Top Ten

June 18, 2015

High default rates point to deeper issues at private colleges

Experts warn that the problem of high student loan default rates for students who attended Nova Scotia’s private colleges may be widespread. According to CBC, 27% of NS students who defaulted on their loans over a six-year period had attended private colleges, though those institutions received a smaller proportion of total student loan funding. Some experts say that the default rate is higher for these institutions because of higher unemployment rates in the communities these institutions serve. However, many factors may be at play. Students who enroll at private colleges also may be older and not have the same level of family support as young students at other institutions. Rethinking Higher Ed contributor Glen Jones has argued for the need to play closer attention to what he calls “the invisible private sector.” CBC

Queen’s partners on cleantech accelerator

Queen’s University has partnered with Enviro Innovative Corporation to create a “cleantech accelerator” at the Queen’s Innovation Park. The accelerator will be designed to attract both startups and established businesses looking to develop or acquire environmentally friendly technologies. This initiative will address clean technology concerns from industrial energy efficiency to water quality and security. Steven Liss, Queen’s VP Research, calls the project “an excellent example of the opportunities that are important to contributing to our research, the regional economy, and training and career opportunities for our students.” Queen’s News

SK grants Great Plains international designation

Great Plains College’s Swift Current campus has been awarded its international designation from Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Advanced Education. The designation means that international students will be able to enrol in the campus’s Business and Administrative Assistant programs. “We recognize the current and looming labour shortage in Saskatchewan and the desire to have access to skilled graduates,” says Keleah Ostrander, Great Plains' Director of Planning. “By being able to accept international students and support them through post-secondary education, we are able to help meet the needs of employers in the province.” Great Plains is reportedly the second SK regional college to receive its international designation. Great Plains News Release

ECUAD signs on with Kadenze online learning platform

Emily Carr University of Art + Design has reportedly become the first Canadian art and design university to partner with Kadenze, an online learning platform specifically designed for arts-based curricula. Kadenze allows learners to participate in non-credit courses that connect them with instructors from leading arts departments around the world, including Princeton, Stanford, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, California College of the Arts, and Goldsmiths University of London. One course that will be initially offered by ECUAD through Kadenze focuses on project management for designers. ECUAD News Release

Report highlights challenges facing female PSE students in northern MB

In a new report entitled “It’s Home”: Listening to Female Post-Secondary Students in Northern Manitoba, Canada, Maureen Simpkins (University College of the North) and Marleny M Bonnycastle (University of Manitoba) look beyond traditional measures of success for female PSE students. The report used 27 one-on-one interviews with female postsecondary students or graduates in social work to better understand their everyday experience. For these students, completing a four-year degree within four years may simply not be possible, as many of these women have children or other family responsibilities. Thompson Citizen | Full Report

HEQCO report examines effectiveness of Lakehead Gateway program

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has released a study examining the benefits of Lakehead University’s Gateway program, an initiative designed to help students who show academic potential but do not meet basic admission standards enrol and succeed at the university level. The study found that the Gateway students had slightly lower GPAs and retention rates than their peers after their first year at university. However, researchers warn that focusing too heavily on retention rates fails to consider the “additional barriers” that might affect Gateway students’ decisions to enroll in university for a second year. The researchers also caution against drawing general conclusions from the study, as the cohorts examined were relatively small. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

Experts consider opportunities, challenges of establishing campuses abroad

Globe and Mail contributor Daina Lawrence examines the ways that Canadian universities and colleges are currently seeking to establish campuses and programs abroad. Lawrence suggests that this plan could provide high quality training to people around the world while expanding the talent pool that Canada might draw upon as it tries to address “one of Canada’s greatest future economic challenges: a skilled labour shortage.” However, Lawrence reminds readers that the major risk of creating Canadian campuses abroad is “diluting the reputation of the programs,” a problem that has precedent in Australia’s recent “international education bubble.” Globe and Mail

Performance-based funding could lead to budgetary challenges for some institutions

Some 30 US states now award at least a portion of PSE funding to institutions based on achievement measures. However, early results from Florida suggest that the practice is, at the very least, unpredictable. Florida State University (FSU) was awarded $16.7 M in new funding in the latest budget, yet would have received nothing had it scored a single point lower on any of its 10 performance metrics. Interim FSU Provost Sally E McRorie objects to the use of median earnings for first-year graduates as a metric of success, noting that many go on to pursue further education, earning more money by the middle of their careers. The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

New US graduate school of education will be competency based

The newly announced Woodrow Wilson Academy for Teaching and Learning will adopt an innovative competency-based approach to teacher training. Rather than following the traditional course-based approach, the Academy will assess incoming students' abilities before offering them a customizable education path. The students will graduate when they are deemed qualified in the program's core competencies. The initiative has been spearheaded by Arthur Levine, former president of Columbia University’s Teachers College and current President of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Levine has been an outspoken critic of teacher training programs and is putting forth this new model as one that other schools might eventually seek to replicate. This news comes as the Department of Education and regional accreditors continue to develop a common approach to competency-based education (CBE). Inside Higher Ed (Academy) | Inside Higher Ed (Common Approach) | The Chronicle of Higher Education