All Posts Tagged With: "Sudbury"
Writer Roy MacGregor on his days at Laurentian U.
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here, writer Roy MacGregor shares his antics and wisdom.
I attended Laurentian University in Sudbury, leaving a four-year honours program in political science after three years with a general B.A. I chose Laurentian because it would take me—a six-year high-school grad with a 66 per cent average. Also, a friend was going and he had a car. I honestly never expected to last beyond Christmas, let alone end up with a degree—failing Grade 12 with 33 per cent doesn’t instill a lot of confidence—but I can honestly say I found university far easier than high school. Soon enough I was in love with both Laurentian and the city of Sudbury. The North of this country is indeed magical, but the near North has its own magic as well.
It was 1967, a time of huge student unrest. In the U.S. they were marching against the Vietnam War. We held a massive student protest march in Sudbury. There were riot police out but we showed stunning solidarity, walking around the streets near city hall chanting “WE WANT A PUB! WE WANT A PUB!” as if it were the most important thing in the world. The ’60s didn’t reach Laurentian until the ’70s. But we loved our time there. Classes were small. The residences were like family. Professors were approachable.
English college questions French school’s funding
The president of Sudbury, Ontario’s English-language college wants the province to look into the funding disparity between her school and the city’s French college, which gets significantly more provincial funding per student. Cambrian, the English college, is cutting staff, while College Boréal is planning to give all new students iPads. “Cambrian doesn’t get enough funding to offer every student an iPad,” president Sylvia Barnard told CBC News. College Boréal president Denis Hubert-Dutrisac defended the disparity. The iPad money came from fundraising, he said. He also said it’s more expensive to run his college because of translation costs and its network of small campuses.
Canada’s northern universities have arrived
From the Maclean’s Student Issue, on sale now.
It’s the time of year when twelfth graders realize that they need to choose a university—and soon. Let the road trips begin.
But if their travels take them to the libraries at the University of Calgary or Guelph, they may stumble over students sitting on the ﬂoors. Study space is in short supply.
If they tour residences at Dalhousie or McGill University, they may ﬁnd themselves in a converted hotel or see bunks stacked in former study spaces. Each school has had room shortages in recent years.
Three killed in crash
Three Laurentian University students died and a fourth was sent to hospital after a collision on a cold Highway 17 near Hagar, Ont. on Tuesday, reports CBC News. Renfrew, Ont. teenagers Keegan Melville, Zabrina Rekowski and Hillary Afelskie died when their Ford minivan collided head on with a Jeep carrying two senior citizens. One passenger, Emily Olmstead, is in hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police are investigating but they say weather likely wasn’t a factor.
Glen Murray sees dramatic changes ahead for Ontario
Ontarians are busy debating where the province’s three new post-secondary campuses should be, with mayors from Barrie to Niagara Falls holding out their caps. But ahead of that decision, Glen Murray, Ontario’s new Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, says there all kinds of ideas he wants to explore first. Those who lust after future campuses should take note.
Here are 10 things I learned about the future of higher education in Ontario from Glen Murray.
1. Murray’s biggest concern “is how we’re utilizing the existing capacity we have right now.” He thinks more campuses should be using their physical resources year-round, by offering three-semesters, perhaps.
Remember when choice and flexibility were good things?
With Nova Scotia’s O’Neill report in the books, and a similar report just released in Ontario, specialization is the new watchword for Canadian universities. Thus Bonnie Patterson, President of the Council of Ontario Universities: “the funding realities mean we’re going to have to build on the differences that already exist.”
Setting aside the question that the so-called funding realities are really funding decisions, the emphasis on specialization is troubling from the point of view of quality higher education.
Of course, some specialization is inevitable, or at least practical. Not every university can have a medical school, and a law school, and a major in South American Urban Geography. Fine. But I worry when I hear people like Harvey Weingarten, President of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario say things like this: “If Ryerson were to say its priority is undergraduate programs that graduate the next wave of entrepreneurs, for example, it might be that the U of T wouldn’t have a program exactly like that.”
Setting aside the fact that if Ontario really wanted to save money it could eliminate a few of these education councils, Weingarten’s comments hint that specialization is all about output. If Ontario needs graduates in various areas, the implication runs, it doesn’t need every school to fulfill that need. Put another way, if a student wants program x, she only needs one school to offer it and she can go there.
But the underlying assumption is that a university education is designed only, or mainly, as an economic investment. Universities are understood like factories, turning out useful products and thus should be specialized so as to be more efficient.
Setting aside the fact that it is inherently repugnant to think of people as products (the report calls for graduates who, like iPods should be “highly valued and competitive” [p.15]), the specialization perspective assumes that students know what they want to study when they go to university and will stick to that field of study all the way through. Anyone who teaches at a university knows that these assumptions are actually false, and idealists like me see them as deeply troubling.
For one thing, circumstances mean that students are not infinitely mobile. A student in Sudbury may not feasibly be able to move to Windsor to study. Consequently, specialization means limiting choices. The report claims that “differentiation” will mean more variety of programs overall (p. 6) but later reveals that claim to be false by insisting that universities must work with their existing programs (p.10). In other words, the Kingston girl who might have been a world-class artist may end up toiling as an accountant because Fine Arts was only available at Western, not Queen’s. Such things may happen even now, but they become more likely the more specialized institutions become.