Ronald Leung / Silhouette Staff
Students sceptical on first day of Quebec education summit
The quick provincial election of the Parti Québécois (PQ) came after months of student protests against higher education tuition raises last year. The government organized a summit that began on Feb. 25 to discuss contentious educational issues. Though Premier Pauline Marois initially pledged to freeze tuition, Minister of Higher Education Pierre Duchesne revealed to attendees that the PQ intend to index tuition at approximately three per cent annually. Despite reasoning that the current freeze on tuition would put Quebec into a crisis if continued, student groups felt cheated and organized peaceful protests.
PEI government blunder leads to breach of student privacy
Students who received scholarships, awards, or bursaries from the government of Prince Edward Island are at risk of a privacy breach. A mechanical error in folding letters left a number of social insurance numbers viewable in the window of the delivery envelope. Releasing a statement on Feb. 25 acknowledging this mistake, the PEI government has yet to disclose the number of affected students, although approximately 1,600 letters were mailed out. The error occurred in the PEI Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning. In the statement, the government said it is reviewing existing protocol and repairing the machine to prevent future errors.
Faculty and administration at odds after executive pay raises at SAIT
After pay increases for the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s three vice-presidents and outgoing president, the institute’s Academic Faculty Association (SAFA) expressed their disapproval. Outgoing president Irene Lewis received a nine per cent raise from $224,000 to $245,000. SAIT’s three vice presidents all got an increase of 26 per cent, from $182,000 to $230,000 in addition to a $58,000 pay-for-performance bonus. The institute expressed earlier this year that SAFA could not afford to give cost-of-living adjustments to faculty due to diminishing school surpluses. The SAFA also expresses concern that tuition may also be negatively impacted.
Surging budget deficit forces University of Saskatchewan to plan massive layoffs
Seventy-five percent of colleges and units of the University of Saskatchewan that have yet to see layoffs can expect to see some jobs go. In earlier months, 50 jobs from 13 colleges and admin units have already been cut. These layoffs come as part of the University’s efforts to combat a growing budget deficit that is projected to surge to $44.5 million by 2016 if no remedial action is taken. The University of Saskatchewan has hired a counselling firm to help newly unemployed workers transition, and has also assembled a task force with student involvement to discuss funding issues.
Professor at U of A charged with alleged sexual assault and confinement of a minor
Zhixiang Wang, 51, associate professor in the University of Alberta’s Department of Medical Genetics, has been charged with one count of sexual assault and sexual interference. His wife, Xinmei Chan, 49, is also facing a charge of unlawful confinement of a minor. The offences were allegedly made against a 16-year-old female between November 2009 and May 2010. Chen, who also worked at the U of A as a lab technician, and has been placed on leave along with her husband. Both Wang and Chen are to appear in court on Mar. 13.