All Posts Tagged With: "post-secondary"
Fewer jobs. Lower pay. Higher taxes. Now the Screwed Generation is starting to push back.
This January, the first baby boomers turn 65. The huge post-Second World War generation—which numbers 76 million in the United States, makes up almost a third of Canada’s population, and according to one estimate, controls 80 per cent of Britain’s wealth—will continue to enter their dotage at the rate of tens of thousands per day for the next 20 years. By 2050, there will be 30 million Americans aged 75 to 85, three in 10 Europeans will be 65-plus, and more than 40 per cent of Japan’s population will be elderly. In Canada, the ratio of workers to retirees—currently five to one—will have been halved by 2036. And despite the odd dissenter, the generation that still oddly finds Paul McCartney relevant has made clear its intention to take everything it feels it has coming. It will be up to all who trail in their wake to pay for their privilege.
Common sense, not to mention decency, wouldn’t call that just. But an outsized, over-entitled, and self-obsessed demographic is awfully hard for politicians to ignore. Take Britain’s example. In last spring’s general election, the most effective ad run by David Cameron’s Conservatives was also one of the simplest: a close-up of a newborn baby, wriggling in a bassinet as a music box tinkled in the background. “Born four weeks ago, eight pounds, three ounces. With his dad’s nose, mum’s eyes, and Gordon Brown’s debt,” intoned a female voice. “Thanks to Labour’s debt crisis, every child in Britain is born owing £17,000. They deserve better.” The point was impossible to miss: the time had come to stop mortgaging the country’s future.
As his first act, the new prime minister, a 44-year-old Gen Xer, cut his and his ministers’ pay by five per cent, and froze all their salaries for five years. Tackling the U.K.’s $177.5-billion budget deﬁcit and $1.6-trillion-plus national debt—annual interest payments alone stand at $70 billion—would require everyone to sacrifice, he told Britons. But there were also expectations that the burden wouldn’t be equally shared. After all, one of Cameron’s leading wonks, David “Two Brains” Willetts, now the minister for universities and science, had published a rather pointed manifesto, The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future—and How They Can Give It Back, just before the election. After their victory, Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, applauded the coming reckoning for a generation—his own—that had “eaten through all that abundance like hungry locusts.” And even as the new government’s chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, stood before Parliament in mid-October to announce $131 billion in spending cuts over the next four years—and the elimination of as many as 500,000 public sector jobs—the protect-the-youth rhetoric continued. “Today’s the day when Britain steps back from the brink,” he said, ensuring “that we do not saddle our children with the interest on the interest on the interest of the debts we were not ourselves prepared to pay.”
The reality, however, proved to be somewhat different. The age when U.K. citizens can start drawing old-age pension would gradually increase from 65 to 66, but other entitlements like free eye tests and prescriptions for the elderly would remain untouched, as well as winter fuel allowances, and free local transit for anyone over 60. Among the biggest budget losers was the department for education, facing an overall reduction of 10.8 per cent, which according to one economic think tank will translate to funding cuts for 60 per cent of primary schools, and 87 per cent of secondary schools. And the legacy of “Two Brains” for Britain’s shafted youth? A 40 per cent cut to post-secondary teaching grants, and a doubling—or in some cases, tripling—of tuition, to as much as $14,500 a year.
On Nov. 10, more than 50,000 angry students gathered in London to rally against the cuts. A video of Nick Clegg, the Liberal-Democrat leader and deputy prime minister, promising to do away with university fees during the election campaign, was greeted with choruses of “wanker, wanker.” “They’re proposing barbaric cuts that would brutalize our colleges and universities,” said Aaron Porter, the president of the National Union of Students. “We’re in the fight of our lives. We face an unprecedented attack on our future before it has even begun.” Later on, a crowd of several thousand descended on the Conservative Party headquarters, trading punches with police, smashing windows, lighting fires, and for a time, occupying the building.
“The situation for young people is not terribly good,” Ed Howker, a 29-year-old London journalist and author, says in a classic bit of British understatement. “And there’s no sense from the government that they have the interests of the next 30 or 40 years of Britons in mind.” Of the country’s 2.45 million unemployed, close to 60 per cent are under the age of 30.The new budget has not only frozen civil service hires, it scrapped two youth jobs funds, slashed rent subsidies, and cut the money for new housing by half. Howker, who along with Shiv Malik wrote the just-released Jilted Generation: How Britain Bankrupted its Youth, says the sense of despair is becoming overwhelming. “Our generation just seems to be a lot worse off. In terms of key things like getting stable housing, or a well-paid job, or a successful career, we just don’t have it.” The boomers’ aren’t evil, he says, but they nonetheless bear much of the responsibility. The generation that relentlessly mythologizes its “peace and love” heyday became ardent consumers as they aged, and ended up moulding politics in their “me-first” image. “It’s a consumer version of democracy, where politicians realized that if they merely satisfied the short-term desires of their electorate, rather than think in the long term and make good decisions on behalf of the future of the country, they would win elections,” Howker argues. The bills become somebody else’s problem.
Want a scary number? How about $1.5 trillion, the amount the C.D. Howe Institute estimates Canada’s rapidly aging boomers are going to cost Ottawa and the provinces in extra health and pension expenses over the next 50 years. Or perhaps 2,500, the number of new long-term care facilities the Canadian Medical Association says will be needed to accommodate the doubling of Canada’s 65-plus population in two decades. Sixty thousand is how many RNs the Canadian Nurses Association predicts we will be short by 2022. Or maybe just one per cent, the expected annual amount of real per-capita GDP growth in Canada over the next 30 years as boomers leave the work force—less than half of what we’ve experienced over the past four decades.
Combine a demographic bulge with a falling birth rate and ever-increasing life expectancy (now 80.7 years at birth in Canada), and pretty much all the figures start looking ugly. “We have a significant challenge ahead of us,” says Chris Ragan, a professor of macroeconomics and economic policy at McGill. “The tax base will slow down, and spending will speed up. We can’t just do nothing.”
Canada’s biggest hate-crime capitals are three Ontario university towns
For many, it may come as a shock to find out that Canada’s biggest hate-crime capitals are three Ontario university towns. Kingston, London and Guelph boast the country’s highest rates of police-reported hate crimes, according to Statistics Canada.
But Barbara Perry, a professor and associate dean of social sciences at the University of Ontario Technical Institute in Oshawa, Ont., isn’t that surprised. All three populations have traditionally been homogeneous—white, Christian and English-speaking. And, says Perry, “like many other communities, they’re experiencing a lot of fairly rapid demographic change. These sorts of relatively small cities are struggling to come to grips with these shifts.” Guelph and London tied for first at 8.2 hate crimes per 100,000 citizens in 2008. And Kingston followed with a rate of 7.7 per 100,000. (Among Canada’s 10 biggest cities, Vancouver and Hamilton ranked the highest with a rate of 6.3 per 100,000.)
The presence of post-secondary schools, says Perry, can be a double-edged sword. Although those in university and college towns are likely to be better educated, roughly six out of 10 people charged with hate crimes were between the ages of 12 to 22. “Perhaps the victims themselves are more aware of their rights,” says Perry, “but I also think more youth means more offending.”
Since hate-crimes, which can include crimes motivated by race, religion or sexual orientation, are generally underreported, some experts see a silver lining in a city’s higher rates. Perry says it may have something to do with a greater awareness among citizens. Or, she says, perhaps the police are better trained and more perpetrators are being brought to justice.
Jeff Rybak takes aim at the “extremely negative trend” of unpaid internships
Like just about anyone with a social circle of twenty-something friends, I know a lot of people who are un(der)employed. Most of them have completed post-secondary degrees and diplomas – in some cases more than one. More and more I’m hearing about offers they receive concerning unpaid internships, volunteer opportunities and the like. At times they are forced to even consider these offers. I’d refuse to describe these things as “offers” and “opportunities” if not for the fact that I can “offer” someone the “opportunity” to get punched in the face several times. Grammatically it is correct. But not in any other sense.
Moral outrage aside, there are four distinct reasons why this is an extremely negative trend. Two of them are public policy reasons. The free labour takes the place of paid jobs, and to the extent that these positions lead to real opportunities the fact that they aren’t paid lends gross advantages to the already privileged. Two other reasons are purely personal. Working for free will low-ball the value of your labour, and exactly because these positions aren’t paid the legitimacy of the experience you gain will always be in doubt.
The problem of free labour has been well explored in connection with workfare. I tried to find a relatively non-partisan explanation of the workfare experience in Ontario and this is the best I could come up with. Most organizations are much more scathing on the topic, but comparisons to slavery are probably counter-productive. There’s no need to so rhetorical about it anyway. The problems are right there on the face on things.
Just as in workfare, unpaid positions in the workforce (whether billed as volunteer positions, internships, whatever) do not become full-time jobs. Unpaid interns are replaced with new unpaid interns. In an ideal situation one might hope that the last unpaid intern moves on to a paid position somewhere else (see below) or even in the same organization, but regardless the work stays in that unpaid position. So whatever the value of the experience the work performed in any position such as this is work that has been permanently removed from the paid workforce. Any argument that this work would not exist otherwise is idiotic and self-defeating. If it’s completely made-up work then it can’t have much value as experience. And if it’s meaningful work then someone would be getting paid to do it, if not for the unending stream of people willing to make victims of themselves in the hope of it leading to something better.
I say “willing,” by the way, because I’m back on the topic of volunteer positions and internships. In the case of the workforce it’s anything but voluntary. But my intention isn’t to focus on that topic. I just want to illustrate a basic point of logic. For everyone who does a job for free in the hope of scoring a coveted position in some field of work, there’s actually one less paid job in that field. And everyone loses.
The Already Privileged
Of course some lose more than others. The Globe ran a great article on the issue of prestigious internships getting auctioned for charity – so instead of getting paid you actually pay (potentially big bucks) for the privilege of the experience. And privilege it is. Who can afford such a thing? The already wealthy, of course. And I do hope we can agree there are problems with this. We accept that money can buy elite education, private tutors, that privilege often contributes to networking opportunities, etc. But surely it’s a problem once it becomes even the way to buy your way directly into the workforce. Anywhere else we’d simply call this graft. But the charity angle does complicate things.
These high-profile examples aside, even your garden-variety unpaid internship is out of reach for many people. Folks need to eat and pay the rent and even (God forbid) support children. Only a limited sampling of people can move back home with their parents, or hit them up for living expenses, or fall back on a trust fund. The rest simply can’t afford to live without an income. So let’s believe for a moment that these “opportunities” are opportunities in any sort of true sense. Who’s getting them? Certainly not the most qualified or the most deserving. Just those with money
I’m aware that many people aren’t in a good position to worry about these public policy concerns. When you’ve got problems of your own to worry about it’s easy to say “life isn’t fair” and just do what you need to do. I respect that. So now I’ll get into the reasons why I believe that most of these positions are bad for the individual as well as bad for the community.
Low-balling Your Value
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from business students (and they have an interesting perspective on things) it’s that once you set a value on something you can’t erase that number. The number can go up or it can go down but the value you try to place on that thing will always be judged in relation to the past. I hear that frequently from recent graduates casting around for entry-level positions. They say things like “it’s a good job, with some interesting prospects, but I know if I enter the workforce at $38k/year I’ll be stuck down there for a long time.” And that’s an extremely good point. So what if you enter the workforce at $0/k year?
Actually, I can see the benefit of that in one regard. It’s more like having no income history at all rather than a low one. I’m willing to believe that maybe in the best positions it isn’t a problem that you started out by working for free. But most of these unpaid positions aren’t the fantastic kind that go up on the auction block at charity events. Most of them are the step that comes before the entry-level position and salary. So how exactly do you negotiate your starting salary from any position of strength when the person across the table knows that last time you agreed to work for nothing? Unless you’re one of those independently-wealthy types, who can continue to work for nothing as long as you want until the right offer comes along, there’s got to be a limit. The need to pay the bills will trump any desire to hold out for a good income.
Many people eventually face this soul-crushing choice, and realize that it’s better to volunteer than do nothing at all. I can see the logic to that and I wouldn’t advise against it. But I’d add that it isn’t any way at all to jump to the front of the queue for a real job. You’re far better taking paid work at any level with the intention to move up from there than doing it for free. Either way you’re stuck low-balling your value. But at least in the later instance you can salvage some of your dignity. And more than that, when you apply for better jobs it will be apparent from your CV that the first job you held, no matter the low income, was indeed a real job.
NB mayor says free tuition would encourage procreation, increase population
A number of arguments have been put forward in favour of the elimination of post-secondary tuition fees over the years, including arguments associated with increasing access for those who cannot afford post-secondary education and mistaken notions about equity and taxation.
The mayor of Saint John, New Brunswick has proposed another reason for eliminating tuition fees: procreation. Saint John Mayor Ivan Court believes that free tuition for post-secondary education might encourage Saint Johners to have more children and thereby increase the city’s population.
Can you imagine the placard slogans?
$10,000 award goes to top female and male athletes from Canadian universities
An Olympic gold medallist and a world-record swimmer are among this year’s nominees for the top honours in Canadian university athletics.
McGill goaltender Charline Labonte, who helped the Canadian women’s hockey team to gold at the 2006 Olympics, and UBC’s Annamay Pierse, who broke a short-course world record in the women’s 200-metre breaststroke last month, are the BLG award female nominees from their respective conferences.
The BLG awards recognize the top female and male athletes from Canadian universities. They will be handed out in Toronto on April 27. Each winner will receive a $10,000 post-secondary grant.
Other female nominees announced Tuesday are Ghislaine Landry of the St. Francis Xavier women’s rugby team and University of Guelph runner Lindsay Carson.
Marc Rancourt of the Saint Marys hockey team, Laval football lineman Etienne Legare, York soccer player Francesco Bruno and Joel Schmuland of the Alberta volleyball team were nominated on the men’s side.
Labonte led her team to its second straight Canadian university hockey title as well as a 36-0 record against CIS opponents this season.
It’s already been a busy year for Labonte, who is currently in Finland playing at the women’s world championship as Canada continues its preparation for the 2010 Olympics.
The physical education student from Boisbriand, Que., says McGill has always accommodated her national team commitments.
“McGill is a very understanding school,” Labonte said during a conference call. “Our athletic program is really supportive. They understood the situation.”
She’ll be away for a month in the middle of exam time.
“It’s not easy,” she said. “It’s really not an easy thing for them as well but they’re really helping me to be successful at school.”
She says her national team experience is among the assets she brings to the Martlets.
“Being on the national team obviously gives me a lot of experiences that are extremely enjoyable as a hockey player and as a person,” she said. “That’s the kind of confidence I’m trying to provide to my teammates.”
Pierse has also had a few balls in the air this season. She swept all the breaststroke events at the 2009 CIS swimming championships, setting Canadian records in the 100-and 200-metre races. A few weeks later, the Edmonton native broke the short-course world record in the 200 at the Canadian spring nationals.
Having an understanding university behind her has made all the difference, says Pierse.
“It’s great being part of a university program that understands not only that you want to represent your university but you do have the higher goals at representing yourself and your country at the international level,” she said. “It’s a balance that you do with your coaches and with your school.”
Landry, from Toronto, is a the reigning two-time CIS women’s rugby MVP while Cambridge, Ont., native Carson was named the CIS female track athlete of the year after winning three gold medals at the nationals. She also captured bronze at the national cross-country championships.
Schmuland was named CIS men’s volleyball player of the year as the Golden Bears claimed their third title in five seasons.
“I’m riding an unbelievable high right now,” said the Calgary native. “I don’t think I actually fully understand what has all happened so far. Hopefully over the summer I’ll be able to reflect and think about what a great team season that I was able to be a part of.”
Rancourt, the reigning CIS men’s hockey MVP and scoring champion from Ottawa, led the Huskies to their first University Cup championship appearance since 2002.
Legare, a St-Raymond, Que., native who was named CIS lineman of the year, guided the Rouge et Or to their second Vanier Cup victory in three years and is one of the top prospects going into the 2009 CFL Canadian college draft.
Bruno, a Toronto native, was named the CIS men’s soccer MVP after leading led the Lions to their first national title since 1977.
The BLG awards are based on athletic accomplishments, outstanding sportsmanship and leadership. Each of 52 CIS schools selects one female and one male athlete of the year. From these nominees, one female and one male athlete are chosen within each of the four regional associations.
The awards have traditionally been handed out in Calgary but the ceremony has been moved to Toronto this year.
“It was felt that it was a great national award and we should give it national exposure,” said Doug Mitchell, national co-chairman of BLG LLP, the law firm that sponsors the awards. “We’re having it in Toronto this year, it will be back in Calgary next year and then the following year it will be in Vancouver.”
- The Canadian Press
Despite middle-class backlash, group says move is necessary to preserve quality of education
On the heels of the release of the 2008 Survey on Canadian Attitudes toward Learning, which suggests that Canadians are concerned about the existing costs of post-secondary education, the Educational Policy Institute has released a report advocating that provincial governments allow post-secondary institutions to increase tuition further in order to offset declining revenues. From The Toronto Star:
Dramatic tuition hikes must be part of a recession survival plan for Canada’s ivory tower, warns an education think tank.
Colleges and universities must consider charging more, despite a middle-class backlash, if they hope to avoid diluting the quality of education during the economic crisis, says the report by the non-profit Educational Policy Institute.
The report predicts fee hikes of up to 25 per cent in the next couple of years – in line with increases during the last recession – which would generate $1 billion to $2 billion for recession-hit campuses.
The full text of the EPI report can be downloaded here in .pdf format.
80 percent feel students have to borrow too much to pay for post-secondary education
The Canadian Council on Learning has released the results of an analysis of the 2008 Survey on Canadian Attitudes toward Learning, which was conducted jointly with Statistics Canada.
The survey was designed to gather information about Canadians’ opinions, beliefs and experiences pertaining to four aspects of lifelong learning, including early childhood learning, structured learning (elementary, secondary and post-secondary), work-related learning, and health and learning.
The following findings are of particular interest to researchers, policy makers and activists who are interested in the state of accessibility to post-secondary education:
- Canadians generally indicate that post-secondary institutions are doing a good job, except with respect to providing access to all qualified students.
- Canadians are particularly concerned about post-secondary access for low-income students.
- Canadians believe student loans and financial aid are generally available, but over 80% feel that students have to borrow too much to pay for post-secondary education.
The full report may be downloaded here in .pdf format.
Report suggests undergrad-only and low-research university, “open” online school
To absorb an anticipated 25,000 new university students over the next 15 years, Ontario should considering creating new types of post-secondary institutions, including an undergraduates-only, low-research university and an “open” online university, according to the province’s advisory council on higher education.
In its Feb. 13 report, titled Degrees of Opportunity: Broadening Student Access by Increasing Institutional Differentiation in Ontario Higher Education, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario looks at the province’s various options for dealing with a massive influx of university students in the province.
The study concludes that the province’s higher education system could benefit from an “open university” that would allow students to combine credits from various institutions, as well as encouraging universities to open “satellite” campuses in the Greater Toronto Area.
The report, prepared by Glen Jones and Michael Skolnik, two professors at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, also recommends the province consider starting a new Toronto-based undergraduate university that would focus on arts and science, and suggests that community colleges be allowed to offer a larger range of degrees.
According to the authors, growing interest in post-secondary education, paired with an increase in new Canadians, has fuelled demand for more spots in universities and colleges in the province.
However, the report says Queen’s Park should avoid starting any full-service universities, designing a new breed of “polytechnic” institutions for higher-level technical learning, or letting community colleges offer the first two years of four-year university programs, which is common in Western Canada and the United States.
Report finds many “dropouts” either transfer or suspend their studies
Statistics Canada has released a new study of post-secondary student persistence in the Atlantic provinces. The report was prepared by Ross Finnie and Theresa Qiu who authored a similar national study last year titled The Patterns of Persistence in Post-Secondary Education in Canada.
As with the earlier study, the new report shows that many of the students who leave post-secondary institutions before graduating actually switch to another institution or temporarily suspended their post-secondary education before enrolling again (often referred to as stop-outs). The report demonstrates that community college and university dropout rates tend to be overstated because students who switch institutions or leave briefly and return are often not taken into account.
The study found that the rate of leaving was higher for college students than for university students in Atlantic Canada. Among students aged 17 to 20 when they started university, men were more likely to leave their studies than women – 28% of men left compared to 22% of women. Amongst college students, the rates were almost identical for men and women (33% and 34% respectively).
The study found that 33% of students aged 17 to 20 who enrolled in a university in the fall of 2002 or 2003 had left their studies within two years, however, about 25% of these students switched to another institution. About 25% of the remaining university early leavers subsequently resumed their studies. For college students, the two-year dropout rate was about 35% over the same time period. The number of switchers amongst college students was much lower as compared to university students.
After accounting for switchers and stop-outs, the two-year dropout rate for Atlantic universities fell from 33% to 18% while the rate for colleges dropped from 35% to 29%.
The full report can be downloaded here in .pdf format.
We all end up feeling like we don’t have a lot of time to spare
I’m not sure if anyone may have noticed, but I haven’t been posting much lately. This term I’ve accepted a position teaching a course at U of T Scarborough. It’s a fantastic opportunity and I’m very glad to get the university experience from the other side of the lecture podium. But of course I’m still in full-time law school myself, and doing a combined MA in English, and a few other things beside. Still, after a bit of thought on the subject, I had to say yes. I’m a few weeks into the term thus far, and so far so good.
This experience has led to a few results. First, I haven’t had much time to post lately, along with several commitments I’ve had to scale back on. Second, I’ve been thinking about what it means when great opportunities come along at inconvenient times. And third, well, I’ve been thinking about a few posts on the subject of what it means to be a university lecturer for the first time. But that will have to wait for now, and maybe I’ll get around to it nearer the end of this term.
So on the second topic, I think it’s often the case that great opportunities come along at times when it isn’t easy to make the most of them. We all get busy, after all. There are just so many hours in a day and it’s natural to find ways of filling them. Whether that means taking on a variety of specific commitments, or a number of organized hobbies, or simply getting into habits involving favorite television shows and video games – one way or another we all end up feeling that we don’t have a lot of time to spare. So springing any of it to make time for something new isn’t easy. Yet sometimes that’s exactly what you want to do.
What I’d suggest is that every once in a while a good think through your priorities is in order. Some things, you just don’t want to sacrifice. Personal relationships, friends and family – you get into the habit of cutting the corners on these things and it can become a very bad habit. But other activities are simply fun or dispensable. Some may feel very important and you get into them pretty deeply, but with a little thought you can realize they aren’t part of your long-term future. And then, it hurts to say it, but sometimes you can skimp on things in the short term in order to take on more than anyone really should. That’s probably the stage I’m at now.
We all have goals and ambitions. There are things we want to achieve in the future, but then the present gets pretty busy. A classic example is when you don’t like your job but it takes up so much time and energy that you’re never really motivated to look for a new one. But it’s very important to make that effort all the same.
I think this is very relevant to students in post-secondary education because there are so many conflicting demands on students’ time. And students, many for the first time, have a lot of independence to arrange their affairs as they see fit. I won’t dictate that grades are necessarily the most important thing in every student’s life. One guy I know, for example, certainly wanted a university education but his long-term ambition lay with teaching martial arts. So it’s important to know where your most important commitments are, and they don’t absolutely have to be in the classroom. But they should be somewhere.
Anyway, I enjoy blogging here, and I’ll be around once in a while. But for this term I’ll be devoting more of my time to the class I’m teaching, and to various other commitments relating to my long-term career. I hope you all understand. I also hope that anyone who hasn’t done so already might take a bit of time to be sure you can identify your own deepest commitments and goals. If you aren’t sure for your own sake, it often happens that someone else will step in and do your thinking for you. And rarely works out well.
Questions are welcome at email@example.com. Even those I don’t address here will still receive replies.
Priorities include increasing enrolment and number of skilled trades workers
The Council of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training are making plans for collaboration:
The Atlantic ministers of education and training emerged from meetings in Halifax this week with a commitment to improve literacy rates in Atlantic Canada. Ministers will soon submit a literacy action plan to the Council of Atlantic Premiers that will focus on teacher training, sharing best practices, increasing collaboration among teachers from the Atlantic region, and promoting adult and workplace literacy.
The literacy action plan will form an integral part of the 2009-2012 Strategic Direction which was released by the ministers this week. The strategic direction document outlines steps that departments of education and training will undertake in public and post-secondary education over the next three years.
Public education priorities include school readiness, educational leadership, instructional practices for all students, and numeracy skills, while post-secondary education and training priorities relate to increasing enrolment numbers in post-secondary education institutions, promoting quality assurance of post-secondary education, and increasing the number of skilled trades workers.
Here are the ‘Strategic Areas’ that fall under post-secondary education and training:
Enrolment in Post-Secondary Institutions: Low fertility rates and high out-migration numbers suggest that post-secondary institutions in Atlantic Canada will continue to experience student enrolment issues in the years to come. Data released recently from Statistics Canada shows that three of the four Atlantic provinces have fertility rates below the national average and all have proportionally more senior citizens than the rest of Canada. Statistics Canada records also indicate that, for the period 1994-2004, the population group between the ages of 20 and 34 decreased by approximately 60,000 in the Atlantic region.
Atlantic provinces, individually and collectively, have introduced a number of initiatives to increase the population. These activities have also focused on the attraction and retention of immigrants and of international students. In the area of post-secondary education, some provinces have taken measures to increase the availability of university and community college programs.
Goal: To increase enrolment numbers in Atlantic Canadian post-secondary institutions.
Quality Assurance: Atlantic provinces have structures in place to conduct quality assurance for public post-secondary programs. These systems are in place at both the university and community college sectors. For private trainers, the rules vary from province to province, which lead to inconsistencies.
Goal: To develop a list of quality indicators that will have a base in solid research planning.
Skilled Trades: Some of the provinces in Atlantic Canada have started to reintroduce skilled trades in their public education system. With this change, there will be new opportunities for colleges to partner with the public schools, which may lead to increased enrolment.
Goal: To improve the educational linkages for the apprenticeship program to ensure appropriate level of connections between post-secondary and K-12 systems.
Adult Literacy: Approximately half of adults living in the Atlantic region have below level 3 literacy and/or numeracy skills. This affects their ability to find and improve their employment situation and can add additional strain on their family lives. From this aspect, educators look to improve adult literacy rates from both an employer and community perspective.
Goals: 1. Increasing Awareness –to raise social awareness of the benefits of improving literacy and essential skills and to engage employers and industry groups in program ownership. 2. Learner Recruitment and Retention –to eliminate barriers to learning opportunities and assure relevance and value to the learner.
About 51 per cent of recent immigrants to Canada have university degrees
When Pari Karem fled northern Iraq with her husband and two young daughters in the late 1990s, it cost the family three times the cash to pass through the border than what little money they had left to bring to Canada.
Settling in the southwestern Ontario city of Kitchener, each parent already held a university degree, but they were unable to gain the same level of work they had previously maintained.
So Karem’s husband began working nights as a security guard, commuting to Hamilton to attend classes during the day, while Karem worked as an interpreter at a local multicultural centre and cared for their children.
Despite these meagre beginnings, memories of seeing their home bombed and looted in Iraq meant there was only one thing on Karem’s mind when her husband first became employed on the merits of his new Canadian degree: saving for her children’s education.
“My grandma used to say ‘If you have a weapon, your enemy can take your weapon from you, they can take the gold from you, they can take away your land from you, they can kick you out,”‘ Karem said. “‘But your knowledge and education is in your brain – nobody can take that away from you, and that’s the two weapons you need to have.’”
Karem and her husband join many other immigrants scrimping to put money in the bank to ensure they can pay for their children’s post-secondary education down the line, according to a new report released by the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation.
Many immigrant parents in Canada not only expect their children to get higher-level degrees, the report states, but they are allocating limited family resources to their offspring’s future.
The study found that families in which at least one parent is foreign-born save more for advanced studies than families in which both parents are Canadian-born.
“When immigrants come to Canada, and quite often with family, we could say they are willing to make some sacrifices for making sure their children will be able to attend post-secondary education,” said Anne Motte, who works in the foundation’s research division.
“There’s what we call immigrant optimism. So there is this will for making sure your children have the best possible, (and that means) making sure to save.”
The annual Maclean’s rankings assess Canadian universities on a range of factors—or performance indicators—in six broad areas
The annual Maclean’s rankings assess Canadian universities on a range of performance indicators in six broad areas
The following describes the indicators used in the Maclean’s ranking tool.
STUDENTS/CLASSES Maclean’s collects data on the success of the student body at winning national academic awards over the previous ﬁve years. The list covers 40 fellowship and prize programs, nearly 19,000 individual awards from 2006 through 2010. The count includes such prestigious awards as the Rhodes Scholarships and the Fulbright awards, as well as scholarships from professional associations and the three federal granting agencies. Each university’s total of student awards is divided by its number of full-time students, yielding a count of awards relative to each institution’s size.
To gauge students’ access to professors, Maclean’s also measures the number of full-time-equivalent students per full-time faculty member. This student/faculty ratio includes all students, graduate as well as undergraduate.
FACULTY In assessing the calibre of faculty, Maclean’s calculates the number who have over the past ﬁve years won major national awards, including the distinguished Killam, Molson and Steacie prizes, the Royal Society of Canada awards, the 3M Teaching Fellowships and nearly 40 other award programs covering a total of 881 individual awards. To scale for institution size, the award count for each university is divided by each school’s number of full-time faculty.
In addition, the magazine measures the success of faculty in securing research grants from SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR. Maclean’s takes into account both the number and the dollar value received in the previous year, and divides the totals by each institution’s full-time faculty count. Research grants are reported by how many are awarded to the primary investigator on a project. Social sciences and humanities grants and medical/science grants are tallied as separate indicators.
RESOURCES This section examines the amount of money available for current expenses per weighted full-time-equivalent student. Students are weighted according to their level of study—bachelor, master’s or doctorate—and their program of study.
To broaden the scope of the research picture, Maclean’s also measures total research dollars. This figure, calculated relative to the size of each institution’s full-time faculty, includes income from sponsored research, such as grants and contracts, federal, provincial and foreign government funding, and funding from non-governmental organizations.
STUDENT SUPPORT To evaluate the assistance available to students, Maclean’s examines the percentage of the budget spent on student services as well as scholarships and bursaries.
LIBRARY This section assesses the breadth and currency of the collection. Universities receive points for the number of volumes and volume equivalents per number of full-time-equivalent students.
As well, Maclean’s measures the percentage of a university’s operating budget allocated to library services and the percentage of the library budget spent on updating the collection. In acknowledging a shift from the traditional library model—books on shelves—to an electronic access model, Maclean’s captures spending on electronic resources in both the library expenses and acquisitions measurements.
REPUTATION This section reﬂects a university’s reputation in the community at large. For the reputational survey, Maclean’s solicits the views of university ofﬁcials at each ranked institution, high school principals and guidance counsellors from every province and territory, the heads of a wide variety of national and regional organizations, and CEOs and recruiters at corporations large and small. Respondents rated the universities in three categories: Highest Quality, Most Innovative, and Leaders of Tomorrow. Best Overall represents the sum of the scores.