Top Ten

July 10, 2015

MUN passes deficit budget with 30% increase to grad tuition and residence fees

Memorial University’s board of regents has approved the operating budget for 2015–16, which responds to cuts in provincial funding. The final budget increases both graduate tuition and residence fees by 30%, according to CBC; these increases will not take effect until 2016. The university scrapped a proposal to increase international student fees, instead electing to make a one-time reduction of $1.3 M plus an ongoing reduction of $3.6 M for all units, excluding direct academic expenditures and unavoidable operating costs. MUN will also request a one-year deferral of some of its pension obligations. Nevertheless, the budget still includes a deficit of $800,000, due to “limited … revenue-generation options.” “Extensive consultation and incredible co-operation across the institution resulted in a budget proposal that balances our complex fiscal reality with our mandate to deliver excellent academic programs,” said MUN President Gary Kachanoski. CBC | MUN

UOIT receives $26.9 M in federal support, provoking ON criticism

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology will receive up to $26.9 M from the federal government for its new Centre of Advanced Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (CARIE) building. This new project will support UOIT’s efforts to serve as a regional hub for market-driven teaching and research. However, the funding announcement has provoked criticism from the Ontario government, which recently submitted a list of funding priorities to the federal government and now feels that this list was ignored. ON Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid said, “this type of political, unilateral action goes against the federal government’s own process.” Globe and Mail | Canada | UOIT | COU

Canada provides $1.1 M to uLethbridge for synthetic biology maker space

The Canadian government has awarded the University of Lethbridge $1.1 M to support of the establishment of Alberta’s first synthetic biology maker space. The funds, provided through the Western Diversification Program, will support the creation of an on-campus space that will aid students and businesses in the development and commercialization of their ideas and technologies. “Our government recognizes the important role that innovation plays in creating jobs and economic growth,” says Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. “By investing in specialized equipment that will allow research findings to move more rapidly from lab to market, we are increasing Western Canada’s competitive advantage and helping to grow Canadian companies.” Lethbridge Herald | Canada | uLethbridge

MHC defends itself from lawsuit by former president

Medicine Hat College is disputing claims made by its former president, Ralph Weeks, in a lawsuit filed against the college last month. According to the Medicine Hat News, Weeks claims that he was made a scapegoat by MHC’s board following the release of a scathing auditor general report. In court documents, MHC argues that Weeks committed “gross mismanagement” and “circumvent[ed] the college’s normal control processes.” The documents further allege that Weeks intentionally withheld financial information from the board. Finally, the college claims that the former president employed a “divide and conquer” administration style, characterized by intimidation, verbal abuse, and sexist remarks. Medicine Hat News

Appeal court orders expansion of federal lawsuit over lost student loan data

The Canadian Court of Appeal has ordered the expansion of a class action lawsuit brought by thousands of students whose personal loan data was lost by Employment and Social Development Canada. This order overturns an earlier decision that limited the ways the students could pursue their case due to the alleged lack of proof that they had suffered certain kinds of damage. Ted Charney, a lawyer representing the students, called it a “pioneering decision.” In 2013, a portable hard drive containing private information from 583,000 Student Loans Program borrowers from 2000 to 2006 went missing and has yet to be found. Chronicle Herald (CP)

Dal students launch sexual assault hotline to combat “systematic, cultural issue”

Students at Dalhousie University are launching a crisis hotline for victims of sexual assault, the first of its kind in the province. While plans have been in the works for over a year, the recent events at Dal have created a bigger push for services of this type. “The incidents in December and January definitely brought to light a lot of the issues, [it’s] a prevalent systematic and cultural issue,” said Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) Vice-President Kaitlynne Lowe. “This is just one of the ways that we can tackle it, by giving support to survivors.” Volunteers are currently being recruited, and the DSU hopes to have the program running in time for the fall semester. Global News | Metro News | Cape Breton Post

TRU nursing school awarded highest possible accreditation

Thompson Rivers University’s School of Nursing has received the highest accreditation possible from the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN). The designation covers the next seven years and is the result of a CASN review that scrutinized the School of Nursing’s administration, faculty, programs, student success, and program relevance, among other factors. Nursing Dean Donna Murnaghan said, “earning the maximum accreditation is a testament to our commitment and dedication that all our students receive a rewarding and high-calibre learning experience—one where they are ready for opportunities in any number of directions.” TRU

PhD student experience “dehumanizing,” says ASHE president-elect

Studying for a PhD can be a “dehumanizing” and “humiliating” experience, according to Scott Thomas, President-Elect of the US Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). In his recent talk at the annual conference of the UK Council for Graduate Education, Thomas highlighted the need for greater socialization and social support systems for graduate students. While he admits that doctoral programs “should be a challenging experience,” Thomas added that these programs are “needlessly isolating” in their disregard for promoting social relations between their students. Times Higher Education

US loans contribute to rising tuition costs, study says

A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds that the increased availability of US student loans has driven up the cost of tuition. The rise is especially noticeable at private non-profit colleges with affluent student bodies and relatively low admission standards, and private for-profit colleges. The report adds to an ongoing debate about whether making loans more accessible to students contributes to rising tuition costs by relaxing students’ funding constraints. The report’s authors said, “institutions more exposed to changes in the subsidized federal loan program increased their tuition disproportionately around these policy changes.” Inside Higher Ed | Full Report

Ryerson/McMaster hitchBOT to undertake American hitchhiking adventure

On July 17, a hitchhiking robot named hitchBOT will attempt to travel to a series of historic sites during its journey from Boston to San Francisco. While it cannot move by itself, hitchBOT can converse with humans and ask for rides using a special speech technology. The robot was first conceived and developed by David Harris Smith, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia at McMaster University, and Frauke Zeller, Assistant Professor in the School of Professional Communication at Ryerson University. To date, hitchBOT has successfully travelled across Canada, the Netherlands, and Germany relying only on the kindness of strangers. Ryerson