This is an archived article. For the latest news, go to the Advance Homepage.
For more archives, go to the Advance Archive/Search Page

Higher Ed Roundup....... for November 3, 1997

Technology forces reevaluation of the role of professor
The increased involvement of technology in education is forcing college professors to envision their roles as teachers in a different light, and not all faculty members like what they see. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that many professors see technology as a way to make teaching more efficient and the learning process more valuable, but that others worry that professors could be made irrelevant and that the quality of education could suffer.

One question is whether students and institutions will benefit from technology that allows the professor's tasks to be divided up, or "unbundled," so that professors can spend more time leading classroom and on-line discussions. Institutions hope to reduce costs by employing fewer professors.

But efforts to improve technology have already caused some backlash. Professors at York University in Toronto went on strike for 55 days earlier this year in large part to oppose a university requirement that faculty use certain technology in their classrooms and teach courses over the Internet.

As a result, the university administration has promised not to enforce those requirements.

David Clipsham, chairman of the York University Faculty Association, told Academe Today that "the administration was moving too fast into technology that no one understood." The professors, armed with posters reading, "Televisions don't teach, people do" and "Clone sheep, not Internet courses," protested the loss of autonomy they feel would result from the overuse of technology.

(Sources: The Chronicle of Higher Education, 10/3/97; Academe Today, 10/3/97.)

Professor and university held liable in plagiarism suit brought by student
A University of Ottawa graduate professor accused of plagiarism by a former student has been found guilty for submitting a paper by the student as his own work at an academic conference, selling it to other students, and planning to use it in his application for promotion. An Ontario court ordered that both the professor and the university pay the student $7,500 in damages and reimburse legal costs.

Justice Monique Metvier of the Ontario Court General Division ruled that the university was liable along with the professor because it was to blame for allowing the plagiarism to occur. The "university cannot stand idly by while its professors blatantly breach copyright laws," wrote the justice in her opinion.

The student, Paul Boudreau, complained to university officials after he heard that business professor Jimming Lin had sold his paper with Lin's name on it and presented it at an academic conference as Lin's research. The university eventually verified the complaint, asked for an apology from Professor Lin, and placed a disciplinary letter in Lin's file. Boudreau said he was unsatisfied with the punishment and sued.

According to The New York Times, the case is considered unusual because, while graduate students have been known to complain privately about professors stealing their work, they rarely take legal action for fear of jeopardizing their degree or their references.

(Source: The New York Times, 9/24/97.)

Canada to establish college fund for needy students
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has announced the creation of huge fund to help needy Canadian students receive a college education. The fund, called the new Millennium Scholarship Endowment Fund, will begin awarding scholarships in the year 2000. Chretien did not state the size of the fund, but he noted that its budget would surpass the Canada Foundation for Innovation, an $800 million (Canadian) research partnership announced last February involving government, industry, and universities.

The announcement comes at a time of rising tuition throughout Canada, and university officials say it will help to curb rising student loan debt. "There is no better investment the nation can make than to invest in its young people," said University of Toronto President J. Robert S. Prichard in a statement. "This scholarship program is a major step in the right direction." But Brad Lavigne, president of the Canadian Federation of Students, told Academe Today that the proposal is a "backward step" that would pre-empt efforts to reduce the debt burden on students.

Meanwhile, with education debt rising in Canada, new regulations now require that Canadian students who declare bankruptcy within two years of graduation be held responsible for their college and university debts. The regulations were approved by the Canadian Parliament earlier this year. The average education debt for college graduates in Canada is approximately $22,000 in Canadian dollars, or $15,900 in U.S. dollars.

(Sources: University of Toronto News, 9/24/97; Academe Today, 9/25/97, 10/1/97 and 10/3/97.)