Top Ten

June 10, 2015

Selkirk board approves budget with tuition increase

The board of governors at Selkirk College in British Columbia has approved a $43.1 M balanced budget for 2015–16. The college was able to balance the budget despite a reduction in its provincial operating grant, thanks in part to higher enrolments this year and anticipated growth in domestic and international enrolments in the future. In addition, the budget includes a 2% increase in tuition fees for domestic students and a 4% increase for international students. Selkirk also reports that it finished its 2014–15 fiscal year on target, without any deficits or surpluses. Selkirk News Release

uWindsor increases security to catch individual smearing feces on campus

The University of Windsor is increasing security patrols and surveillance in order to catch an individual who has apparently been spreading feces on signs, benches, and walls on campus. University spokesperson John Coleman said that there have been two incidents since May, the most recent taking place on Thursday. The perpetrator was captured on a security camera, but his or her face was obscured by a hoodie. “The university is concerned about this. Obviously, we would like to apprehend the person, find the person who is behind this,” said Coleman. So far, the university is not certain whether the latest incidents are related to a similar situation last fall, when someone smeared feces on uWindsor Student Association campaign posters. Windsor Star

New federally funded training pilot modelled on German system

Canada has announced that it will invest in a project with Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) that will pilot new training and certification programs for youth preparing for careers in advanced manufacturing. Under the program, CME will recruit 40 college and university student to work with Siemens Canada while they are attending school. In addition, CME will work with Siemens and participating institutions to align curricula with labour market needs. The pilot project adapts elements used in the German youth skills training system, in which students work with private companies and complete their studies at the same time. Canada News Release

Waterloo may face oversupply of student housing

Waterloo councillors have decided to hold back additional incentives for developers building in the Northdale area of the city over concerns that the supply of student housing is exceeding demand. Waterloo’s town and gown committee reported that with plans in place to add 900 bedrooms on campus and 6,200 off campus, there is a potential surplus of 1,000 bedrooms. The committee cautioned that student enrolments are not expected to keep pace with construction. Planned incentives for development in the Northdale area will be held off until 2017, pending further research. The Record | CBC

German foundation compares study-to-work transition for international students in four countries

A new study by the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR) maps supports for the study-to-work transition for international students at 238 PSE institutions in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. The report indicates that large businesses are actively involved in hiring international students at 40% of Canadian institutions, and that small businesses are better represented among active recruiters on Canadian campuses than in the other countries. However, international students still often encounter a “patchwork” of resources, and more coordination is necessary. The study further recommends more information sharing, the development of shared goals, and greater involvement from municipalities. CBIE Release | Full Report

Funding most powerful lever for change in PSE systems

As Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MTCU) begins a consultation process on university funding reform, a recent symposium at the University of Toronto focused on funding as the most powerful way to change the system. Under Ontario’s current funding model, Grace Karram Stephenson writes, fully 77% of funding is directly linked to enrolment. However, some, including HEQCO President Harvey Weingarten, are concerned that this model is not adequately tied to educational quality. Looking ahead, reforms must balance institutional autonomy against the many challenges facing universities. University World News

Law students should resist the “cookie-cutter” approach to education

In a piece contributed to the Globe and Mail, University of Ottawa law student Stéphane Erickson says that too many Canadian law students fall prey to a “cookie-cutter” approach that marginalizes valuable educational opportunities. Especially troubling, Erickson writes, is that critical facets of Canada’s legal system—including bilingualism and bijuralism—are among the issues being neglected. Erickson argues that legal education should include elements that “transcend the law,” such as learning new languages, participating in an international exchange, or studying history. Ignoring such subjects, he argues, “is not only illogical and rather silly; it’s irresponsible.” Erickson urges law students to “defy the cookie cutter, and seek mentors who have defied it.” Globe and Mail

Institutions could improve communication practices to better meet needs of prospective international students

One-fifth of Canadian and US colleges and universities never respond to admissions inquiries from students from other countries; moreover, among those that do reply to international students, four-fifths never follow up after first contact. The figures come from a “mystery shopper”-style research project from the British Council that examined how 974 institutions around the world helped international students find the information they need about where to study. Researchers evaluated more than 40 different data points including “findability,” quality of information, and usability. Information regarding program duration, start dates, and accreditation were reportedly the most difficult to find; in addition, one-third of institutional websites examined did not pass the Google Mobile-Friendly test. Campus Technology | Full Report

In Canada, professors aren’t afraid of their students

Writing pseudonymously for Vox, a professor at a university in the Midwestern US has claimed that his students, particularly the liberal ones, “terrify” him, forcing him to moderate his curriculum in order to avoid complaints. But things are different in Canada, says Joseph Heath, a Professor at the University of Toronto. Writing in the Ottawa Citizen, Heath says that institutions in the two countries are subject to completely different incentives. Canadian institutions, Heath writes, simply don’t have the same “customer-service orientation” as American ones, and therefore—for better or worse—are not subject to the same concerns around offending students. Vox | Ottawa Citizen | Inside Higher Ed

Wisconsin legislation instigates broader debate around tenure

The efforts on the part of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker to eliminate tenure protections have led to further discussions on the role of the tenure system in US PSE. History professor Mark LeVine says if Walker is successful, his approach could set in motion similar legislation in other states. A piece in the New York Times suggests that Wisconsin will likely remain an outlier for the time being, but notes that institutions are becoming increasingly cautious when it comes to awarding tenure, given the long-term commitment involved. Critics of tenure argue that it is anachronistic and limits accountability, while proponents emphasize its importance for academic freedom. Others propose a middle ground, such as termed tenure or longer-term contracts. Al Jazeera America | New York Times