Top Ten

June 19, 2015

Accreditors put McGill's medical school on probation

McGill University’s medical school has been put on probation after evaluators from the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools and the US Liaison Committee for Medical Education identified a number of issues with the school's programming. In all, the school was deemed to be lacking in 24 of 132 total criteria. These issues included concerns about students’ learning experience as well as the quality of instruction in women’s health. Evaluators claimed that the school was not ensuring that all students received the same experiences regardless of where they trained. The program has been given 18–25 months to “demonstrate significant progress” toward resolving the issues. “Obviously, we’re disappointed,” said David Eidelman, Dean of Medicine. “My job now is to make sure this gets fixed.” Globe and Mail | Montreal Gazette | CBC

Alberta’s Bill 3 freezes tuition, reverses funding cuts

Alberta’s government has released details on Bill 3, the interim supply bill. The bill, if passed, will freeze tuition at AB’s postsecondary institutions for two years, reverse an earlier 1.4% cut to Campus Alberta funding, and increase base operating funding by 2%. Bill 3 will also roll back previously approved market-modifier tuition increases. Outgoing University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera praised the bill, calling it “a clear message that the Alberta government sees postsecondary education as a public good,” while University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon said “we appreciate the importance the Government of Alberta places on postsecondary funding today.” CBC | Samarasekera Statement | uCalgary News

MHC, NSCAD announce staff cuts

Medicine Hat College and NSCAD University both announced job cuts this week. At MHC, the equivalent of 27.9 full-time positions will be eliminated in the 2015–16 budget, affecting 29 staff. Most of the cuts will be achieved through an early retirement program. The remaining cuts are mostly associated with the previously announced suspension of four programs. College officials said that the budget reflects a 1.4% reduction in funding and increases in operating costs. MHC also allocated part of its budget to create a new position dedicated to encouraging and supporting Indigenous learners. At NSCAD, nine custodial staff and eight administrative clerk positions have been cut. NSCAD announced Wednesday that the reduction in the institution’s workforce comes as part of a new organizational structure intended to improve administrative efficiency. Medicine Hat News | MHC News Release | Chronicle-Herald | NSCAD News Release

Vanier board approves deficit budget, warns of job losses

CBC reports that Montreal CEGEP Vanier College has approved a deficit budget for its next fiscal year. Vanier's Director General Norman Bernier said that the budget will likely result in job losses and the non-renewal of some college programs. “We have tried not to affect services to students," he said, “but there is no doubt the cuts are going to have an impact.” In accordance with Quebec law, Vanier is only permitted to run the proposed $574,630 deficit because of a budget surplus it has amassed over previous years. According to Bernier, “There will be jobs lost as positions vacated through retirement will not be filled.” CBC

Federal report highlights educational challenges facing aboriginal peoples living on reserves

A new report from the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board highlights a growing “prosperity gap” between Indigenous people and other Canadians. The study found that college completion rates for First Nations people living on reserves dropped from 20.8% to 20.4% between 2006 and 2011, while the rates for off-reserve First Nations people rose from 27.9% to 28.3% and those for non-aboriginals rose from 28.2% to 29.1%. At the university level, completion rates for off-reserve First Nations peoples held at 5.7% over the same period; for those off-reserve, completion rates rose from 9.8% to 11.1%. University completion rates for non-Indigenous students rose over this period from 23% to 25.5%. National Post CBC | Vancouver Sun

NSCC receives $4.6 M to support students facing financial barriers

This week, Nova Scotia Community College received a gift of $4.6 M from the Joyce Foundation, a private family foundation created by philanthropist Ronald V Joyce. The $4.6 M is the largest single donation that NSCC has ever received and will be used to create $1,000 bursaries for 140 students across the province, along with 1,000 urgent-aid bursaries of $500. Said NSCC President Don Bureaux, “Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of The Joyce Foundation, we can provide more students with the financial support they need to access a college education, complete their studies at NSCC, and prepare for their next steps.” NSCC

uWaterloo establishes green auto research facility with $1 M from Toyota

The University of Waterloo has announced that it has established its new Green and Intelligent Automotive (GAIA) research facility. The $10 M centre has received $1 M from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada as well as $2.1 M from the governments of Canada and Ontario. The facility will include three labs that will focus on powertrain efficiency, the development of longer-lasting batteries, and the testing of modified hybrid electric vehicles, respectively. Designed with commercial collaboration in mind, the facility can conduct multiple confidential projects at one time. “The GAIA facility will enable world-class multidisciplinary research with a strong collaborative approach,” said John McPhee, head of the GAIA project. uWaterloo News

NS students applying for loans to be shown institutions' repayment rates

Kelly Regan, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, said that the provincial government will add a feature to online student loan applications that will tell students an institution’s repayment rate. The feature will also provide students with questions they should consider asking the institution when they apply. Regan’s announcement comes following a CBC investigative report that uncovered high default rates at some private colleges in the province. “I want to assure taxpayers that we absolutely are concerned about this,” Regan said. “We’re concerned for our students who can have a loan default follow them through their life and that has significant implications for them.” CBC

ON allows grads to use Aeroplan points to pay student loans

Through a partnership with Higher Ed Points, students can now useAeroplan points to pay down Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) loans. Using either their own points, or points from friends, family, or employers, students can redeem their miles in $250 denominations and then transfer the funds to their student loan account. Reza Moridi, ON Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, called the partnership an “innovative way [for students] to invest in themselves and their future.” Rajean Hoilett, Chair of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O), criticized the move as “yet another example of a government that treats Ontario’s student debt crisis like an episode of Extreme Couponing.” Toronto Star | Huffington Post | Higher Ed Points Release | CFS-O Release

Utah university adds texting lane on staircase

Utah Valley University is taking steps to address a “culture of walking and texting” on campus by painting a “texting lane” on the staircase of its new Student Life and Wellness Centre. Creative Director Matt Bambrough said, “You have 18–24 year olds walking down the hall with smartphones, you’re almost bound to run into someone somewhere.” However, he emphasized that his purpose in adding the lane wasn’t to stop collisions or shame texters, but to engage with students. “It’s meant to be there for people to look at and enjoy,” Bambrough said. Huffington Post