Volume 12, Number 13 March 4, 2005

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Millions flow from research parks

REGINA – The true significance of Innovation Place in Saskatoon and its sister development in Regina to Saskatchewan’s economy was revealed in a recent study that showed the two operations generated about half a billion dollars in activity in 2004.

A news release from the government’s Executive Council said the study, done by Insightrix of Saskatoon, showed the tenants of Innovation Place contributed $184 million to the economy of the city and $262 million to the provincial economy in 2004. The park accounts for about 3,700 full-time equivalent jobs in Saskatoon and 4,200 more across the province are attributed its presence.

The Regina Research Park was reported to have generated $163 million in that city’s economy and $238 million provincially. It is responsible for more than 1,700 jobs locally and 1,980 provincially.

The study used information like the purchase of local goods and services and staff salaries to calculate the economic impact of the parks. The cost of the survey was $4,325.

UBC Okanagan recruiting in Alberta

CALGARY – The new University of B.C. Okanagan, about to open its doors in Kelowna in September, is mounting a strong campaign to recruit Alberta students.

A story in the Feb. 26 Calgary Herald says UBCO is trying to lure young Albertans away at a time when Ralph Klein’s provincial government has promised that every qualified person in that province will have access to affordable post-secondary education close to home.

UBCO is aggressively offering a scenic campus overlooking the Okanagan Valley, some attractive programs like agroecology, engineering and management, and scholarships ranging from $500 for students with averages above 86 per cent to $4,000 for those with averages above 95 per cent.

But university officials at Calgary and Lethbridge say they aren’t worried. They say they are also intensively recruiting across Canada, trying to attract “the best and the brightest”.

UBC Okanagan aims for 4,000 students this fall and 7,500 by 2009.

Low-income students keep on enrolling despite tuition hikes

OTTAWA – Despite sharp increases in tuition at Canada’s post-secondary institutions, a new study by Statistics Canada shows that young people from moderate- to low-income families were just as likely to attend university in 2001 as in 1993.

Over the period studied, average undergraduate tuition went up 77 per cent, to $3,577 from $2,023 but there was little change in participation rates among young people from families earning a modest income (between $25,000-$75,000 annually) or low income (below $25,000 annually).

But when looking at family income and parental education, the study found participation rates are more closely tied to the education parents received than with income. The young people most likely to attend university are those aged 18-24 years whose parents are highly educated and earn incomes of over $100,000, the study found.

Aussie teachers college sets up shop in Ont.

TORONTO – Charles Sturt University, Australia’s sixth largest with nine campuses across the country, is the first foreign post-secondary institution to set up a college on Canadian soil, in this case to train teachers.

According to news reports, about 100 students will receive training in Burlington starting this fall. The program, which will charge about $15,000 in annual tuition, will turn out graduates qualified to teach in Ontario. Tuition at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education at the University of Ontario is about $5,500 per year.

Charles Sturt officials report that 200-300 Canadian students have completed their teacher training on their campuses in Australia over the past decade.

Nursing dean departs

SASKATOON – Beth Horsburgh, dean of the College of Nursing since 2000, is leaving the U of S June 30 to take over as dean of the University of Alberta’s nursing college.

“I will leave the University of Saskatchewan with considerable sadness,” she said in a release. “I look forward to developing partnerships between the University of Alberta and U of S health sciences, particularly as we all strive toward inter-professional client-centered practice and pedagogy and graduate education and research.”

It was previously announced that Horsburgh would be taking administrative leave and that Joan Sawatzky, assistant dean of academic affairs, would serve as acting dean. That appointment will stand until a new dean is appointed.

York U. land deal draws media fire

TORONTO – A deal that saw York University sell some of its land for a housing development has been criticized for not being publicly tendered, and for having potentially cost the cash-strapped institution millions of dollars.

In an investigative report published Feb. 26, the Toronto Star also alleges the university official involved in negotiating the deal has close business ties with the chosen developer, Tribute Communities. That company is now building 550 townhouses, duplexes and detached homes ranging in price from $279,990 to $458,990. The development, to be called The Village at York University, is located on barren adjacent land.

The Star says Joseph Sorbara, university board member and chair of York University’s land development agency, whose family has business connections with Tribute that go back to 1994, is also a developer and is involved with Tribute in other construction jobs and has investments in two Tribute companies. It says Sorbara touted Tribute as the best builder for the York project and was a key negotiator in the land deal but “the land,” said the report, “appears to have been sold for much less than it was worth.”

According to documents examined by the newspaper, the per-acre price in the deal was $374,648. Other property in the area offered for sale on the open market by another public institution sold in 2003 for $879,817 per acre after offers from multiple bidders.

In a written statement to the Star, York said its goal was to find the best developer for the project, not the best price. York’s president, chair of the board and Sorbara all refused the newspaper’s request for interviews.

York University, with 47,000 students, has Canada’s third-largest student body and has the largest campus in the country at 524 acres. The owners of homes in The Village at York University will have access to the institution’s fitness centre, indoor pool, gym, squash courts and outdoor tennis facilities as well as borrowing privileges at the library.

The Star also points out that Tribute’s owner Howard Sokolowski is part-owner of the Toronto Argonauts, which is in partnership with the federal and provincial governments and the university to build a $70-million football stadium at York.

The university’s statement reportedly said York is “satisfied that the land was sold for a competitive price ...”.

Foreign students avoid tight U.S. security

TORONTO – In an effort to avoid the layers of security checks and visa problems that resulted from the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, high-quality international graduate students are seeking places in some of Canada’s top universities.

Foreign applications at the University of Toronto and McGill have doubled in the past four years and, at the University of British Columbia, they have climbed about 25 per cent, a story in The Globe and Mail said. According to several university officials, the United States’s loss in Canada’s gain.

Susan Pfeiffer, dean of graduate studies at the U of T, said the tightened security is “a kind of wake-up call or catalyst for (foreign) students to start noticing that there were options outside of the United States”.

One student, David da Silva of Portugal, chose McGill to complete his PhD in large part to avoid security hassles, said the report.

“With the present international situation about terrorism ... you kind of think twice before wanting to go to the States. Most of the very good scientists are in the States. That’s true. But I think Canada and Montreal and McGill for me is a good compromise between being in North America and not being in the States.”

Unfortunately, some schools are not able to take full advantage of the influx. Government funding freezes and cuts have meant Canadian universities cannot compete with U.S. or Australian institutions for top students, said Martha Crago, dean of graduate and post-doctoral studies at McGill: “They won’t come for nothing.”

At McGill, international PhD students get, on average, $16,000 but Crago said “recruiting is an F word. It means fellowship. You recruit by offering money. If we got more from the government for foreign students, we would be able to fund more.”

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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