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*** DAILY BULLETIN ***


Tuesday, January 29, 2002

  • Enrolment booms for distance courses
  • Projections show budget cuts
  • One election for senate seat
  • And just a few other notes
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

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Here's one of the teams of fourth-year electrical and computer engineering students who showed off their projects in a two-day design symposium in the Davis Centre last week. "And the average age of these whiz kids is 23," Carol Goodwin of the Record marvelled on Friday's front page. The picture, by Ed Spike of the E&CE department, shows Arash Shakeri-Far, Michael Yang, Pouyan Farasati and Desmond Chang; teammate Vivian Lei didn't make it into the photo.

Enrolment booms for distance courses

UW's distance education program, which was in the doldrums just a few years ago, is enjoying new popularity, says Don Kasta, director of part-time and continuing education.

"We're up about 25 per cent over the past two years, and 14 per cent over last year," Kasta said late last week. That means approximately 13,000 course registrations during the three terms of 2001-02, he said, compared to 11,400 in 2000-01 and 10,400 in 1999-2000.

"The biggest jump is definitely in the winter term," he added, pointing to 5,000 courses being taken this term compared to 3,900 in the winter a year ago.

Kasta added that "it appears the bulk of the growth is coming from our on-campus students." That's a development that had been expected -- but it represents a huge shift in the business the distance ed department is in.

From the time it was launched in 1968, the "correspondence program", the name it then carried, was aimed at people who wanted some university study but couldn't attend full-time. Initially the targets were high school teachers upgrading their qualifications; later there was a boom in applications from people, especially women, who had missed the chance to attend university but decided that late was better than never. Enrolment and offerings grew steadily until, by the late 1980s, it was possible to do an entire UW degree in dozens of fields without ever setting foot on campus. Courses were delivered on audiotapes, supplemented with written notes and other materials sent by mail. Enrolment fell from 1993 to 1998, and a number of distance course offerings were dropped.

But now things are growing again, and there's particular interest in the courses that the department offers over the Internet. The majority of courses still involve taped lectures and the post office, but the number of on-line courses is going up steadily -- 18 are being offered this term. Two-thirds of distance education teaching is from the faculty of arts, with science in second place.

Kasta said on-campus students are registering in distance courses when the on-campus version of a course isn't available, or is scheduled at a time that conflicts with some other course they need to take. And while it's long been possible for a full-time student to do that, it's been made easier this year by the new Student Information System (Quest), because on-campus and distance versions of a course are listed there together. "Before, they would have had to look in a different place" for a listing of distance courses, Kasta explained.

He said that with the boom in enrolment this term, his staff had to close off registration in "a couple" of courses earlier than the planned deadline. "We're struggling to keep up," he said.

Projections show budget cuts

It's going to be hard to avoid budget cuts again this year, judging from rough calculations prepared for UW's provost.

Across Ontario, universities say they're short of funds. The Council of Ontario Universities issued a statement yesterday, according to today's Star, calling for hundreds of millions of dollars more from the provincial government.
The four budget "scenarios", worked out by Bob Truman, the director of institutional analysis and planning, will be background for discussion this afternoon when the senate finance committee and long-range planning committee hold a joint meeting.

"To help get some sense of the effects of varying levels of tuition increases," Truman explains, "models showing low, medium and high tuition increases are presented." Those various options lead to cuts in UW's operating budget of anywhere from 1.8 per cent to 3.5 per cent in 2002-03, and another 0.6 per cent to 3.6 per cent next year.

Two of the four scenarios involve fee increases of 2 per cent in most programs (the maximum allowed under current government rules) and 7 per cent in programs where fees are deregulated, such as engineering. One of those assumes current enrolment levels, while the other is based on enrolment growth of the kind the provost has been talking about in recent weeks.

The other two scenarios involve higher levels of fee increases in the deregulated programs.

The plan that includes enrolment growth and "low" fee increases leads to a shortfall of $5.3 million in the coming year, meaning a 3.0 per cent budget cut. In the following year, another $3.8 million, or 2 per cent, would have to be cut.

What the scenarios don't include is any big new source of income, and that's likely to be one of the things members of the two senate committees will discuss at today's meeting. It starts at 1:30 p.m. in Needles Hall room 3001.

One election for senate seat -- a memo from the university secretariat

The call for nominations for undergraduate student representatives to Senate closed at 3:00 p.m., Friday, January 18, and the results are:

Acclaimed:

No nominations were received for the Arts and Science seats, terms from May 1, 2002 to April 30, 2004.

There will be an election for the at-large seat (term from May 1, 2002 to April 30, 2004). The nominees:

To obtain information about the online voting process for the above Senate seat, as well as for Students' Council and Federation of Students' Executive seats, visit the Federation of Students' website.

From 4:30 p.m., Friday, February 8, 2002 to 4:30 p.m., Friday, February 15, 2002, eligible students will be able to select this website and, using their studentQuest userid and password, vote from any computer, on or off campus.

And just a few other notes

A note arrived recently from Patrick Quealy, of the Federation of Students environment commission: "One of the environment commission's groups is ready to make some headway. Mark Chambers, our deputy commissioner of energy efficiency, is poised to release his report on daylight harvesting to plant operations. His report will include options and recommendations on why the University should go with daylight harvesting in Dana Porter Library. Daylight harvesting would use a series of light sensors that track the level of sunlight entering the library. If the amount of sunlight meets the required level, then the artificial lights remain off, thus saving energy that otherwise would have been wasted. Similar projects at American universities have demonstrated a reduction in energy requirements for lighting by more than 40 per cent. It is expected that we could save a comparable amount." Quealy adds that there's been no commitment the university will follow the proposal, but he's hopeful.

The annual Hagey Bonspiel is just over the horizon -- February 23 -- and Pat Cunningham of the math faculty, one of the organizers, writes thus: "The winner of the Hagey 2002 Early Bird Draw was Bruce Woods, Central Stores. Bruce will be sporting a new UW fleece vest as his prize. The 9:30 a.m. draw is full but we still have space for curlers (and wannabe curlers) in the 11:00 a.m. draw. The action will be at the Ayr Curling Club. Plan to join us. Registration forms are on the UW website or call Pat Cunningham, ext. 3638."

Tonight brings another event in the series of "country presentations" organized by the International Student Association. Tonight's distant, exotic land is . . . England. English food is promised, as well as an introduction to the homeland from a couple of British students. The get-together starts at 6:00 in Humanities room 138.

Coming tomorrow, sponsored by the UW computer store: the second in the Winter Lunch Series of "free lunch and great technology". Tomorrow's presentation, at 12 noon in Davis Centre room 1302, comes from Corel. E-mail n2fernan@uwaterloo.ca to reserve a free box lunch.

This Saturday will be the annual "Fantastic Alumni and Staff Day" at the Warriors' basketball games against Guelph (women at 12 noon, men at 2 p.m.). Says Chris Gilbert in the athletics department: "All alumni, faculty and staff receive a free pass for themselves and all of their guests. Simply log on and fill out the information. You will be automatically sent your free pass. We are featuring a number of fantastic promotions throughout the day, including our popular Kids' Zone at halftime of the women's game, and the first ever Staff vs. Alumni Challenge at halftime of the men's game."

And finally, here's an invitation from the local Volunteer Action Centre: "Feel the Harley rumble! The popular CNIB Harley Davidson raffle is underway. Volunteers who enjoy meeting others while helping a great cause, make this event a success every year. A display involving the motorcycle will be set up in various locations throughout the Golden Triangle until June. Volunteers will sell tickets during the day and/or the evening. This is a flexible position; volunteers may choose the time that suits them best. Training is provided." For more information, call the VAC at 742-8610.

CAR

TODAY IN UW HISTORY

January 29, 1996: A draft "statement on computing directions" for UW is distributed in a novel way -- through the university's Web site.

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