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Tuesday, April 18, 2000

  • Students go where the money is
  • Rules about posting student marks
  • The talk of a quiet campus

Students go where the money is -- by Barbara Elve

[Chan] The brain drain from Canada to the United States is "vastly underestimated", the National Post says today, but Dave Chan (left) has been doing his best to estimate it.

Chan, who will graduate from UW with an electrical engineering degree this spring, admits he wasn't always obsessed with success. And he wasn't always an engineer -- he once considered studying arts. But that's in the past. After graduation, he'll be moving to New York City, where he'll take an entry-level programming position paying $61,000 with the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs.

"I bought into the competition at this university," he says. "The co-op program had a lot to do with it" -- especially seeing students returning from work terms in Silicon Valley with new cars. "For people who go into tech fields, there's status attached to going to Silicon Valley. It's a resume piece. It's better to have a Wall Street company on your resume than TD Bank."

Chan explains the apparent stream of UW graduates going to jobs in the United States: "People in our field are very career minded. Those who stay (in Canada) may be perceived -- rightly or wrongly -- as having lack of ambition or capability."

Chan's interest in the brain drain issue led him to undertake a survey last fall to find out just how many students in his electrical engineering class would be pursuing jobs outside of Canada. "I just wanted to check out the rumours, to put some numerical values to the rumours about what was happening at UW." He set up a voting booth through an Internet service and sent e-mail messages to everyone in his class inviting them to visit the site and answer a few questions.

The results: Nearly half the respondents (46 per cent) say they plan to leave Canada to pursue careers, with most (61 per cent) convinced that they have a greater chance for success outside Canada. When asked to answer the question, "If money wasn't important, I'd stay," some 85 per cent of voters agreed.

Chan has never studied research methods, and admits his survey was conducted according to less than rigorous standards. For example, respondents were not required to provide any personal information, nor to verify if they were even students. While only one vote per computer source was accepted, it was possible for someone to vote more than once from different computers.

While the majority of respondents (65 per cent) identified themselves as technical/engineering students, there were voters in science, math/accounting, business, arts and professional categories -- not all from UW.

For Chan, even though the methodology may have been flawed, the results confirmed his suspicions. "I think most people would like to stay, but they see other people going (to the States) and making so much more. It tells me how many people value money, how many value quality of life at this stage of life.

"It disturbs me that the government doesn't acknowledge or do anything about the problem. If everyone leaves, where do the education tax dollars come from, or the money for social programs or for fighting the debt."

Chan says he wishes he could stay in Canada. "But I don't feel any sense of obligation, personally. I'll go where the money is. If companies paid more, I'd stay."

Staff member elected

Ann Simpson, manager of the Student Life Centre, has been elected to represent staff members on the UW board of governors.

She'll take office May 1, succeeding Barry Scott of the research office, whose term is ending. The 36-member board has two staff representatives, the other one being Stephen Markan of information systems and technology.

Voting for the position ended Friday. Simpson was elected from among three candidates, the university secretariat announced yesterday. The number of votes received by each candidate wasn't made public.

Rules about posting student marks

Many faculty members will be posting lists of student marks on their office doors or their web sites next week -- and that's fine after the end of the exam season, as long as the students aren't identified, a new UW policy says.

A revision of Policy 19, "Access to and Release of Student Information", has been issued, with a date of March 22. It's now available on the web. The policy says posting of marks is acceptable "provided the identity of individual students is protected".

Policy 19 says that UW keeps most information about students confidential, but will say publicly whether a person is or used to be a student here. For the first time, Policy 19 speaks about electronic information as well as records on paper. And it makes clear that parents, a spouse, an employer and the landlord aren't entitled to be given grades or other information about a student.

Attached to the policy are UW's privacy and Freedom of Information guidelines.

Some excerpts from the new Policy 19:

'Student information' refers to information related to a student's academic record at UW (including the Colleges and the information on which the admission decision was based), as well as to biographical and personal information, including digitized student identification photographs, whether in hard copy, electronic or some other form.

Access is generally restricted to UW instructional or administrative staff with a legitimate need, such as for processing, information or analysis purposes, or for academic advisement purposes. Grades are routinely provided to prospective co-op employers as part of the interview process unless a student explicitly requests that this not be done. Normally, instructors are limited to accessing grade reports when writing letters of reference.

Normally, students may access any information pertaining to them, except material submitted to the University in confidence (e.g. letters of reference). If a student has outstanding debts to the University, access may be restricted and certain academic documents (e.g. transcripts, graduation diplomas) may be withheld.

Provided the identity of individual students is protected, an instructor may convey information about student academic performance (e.g. grades on assignments, mid-term or final examinations) by posting results in a public place such as an office door, bulletin board or course website. Final examination and final course grades shall not be posted before the final examination period ends.

Responsibility for releasing student information (e.g. transcripts, grade reports, letters of standing) to members of the public is restricted to the Registrar and the Dean of Graduate Studies (or their delegates). In this policy, 'members of the public' means any person or agency other than the student and those UW faculty and staff with a legitimate need to access student information. A student's parents, spouse, other relatives, employers, landlords, associations and members of other educational institutions or agencies are considered members of the public.

Certain student information provided through the UW registration process is considered to be a matter of public record and as such may be released without student consent. This includes the Faculty or College of enrolment, programs of study, sessions in which a student is or has been registered, degrees received and dates of convocation. Such information is routinely provided by staff in the Registrar's Office or the Graduate Studies Office on request.

The University routinely creates student address directories to facilitate communication among students; students may direct the Registrar's Office or the Graduate Studies Office to suppress their names from such directories. All other student information is considered private and confidential and normally will not be released to members of the public, except with the student's prior written consent, or on the presentation of a court order, or otherwise under compulsion of law.

The University may refuse to disclose those records where disclosure would undermine the effectiveness or fairness of an examination, testing procedure, or other means of evaluation of student performance.

The talk of a quiet campus

The Waterloo Advisory Council held a dinner meeting last night at St. Paul's United College and is meeting again all day today in Needles Hall. WAC was established to bring advice from Canadian industry, business and government to UW "in the continuing development of its education, research, and administrative programs and in particular co-operative education". The membership represents employers of students and alumni. Last night's speakers were David Henderson, president of ACE Canada (Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs), speaking on "The Entrepreneurial Challenge", and Jennifer Motuz, the third-year mechanical engineering student who recently won the National Co-op Student of the Year Award.

Paul Mitchell, chairman of UW's board of governors, is among board chairs from across Ontario who will be having dinner tonight with Dianne Cunningham, the minister of training, colleges and universities. There's good communication between university leaders and the ministry, Mitchell observed at last week's meeting of the UW board; the problem seems to be having the needs of higher education reflected in actual funding decisions by the government as a whole.

For the next few months, hours at the Computing Help and Information Place -- the CHIP -- will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., an announcement says.

A session on "Back Care for the Back Yard Gardener" is scheduled at noontime today, starring Jeff Tuling of the UW chiropractic research clinic. "Get ready for your spring clean-up and gardening," a green flyer suggests. Tuling will talk about back exercises and the right way to rake and dig, lead "a warm-up and stretching demo geared to gardening", and talk about "what to do for your back if you didn't follow the above guidelines". The talk will start at 12:05 in room 1633 of the Lyle Hallman Institute (the west wing of Matthews Hall). The same session will be repeated Thursday. People wanting to attend are invited to register by e-mailing Gayle Shellard: gshellar@healthy.

The joint health and safety committee will meet at 1:30 this afternoon in Needles Hall room 3043.

Coming tomorrow: a seminar by Richard Simpson, director-general of electronic commerce for Industry Canada. His talk on "Connecting Canadians to the Digital Economy" will be given at the Waterloo Inn, following a luncheon; both are sponsored by the InfraNet Project and Communitech, and more information is available from Communitech at 888-9944.

The deadline is almost at hand for this year's alumni achievement medals from UW's faculty of engineering. Nominations are due by April 30. The award is to recognize UW graduates "who have distinguished themselves in one or more of the following areas: outstanding professional accomplishments; distinguished community and public service; academic excellence". Jeff Weller in the dean of engineering office can provide the details. Winners of the 1999 medals were Mark Chamberlain, president of Wescam Inc.; P. S. Krishnamoorthy, a vice-president of SNC Lavalin; and Paul Koch, retired from IBM Canada and active in volunteer work, including UW's board of governors and the Major Industrial Accidents Council of Canada.

Susan Shantz, assistant to UW's president, is about to retire. A reception in her honour is scheduled for Monday, April 24, starting at 3:30 p.m. in the Laurel Room, South Campus Hall. RSVPs should go to Anne Wagland, phone ext. 3187 or e-mail awagland@uwaterloo.ca.

CAR


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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