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Thursday, January 31, 2002

  • Here in our winter wonderland
  • Talking about the double cohort
  • UW launches diploma in photonics
  • Computing courses in February
  • Notes on the last day of January
Chris Redmond

'Enormous' round of federal research funding

Hockey score

Laurier 7, Warriors 5, last night at WLU

Here in our winter wonderland

Yes, the university is open today, in spite of a storm -- the winter's biggest so far -- that began with snow overnight and is forecast to turn to freezing rain later in the day.

By policy, UW follows the lead of the Waterloo Region District School Board, and closes in bad weather only when public schools are closed. The school board cancelled its buses today, but schools themselves remain open.

So classes continue, and although people will probably straggle onto campus a little more slowly than usual, life will be fairly normal. Among the events scheduled for today that should be going ahead as planned:

And finally, there's a special talk tonight sponsored by the Spiritual Heritage Education Network and the Waterloo-India Linkage. Cambridge physician Valerie Thomson will speak on "Being Compassion: The Dwindling Art of Medicine", starting at 7:00 in Math and Computer room 4021. Admission is free.

Talking about the double cohort

"University squeeze looming . . . Can't cope with surging enrolment . . . 20,000 face entry refusal . . . Students fear stiff fights for admission."

Those have been the headlines in the Star this week, on stories about how institutions, students and parents are coping with plans for the "double cohort" that will hit Ontario campuses in 2003. The articles have also been published by the Record and other newspapers in the Torstar group.

They're based on comments by universities and central organizations, as well as a survey of institutions done by the lobby group People for Education. PFE says it's estimating that there will be 60,000 spaces in universities in the fall of 2003 for the 81,000 qualified high school graduates who want to start university study.

The "double cohort" is the arrival of two years' worth of high school students at the same time -- roughly, those born in 1984 and 1985 -- as Ontario schools shift from the traditional five-year program to a new four-year program.

The Council of Ontario Universities has been saying that September 2003 "will challenge each institution's planning skills, faculty resources, and physical facilities", and the Ontario government has consistently said that there will be a place at one of the province's campuses for every qualified student.

Today's story in the Star notes that would-be students, a year before the double cohort is scheduled to hit, are already applying to more universities than they typically did in past years -- and often universities far from home. It says Nipissing University in North Bay has twice as many applications so far as it did at the same point a year ago.

[Actual figures exceed targets every year]

Full-time first-year students admitted to UW -- actual figures for the past four years, proposals 2002-2005 if Waterloo grows as the provost has suggested.

"We've been working for the last seven years, at least, to plan for the double cohort," Dave Ross of the ministry of training, colleges and universities told the Star for one of its articles. The government has promised a big addition to operating grants in 2003-04, the year the flood of new students will hit campuses, but UW's provost at that time called the promise too little and too late -- "not very pretty".

Still UW and most other universities (and colleges) have been preparing to expand enrolment. In addition, two new institutions are going into operation: the Ontario Institute of Technology (a spinoff of Oshawa's Durham College) and the University of Guelph-Humber, a joint venture of Humber College and U of G.

The double cohort provides a perfect opportunity for UW to shore up its finances with expansion, a policy the current provost, Amit Chakma, has been advocating. At a meeting of the senate finance and long-range planning committees this week, he showed budget "scenarios" indicating that growth "should help mitigate some of the cuts" that Waterloo is bound to suffer with the current level of financing.

With enrolment growth and an "aggressive" level of fee increases, he said, the university can "get pretty close to hitting the black line instead of the red line". He's proposing that UW admit about 5,200 first-year students a year starting in 2003 -- up by about 15 per cent from this year's level, or 30 per cent from three years ago.

[Oval wooden cage]

Absurd it may be, but it's going to be solid; Jill Skene makes sure of that as she constructs a prop for Samuel Beckett's "Play". It's one of three absurdist plays to be performed by the UW drama department February 6 through 16 in Studio 180 in the Humanities building. Tickets: phone ext. 5808.

UW launches diploma in photonics -- from the UW news bureau

Responding to a critical shortage of scientists and engineers with education in optics, UW is undertaking a new diploma program in photonics, called the Education Program for Photonics Professionals, or EP3.

The Ontario ministry of economic development and trade has awarded $317,660 for the start-up phase of EP3. Additional support in equipment and staff is being provided by Photonics Research Ontario (PRO), and by EP3's industrial partners: Christie Digital Systems, EXFO, Fakespace, Melles Griot, The OPTIKON Corp., Passat, and Research In Motion (RIM). The estimated total value of the EP3 project is $1.5 million.

Photonics is a rapidly emerging technology associated with the generation, manipulation, transmission and detection of light. Poised to take part in the next global trillion-dollar industry, the Canadian photonics sector currently has $6 billion in sales and employs 15,000 people. PRO estimates that there are 700 companies in Ontario alone involved in photonics.

"There is no question that educating photonics professionals will break a bottleneck that's limiting the growth of the photonics sector in Ontario," says Robert Runciman, minister of economic development and trade. "Funding education that's responsive to the demands of new technologies and industries is an investment in the future of the province. We foresee a good return on this investment in the years to come."

Says George Dixon, dean of science: "Ten years ago, a newly minted physicist or electrical engineer didn't need to know much about optics. Now, with photonic technologies transforming industries from information technology to manufacturing to health care, that's changed. There are thousands of engineers and scientists working in the field who need to obtain a broad, fundamental education in optics. EP3 will let them do just that, without leaving their current positions."

The education EP3 provides is the heart of a Bachelor of Science in Optics, distilled and packaged into a time frame and format manageable for the working professional. The program consists of six courses and two weekend laboratories, and can be completed part-time over the course of 18 to 24 months. Those successfully completing all six courses will earn a Diploma in Optics and Photonics. The first EP3 classes are anticipated to start in late spring.

EP3 is one of several diploma programs offered by epSTAR, a provider of education programs for professionals at Waterloo. epSTAR also offers diploma programs in software development, health informatics, and organizational communication.

Computing courses in February

The information systems and technology department (IST) is offering computing courses in February to UW faculty, staff and students. The following courses are being offered to all UW faculty, staff, and students: The following courses are part of the Skills for the Academic e-Workplace, and are offered to faculty, grad students, and staff with instructional responsibilities: More information about the courses, and a registration form, can be found on-line.

Notes on the last day of January

Trudge through the snow all the way to the Humanities building, and then you'll have to trudge up the stairs. The Hagey Hall elevator, which was to be back in operation today after brief maintenance, will be shut down for the rest of the week, the plant operations department says.

Employers, job-seekers and placement specialists are looking forward to the winter Job Fair next Wednesday -- not at its usual Kitchener location, but at Waterloo's new RIM Park. "Network with over 100 North American employers from diverse sectors," a flyer urges students. "Hiring for full-time, contract, summer, co-op and part-time jobs." In preparation, UW's career services department will run a seminar today at 2:30: "Making the Job Fair Work for You". The career resource centre in Needles Hall can provide details, and there's a sign-up sheet.

A note from Will Pascoe in the housing and residences office: "We are currently having our hiring process right now for Residence Dons for the 2002-2003 academic year, and would like to remind everyone that applications and resumes are due by 4:30 p.m. this Friday, February 1, at the Housing Office in Village I. Being a Don is one of the best ways for students to get involved on campus, while learning important life and social skills including conflict mediation, counselling techniques, how to work in a team, and group development. Among the many great benefits to being a Don are having a great room on campus and the opportunity to have a fun job that is both challenging and rewarding."

And another opportunity, announced by Melani Mcleod, arts student and one of the organizers of next fall's Village orientation: "We are presently doing recruiting. Anyone interested in doing frosh week for the first week of September can apply on-line. Deadline is February 2, and interviews will be in two weeks, February 8, 9, 10. We're looking for about 140 new leads this year to help us ease the transition for first year students."

Tomorrow brings a visit to campus by Cathy Cotton, a 1971 graduate from UW (applied math and physics) and now on the staff of Statistics Canada, where she's an expert on the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. At 10:30, she'll give a talk mostly for researchers, about the SLID itself: "What is it? Can it answer my research questions?" Then at 12:30 she'll lead a brown-bag lunch seminar mostly for students, "Low Income Measurement in Canada", co-sponsored by the Women in Mathematics Committee. Both of tomorrow's events will be held in Math and Computer room 5158.

The career development seminar series will put it all together on Saturday in a one-day session, "The Whole Kit 'n' Kaboodle", covering topics from self-assessment to networking and interview skills. The career resource centre in Needles Hall (phone ext. 4047) has more information.



January 31, 1996: The central UW gopher is closed down -- from now on, UWinfo is World Wide Web all the way.

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