All Posts Tagged With: "United States"
Info on those who want to visit, study or work in Canada could be shared
OTTAWA – A newly signed agreement says the United States will be allowed to share biometric information about visa applicants to Canada with third countries.
It means the fingerprints and photo of someone who hopes to visit, study or work in Canada could be passed to Washington, which in turn might share them with another country to help verify the person’s identity.
The federal privacy commissioner’s office has raised concerns that such personal information provided by Canada could end up in countries that have a poor human rights record, endangering the applicant or their family.
At a ceremony to sign the information-sharing agreement, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and U.S. ambassador David Jacobson stressed that the information would be handled with due regard for privacy.
The initiative, which affects nationals of 29 countries seeking visas, is part of a perimeter security deal reached last year between Canada and the United States.
The idea is to strengthen continental security while speeding the passage of goods and people across the 49th parallel.
Reminds us why we’re lucky to be Canadian
The cost of university is a touchy subject in Canada. Just look at Quebec, where students have declared war over a tuition fee increase pegged most recently at $254 per year.
At times like these, higher education budgets of American universities can offer some perspective—at least Canadian universities spend your tuition on academics instead of football.
The latest outrage: Daily Mail reports that Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’s son Justin will get a $54,000 football scholarship to the University of California Los Angeles. That’s free tuition for four years at a public institution where residents without athletic ability or dire finances pay $12,686 per year.
Tuition is a deal. School spirit is an experience.
For Manitoban students, international study doesn’t require a transoceanic flight.
Manitoba has a 20-year-old reciprocity agreement with the State of Minnesota and at least 21 Canadians are currently studying at campuses of the highly-regarded University of Minnesota.
Why Canadian students graduate with more debt, not less
Canadians are graduating with more debt than their American counterparts—despite the well-known higher sticker prices south of the border.
In the U.S., average debt at graduation rose to $25,250 in 2010, according to a Nov. 3 report by the Project on Student Debt. Here in Canada, students were graduating with an average debt of $26,680 according to a 2009 report released by the Millennium Scholarship Foundation. If anything, the Canadian average is higher now.
The numbers seem almost impossible: isn’t tuition ridiculously high in the U.S.?
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.”
‘You are the Weird Mom,’ whispered my daughter. ‘There’s one on every tour and you are it.’
The first stop on the university road trip that my 17-year-old daughter Hayley and I took in August probably shouldn’t have been my alma mater, the University of Virginia. Her uni tour wasn’t about me. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself.
I’m an American who has spent the last 16 years living in Toronto, raising two Canadian children. I’ve grappled with the politics (you don’t vote directly for the prime minister?), the history (you won the War of 1812?) and the baffling modesty (hey, the pursuit of happiness is my inalienable right). So I’ve long imagined that when Hayley applied to universities, some would be in the States. She spent her first year in Los Angeles, and I thought she should experience what it’s like to live in her birth country rather than next to it. But because even I have figured out that Canadian universities deliver an equal education at a much lower cost, I posited that the only schools worth heading south for were the Dream Team, the super-high-end institutions that offer the moon—and, not incidentally, generous financial aid.
Hayley doesn’t have a particular school or subject focus yet; her objective is a wide-ranging liberal arts education. So we took the loose approach: we’d pack a credit card and a stack of CDs, chart a course—the University of Virginia, Georgetown, Yale, Brown, McGill, Queens—stay in roadside motels, and see what happened. What happened was this: Hayley displayed the usual anxieties about Getting Into University and Starting Her Future. And I decided that the best way to help her through it was to go barking mad.
It began three minutes after we pulled into Charlottesville, home of UVa. Okay, so I may have been driving a tad erratically, making screeching U-turns whenever something caught my eye. And it’s possible that my running commentary—“Oh my God, they knocked down my dorm!”—was more fascinating to me than to her. (I graduated in 1984. Things changed. Duh.) But I thought she might perk up as we walked the leafy, colonnaded campus built by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 with bricks from his works at Monticello. (I’d been a tour guide there, so I was full of fun facts.) I showed her my favorite deli, where I was—perhaps inordinately—pleased to see that “my” wild turkey sandwich was still No. 1 on the chalkboard menu. I was expecting her to be charmed by the things that had charmed me (“Isn’t it cool that Jefferson made the library the quad’s focal point, when at other schools it’s a church?”). But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t quite hide the “Yes, but can we go now?” in her voice.
It should have been a reminder that my daughter isn’t mine anymore, and hasn’t been for a long time. Eventually, Hayley articulated what she was feeling: she wanted to like my school, for my sake. But another part of her wanted to dislike it, because she wanted to make a different choice, live a life different from mine. You’d think I’d have been able to figure that out.
Our next stops were better. Georgetown, in Washington, was chockablock with political internships and study abroad programs—all of which Hayley realized she wanted, the minute she saw it. The school also guarantees residence for all four years, some in chic row houses that—okay, sue me—I would die to live in myself. Brown students design their own curriculums from a mind-blowing spectrum of subjects. And at Yale—ohhh, mommy really wanted to go to Yale. No class has more than 30 students, there’s a Gutenberg Bible in the library, and a master who lives in each freshman dorm arranges intimate teas for the students with guests like Bill Gates and Denzel Washington. At one point during the Yale speech I smacked my hands audibly against my face in wonder. “You are the Weird Mom,” Hayley whispered, pretending to edge away. (I’m sure she was only pretending.) “There’s one on every tour and you are it.”
Still, we could be a good team. She’d dole out my road food, and we’d alternate CDs, playing each other songs that meant something to us. (Father and Son by Cat Stevens: Hayley was bemused to find out that I, too, had once related to the lyric, “From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen.”) We figured out that it’s wise to attend both the formal information sessions and student-led tours, and that they fill up early. We developed an attack strategy: snag a nearby hotel room the night before, scope out the campus in the morning, and hit the road by lunch.
Unfortunately, we also learned that every other family on our uni route not only knew all that already, but they’d been planning for it for months, if not years. We kept seeing the same faces—the humble father from Guatemala and his dazzling son who spoke fluent Mandarin—who came equipped with hotel reservations and restaurant lists. They’d mastered the lingo. (Did you know that a student entering Grade 12 is called a “rising senior”? I didn’t.) They’d memorized the school stats and entry requirements, and rattled them off like Gatling guns: the Ivy Leagues like to see a 2,200 (out of 2,400) on the SAT, and high 700s (out of 800) on the SAT 2’s (individual subject tests). Alternately, you could skip the SAT and take the ACT, but then you’d need to brush up on science, not vocab. Apply for early decision to indicate your commitment, but only to schools that resubmit your application if the early decision is no.
I was overwhelmed. (Not to mention irked: would it kill Canadian high schools to give Grade 11 students information about applying in the States, so they could have the option?) Back in 1980, my “approach” to school selection was akin to picking names out a hat. There were no such things as SAT 2’s, I’d never heard of the ACT, and no one took me on a uni tour. Many of these parents, by contrast, were towing kids who were entering Grade 11. And some were entering Grade 10. Yikes. I’d forgotten what a big business university is down south. These kids (and their parents) wanted a capital-f Future, and they were charging in to get it like Rommel into Egypt.
Hayley is a dedicated student, she has what the U.S. admissions folks call “competitive” grades, and she’s always displayed a keen self-knowledge about which schools were right for her. I could see that two universities in particular had lit her up. But she’s also hard on herself, and when confronted with a mob that is storming toward something, her inclination is to pull back. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when she announced that she liked the U.S. schools. Loved a couple, in fact. But she wasn’t sure she would apply.
I hit the roof. Literally: I smacked the roof of my car. I wedged myself into my fallback position—guilt-inducement, learned at my own mother’s knee—and stayed there, loudly. At one point I heard myself hollering, “You are making this decision out of spite! You will regret it for the rest of your life!” and I saw how ridiculous I was. But I couldn’t stop.
In the miles of silence that followed, I had to own up to it: perhaps some of that, um, passion was my own regret talking (all right, yelling). I didn’t make the most of my university years. I cared too much about landing a job, and not enough about enriching my mind. I would love to have that time back, to do it more fully and without fear.
But mostly it was about my daughter, and my profound hopes for her. At schools on both sides of the border, my eyes kept filling with tears, not because I’m hormonally challenged, but because the belief that one should dream as grandly as possible moved me. At 48, I know something Hayley doesn’t: most people end up living smaller lives than they’d imagined. I want her to live the biggest life she can.
In early October we were on the road again, driving to Buffalo for Hayley’s second stab at the SAT. We laughed (sort of) at my August histrionics. Hayley told me she’d made her decision: she was applying to Canadian and U.S. schools—not because I wanted her to, but because she wanted to. She’d be thrilled to be accepted into any of them, and she hopes I’ll be thrilled for her. (I will.) She wants to attend a university that “scares me, but in a good way.” And what impressed her most about her uni tour was the number of people who cared deeply about where they went to school—how much they yearned for it, how hard they worked for it. “I saw how many people really value their education,” she said. “I want to value mine that way.”
I could be letting myself off easy, but maybe every university tour is fraught. Maybe it’s meant to be. By the time our children are on it, they’re not children anymore. They’re adults, making the first major decision of their adult lives, and we parents have to stand down and let them. It’s Hayley’s road now. I’m just glad to be along for the ride.
Why Canada’s learning technology experts say tech handouts are lackluster
When they enter university, freshman are often told that with all the social and educational opportunities before them, the world is at their fingertips. But, while online educational resources have given new understanding to that phrase, just within the past year it takes on an even more literal meaning.
At Seton Hill, a Catholic liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, the new catchphrase is “An iPad for everyone.” On March 30, the school made headlines as the first in North America to announce it would put the latest Apple touch technology in the hands of its new recruits—at no cost to them. “The iPad will lighten the backpacks of Seton Hill University students,” said president JoAnne Boyle in a release from the school. The school hopes Apple’s iBook application will allow students to ditch the heavy textbooks they lug around, and even make carrying a pen and paper unnecessary.
The initiative is part of the Griffin (the school’s mascot) Technology Advantage the school promotes to entice students. Not only will freshman receive an iPad for the first time this fall, but the school is also handing out brand new 13” Macbooks as part of the all-encompassing technology program, which upper-year students can opt in to for $500 a semester.
And while Seton Hill is the first American institution to announce it would gift iPads this fall, it isn’t the first American institution to offer Apple handouts to new students. In 2008, Abilene Christian University, in Abilene Texas, began offering iPhones or iPod Touch devices to its incoming freshman, citing at the time students’ ability to use them for “homework alerts, answer in-class surveys and quizzes, get directions to their professors’ offices, and check their meal and account balances.”
George Fox University in Oregon also announced it will give first-year students the choice of scoring a new iPad instead of the MacBook the school normally gives out. The price is offset in tuition, but students get to keep their new device when they graduate.
Though it may just be the latest incentive to drive recruitment at some U.S. schools, Canadian students may be feeling left in the digital dark age. With the buzz created over the possibilities of the iPad in academia, the question is whether it will prove to be a valuable education tool. And is the attention the new device is getting south of the border a sign Canadian schools are falling behind in learning technology innovation?
The answer, simply, is ‘No,’ said Ken Coates, dean of the faculty of arts at the University of Waterloo. Coates recently chaired the learning stream of the Canada 3.0 conference on digital media, held in Stratford, Ont.—the birthing grounds of Waterloo’s newest satellite campus designed to house niche programs in digital media and global business. He said even though the traditional approach to education is still a recent memory in the minds of most Canadians, the country isn’t lagging in a race towards digital academic innovation.
“I think we’re pretty much on the curb with other countries,” Coates said. “It’s a hundred yard race, and now we have one foot out of the starting block.” Coates said while there is no doubt students would be happy with the latest Apple technology, the nature of the Canadian university system functions much differently than the for-profit attitudes of some American schools. In fact, he said, the idea of handing out the latest in technology is not a new concept, even to Canadians.
At Acadia University in Nova Scotia, the technology advantage program saw the incorporated use of notebook computers loaned out by the school as part a blended learning approach more than a decade ago.
But, Coates said, the focus for Canada and the 3.0 conference was to take the thousands of projects happening in the country today and collaborate on how to move forward to meet student demands for digital, accessible and virtual learning. “Our country needs to make a huge move into this space if we’re going to be competitive in the 21st century,” he said. But, he said in the process of giving students the learning opportunities they want, the real concern becomes: “Can we ensure that the learning occurs with the level and with the intensity that we expect?”
While university is supposed to encompass a certain aspect of experimentation, the real purpose of higher learning is to be intellectually challenging, Coates said. “Technology lets you do that, but the idea of post-secondary education is that you don’t just turn students over, but you guide them.” And while the iPad is nice piece of hardware, Coates said what’s important to remember when moving learning-specific technology forward is that every program and course can’t be fulfilled by one blanket solution. What might work for teaching an English class won’t suffice for a chemistry lab, Coates said.
The SketchBook Pro app on the iPad may be an advantage for design and arts students, but for chemistry students, beyond displaying the periodic table and other reference matierials, it isn’t an asset for lab work.
Program-specific tech may be the way forward for Canada’s innovators, but Blackboard Inc. mobile developer Aaron Wasserman said offering students the flexibility of having learning materials wherever they are is a growing expectation of today’s student, American or Canadian. “It’s very natural that they would expect to be able to get academic information . . . on-the-go,” Wasserman said. “That is a commonality.”
Still a student at Stanford University, Wasserman developed an iPhone application called iStanford, which provided his peers with at-hand course material, as well as content on school life, such as transit schedules and the latest in campus news. When Blackboard, who specializes in learning management systems in North America acquired Wasserman’s design and expertise, they turned the iStanford model into Mobile Central, so the technology could be retrofitted to schools who sought the system for their students.
But Brian Lamb, manager of emerging technologies and digital content at the University of British Columbia, said while handout technology and mobile apps are impressive, most don’t serve to improve student learning. “They seemed to be geared towards recruitment and student life as opposed to enhancing learning and education,” Lamb said. “They’re shiny and they’re fun to use . . . but I do worry a little bit that we might be reinforcing a new kind of Internet,” Lamb said.
He said in a way, incorporating and investing closed-content devices like the iPad into higher education would not only be a waste of public resources, but would take a step back from open education and nationwide collaboration the federal government promoted and funded in the early 2000s. “When I entered this field in 2002, there really was something like national strategy happening in online learning,” Lamb said. “It would be nice to see something like that again.”
Lamb said these collaborations lost momentum with the Paul Martin administration. After his term in office, in 2006 and 2007, Industry Canada released two strategies—Advantage Canada and Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage—to enhance science and technology infrastructure and innovation and included a focus on advancing learning in universities.
Industry Minister Tony Clement was a keynote speaker at the Canada 3.0 conference. In his address he announced the country’s newest Digitial Economy strategy, which puts an emphasis on digital technologies. “I don’t need to remind this audience how important these new tools can be—to propelling our economic growth and enhancing our quality of life,” Clement said during his speech at the conference. “Already, these technologies are transforming the way we communicate, run our businesses, conduct commerce. They’re revolutionizing how medical professionals keep us healthy, how research is done and how students learn.”
As far as the gap in technology between Canada and the U.S., Lamb said from his experience at conferences in emerging technology, Canadian institutions usually have a strong innovative presence. “I think Canada stacks up reasonably well,” he said. In some ways, thanks to the smaller number of institutions, Lamb said Canada has greater possibilities to collaborate on best practices in learning technology and learn from one another, an advantage the U.S. doesn’t have. “We can actually know who all each other are,” Lamb said. “And that’s impossible in the United States.”
President to urge students to ‘make us all proud,’ fulfil their educational responsibilities
Take responsibility for your education. Go to class and listen. Don’t let failures define you. That’s the advice President Barack Obama will give schoolchildren Tuesday in a speech that drew fire even before he delivered it.
“We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems,” Obama said. “If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.”
The White House posted Obama’s remarks on its Web site Monday.
The president was to deliver the talk at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, a Washington suburb. The speech will be broadcast live on a cable television network and on the White House Web site.
In the prepared remarks, Obama tells young people that all the work of parents, educators and others won’t matter “unless you show up to those schools, pay attention to those teachers.”
Obama’s planned talk has proven controversial, with several conservative organizations and individuals accusing him of trying to pitch his arguments too aggressively in a local-education setting. White House officials, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, have said the allegations are silly.
The president got a bit of a boost from former first lady Laura Bush, wife of Obama’s Republican predecessor George W. Bush, on Monday when she said she supported Obama’s decision to address the nation’s school children.
“There’s a place for the president of the United States to talk to school children and encourage school children” to stay in school, Mrs. Bush, a former school teacher, said in a CNN interview. However, she said believes that parents who were plan to keep their children home because of the president’s address had the right to do so.
Toronto computer science grad caught on film handling, firing guns at Tigers camp
According to the National Post, a former president of the Canadian Tamil Students Association has been caught on film both handling and firing guns at a Tamil Tigers camp.
The photos feature Sathajhan Sarachandran, who is currently awaiting sentencing on terrorism charges in the United States, holding a machine gun and aiming a rifle as a group of men stand behind him.
In another photo, Sarachandran is aboard a ship that is carrying the flag of the rebels’ navy, the Sea Tigers.
RCMP officers apparently found the photos during a search of Sarachandran’s Scarborough home. The raid was conducted at the request of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, which was investigating his involvement in a rebel arms smuggling ring.
The 29-year-old computer science student has pleaded guilty to supporting terrorism and conspiracy to buy surface-to-air missiles for the rebels, also known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. He is facing a possible life sentence at his Oct. 6 court date.
For more on this story, click here.
Education, business students became more religious during university, study finds
A new study released by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research is shedding some light on the relationship between the religiosity of students and how it interacts with their higher education.
Religious high school students, meaning those who attend religious services or view religion as being important in their lives, were overall more likely to attend university. That group of students may be under pressure from fellow churchgoers to pursue higher education, something the four University of Michigan researchers who conducted the study called “nagging theory.”
Additionally, studying humanities or social sciences had a negative effect on the religious beliefs of students, while education and business students showed an increase in religiosity during their university years.
For students majoring in biological or physical sciences, their religious attendance was not affected by their program of study. However, studying physical sciences did have a negative impact on how those students viewed religion’s importance in their lives.
For study abstract, or to order a copy, click here.
It’s not the same as visiting, but if you can’t afford to get there, it’s close enough
For high school students who have the time and money to travel, visiting a college campus is the best way to get a sense of the students, the faculty, and the feel of the place where they’ll be spending four years (or more).
But for those who can’t visit, or who are just beginning their search, there’s now a website called YOUniversityTV – http://www.youniversitytv.com/ – offering virtual tours of about 400 colleges and universities.
The website offers videos of four-year institutions all over the United States, from the Ivy League’s Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., to Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu.
The quick and breezy videos show campus landmarks, introduce regular students and faculty, and describe some of the course offerings and local attractions that set each campus apart.
Colleges and universities neither pay nor are paid to have their videos included. The tours are filmed and produced by YOUniversityTV itself, said spokeswoman Kathleen Rojas.
College trips are an important part of high school for many students, and experts say a virtual glimpse of campus is no substitute for the real thing. “Some of our kids will use websites to do virtual tours, but a very large majority of the kids, if they can pay for it, will take college trips,” said Marcia Hunt, the director of college counselling at the large Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale. Hunt’s school takes groups of students on a weeklong college tour each year for $1,900.
Real, not virtual, trips do a better job of helping students gauge how well they’ll fit into a campus, said Hunt. “When you’re taking a virtual tour you’re missing that interaction with everyday students,” said Hunt.
But not every college-bound student can afford to travel around to campuses. For them – or for anyone too busy to trek around on college visits – YOUniversityTV serves an important role.
“Virtual tours can be helpful for the kids for whom financially it’s difficult to make college trips,” said Hunt.
All of the YOUniversityTV videos are presented in a similar format, which makes it easy to do a quick comparison of campuses rural and urban, large and small. And the site includes a page for student-posted home movies. Brief videos of random campus scenes, such as wintertime break-dancers on the street at Monmouth University in New Jersey, give an unscripted look at student life.
More than 200 military members, civilians and contractors caught with fake degrees
When U.S. soldiers can’t be all they can be, some fake it.
At last count, more than U.S. 200 service members, army civilians and defence contractors bought bogus university degrees in order to snag promotions and boost their paychecks. One especially sneaky major rose through the ranks with the help of eight fake degrees, including a bachelor’s in Business Management, a master’s in Management and a Ph.D in International Management Strategy.
“To have someone who would go and do something like this, it sickens me,” said one defence department spokesman. “Each case, it is significant, it is egregious and it just smacks right at those core values that we live by.”
The U.S. army has launched its own internal investigation.
Watch the video from WHNT News here.
At least 15 schools received anonymous donations ranging from $1 to $10 million
NEW YORK – A mystery donor has gifted millions to at least 14 colleges run by women.
New York’s Hunter College said Monday it received $5 million in the fall and realized only recently that more than a dozen other colleges nationwide had received similar donations. Hunter College President Jennifer Raab says the money “couldn’t have come at a better time.”
The City University of New York school says the donor earmarked $4 million for scholarships.
The school will use the rest to update its library and give students more group study space.
At least 13 other schools with women presidents have received anonymous donations ranging from $1 million to $10 million in the last two months.
The gifts total at least $74.5 million so far.
- The Canadian Press
Canadian gov’t cuts $148 million in research funds, U.S. spends multi-billions
The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson reviews the stark contrast between the Harper government’s cuts to basic research funding and the Obama administration’s multibillion-dollar commitments to scientific research and education:
The Obama administration’s multibillion-dollar investments coincide with the Canadian government’s decision to cut $148-million in funding to the three agencies that support basic research at Canadian universities.
The Conservatives point in response to $2.75-billion they have dedicated to university infrastructure and scientific equipment.
But the two countries are pursuing fundamentally different approaches to funding research in the midst of a recession and with manufacturing industries in chronic decline.
While Prime Minister Harper concentrates on targeted funding in certain specific areas, in hopes of generating marketable ideas that promote economic growth, President Obama is pursing a comprehensive approach aimed at fundamentally reorienting government, schools, universities and the private sector in favour of science and technology.
Researcher uncovers the story of two men who fought to end racism in SAT testing
A researcher at the University of Georgia has uncovered a little-known chapter of the desegregation of higher education in the southern United States.
Jan Bates Wheeler, who recently completed her doctoral degree at the University of Georgia, discovered the story of two men who traveled the southern United States, at great personal risk, to desegregate SAT testing centres.
The story of these two men was not previously known as they did not want to risk retaliation against school administrators who willingly (sometimes with a bit of “persuasion”) desegregated their testing site.
FoxNews also covered the story. It is well worth a read.
With annual tuition fees of $40,437, George Washington University tops the list
With tuition fees at $40,437 (USD) for the 2008-2009 academic year, George Washington University in Washington D.C. has the highest tuition fees in the United States according to Forbes magazine.
Also in the top 5 are Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York State ($40,350), Kenyon College in Ohio ($40,240), Vassar College in New York State ($40,210), and Bucknell University in Pennsylvania ($36,652).
The list of pricey universities outside of the U.S. includes Canada’s own Quest University ($20,500), Switzerland’s Franklin University ($33,100), the American University of Paris ($33,000), Imperial College London ($27,800) and the National University of Singapore ($24,000).
Of course, these figures (all in USD) do not include the cost of books and supplies, room and board, transportation and other expenses which amount to many thousands of dollars more.
Expenditures would be largest increase in federal aid for education since WWII
The New York Times is reporting that the economic stimulus package that passed Wednesday in Congress will “shower” the nation’s school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that will more than double the U.S. Department of Education’s current budget.
According to the Times, the “emergency expenditures” would touch nearly every aspect of education, including school renovations, special education, and grants for needy students, and amounts to the largest increase in federal aid since the end of the Second World War.
“Critics and supporters alike said that by its sheer scope, the measure could profoundly change the federal government’s role in education, which has traditionally been the responsibility of state and local government,” reads the story.
“Obama administration officials, teachers unions and associations representing school boards, colleges and other institutions in American education said the aid would bring crucial financial relief to the nation’s 15,000 school districts and to thousands of campuses otherwise threatened with severe cutbacks.”
“This is going to avert literally hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
More from The New York Times:
…Republicans strongly criticized some of the proposals as wasteful spending and an ill-considered expansion of the federal government’s role, traditionally centered on aid to needy students, into new realms like local school construction.
And they were joined by some education experts from across the political spectrum in wondering how school districts could spend so many new billions so fast, whether such an outpouring of dollars would lead to higher student achievement, and what might happen in two years when the stimulus money ends….
….One provision, which was sought by the student lending industry and went unmentioned in early Congressional summaries of the stimulus package, would temporarily increase subsidies to banks in the guaranteed student loan program by tying them to a new index, partly because recent federal intervention in the credit markets has invalidated the previous index. A spokesman for Sallie Mae, one of the largest student lenders, said the change was needed to keep student loan markets fluid. Critics said it represented a potential new windfall for lenders.
“This just continues the well-established tradition of welfare for the student loan industry,” said Barmak Nassirian, an expert in student lending.
The Department of Education’s discretionary budget for the 2008 fiscal year was about $60 billion. The stimulus bill would raise that to about $135 billion this year, and to about $146 billion in 2010. Other federal agencies would administer about $20 billion in additional education-related spending.
“This really marks a new era in federal education spending,” said Edward Kealy, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, a coalition of 90 education groups.
The bill would increase 2009 fiscal year spending on Title I, a program of specialized classroom efforts to help educate poor children, to $20 billion from about $14.5 billion, and raise spending on education for disabled children to $17 billion from $11 billion.
Those increases respond to longtime demands by teachers unions, school boards and others that Washington fully finance the mandates laid out for states and districts in the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, and in the main federal law regulating special education.
“We’ve been arguing that the federal government hasn’t been living up to its commitments, but these increases go a substantial way toward meeting them,” said Joel Packer, a lobbyist for the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union.
University docs could perform abortions for patients who are between 13 and 22 weeks pregnant
Anti-abortion groups condemned a University of Wisconsin plan to provide second-trimester abortions at a Madison clinic and questioned whether it was legal.
UW Health spokeswoman Lisa Brunette said its gynecologists plan to begin performing abortions for patients between 13 and 22 weeks pregnant at the Madison Surgery Center. She said the plan needs final approval from the centre’s board, which could take action this month.
The Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based conservative Christian legal group, publicized the plan and sent a letter asking UW officials to stop it. The group said the plan might violate a state law that prohibits state or federal money from being used to pay doctors or clinics to perform abortions.
Brunette acknowledged state-paid doctors working for the university would provide the services but she said its lawyers were comfortable the plan is legal. She said the abortions themselves would be paid for by insurance and patient fees, not public money.
ADF lawyer Thomas Bowman said the group was researching the arrangement and would “take quick legal action in the event that any legal violations are uncovered.”
- The Canadian Press