By Josh Dehaas - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 0 Comments
I met Anna Drake, a University of Waterloo assistant professor, at a recent event in Toronto and asked: what are professors talking about these days? She said they’re discussing how many students are presenting with notes from counsellors or doctors saying they’ve been mentally unwell or extremely stressed and are in need of extensions or exam deferrals.
Drake, a political scientist, doesn’t recall this being an issue when she was an undergraduate or when she started teaching as a master’s student in 2001. But a few years ago, a professor warned her and other teaching assistants at Queen’s University that “it seemed to be fairly easy for students to get notes of this kind.” Too easy, perhaps.
Later, teaching her own course at the University of Victoria, she was surprised when four students out of roughly 40 presented with notes near the end of the term asking to defer their semesters.
At Waterloo, where she was hired last July, she’s only had one course deferral, but a handful of students in each class during each term ask for extensions. Drake sometimes suspects these students have faked extreme stress or illness to get out of their work, but she would never accuse.
“It would be a very risky move to tell a student, ‘I think you’re lying,’” she says, “because if you say that it might become this whole horrible issue.” If they’re telling the truth, there could be terrible consequences. And she does not want to stigmatize asking for help, she says. She makes clear that there is a real problem with mental health on campus and that many of the claims are legitimate.
Still, the awkward truth is that as more awareness is built around mental health, students may be shifting their strategies for getting out of school by faking extreme stress or anxiety. And how is anyone to know whether a student’s stress is normal or something more pathological?
This week, McGill University published a report on the huge increase in the number of students seeking various types of mental health services on campus: about 20 per cent year over year.
One figure that’s up even more dramatically—57 per cent in a single year—is the number of emergency drop-in visits during final exam months. In December 2011 there were 176. In December 2012 there were 277. Figures aren’t yet calculated for April, but Dr. Robert Franck, McGill’s Mental Health Services Director, says there’s been a comparable increase.
What’s causing the flood of exam-time emergencies? “[Students] are more interested in seeking help when they’re running into trouble and I think that’s great,” says Dr. Franck. “At the same time there are a number of students who think ‘this may be a way for me to defer an exam,’” he adds.
Sometimes Dr. Franck gets the sense that students, “read up the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] on some diagnosis and give you all the classic symptoms,” he says. “Do they get the note? If they’re good enough liars,” he says, “but I think that’s the vast minority.”
Whatever the number of fakers, it comes at a price. In December when the number of emergency drop-ins swelled so too did the waiting list for regular counselling appointments. It grew to four or five weeks long as regular appointments were cut back to deal with the emergencies.
That people who need help might not get it is concerning for Prof. Drake. Still, since each syllabus spells out that there will be no extensions for high workloads, it would be unfair to give some students more time without proof of an illness. She also thinks it’s best to send students to be assessed to make sure that people who are overwhelmed get the help they need, and also in the hopes that others would think twice about going to an overburdened counselling service.
Of course, not every student who wants to delay an exam presents an excuse note. “There are students who can be really clever about avoiding the need to get notes,” says Drake. “[Professors] will say, ‘go to the doctor and get a medical note,’ and they’ll say, ‘I called the doctor, he said you have Norwalk Virus, you’re contagious and you can’t come in.’ There’s nothing a professor can do.”
The truth is, says Drake, “if students want to cheat the system they don’t have to rely on mental health notes to do it.” Still, she says, it’s a shame when students use services that others truly need.
By Colby Cosh - Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
The core issue in today’s education may be the miasma of sanctity that surrounds the concept, says Colby Cosh
When you join a national newspaper or magazine as a writer, you start getting a lot more email from three kinds of people: PR folks, the insane and journalism students. Over the past decade I must have had 30 or 40 appeals for help, interviews, or extensive advice from J-schoolers. More famous colleagues must be well into the hundreds. This seems pretty paradoxical, from a labour-market standpoint. Although Maclean’s is a happy exception, the overall enterprise of journalism is shrinking, not growing. At least it is if we’re talking about paid journalism. This goes double for paid print journalism, and triple for paid print general-interest journalism.
If I were to drop dead tomorrow, the column inches I left behind could be filled pretty easily, perhaps by a cat trained to walk across a keyboard. But the journalism students who want to know about my career path and trade secrets are not idlers. They are people who have already invested heavily in training and effort to take my job, or one like it. This is puzzling, not only because I have only the one job for dozens to fight over gladiator-style, but because I never bothered with any of this training myself. Nor did many of the people who haunt, or even boss, big Canadian news institutions.
- The future of jobs in Canada
- Green tech: No longer a niche
- College-corporate partnerships
- After the oil boom
This cannot help but create an impression of perverted incentives, even mass charlatanry, in the education system. New journalism programs are still being founded all the time at the community college level, as if big cities still had four morning papers apiece and the busy reader had a choice of dozens of weeklies and newsmagazines to suit their political and stylistic affiliations. The sincere journalism student may believe he is the one among dozens who will prosper in a world of cheap commentary and semi-automated newsgathering. Most will probably turn out to have been deluded. Some probably sense this, and are co-operating with an educational institution to put one over on a gullible parent. Others know they are sponging off an equally gullible state that subsidizes delayed entry into the workforce.
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 12:09 PM - 0 Comments
Between them, the University of Toronto and McGill University have 100,000 students, $596 million in total accumulated funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, one Charles Taylor and a perhaps disproportionate amount of the spotlight on higher education in Canada’s two largest provinces. They also have two new presidents: Meric Gertler at UofT and Suzanne Fortier at McGill. Together the two changes are probably more significant than most federal cabinet shuffles.
(This blog post will be lousy with Laurentian Consensus nostalgia; sorry. Perhaps only for today though, the less said about the University of Calgary, the better.)
In hiring close to home, both universities can be taken to be demonstrating either quiet confidence in the maturity of Canadian academe, or a chastened realization that in a time of limited resources, even the biggest schools are wise to stick to their knitting. Both schools instituted global searches and wound up bypassing candidates from afar in favour of local produce. Gertler was Toronto’s dean of Arts and Science. Fortier is president of the National Science and Engineering Research Council — indeed her start as principal of McGill will be delayed so she can cool off from that job for six months before taking a position with a major NSERC grant recipient — but her BSc and PhD were from McGill. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 11:09 AM - 0 Comments
Quebec higher-education minister Pierre Duchesne will spend Monday and Tuesday presiding over a summit on Quebec universities. Duchesne, a former senior correspondent for Radio-Canada, is one of the nicest guys I met in journalism; his three-volume (!) biography of Jacques Parizeau is definitive. It’s worth putting that on the record because next week’s summit looks like a five-alarm gong show, it couldn’t happen to a nicer government, and I sometimes have trouble holding back the snark.
The Gazette‘s Karen Seidman has a good overview of the issues and the way the Marois government has managed to position this summit as one whose outcome will please nobody. But I’m struck by a recurring theme in French-language commentary, which is the feats of ingenuity being expended to justify giving McGill University less public money. Continue…
By Josh Dehaas - Friday, September 7, 2012 at 2:40 PM - 0 Comments
Our much-anticipated Law School Rankings plus what’s hot in engineering, medicine, M.B.A.s and more.
Our much-anticipated Law School Rankings plus what’s hot in engineering, medicine, M.B.A.s and more. It’s all inside the Maclean’s Professional Schools Issue, on newsstands and iPad now. You’ll get:
- The engineering field so hot that companies are taking students on all-expenses-paid trips
- Charlie Gillis on the question: Should articling be scrapped?
- How students are financing their degrees
- Rebranding the M.B.A
- …and much more.
By Paul Wells - Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 4:25 PM - 0 Comments
Last October I wrote a really strange column noting that the government of Brazil is sending 75,000 students abroad on scholarships, and Brazilian businesses were bankrolling another 25,000, and Canada was way behind in recruiting those students to Canadian universities.
Who else is getting ready to play host to the Brazilian scholarship students? The United States, of course: they’ll take 35,000 students, nearly half of the total. In June, the Institute of International Education held conference calls with 80 U.S. universities to tell them how to make sure the Brazilian kids choose those schools as their study destination.
Who else? Germany’s on board for 10,000. France will take 5,000. That leaves 15,000, spread among “institutes in Asia and other countries in the Americas and Europe.” Probably some will wash up on Canadian shores, more or less by accident. That’s the way it usually goes.
But today I’m here to tell you it’s not going to go the way it usually goes. From the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada:
The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada is collaborating with the Canadian Bureau for International Education to bring Brazilian university students to Canada. Through the CBIE/AUCC program and other agreements between Canadian institutions and the Brazilian government, an estimated 12,000 Science without Borders scholars are expected to come to Canada between now and 2016. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 9:28 AM - 0 Comments
Consternation in France over the country’s lousy showing in the Times Higher Education world university reputation rankings. This isn’t the overall university rankings, which are constructed with piles of indicators on a bunch of measures. This ranking simply asks people at universities what they think of other universities. Which makes it kind of awesome because it skips objective criteria and goes straight to the stuff that makes people most insecure.
Hence the garment-rending in France, which has only four institutions in the top 100, the highest being Paris-Sorbonne university, way down in 71st place.
What makes it all interesting to Canadians is that the guy who runs the ranking system attempts to comfort French readers by saying that, after all, 4 out of 100 is “better than Canada.” Continue…
By Richard Warnica - Monday, February 20, 2012 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
Wealthy alumni are buying up naming rights to universities’ bathrooms
As a child, William Falik probably sat through a lot of jokes about his last name, which is pronounced “phallic.” But as an adult, he’s the one getting the laughs from his moniker. The Berkeley law lecturer and real estate developer recently gave US$100,000 to Harvard Law School. In return, at his request, his alma mater named a bathroom in his honour. The Falik Men’s Room—it comes complete with a plaque—opened earlier this year.
The Harvard toilet isn’t the first to bear Falik’s name—there’s a Falik Gentlemen’s Lounge at a repertory theatre in California and a Falik Men’s Room is in the works for Berkeley—nor is it the only university bathroom named for a donor. Dixie State College in Utah was at one point offering the naming rights to individual toilet stalls in a planned building, according to an early February report in Inside Higher Ed, and Colorado entrepreneur Brad Feld paid a reported $25,000 to sponsor a men’s room at the University of Colorado Boulder. And there’s more: one generous local citizen paid a similar amount to have plaques installed above three urinals at the University of Pennsylvania in 2005 that read: “The relief you are now experiencing was made possible by a gift from Michael Zinman.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 2:50 PM - 0 Comments
Just before Sunday’s NDP debate, Paul Dewar released his platform on families.
Dewar is committing that as Prime Minister, he will: Give Canadian families a break on the cost of prescription drugs by cooperating with provinces and territories on a bulk-buying strategy; Give young Canadians a fair start by immediately reducing tuition fees by $700/year, reducing interest fees on student debt to prime rate and creating Your Canada Year to cover a year of tuition fees in return for a year of community service; Protect our retirement security by bolstering public pension plans and safeguarding unfunded pensions, severances and long-term disability benefits in bankruptcy proceedings; Support new Canadian families by ensuring a fair and transparent foreign credential recognition mechanism, supporting family reunification and strengthening settlement services; Lift our most vulnerable citizens out of poverty by focusing on income security, housing and social inclusion, including achievable first steps toward an annual guaranteed income for seniors, the disabled and children living in poverty.
By Mary Dwyer - Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 4:30 PM - 0 Comments
Maclean’s places universities in one of three categories, recognizing the differences in types of institutions, levels of research funding, the diversity of offerings, and the breadth and depth of graduate and professional programs. Primarily Undergraduate universities are largely focused on undergraduate education, tend to be smaller in size, and have relatively fewer graduate programs and graduate students. Those in the Comprehensive category have a signiﬁcant degree of research activity and a wide range of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including professional degrees. Medical Doctoral universities offer a broad range of Ph.D. programs and research; as well, all universities in this category have medical schools, which sets them apart in terms of the size of research grants.
This year, Maclean’s revised its classification of universities—the first change since 1992 when the categories were created—moving Brock, Ryerson and Wilfrid Laurier from the Primarily Undergraduate category to the Comprehensive category. The move is in response to both the number of graduate offerings at these universities and the size of the student body. Ryerson, with 20,000 full-time students, has always been an anomaly in terms of size in the Primarily Undergraduate category, where the full-time population at other schools ranges from roughly 2,000 to 7,000 students. Meanwhile, Brock and Wilfrid Laurier have doubled in size over the past decade with full-time student enrolment at each now standing at 15,000. In recent years, all three universities have significantly increased their graduate offerings. This trend, particularly at the master’s level, is not uncommon at some of the institutions in the Primarily Undergraduate category, but coupled with the size of the student body, the increase in graduate programs at Brock, Ryerson and Wilfrid Laurier translates into a lot more graduate students on campus.
By Paul Wells - Friday, October 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 21 Comments
Other countries are doing serious work to attract international students, but not us
This week we are wondering whether the government of Canada thinks it’s more important to talk or to act.
Every now and then, Stephen Harper’s government phones up some experts and asks them to lead a panel and come up with smart advice. Then it ignores the advice. In 2008 it asked a businessman named Red Wilson for advice on making Canada more competitive. Wilson offered 65 recommendations. Most were never implemented. This fall there are new reports, from businessman Tom Jenkins on corporate R&D, and from career soldier Andrew Leslie on the structure of the military. We’ll see whether they do better.
Meanwhile, every week brings a new panel. In October, Ed Fast, the trade minister, was in China announcing a panel to come up with advice on “an international education strategy.”
By Josh Dehaas - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 9:20 AM - 8 Comments
A private Facebook group for lecturers allows them to vent about entitled students and their rude ways
June Madeley is annoyed with the increasingly rude demands she gets from students at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. Ten years ago, it was common for them to see her during office hours when they had a question. “Now there’s an expectation that we’ll answer their emails immediately and meet them whenever there’s a good time for them.” And as surely as the leaves pile up on campus each October, the communications professor knows her inbox will soon fill with complaints about mid-terms scheduled for the week after the Thanksgiving holiday. “There are a lot of people who feel they can’t make the exam because of travel arrangements,” she says. “And others who think it’s unfair that they have to study that weekend.”
But when Madeley gets frustrated, she doesn’t fire off a snotty email to the student. She logs on to “That’s ‘Professor’ Uptight to You, Johnny,” a Facebook group with 297 members, all of them teaching at universities and colleges. The members-only site is a place where university educators can vent in the form of steaming emails they wish they could write to their students but can’t because that would be, well, rude. Madeley, who says she hasn’t posted yet, enjoys reading the rants from her colleagues. The site is run by Khrystyne Keane, a Connecticut-based editor for a non-profit group, who took over its administration as a favour to a professor friend. The logo—a unicorn standing under a rainbow—is a jab at students, some of whom feel they are every bit as special as the fabled one-horned horse and the multicoloured arc.
The posts are all written to anonymous Janeys and Johnnies, but they share one trait: carefully crafted sarcasm. “Dear Johnny, I suspect that if you had spent as much time and effort on your last assignment as you did on the long flaming email you just sent me, this whole ‘conversation’ would never have happened,” reads one. “Dear Janey, I want to assure you that we didn’t do anything important in class. We just stared out the window for three hours in silence,” reads another.
By the editors - Monday, September 19, 2011 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
Universities and parents have a duty to educate kids about the dangers of alcohol abuse
Some predictions can be made with absolute certainty. The tides will shift. The sun will rise. And young university students will drink to excess.
From Tom Brown’s Schooldays to Animal House, exuberant drinking by underage students has long been a part of the experience of going away to school. Realistically, there is little society can do to change this fact of life. But what can we all do to cut down on the harm it may cause?
Last week, Canada’s university community was shocked by an orientation-week death at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. A first-year student from Calgary, just 19 years old, was found unconscious in a basement dorm room at the school suffering from severe alcohol poisoning. He later died in hospital. Fellow students told reporters he’d been playing a competitive drinking game called “flip cup” and had consumed an estimated 40 ounces of alcohol during the night.
By Josh Dehaas - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 1:45 PM - 0 Comments
There are plenty of high-demand, well-paying options in health care
Roughly three-quarters of medical school applicants are rejected each year. Bummer. Luckily for them, wannabe doctors have better alternatives than ever. These four professional health care programs can be completed in just a few years, are in high demand, and pay well directly out of school. That means graduates can start paying off their student loans while medical residents are still driving beat-up old cars to 24-hour shifts.
Health Care Manager
The Job: Health care managers work in hospitals, medical clinics and nursing homes where they direct teams of health care providers. Their job is to make sure patients get excellent care and, simultaneously, that Canadians get good value for the nearly $200 billion they spend on health care each year.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 1:30 PM - 0 Comments
In its fifth annual survey, Maclean’s measures how faculty perform and graduates fare
Are a law school’s professors significant contributors to the intellectual life of their discipline? Do a law school’s graduates land the most sought-after jobs in government, the private sector and academia? These are the two questions Maclean’s annual law survey seeks to answer.
All of the data used in the Maclean’s law rankings are publicly available. All focus on law school outputs. Fifty per cent of the overall ranking is determined by faculty quality, and 50 per cent by graduate quality.
The four measures of graduate quality look at the success each law school has had producing graduates able to land the most competitive jobs. The indicators are:
Elite Firm Hiring: Maclean’s calculated how many of each school’s graduates are serving as associates at law firms on Lexpert’s list of the largest firms in Canada across all regions, or at one of the five leading New York firms, according to the employment website Vault. This was done by examining the online biographies of thousands of lawyers at dozens of law firms. To scale this measure to each school, the tally was divided by first-year class size, averaged over the past three years. This measure is worth 20 per cent.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 1:30 PM - 1 Comment
New lawyers are looking beyond big-city firms to put up a shingle in small-town Canada.
When she was in law school, Amber Biemans always figured she’d practise in the city. After she and her husband had kids, though, she felt the pull of small-town life. At age 26, Biemans joined a firm in Humboldt, Sask. (population 5,900); two years later, she’d bought out a senior partner at the firm who was ready to retire. Making partner at age 28 was an “amazing opportunity,” says Biemans, now 32, but beyond that, “the benefits here are immense,” from the commute to work—which takes all of five minutes—to the close relationships she’s built with clients.
Small-town lawyers like Biemans are becoming an endangered species. As a group, they’re getting older: outside Winnipeg in southwestern Manitoba, almost three-quarters of lawyers have been practising for more than 20 years, says the province’s law society. Rural lawyers who want to retire are having a hard time finding young lawyers to replace them—but at the same time, in Canadian cities, young lawyers are having a harder time than ever finding work. In Ontario, the lack of articling positions has gotten so bad it’s been called a crisis, and the number of students being hired back has gone down, too. Some U.S. law schools are even facing lawsuits from disgruntled ex-students who allege they were misled about their employment prospects after graduation. Newly minted lawyers have typically chased jobs at the big downtown firms, but given the current climate, it could be that some of the best opportunities are in smaller practices, as Biemans found.
This month, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops, B.C., welcomed 65 students to its faculty of law, Canada’s first new law school in over 30 years. Lakehead University, in Thunder Bay, Ont., also recently got the go-ahead to open a law school of its own—Ontario’s first in 42 years, and the only one in the north end of the province. (Lakehead’s first class of 55 students will start in 2013.) It’s worth noting that both law schools share a similar mandate: to train lawyers in relatively remote settings, in the hopes they’ll settle there. This model has already had success at Lakehead’s Northern Ontario School of Medicine, which has managed to attract and retain doctors in the area. About 60 per cent of graduates stay to practise there, says Lakehead president Brian Stevenson, and “another 15 or 20 per cent go to other rural medical practices in Ontario.”
By Josh Dehaas - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 1:30 PM - 1 Comment
Canadian schools have a plan to staunch the flow of engineering grads lured south by prestige and salaries
“Canada has gone from brain drain to brain gain,” Stephen Harper told a crowd at McMaster University on Aug. 3. He was speaking at a ceremony to announce the 167 recipients of the 2011 Vanier Scholarships, awards that were launched in 2007 to provide whiz-kid graduate students from around the world with $150,000 in funding over three years. The Prime Minister made the goal of the big cheques clear. Research leads to innovations, which creates Canadian jobs, he said.
But wait a minute. Has the brain drain that sucked south 488 members of the graduating engineering class of 1995 before the ink dried on their degrees really been plugged? Look more closely at the 167 Vanier Scholarships awarded this year. Only eight will fund engineering research. Only five of those went to Canadian citizens or residents.
The shortage of Canadians in our graduate engineering programs is masked by another phenomenon: international enrolments in graduate engineering programs grew by 36.6 per cent between 2006 and 2009, allowing for a modest 3.5 per cent growth overall at a time when Canadian enrolments declined 2.5 per cent, according to Engineers Canada.
By Martin Patriquin - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 1:30 PM - 0 Comments
A new program finds kids who have neither the privilege nor the money to become doctors
Ridge Cross-McComber is about as blasé as your average overachiever when it comes to his laundry list of goals for the next few years and beyond. He’ll finish his year at Montreal’s Dawson College, move to Vanier College for either nursing or pure and applied science, then go to medical school to become a surgeon. After that, he’ll practise medicine in Kahnawake, his hometown. “I want to be a role model for my community,” says the 17-year-old, sitting in a café in the native reserve near Montreal. “It’s something I want to do for my town and my people. I want to show that I can do this.”
As far as medical school goes, history and statistics are stacked against Cross-McComber. Wealthy students tend to be overrepresented in the field, for one. According to a study by the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, nearly 45 per cent of medical students come from families making over $100,000 a year. (Only about 26 per cent of Canadian families are in this demographic, according to the AFMC study.) And while medical schools are decidedly less uniformly Caucasian than they used to be, the AFMC study indicates that many visible minorites continue to be under-represented.
McGill’s faculty of medicine wants the situation to change, starting with students like Cross-McComber. Last year, the faculty instituted “Towards Health,” a program aimed at actively recruiting from outside the traditional student pool. Towards Health is what is known as a pipeline program, in which the university recruits at underprivileged Montreal-area high schools in hopes of inspiring minds to come its way in the future.
By Paul Wells - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 1:30 PM - 2 Comments
Should government funding go to lab coats or white collars? You can bet Roger Martin knows the answer.
As defenders of the downtrodden go, Roger Martin deserves points for chutzpah at least. It’s harder to feel sympathy for Martin’s chosen underprivileged group than it would be if he were sticking up for, say, orphans and widows—because Martin has spent much of the year arguing that Canadians, and especially their governments, aren’t giving enough money to the country’s business schools.
At first glance, Canadians might be reluctant to shed a tear. Martin is the dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, not conspicuously a hardship case. The school has raised $130 million on its way to a $200-million fundraising target, timed to coincide with next year’s opening of a new 15,000-sq.-m building in downtown Toronto. But its successes, Martin maintains, come despite the lack of adequate government support, especially from Ottawa.
“For some reason the federal government thinks it’s a good idea to spend hardly any money on business education,” Martin said in an interview. “And that’s just confusing. Why is it that a government that’s interested in competitiveness and productivity—not just this government, it’s any government—doesn’t live up to that priority? I just don’t get it. Where do they come up with their theory that says business schools are unimportant?”
By Alex Ballingall - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 11:15 AM - 4 Comments
Universities are rolling out newly minted master’s programs. Just don’t call it a profession.
Carmen Smith used to think she didn’t need graduate school. And why would she? Even before finishing her bachelor of journalism degree at Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., Smith was the publisher of a women’s magazine called Belle, which she founded.
But she changed her mind after an academic adviser told her about a new master’s in journalism program offered at King’s College in Halifax that could help her do better with her own publication. “I really thought it was interesting to see how they were developing their program around entrepreneurial journalism,” Smith recalls. “That’s why I came.”
Smith, now 22, is one of a growing number of wannabe journalists heading to master’s programs in Canada. Before 2000, there were only two degrees available in the country, at Carleton University and the University of Western Ontario. Today, there are six, with the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Wilfrid Laurier University both gearing up their own programs.
By macleans.ca - Monday, April 4, 2011 at 1:51 PM - 0 Comments
What Canada knows about universities
Maclean’s thanks Canada’s universities for collaborating on the 2011 university guidebook video and acknowledges all footage used was submitted and provided by them. The universities are: Bishop’s, Carleton, Dalhousie, Kwantlen, Lakehead, Laval, McGill, Memorial, Mt. Allison, NSCAD, OCAD, Queen’s, Quest, Royal Roads, Ryerson, Simon Fraser, St. Thomas, Thompson Rivers, Trent, UBC, UNBC, UOttawa, PEI, USask, UVic, and UWO.
Music by Simon Gadke; Voiceover by Philippe Gohier; Directed and produced by Stephanie Findlay and Kerrin McNamara
By Josh Dehaas - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 11:36 AM - 2 Comments
Why so many students dream of working for the government
It can be lonely for recruiters manning the booths for big banks or retailers at Ryerson University’s student job fairs. “The government agencies get a lot more attention,” says Ian Ingles, the organizer of the Toronto events.
That’s no surprise, considering the statistics. In a recent survey for Studentawards.com, 30 per cent of university students picked the government of Canada as their employer of choice. Then came Health Canada. Provincial governments did well too, beating out all of the banks and the video game developers. Even the trendiest private sector companies, Apple and Google, couldn’t beat the federal agencies.The results echo another recent survey of nearly 10,000 Canadian students by research firm Universum. In it, arts graduates, for example, gave the government of Canada, the provincial governments and Health Canada gold, silver and bronze respectively.
The recession explains some of the zeal for the civil service. During the rough days of 2009, students got the message that private companies were shedding employees while government workers were relatively unaffected: there was a record-setting 4,000 applications for 106 Ontario government internships in early 2009.
But how to explain the post-recession jump in applications for the same internship program? Last March, even with many private sector employers hiring graduates again, applications to the annual program grew by more than 20 per cent to just over 5,000 for 76 spots.
Demographics—and the altruistic goals of new graduates—best explain the march toward public service, says Sandra Botha, a campus recruiter for the government of British Columbia. Modern immigrants to Canada are proud to work for the government, she says. “Many students perceive a government job as having a lot of prestige, because it did in their parents’ country of origin,” she explains. “We have many more Chinese-Canadians applying in B.C., and if you come from China, working for the government is considered the job.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 21, 2011 at 11:36 AM - 17 Comments
Jacob Serebrin looks at how the discussion of education policy has and hasn’t changed since Lester B. Pearson addressed the University of British Columbia in 1965. He also digs up a Canadian Press clip from the time that recounts the heckles Mr. Pearson was treated to at that speech and one earlier in the day.
Shouts of “Yankee parrot” and “go back to the U.S., Mike” greeted the prime minister as he spoke for 35 minutes almost without pause before 2,900 in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
He seemed to be replying to the hecklers when he said: “Whining anti-Americanism is not the same as vigorous Canadianism.”
Earlier, he faced good-natured needling as he spoke to about 4,000 students at the University of British Columbia.
“What’s new, pussycat?” one student shouted as Mr. Pearson was quoting statistics on university financial problems from the recent Bladen report. “Mike for the Senate,” another interjected as the 68-year-old Liberal leader finished his speech.
By Paul Wells - Monday, December 20, 2010 at 4:38 PM - 14 Comments
I finally got around to reading Patrick Deane’s installation address as President of McMaster University, which came highly recommended for its defense of the campus as a bastion of values more universal and durable than we usually read about in the morning papers. The whole speech is worth reading. Deane doesn’t just offer ringing endorsements of grand principles, but acknowledges that worthy goals can conflict. But I stopped short after the first sentence — “In 1975 I was an undergraduate at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg” — because it suggests a trend.
Deane is in fact South African. He came to Canada in 1978 as a grad student, the kind we are sometimes told will take “our” fancy education, paid with our tax dollars, and go home. He stayed. So have a growing number of Canadian university presidents who were born far abroad.
I’m most familiar with Amit Chakma from Bangladesh, who is already making an impression as Western’s new president. A few weeks ago Léo Charbonneau wrote about a bunch of others, including Alaa S. Abd-El-Aziz at UPEI, Feridun Hamdullahpur at Waterloo, Mamdouh Shoukri at York and a relative veteran, Indira Samarasekera at the University of Alberta. Lesley Lovett-Doust, at Nipissing, is Scottish. Neil Turok, not quite a university president, is Canada’s most prominent advocate for higher education in his native Africa. One could go on and on.
I mention this for its own inherent interest and because we’ve got some fights coming up in Canada about whether our universities (and, yes, our tax dollars) are supposed to help us function in the world or reinforce our parochialism.
By Carson Jerema - Monday, November 1, 2010 at 1:19 PM - 0 Comments
Prof suspended after taking university to court over waiving academic requirements for doctoral student
Originally published at Maclean’s OnCampus, October 28, 2010
Earlier this month Gabor Lukacs received two letters from University of Manitoba president David Barnard. One invited the assistant professor of mathematics to a dinner in acknowledgement of his teaching excellence award. The other informed him that he was being suspended without pay.
Lukacs is accused of violating the university’s privacy regulations with respect to the identity of a PhD student who had been asked to withdraw from the program after twice failing a comprehensive exam. The student later successfully appealed that decision to the Dean of Graduate Studies, John Doering, who, in fall 2009, waived the requirement that the student take the exam at all. The student is said to suffer from “extreme exam anxiety.”
After months of attempting to use university channels to have Doering’s decision reversed, Lukacs filed an application in late September at Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench. The application calls for Doering’s decision to be quashed and for an affirmation that the dean had no authority to resolve the issue without consulting an appeal committee of academics. Lukacs alleges that Doering violated Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations and the University of Manitoba Act.
Although the student’s identity was included in Lukacs original court application, at a hearing Thursday morning a judge ordered a publication ban on the name.
When outlining the reasons for Lukacs’ suspension, Barnard cites the court application directly in his letter, a copy of which has been obtained by Maclean’s. “These documents include unauthorized reference to a student’s personal and personal health information,” Barnard wrote. The university president calls Lukacs “insubordinate” and further accuses him of “having engaged in a pattern of behaviour with regard to [the] student which the university considers to be harassment.”
Several people contacted for this story, including Dean Doering and certain professors in the Department of Mathematics, either declined to speak to the matter, did not respond to a request to be interviewed, or redirected Maclean’s to the university’s Director of Public Affairs, John Danakas. Danakas declined to speak to the specifics of the case, citing “personnel” and “privacy” issues, but agreed to address university policy in general terms.
In a written response, Danakas stated that all university employees are bound by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the Personal Health Information Act. “In general personal information about a student, with or without the name attached, may only be disclosed to other university employees who absolutely need to know the information for the purposes of performing other duties,” he wrote.
As for the powers of the dean, Danakas stated that “It is university practice to attempt to resolve appeals at the lowest possible level. This could include a dean achieving an informal resolution with a student after a broad consultation.”
Lukacs, who says he did not meet the student in person until he served the student with court papers, says he is motivated by a desire to protect academic standards. “I have a personal interest in protecting the integrity of the PhD program in Mathematics, because it affects my reputation whether I am a member of a respectable department or a diploma-mill,” he stated via email.
When asked to respond to allegations that he violated the student’s privacy, Lukacs defended himself: “The right for privacy cannot trump the need for review of decisions made without jurisdiction, or decisions that are patently unreasonable.”
According to emails and other documents included with an affidavit filed by Lukacs, the dispute began in March 2009 when the student failed for the second time a comprehensive exam in analysis. Under regulations outlined by the Faculty of Graduate Studies the student was required to withdraw from the PhD program.
In July, after an unsuccessful appeal to an associate dean, the student appealed the withdrawal to Dean Doering on the basis of suffering from “extreme exam anxiety.” Doering reinstated the student and requested that the Graduate Studies Committee in the Department of Mathematics devise an alternate examination option.
The committee, after consulting with disability services, agreed to allow the student to retake the exam with more time and relaxed conditions.
In late August 2009, Doering rejected that proposal and requested that the student be given an oral exam. When the graduate studies committee did not agree to those terms, Doering waived the exam requirement altogether.
Lukacs first became involved with the case in October 2009, after he was elected to replace a member of the graduate studies committee who had resigned, allegedly in protest of the dean’s decision.
Lukacs was briefed on the case and was informed that the department was awaiting written confirmation from Doering that the exam requirement was indeed waived for the student. Lukacs then took it upon himself to investigate the matter further and, in an email dated October 30 2009, requested that Doering affirm his decision.
Lukacs also challenged the dean’s authority to settle academic appeals, writing: “my understanding is that the Dean has no jurisdiction to determine academic appeals at all—that power is reserved for the Appeal Committee of the [Faculty of Graduate Studies].”
In an email response, a copy of which has been filed in court, Doering confirmed that he waived the exam requirement and disputed the claim that he did not have the authority to do so. “I heard that appeal and rendered a decision, i.e., I reinstated the student and waived any requirement to sit another comprehensive exam,” the dean wrote. “Moreover, I would note many of the things a dean can do are not written down.”
When Lukacs persisted, Doering referred him to the university’s legal counsel, who affirmed the assertion that the dean acted within his powers. Lukacs subsequently contacted the university secretary, as well as the vice-president academic. Each time he was told either that Doering acted correctly or was referred elsewhere.
On December 2, 2009, Lukacs called a meeting of the mathematics department council to discuss taking the case directly to the university’s senate. In the notice sent to the department, some details of the case were revealed but the student’s name was not given.
As a result, Mark Whitmore, Dean of the Faculty of Science reprimanded Lukacs, arguing that “this disclosure has exposed the university to a potential complaint by the student” in relation to a breach of “privacy.” Lukacs was advised to consider the matter closed and warned that further disciplinary action could be taken.
Several faculty members of the math department signed a letter in protest of the reprimand.
One of those colleagues was George Gratzer, a distinguished professor of mathematics who told Maclean’s that while a dean has authority to decide if a student appeal has merit and may try to mediate a resolution, an appeal committee of academics has to be called if conciliation is not possible. “In this case the dean decides he had powers not written down, and that counter the published regulations of the faculty of graduate studies,” Gratzer said. “This strikes me as something as incredibly inappropriate.” Gratzer has filed his own affidavit in court in support of Lukacs.
On two separate occasions Lukacs requested the senate’s own appeal committee hear the case, and both times was told that the case was outside the senate committee’s jurisdiction.
It was after his second appeal to the senate was denied that Lukacs filed his court application. In addition to arguing that Doering acted outside of his authority, the application also alleges that the student “abused” the appeal process by waiting until twice failing an exam before claiming exam anxiety.
Additionally in August of this year, it was discovered that the student was short one course to complete the doctoral program. Doering decided to allow the student, who was scheduled to graduate this month, to elevate a fourth-year course to the level of a graduate course. Lukacs is also applying for that decision to be reversed.
A court hearing is scheduled for Nov 30, and counsel for the University of Manitoba will file notice that it will contest the case by Nov 5.
Lukacs is grieving his suspension through the faculty union and his students have circulated a petition advocating his reinstatement.