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Commentary - August 14, 2014

The following letter to the editor was published in the Windsor Star, August 13, 2014

Carolyn Thompson’s piece, Higher education leads to higher student debt, Aug. 7, is misleading and unhelpful to students trying to make informed decisions about their futures.

Over the last decade, governments and universities have taken measures to offset the costs of education for students who are most in need. That means that in Canada, 40% of university students graduate totally debt-free.  Of those with debt, 30 percent owe less than $12,000.  Average student debt today is less than it was in 2000.

The data continues to show that a university education is a solid investment. Even in the face of economic uncertainty, the demand for university-educated employees is growing. Between May 2008 and May 2014, more than twice as many net new jobs were created for university graduates than for college and trades graduates combined (878,000 and 437,000 respectively).

A university degree is a path to prosperity. And this fall one million Canadians will head to campuses across the country to follow that path.

Christine Tausig Ford, Vice-president, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

Media release - June 10, 2014

HALIFAX – Nearly 40 university leaders met in Halifax yesterday to share strategies to reduce students’ high-risk drinking and explore ways to work together to curb the problem.

The day-long workshop, co-hosted by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and Acadia University, looked at the possibility of launching a new cross-Canada collaboration among universities and colleges to reduce high-risk drinking on Canadian campuses.

Ray Ivany,President Acadia University, President of Acadia University, speaks at the high-risk drinking workshop

Ray Ivany, President Acadia University

The workshop brought together university presidents, vice-presidents and directors of student services as well as representatives of community colleges.  They laid the groundwork for a collaborative initiative among postsecondary institutions to decrease high-risk alcohol use and identified next steps – both immediate and long-term – to move this effort forward.

Participants heard from Ann Dowsett Johnston, public policy advocate and author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship between Women and Alcohol, and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer.  A video keynote address by Jim Kim, president of The World Bank and former president of Dartmouth College which led the National College Health Improvement Program’s learning collaborative on high-risk drinking in the United States, opened the event.

This was the latest in a series of AUCC workshops for Canada’s university presidents aimed at taking action to improve students’ well-being and educational success. Other ongoing efforts focus on addressing mental health challenges on campus and the strengthening the role of university leadership in student-led orientation activities.

The workshop was co-sponsored by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services as part of its annual conference in Halifax, June 8-11, 2014.

Quick Facts

  • Statistics Canada reports that one-third of Canadians aged 18-24 drink heavily (five drinks or more in one session) once a month.
  • A survey of Canadian campuses in 2004 by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that young adults attending a postsecondary institution are more likely to engage in risky drinking than their peers who are not in school:
    • 32% undergraduates report drinking at a dangerous level versus 26% of general population aged 18-24,
    • 10% of undergraduate students surveyed reported having experienced alcohol-related violence,
    • 9.8% reported being the victims of alcohol-related sexual harassment, and
    • 14.1% reported having unplanned sexual relations because of being inebriated.
  • To reduce rates of harmful alcohol consumption and promote moderation, several programs, policies and interventions have been proposed and implemented at postsecondary institutions in North America.  The National College Health Improvement Project in the United States, created in 2010 by former Dartmouth College president and physician Jim Kim, is one program aimed at improving the health of college students.
  • Universities are taking a range of actions to curb risky drinking on campus, including developing advertising campaigns, providing specific student-leader training for orientation week, providing dry residences and banning happy hours and last call at campus pubs.
  • In 2011, Canada’s universities made a commitment to Canadians to enhance university students’ learning experience.

Quotes

“Universities are taking positive steps to cut down high-risk drinking on campus.  We increasingly understand the damage alcohol can cause students – from jeopardizing their educational experiences to putting their safety at risk. This workshop allowed university leaders to begin developing a made-in-Canada solution to learn more about solutions for a complex problem.”
Christine Tausig Ford, vice-president, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

“High-risk drinking cannot be accepted as a traditional rite of passage for university students. There are serious – and very often harmful – impacts related to alcohol consumption on our campuses. As university presidents, we care about our students and want them to be safe. We are therefore committed to finding a way forward that reduces the probability of harms among our student population.”
Ray Ivany, president, Acadia University
AUCC is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, representing the interests of 97 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities and university degree-level colleges.

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Media Contacts:

Helen Murphy
Assistant Director of Communications
hmurphy@aucc.ca
613 563-3961 ext. 238 or cell: 613 608-8749

Nadine Robitaille
Communications Officer
nrobitaille@aucc.ca
613 563-3961 ext. 306 or cell: 613 884-8401

Media release - January 29, 2014

The Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) join the Royal as partners to promote free mental wellness app on campuses across the country

OTTAWA — The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, along with its partners, has launched the HealthyMinds app to foster healthy minds and provide students with a problem-solving tool to help them better manage their emotions and cope with the stresses they encounter on and off campus. The goal of HealthyMinds is to emphasize the importance of taking care of one’s brain health as part of overall physical well-being.

Through a donation from D.I.F.D. (Do It For Daron), The Royal developed the app in response to requests from students who participate in their successful Is It Just Me? mental health awareness program. A great number of youth asked for ways on how to better cope with day-to-day pressures, stressful situations and how to keep their emotions in check.

“You can’t have health without good mental health” said George Weber, President and CEO of The Royal. “By taking care of our brain health, we enhance resilience and the ability to face life’s challenges. A needed skill in today’s fast-paced society where the need to stay connected is high,” added Weber.

HealthyMinds features a daily mood tracker to help stay mindful of emotions, as well as a journaling feature with photo entry capability. A problem solving tool linked to iCalendar also guides users step-by step through the process of identifying, reframing and developing a plan to address challenges in life based on a problem solving approach used in mental health treatment. The app also features coping and stress buster strategies, information on mind and body and a video breathing exercise to help calm the mind.

The Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) have joined as partners to help promote the app and the message of mental wellness and healthy minds on campuses across the country. ACCC and AUCC will promote HealthyMinds to their member institutions to help generate awareness among students about getting this free mental health tool.

“We are pleased to support the HealthyMinds initiative because students need awareness of their mental health, as well as their physical health to succeed,” said Denise Amyot, President and CEO of ACCC. “In an increasingly mobile world, student access to mental health support on-the-go is a great idea and we hope it has a positive impact on learning.”

“Canada’s universities offer many services and programs aimed at mental wellness on campus,” notes Paul Davidson, President and CEO of AUCC. “We’re pleased to see the launch of HealthyMinds as a promising tool to help support students’ mental health wherever they are.”

HealthyMinds is now available for free for iPhone, iPad, iPad mini and iPod Touch through the App Store or through healthymindsapp.ca, theroyal.ca, and difd.com, where printable promotional materials are also available.

About The Royal

The Royal is one of Canada’s foremost mental health care and academic health science centres. Its mandate is simple: to get more people living with mental illness into recovery faster. The Royal combines the delivery of specialized mental health care, advocacy, research and education to transform the lives of people with complex and treatment resistant mental illness. For more information, visit theroyal.ca.

About ACCC

The Association of Canadian Community Colleges is the national and international voice of 131 of Canada’s publicly-funded colleges and institutes, with 1.5 million learners of all ages and backgrounds at campuses serving over 3,000 urban, rural and remote communities.

About AUCC

As the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada represents 97 public and private not-for-profit universities and university degree-level colleges. It is a membership organization providing university presidents with a unified voice and a forum for collective action. AUCC has represented the interests of Canadian universities since 1911.

About D.I.F.D.

Do It For Daron was created by friends and family of 14-year-old Daron Richardson, who died by suicide in 2010. D.I.F.D. is inspired by hope for a future where young people will reach out for help without fear or shame and supports programs and initiatives aimed at transforming youth mental health. Visit difd.com to learn more.

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 Media contacts

Nicole Loreto
Vice President, Communication & Stakeholder Relations, The Royal
613-722-6521 ext. 6448 (office) | 613-697-2000 (mobile)

Helen Murphy
Assistant Director, Communications, AUCC
613-563-3961 ext. 238
hmurphy@aucc.ca 

Shawn Dearn
Director of Communications, ACCC
613-746-2222 ext. 3123
sdearn@accc.ca

Commentary - September 20, 2013

This op-ed was published in a special insert in the Toronto Star September 20, 2013

Paul Davidson
President of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

Today’s university students are preparing for the world of work in new and innovative ways. From hands-on research opportunities to internships and global study, Canada’s universities are preparing students for meaningful careers through non-traditional learning opportunities.

Universities and their students recognize the importance of connecting studies with the needs of the labour market, and that’s reflected in what’s happening on campus. Students prepare for rewarding careers through growing opportunities for experiential learning. Today, half of all undergraduate students in Canada will have a co-op or internship experience before they graduate.

Employment data confirms that a university degree remains the best protection against unemployment. In fact, just 3.7 percent of 25 to 64 year-olds with bachelor’s degrees earned in Canada were unemployed in 2010 to 2011.

It’s not just the ‘how’ of learning that has evolved; it’s also the ‘what’.  New programs have been added to address the needs of our changing economy, emerging areas such as health science policy, non-profit leadership, community relations in extractive industries, palliative nursing, health industry management and design engineering.

“Regardless of subject area, a university degree gives students skills that are sought by today’s employers. And despite media criticism to the contrary, graduates in the social sciences and humanities also enjoy a significant income premium.”

High demand, high enrolment

Students are aware of which disciplines are in high demand and are gravitating to these areas in growing numbers. From 2005 to 2010, enrolment has grown fastest in high-demand disciplines such as business, law, various health professions and engineering.

As a recent CIBC report highlights, the most in-demand jobs in Canada today require a university degree. These include managers in health, education, social and community services; human resources and business service professionals; and supervisors in manufacturing and processing.

Awareness about the value of a university degree is reflected in growing enrolments. More than 1.2 million Canadians are currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Canada – a new record.

The value of a degree

University students know there are income level differences related to field of study. They are also aware of the significant income premium of a university degree across disciplines. Regardless of subject area, a university degree gives students skills that are sought by today’s employers. And despite media criticism to the contrary, graduates in the social sciences and humanities also enjoy a significant income premium. For example, full-time workers with undergraduate degrees in history earn, on average, around $60,000 annually – the same as graduates with degrees in biological and biomedical sciences.

Employment data confirms that a university degree remains the best protection against unemployment. In fact, just 3.7 percent of 25 to 64 year-olds with bachelor’s degrees earned in Canada were unemployed in 2010 to 2011. This compares to 6.9 percent unemployment for all others in this age group and to 6.6 percent for high school graduates in this age range.

Awareness about the value of a university degree is reflected in growing enrolments. More than 1.2 million Canadians are currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Canada – a new record.  In the last dozen years, Canadian universities have made space for a 50 percent increase in full-time enrolment.

Why such an increase?  Because the labour market has demanded it. Because students and their families see university as the surest path to prosperity.  And because, as a nation, we need the continued advantage of a well-educated population.

Paul Davidson, President

Media release - September 17, 2013

OTTAWA – Recent university graduates from across Canada are sharing their experiences in the transition from studies to work on a new website, UniversityWorks, launched today by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. The short videos on UniversityWorks highlight how a high-quality undergraduate experience leads to rewarding careers.

“These personal stories reinforce what the data has been telling us: even in a tough economy, a university education pays off,” says Paul Davidson, AUCC president. “Canada needs more postsecondary graduates, including those with university, college, polytechnic and trade credentials, to achieve its economic prosperity in the years ahead,” he added. “The testimonials on the UniversityWorks website show how beneficial university experiences such as hands-on-research, study-abroad opportunities, and co-op placements are preparing students for fulfilling careers.” With today’s launch, 10 videos (English and French) are being shared, with more testimonials to be added in the weeks ahead.

Canadians are also encouraged to share their own stories about their study-to-work transition by submitting videos to the UniversityWorks site.

AUCC is the national voice of Canada’s universities, representing 97 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities across the country.

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www.universityworks.ca

Follow the discussion on Twitter #universityworks.

Media Contacts:

Helen Murphy
Assistant Director of Communications
hmurphy@aucc.ca
613 563-3961 ext. 238 or cell: 613 608-8749

Nadine Robitaille
Communications Officer
nrobitaille@aucc.ca
613-563-1236 ext. 306


( Total - 20 )