes are unsustainable, and are really impacting Lakehead students and our families," said student union President Ian Kaufman. And in Quebec, student protests and strikes continue, with at least one CEGEP and one faculty association voting to join the strike action. More than 100,000 people were expected to be on strike, with many of those taking part in public protestslast Thursday. CBC (uManitoba) | Winnipeg Free Press | LUSU News Release |Montreal Gazette | CBC (QC)

Postscript: April 8, 2015

Lakehead University's board of governors has approved a 3% increase to tuition fees for 2015–16. The decision comes in the wake of student protests that had resulted in the decision being deferred from a March meeting until April. Lakehead's executive committee met with students prior to voting, and emphasized that the decision had not been made lightly. "After various discussions and consultations, the executive committee has deemed this necessary in order to keep up with inflation and deferred maintenance costs that increase exponentially above government funding," said board Chair Murray Walberg. The increase will bring in $1.4 M in additional revenue for 2015–16.Lakehead News Release

RRC partners with alumni employers on new marketing campaign

Red River College has launched a new marketing campaign that celebrates its alumni and the companies they work for. The innovative campaign involves partnerships and a cost-sharing model with the diverse range of organizations in Manitoba that employ RRC grads. The “RRC Grads Get Hired” campaign features more than 40 alumni on billboards that are branded with the RRC logo as well as that of the employer. “RRC alumni are known throughout Manitoba and the world for possessing the necessary skills to be VIPs in their chosen fields,” said RRC Interim President David Rew. “It’s just one of the many reasons RRC Grads Get Hired. This spring, we’re celebrating the role our alumni play in driving Manitoba’s economy, and how they are leaders in their careers and their workplaces.” The billboards will be located throughout Winnipeg and rural Manitoba. RRC News | RRC Campaign

Carleton launches Institute for Data Science

In order to foster the development of data science initiatives across the university, Carleton University has launched its new Institute for Data Science. The Institute is designed to facilitate research and collaboration between all faculties at Carleton, and will also serve as a leader in extending these collaborations to external partners. The Institute will be led by a board of representatives from various faculties. “Data Science is the science, or art, of extracting knowledge from data,” said Frank Dehne, Founding Director of the Institute and Chancellor’s Professor in the School of Computer Science. “Data is not worth much if you can’t extract knowledge from it, and this institute is about people working together to this end.” A 2013 MOU signed with IBM was instrumental to the creation of the Institute. Carleton News Release

StudentsNS issues report on rising debt levels of NSCC students

Students Nova Scotia has released a report, Fees, Funding and Student Voice at the Nova Scotia Community College, which explores fees, funding, and accountability structures at Nova Scotia Community College. The report finds that although NSCC has prioritized access and affordability and offers programs that are of relatively low cost, college students’ debt levels are higher than the national average and debt default rates are increasing. StudentsNS also suggests that both NSCC and the province need to work harder to provide transparency and to include student voices in institutional decision making. The report makes a number of recommendations for the province and NSCC, such as freezing tuition at NSCC nominally until unemployment recovers to pre-recession levels; providing students with an accurate explanation of the full costs of their program when they enrol; and converting all loans to grants for Nova Scotia residents who wish to pursue studies at NSCC. Last month, NSCC announced a 3% tuition increase for students in most programs. StudentsNS News Release | Full Report

All Ontario colleges now have stand-alone sexual violence policies

All 24 of Ontario’s publicly funded colleges now have a stand-alone policy and protocol on sexual assault and sexual violence. College presidents voted unanimously in November to establish the policies, and Premier Kathleen Wynne last month announced she would introduce legislation requiring all provincial PSE institutions to have sexual assault policies. Colleges used a provincial template for their policies, but were able to tailor them to specific community needs and recommendations. The policies provide clear definitions of sexual assault and sexual violence, set clear standards for reporting and responding to incidents, and establish clear processes for complaints and investigations. In addition, policies include measures to ensure complainants are protected from reprisals and from being identified. “This is an important step to promote safe campuses and ensure everyone’s rights and responsibilities are clearly understood,” said Colleges Ontario President Linda Franklin. Colleges Ontario News Release

Okanagan increases tuition 2% in balanced 2015–16 budget

Okanagan College has approved a balanced budget of $94.95 M for 2015–16 that includes a 2% tuition increase for most students. “We have passed a balanced operating budget that allows us to continue to provide programs and services throughout the region, without any service reductions or layoffs,” said board Chair Tom Styffe. “It wasn’t easy, and we are looking to departments and our staff to find some significant savings in a variety of areas.” The budget also accounts for increased revenue from international student enrolments and continuing ed programs. The college board also decided not to charge tuition fees for domestic students in Adult Basic Education and ESL programs for the upcoming year, regardless of the change in provincial policy. “We believe it is important to do the research about how ABE and ESL fees may affect our students,” said Styffe. “At a time when so many jobs require higher education, there is a great deal of interest in preserving access to these program areas.” Okanagan News

Contact North | Contact Nord continues to see registration increases

Ontario’s Contact North | Contact Nord has announced that fall 2014 registrations increased 51.2% compared to fall 2013 registrations, a jump of almost 10,000 registrations in online learning courses. Increases were reported for courses offered by universities, colleges, literacy and basic skills providers, and other training providers. Contact North now offers more than 1,000 online programs and 18,000 online courses through partnerships with the province’s publicly funded universities, colleges, and training providers. "In record numbers, Ontarians worked to get their degrees, diplomas, or certificates, or to upgrade their skills using online learning," stated Trish Trenter, Coordinator of Recruitment, Training & Partnerships. "These results are helping to fulfill the government's vision for Ontario to become North America's leading jurisdiction for talent, skills, and training." Contact North has been reporting steady increases in registrations for several years. Contact North News Release

New program at uOttawa provides opportunity for PhDs to teach overseas

The University of Ottawa is highlighting a new program that allows PhD students to teach abroad. According to a news release, the program differs from others in that student-teachers are able to teach topics other than languages, such as political studies and literature, and they are able to receive compensation for their work experience. “The program offers students the opportunity to live as guest professors and network with international professionals and researchers,” said Sylvie Albert, Manager and Senior Advisor (Strategic Initiatives) at uOttawa’s International Office. Gary Slater, AVP Student Affairs, helped create the program in order to address the imbalance of international students studying in Canada compared to those few Canadian students who travel abroad to study. The program was piloted last July and it is hoped that more foreign institutions will partner with uOttawa on the program in the near future. uOttawa Gazette

New study from Harvard and MIT evaluates edX MOOC data

Researchers from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have published one of the largest studies on MOOCs to date, which examines MOOCs offered by the 2 institutions through edX over 2 years. Researchers found that participation in MOOCs has grown steadily, with a slight majority of registrants seeking a form of certification. Data revealed that female participation is increasing, and that many registrants self-identified as teachers, many in the subject area of the MOOC they enrolled in. The study also found that participation and certification rates varied depending on the subject matter of the MOOC. For instance, the vast majority of registrants enrolled in a computer science MOOC, but certification levels for these courses were much lower than MOOCs in the humanities and social sciences. The researchers said that the goal of their study is to provide institutional decision makers with the necessary data to evaluate desired outcomes. “We’re also trying to tell people we don’t want to optimize any single outcome measure independent of any other,” said one researcher. “Different kinds of courses are attempting to do different kinds of things and probably should be evaluated differently.” Inside Higher Ed | MIT News | Campus Technology

Chinese students increasingly studying abroad

China’s Ministry of Education is reporting continued growth in the number of Chinese students studying abroad, with almost half a million students studying outside of China in 2014, an increase of 11.1% over the previous year. Increasing numbers of students are beginning their studies abroad at a younger age as well, with almost 30% of Chinese students studying abroad at the secondary school level. The ministry also indicated that increasing numbers of these students are returning to work in China when they complete their studies. Further, China is on track to meet its goals of having 500,000 foreign students studying in China by 2020, with 377,054 international students enrolled in Chinese institutions in 2014. The leading destinations for Chinese students studying at the postsecondary level were the US, the UK, Australia, Japan, and France; the majority of Chinese students studying abroad at the secondary level travelled to US, Australia, and Canada for studies. In related news, the Rhodes Trust announced last week that students in China will soon be eligible to receive the prestigious Rhodes scholarships. ICEF Monitor | The Chronicle of Higher Education