All Posts Tagged With: "George Brown College"
Universities aren’t doing much to help students plan careers
From the 2013 Student Issue on sale now.
Mike St. Jean is in his seventh year of political science at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. “I still don’t even know what I can do with my degree,” he says. “I can get a job in government or elections, but other than that, the transition seems hard to lay out. I read books and analyze them. What does that mean to the real world?”
It’s not as if it hit him suddenly. The question “What’s next?” is one of the reasons he dropped down to part-time studies in year four of his degree. Another reason was that he needed time for his part-time job and his work with the Argus student newspaper, where he’s now an editor.
Lakehead’s counsellors haven’t helped. He only visited them once, years ago, and was told to consider a master’s in English or an education degree. “I don’t know how many jobs there are for teachers,” he says. What he does know is that a friend who took education moved to England because she couldn’t find work here. A master’s didn’t strike him as a good plan, either; he’s seen multiple master’s graduates and one Ph.D. apply for low-wage jobs at the Subway where he works. Professors are encouraging, but they don’t offer career advice. His parents want to help, but “they think university is about curing cancer and rocket science,” he says. “They have no idea what I’m in.”
Travel and fine dining required (but it’s not all glamourous)
Michele Simpson is a manager of media relations for Tourism Toronto. Her job is to encourage foreign travel writers to visit the city and, while they’re in town, she shows them where to go and what to do. Simpson’s goal is to show off the best of what Toronto has on offer so that they’ll share it with their readers, encouraging more visitors.
She found public relations serendipitously. While studying psychology and humanities at York University, her sister opened a book of post-graduate programs at Seneca College, started reading about corporate communications and noted how much it sounded like Michele. On top of the B.A. and the Seneca certificate, Simpson holds a writing certificate from George Brown College.
Here she talks about the ups, the downs, the pay and the perks of her public relations career.
Is P.R. as glamourous as it looks on TV?
One of the reasons I got into P.R. was because it did look somewhat glamourous. But it is not. There are different facets of P.R. where it can be glamourous, but for the most part it’s a lot of hard work. A lot of hours are put in before you even get to that party or premiere or special event. Even when you’re at these events you’re still working. I know in the past a lot of TV shows or movies have glamourized P.R., but people are surprised when they find out how much goes into the work.
What students are talking about today (January 9th)
1. A student newspaper blog has taken a swipe at a video parody of the MTV stunt show Jackass made by the University of British Columbia’s Chinese Varsity Club.”It’s mostly some dudes standing on a dock performing tame hijinks. Cinnamon eating! Purple Nerples! Syrup chugging! HILARIOUS. (The part where they shoot bare asses with a B.B. gun is a little less tame, I guess.),” wrote Andrew Bates of The Ubyssey. That might be a little unfair to these guys, who are trying hard to walk the fine line between funny and irresponsible. Then again, they deserve any criticism they get after uploading it to YouTube.
2. Sam Minniti, executive director of the McMaster Association of Part-time Students, was paid $126,151 in 2011, according to the provincial public salary disclosure list. (McMaster University included him on their submission to the Ontario government because they process his pay). The Hamilton Spectator newspaper notes that many of his counterparts are paid much less. Sandy Hudson, executive director at the much larger University of Toronto’s student union, told The Spectator she makes “less than half” as much. The university has withheld part-time student fees this year while it looks into MAPS more closely.
George Brown College guilty of negligent misrepresentation
A group of international business students who came from as far away as China to complete a program at a Toronto college has won a lawsuit over a misleading course description.
The students spent thousands of dollars in tuition only to find that George Brown College couldn’t confer the industry designations it mentioned in the course calendar.
The graduate students launched a class-action lawsuit against George Brown and an Ontario Superior Court judge agreed that the course description was negligent misrepresentation.
The amount the college must pay will be determined at a later hearing.
The description said the program “provides students with the opportunity to complete” industry certifications, but the program only prepared students to pursue the designations later if they wanted — at more cost to them.
Judge Edward Belobaba wrote in his decision that George Brown is a highly regarded college and the ruling shouldn’t change that, but in this case it was “careless and made a mistake.”
About 239,000 full-time international students attended Canadian colleges and universities last year.
Female butchers are still rare
With displays filled with duck confit, wild boar and dry-aged beef, Olliffe is one of Toronto’s most drool-worthy butcher shops. The head butcher is usually behind the counter, fearlessly sharpening knives without looking and effortlessly trimming perfectly symmetrical steaks.
Erica Jamieson isn’t just Olliffe’s head butcher, she’s also the only female employee. At 27, she co-manages a staff of 12 men, some of whom have been butchering for nearly as long as she’s been alive. “When people enter a butcher shop, they expect to see the big European man with the cleaver and hairy arms,” she says. “I kind of fell into it.”
Classes will continue. But students are confused.
Ontario Colleges say that classes will resume next week and students will be able to move into residences, despite the fact that 8,000 support workers went on strike at 12:01 last night.
Cleaners, food service workers, classroom schedulers, IT support workers and maintenance workers are among the Ontario Public Services Employees Union members who walked.
“It’s gonna look like hell here in two, three days,” Warren “Smokey” Thomas, President of OPSEU, told a crowd of dozens of picketers outside of George Brown College’s Chef School in Toronto around 8:30 a.m.
He said that workers are striking to protect full-time jobs because the colleges want to add more part-time employees. “I tell parents and students that we’re fighting for their futures,” he said. “How many people do you know with university degrees who are working retail?” he asked the crowd.
They have also asked for wage increases. Under the expiring collective agreement, employees who have worked full-time for more than one year are paid between $18.27 and $44.91 per hour.
The College Employer Council’s last offer on August 31st included a 4.8 per cent raise over three years, which would put the average salary at just over $59,000. The offer also included adding a one-year probation period for new employees and offering four-day work weeks for some.
Thomas said that colleges are flush with cash, as evidenced by raises given to college presidents. He said that if “Daddy Dalton,” referring to Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty, wants improve education, “he better put his money where his mouth is.”
“I have to pay my own way through college,” Brianne Dubeau, a second-year student at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ont., said over the phone from her workplace in Barrie after learning about the impending strike on Thursday. “It would have been nice to know what’s going on. If classes are going to be cancelled, I could stay here and work more shifts.”
As of Thursday, Dubeau hadn’t received any information from her school.
The push to make grads more job-ready may be killing the liberal arts tradition
Ian Collins was almost a cliché. He finished a degree in visual arts at the University of Western Ontario and then spent four years waiting tables. “I was going in for job interviews, but I wouldn’t get the job,” explains the Toronto resident. The deal breaker? “It was always because someone else had real-world experience.” So Collins decided to enrol in a one-year diploma in sport and event marketing at George Brown College because, he says, it had a built-in internship. That led to a job after graduation, and now he’s an account executive at the marketing firm Zoom Media. At 31, Collins has his career on track. “College helped me by getting my foot in the door,” he says.
It’s no wonder students like Collins are looking to college for a different path. Despite the fact that Canada has the second-highest rate of education spending in proportion to our GDP, we’re nearly the worst of the 32 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries when it comes to placing grads in jobs they are qualified for. That’s especially hard to swallow considering the price of education today. With student debt load reaching a record high—nearly $27,000 for university students last year and about half that for college grads—more Canadians than ever before are considering college as a less expensive, more job-oriented alternative to the ivory towers.
Following the trend at universities, college presidents across the country are reporting increased enrolment since the recession. While Statistics Canada does not have recent numbers for the colleges, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges expects enrolment levels to be at an all-time high this year.
Converts like Collins are not the only ones praising the college alternative these days. Bill Green, chairman and CEO of the $21.6-billion consulting firm Accenture, is an outspoken advocate of community colleges. The greatest proof of his commitment: he convinced his 21-year-old son David to go to Dean, a community college in Massachusetts, instead of one of America’s elite private universities. “I believe many people who attend universities might be better served attending a community college to get started,” says Green, also a Dean graduate. “Colleges have been overlooked, undervalued and underappreciated for far too long.”
In the U.S., community colleges are seen as a panacea for the country’s economic woes: President Barack Obama and second lady Jill Biden held the first-ever White House summit on community colleges in October. International foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also pledged millions of dollars to community colleges.
Even those on the inside of the ivory towers advise students to consider their options. Laura Penny, a professor at Mount Saint Vincent in Halifax and author of More Money Than Brains, an acerbic tome about higher education today, says university is too often seen as the default after high school. “People who want a broad experience or who are going to qualify for medicine, law or graduate degrees should go to university.”
Everyone else, she says, should look elsewhere. “I think a lot of people who go to university would be much happier in community college, and less indebted. Especially if what they are looking for is the credential for a job. A university degree does not guarantee a job.”
Ashley Pelletier took the college route after high school. Now, at 24, she has already landed a job as an associate at a big accounting firm in Toronto. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was in high school, and going to college didn’t require all the specific courses that are required for university.” She applied to a variety of programs at Seneca College and settled on accounting.
There, she found small class sizes, helpful teachers and lots of guidance for her career. “You get to know your profs and all of them had relevant industry experience,” she explains. “University is totally theoretical, whereas the professors at college are more practical.” While in college, she worked at RBC Dexia, and then translated her accounting and ﬁnance diploma into an accounting degree at York University. She sees her three years at Seneca as a bridge to her career. “It was a long haul but I don’t think I would have done as well at university if I didn’t start at college.”
Pelletier’s experience—capping a college diploma with a university degree—is also indicative of the increasingly porous border between colleges and universities. Seneca College president David Agnew says colleges and universities used to have distinct purposes, but “now, that’s completely changed.”
A delay in criminal record checks left Humber College nursing students unsure if they could take a clinical placement
Janny Lee was shocked this week when she received a letter from Humber College, where she is pursuing a nursing degree, informing her that she would have to withdraw from the clinical portion of her program by Monday. The reason? The College has yet to receive her criminal record check, despite the fact she applied for it in mid-July. Dozens of students received similar letters, but the College is now backtracking, recognizing that there has been an uncontrollable delay affecting several Ontario colleges.
In previous years, the eight weeks Lee allowed for her background to be checked would have been more than enough time. This year, because of a regulatory change that prohibits third-parties from performing criminal checks, thus placing the responsibility solely on the RCMP, it can take as long as four months for records to be retrieved.
Criminal record checks are compulsory for nursing students to be placed in a hospital or for an early childhood education student to be placed in a daycare.
Initially, Lee was furious because she may have had no choice but to dropout out for a year. “We weren’t notified about the change,” she said.
At first, Andrew Leopold, a spokesman for Humber, said the situation was out of the College’s hands. “It’s an RCMP responsibility,” he told Maclean’s on Wednesday. But, by Thursday afternoon, the College was preparing to send another letter to students, informing them that even if they haven’t received their police check, they may still be allowed to continue on in the program. Students will be required to sign a declaration affirming that they will have a clean record, and meet with the agency responsible for placing them in a clinical setting. “We will work to support the students,” Leopold said. But “the final decision is at the discretion of the agency.” If an agency won’t accept the compromise, the College says it will work with students on a “case by case” basis.
At least two petitions had been circulating among students to convince the College to reverse its decision. Lee had contacted Rosario Marchese, the NDP Member of the Provincial Parliament who represents her riding to express her concerns. Marchese was going to hold a press conference on Friday, but Lee says that is no longer necessary given that the situation is being resolved.
Disallowing third-parties from performing record checks is an attempt to close a loophole that could see sex-offenders receive a clean check if they changed their name. The RCMP will be cross-checking all requests for record checks against databases for birthdays and other biographical information. If there is doubt as to the identity of an individual, they will be called in for fingerprinting. Four times as many people have been called in to verify their identity this year compared to previous years.
About 80 Humber nursing and early childhood education students are still awaiting their police checks. The delay is also impacting students at several other Ontario colleges, including George Brown College and Centennial College.
Students allege college misled them about industry designations
A class action lawsuit alleging a Toronto college misled students about what they would get out of a business program has received certification from a judge to proceed.
Two former students of George Brown College’s international business management program allege it didn’t have the ability to confer the industry designations it promised. They launched the lawsuit in October 2008, seeking $10 million in damages and an Ontario Superior Court judge has now certified it as a class action suit representing 119 former students.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
The students say they paid as much as $11,000 to attend the eight-month program. The calendar said the program would provide students with “the opportunity to complete three industry designations/certifications” in addition to a graduate certificate from the college, according to the students’ statement of claim.
Upon completion they learned they wouldn’t be receiving the industry designations referred to in the course calendar, the students allege. In his decision, Justice George R. Strathy said most students would have read the calendar description and that the prominence given to the industry designations would suggest they were significant.
“A class action will provide access to justice to a vulnerable group of students, many of whom are from different lands and culture,” Strathy wrote. “Class members may lack the individual resources, initiative and sophistication to pursue legal action on their own and may be intimidated by the legal process.”
Of the 119 former students, 78 were international students who don’t live in Canada — most of them coming from either China or India.
The Canadian Press
The pay of college executives still trails that of universities, but they’re catching up
Colleges are often unfairly seen as the second tier of the higher education universe—and, as we noted last year, that extends to the compensation of college administrators, who have long been paid substantially less than their university peers
So did anything change in 2008? Yes. Ontario’s Sunshine List salary disclosure was released today, and the tally of Ontario college employees earning more than $100,000 (the threshold for inclusion on the list) is, as always, much shorter than the count for universities. However, the number of college senior administrators earning more than $200,000 has grown by nearly two-thirds, and several highly paid college heads are taking home university-president-sized paychecks.
The highest paid college president in Ontario is Frederick Miner of Seneca College. With a salary of $406,000 and taxable benefits worth $5,000, his compensation is enough to put him squarely in the upper tier of university administrators. Miner’s salary is more than that paid to the president of the largest university in the country, David Naylor of the University of Toronto. (The latter’s salary was $380,000).
Conestoga College president John Tibbits was paid $387,000. That’s more than the president of neighbouring Wilfrid Laurier University. (The president of the other university just down the road, the University of Waterloo was however paid about $101,000 more).
The presidents of five other Ontario colleges — Humber, Sheridan, George Brown, Mohawk and Algonquin — earned over $300,000. Their pay is below that awarded the presidents of large Ontario universities, but in line with the compensation given to presidents of smaller Ontario universities. For example, Dennis Mock, president of Nipissing University, Ontario’s second-smallest public university, was paid $271,000. Bonnie Patterson, president of Brock, last year received total compensation of $338,000.
The pay gap between colleges and universities appears to be larger in Western Canada. According to BC public sector salary disclosure, as compiled by the Vancouver Sun, there were 182 employees of the BC university and college system earning more than $200,000. (Data is for either 2006-07 or 2007-08). Of those 182 highly paid individuals, only two were from the college or institute system: the acting and outgoing presidents of BCIT. (What’s more, hardly any of the 182 members of the over $200K club came from the former university college system; almost all worked at one of the province’s four traditional universities, in particular UBC).
School’s booming culinary program is reflected in fantastic fine dining
Interest in George Brown College’s culinary program has soared in recent years, and if its sleek new downtown Toronto restaurant is an accurate reflection of the curriculum, it’s not hard to see why.
There’s nothing even remotely scholastic about the setting—a bright, modern and minimalist space that gains warmth from the exposed brick and girders of the restored factory building, and as a centrepiece an open kitchen that offers no shelter at all for the team of student chefs. (Video cameras up the ante even further, broadcasting their work to flat-screen televisions.) And while it must be said that we took lunch at a mostly empty Chefs’ House before its official opening, and that the almost comically attentive staff obviously knew we were representatives of the media, the food was nothing short of terrific.
Cafeteria nosh this isn’t. Starters: a classic combination of citrus-cured salmon on a crispy potato pancake with honey mustard sauce, and grilled baby octopus—unexpectedly cold, but unmistakably fresh—atop a savoury white navy bean salad, vinegar and basil and red onion cutting through a healthy glug of olive oil, a dish that would have been a stunner even without the mollusc. For mains, one of us chose a boldly and complexly spiced chicken biryani over perfectly al dente rice, served with hard-boiled egg to cool the palate. The other of us was shamelessly drawn to the confit of pork belly with sautéed shiitake mushrooms and Napa cabbage, and could not have been more pleased with it: sticky, not crispy, five-spiced crackling atop that melt-in-your-mouth meat only a slow-cooked pig can deliver. The taste lingers in the memory for days. Desserts—cold crepes with mascarpone and raspberry coulis, and a phyllo dough apple strudel—were also very good, though not quite as remarkable.
And the damage? $18 for a prix fixe lunch or $39 for dinner, all less than 10 minutes’ walk from Toronto’s financial district. Competing restaurateurs might ruefully wonder what bargains they could offer with a limitless, eager supply of free labour, but a buck’s a buck. If downtown expense accounts shrink in time with the stock market, George Brown might just have a gold mine on its hands. Heck, the lunch bill isn’t much beyond a student’s splurge zone.
New campus seen as “keystone” to Toronto waterfront development
George Brown College plans to build a multi-million dollar campus on Toronto’s waterfront that will accommodate 4,000 new students.
The development will bring a number of health-sciences programs—nursing, dentistry, fitness, and orthotics, among others—under the same roof. It will also include a residence for 500 students and an athletics centre.
George Brown president Anne Sado said that the school had considered a new campus for about four years, but it was only last year when they began seriously talking about moving to the lakefront—just two blocks south of its existing St. James campus.
Sado said that consolidating George Brown’s health-sciences programs would allow the school to more easily implement its inter-professional education curriculum, in which students from different health-care backgrounds learn from each other in a classroom setting.
“Unless we start changing the way we educate our health professionals, they’re not going to change the way they operate when they are in practice,” said Sado.
Sado said that the health-sciences building—the first phase of construction on the new campus—would cost about $90 million. The province committed $61.5 million to the project and the college committed a further $15 million, which leaves a $13-million gap that will be made up through a fundraising campaign.
Marissa Piattelli of Waterfront Toronto, the agency tasked with revamping the city’s lakeshore, said that a post-secondary presence in the area was an important element of the development.
“Even in order to attract business and the private sector, you need a post-secondary institution there,” she said. “The presence of a post-secondary institution is a keystone of the creative district that we’re trying to build on the waterfront.”
Every building constructed in the waterfront development must receive LEED Gold certification, which means the structures are energy efficient, conserve water, and are built with environmentally friendly materials.
George Brown’s complex is no exception, and Sado said she is committed to ensuring that any new building on campus is LEED-certified. She noted that, aside from the new campus, the college has no plans to build more.
Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty applauded Waterfront Toronto and George Brown for working to benefit the city’s development.
“This is an example of fantastic city building—getting much needed extra post-secondary school space while also revitalizing Toronto’s waterfront,” he said.
Class action suit accuses Ontario colleges of violating provincial ancillary fee law
Two students are launching a major class action lawsuit against a number of Ontario colleges, accusing the institutions of breaking provincial law by charging students ancillary fees. The Canadian Federation of Students(CFS)are also involved in the suit in an advocacy role.
Amanda Hassum and Dan Roffery, who are students at Conestoga College and George Brown College respectively, are suing Ontario colleges for $200 million, alleging that ancillary fees they paid were illegal. They are seeking damages for all students who have paid the fees since 2004. Hassum said that she was shocked to find out that the fees were “directly related to the capital costs of my education.”
In Ontario, it is illegal for post-secondary institutions to enforce compulsory tuition-related ancillary fees. Compulsory non-tuition fees can only be charged if approved by a student referendum.
In a press conference at provincial legislature, Hassum and Roffery argued that the government knew that the fees were being collected illegally and did nothing to stop the colleges. Their legal counsel Doug Elliot–whose firm Roy Elliott Kim O’Connor LLP won a $1-billion settlement last year for victims of the tainted-blood scandal–said that they intend to add the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to the suit in the near future.
“There is an issue of concealment here because the colleges … used deceptive names to describe these fees to try to disguise the fact that they are improper fees,“ said Elliot.
“Premier McGuinty broke his promise to students by claiming to lock the front door [by freezing tuition] while leaving the back door wide open,” said Hassum.
Jesse Greener, CFS-Ontario chairperson, said that his organization is acting in a supportive role to assist the students but are not a plaintiff in the case. “We were asked to provide some analysis and so on,” said Greener. Hassum, one of the plaintiffs, is the sister of incoming CFS-O chairperson Jen Hassum.
Student societies at more than 80 universities and colleges, with more than 500,000 students, are members of the CFS, making it Canada’s largest student lobby group. The CFS conducts research and lobbies on a national and provincial level, as well as providing services such as student discount cards, health and dental programs, and discount travel.
Ontario colleges have been accused of going around the ancillary fee regulation by imposing mandatory locker rental fees, technology fees, and laptop lease fees(without the option of purchasing the laptop at the end of the lease). Ontario colleges have collected considerable funds from these fees and if the class action suit is successful, colleges could be required to repay those fees to past and present students. Earlier this year the College Student Alliance successfully fought similar fees at Sheridan College and Sault College.
A document released by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in July 2006 informed colleges they should not be charging fees for information technology, laboratory or library services, or mandatory leases of laptop computers. However, nothing was done to follow up.
Chris Bentley, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, would not comment directly on matters that are soon to be before the courts.
“Ontario’s college students have been paying illegal fees for years and the Ontario government turned a blind eye,” said Roffery.