Top Ten

September 29, 2015

uCalgary employee records accessed in security breach

The University of Calgary has informed its staff that a number of uCalgary employee records were accessed during an “isolated breach.” uCalgary’s Vice President of Finance and Services Linda Dalgetty issued a letter to staff saying that 29 employee records were accessed and 13 of these were altered during the breach; the involved accounts have since been locked and removed from the school’s internal network. At least 13 employees did not receive pay last Friday as a result of the breach. A uCalgary spokesperson told CTV News that no student records or accounts were affected by the incident. The university’s privacy officer is currently investigating the breach with the aid of campus security and the Calgary Police. Calgary Herald | CTV News | Calgary Sun | Global News

uRegina receives nearly $1.5 M to support nuclear innovation

The University of Regina has received nearly $1.5 M in funding from the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation. The funding will be used to support the university's Fedoruk Chair in Nuclear Imaging Technologies and to purchase research equipment related to food security. The Fedoruk Centre is funded by Innovation Saskatchewan and its mandate is to invest in partnerships with academia and industry to place the province among global leaders in nuclear research, development, and training. uRegina | 620 ckrm | Leader-Post

uOttawa strengthens its commitment to serving francophone students

Ontario has announced that it will grant the University of Ottawa’s request for partial designation as a French-language service provider under the Language Services Act. uOttawa currently offers a number of undergraduate programs, graduate programs, and academic services in French, but this new designation will legally require the school to do so moving forward. The new designation will come into effect on January 1, 2016. There are currently more than 13,000 francophone students enrolled at the university. ON | Ottawa Citizen | uOttawa

OCUFA responds to Ontario’s funding review

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has released its official response to Ontario’s review of the province’s university funding formula. The response was officially submitted to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) on September 1, 2015, and it calls on the government to choose a funding formula that “builds on existing strengths, complemented by a new higher education data system for the province.” The response offers three key recommendations: 1) ensure the funding formula is responsive to student numbers and the choices that students make, 2) reconsider performance-based funding that might undermine the stability of universities, and 3) promote accountability and collaboration among universities. OCUFA | Full Report

FSIN asks federal leaders to commit more funding to First Nations PSE students

Members of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) have called upon federal leaders to commit to addressing current gaps in PSE funding for First Nations students. Since 1996, funding for on-reserve schools has been under a 2% cap for annual expenditure increases, which FSIN Vice Chief Bobby Cameron says has hindered high school graduates’ ability to attend PSE. Cameron has also asked for clarification on how the federal government will approach student funding moving forward. Currently, funding for First Nations students is provided through their bands using the Post Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP). However, Canada stated in 2009 that planned changes to the program would require First Nations students to apply for funding through Canada Student Loans. StarPhoenix

uToronto students' union sues former director, ex-officials over severance pay

The University of Toronto students' union has announced that it will file a lawsuit against its former executive director and two former officials for defrauding the group. The lawsuit alleges that the former employees filed for hundreds of thousands of dollars in inappropriate severance and overtime payouts. The union says it wants the three employees in question to return more than $225 K that was paid out to them as a result of these filings, along with $200 K in damages for breach of fiduciary trust. CTV News (CP)

Canada’s engineering students not learning real-world skills, writes Maclean’s

Canada’s engineering schools are not doing enough to train their students for real-world problem solving, reports Maclean’s. The article draws on extensive surveys and interviews with Canadian industry representatives to find that while engineering programs do a good job of teaching the theoretical components of engineering, they do little to prepare students for the messy and open-ended variables found on the job. “We don’t have, from our point of view, the right approach to educate our young [engineers],” says Robert Hardt, CEO of Siemens Canada, “[Students] in university or college learn all the technical basics from a theoretical point of view, but they don’t really focus on the practical implementation of those learned skills into the real world.” The article ultimately recommends that engineering programs address these issues by giving students more independence when completing projects and introducing a stronger critical thinking component into their programming. Maclean’s

University students not burdened with debt, President says

At a conference held at the University of Prince Edward Island, Universities Canada President Paul Davidson told The Guardian that “half of all students graduate debt free, owing zero.” Of those who do have debt, Davidson asserted that “about 40% have debt of less than $12,000.” Executive Director of the Association of Atlantic Universities Peter Halpin reportedly agrees that student groups tend to overstate student debt numbers. According to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), however, students from the Maritimes and Ontario average over $28 K in loans by the time they finish school. The Guardian

Recruiters, applicants engaged in information race, writes CHE

Today’s teenagers are becoming increasingly unpredictable when choosing a college and this has become a concern for many recruitment officers, writes the Chronicle of Higher Education. The article suggests that many of today’s college applicants neither read nor trust the official marketing materials given out by PSE institutions. This move has been made increasingly easy by the growing number of ways students can get “unofficial” looks at the schools they are thinking of applying to, such as searching Twitter for the opinions of real college students. However, colleges have responded to this trend by investing in advanced data mining and analytics. The result of this is an information race in which applicants use technology to learn more about their prospective colleges while these same colleges use technology to learn more about their prospective applicants. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Ratings firm predicts that small college and university closures will triple, mergers double

Small college and university closures are expected to triple and mergers are expected to double in the coming years, according to a new report by Moody’s Investor Service. Private colleges in particular are more susceptible to closure, while public colleges are more likely to merge. According to former Guilford College President Kent Chabotar, the struggle unfolds in a triangular fashion: “There are fewer students out there. Of those students, fewer are attending colleges and universities. And it’s costing us more to get them in terms of financial aid.” Small colleges that are dependent upon tuition for survival are the most likely to be affected by these circumstances. Inside Higher Ed | Moody's