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Feb. 6, 2003, Gazette

A sampling of stories from university press across Canada

UVic law is tops

VICTORIA — UVic’s law school finds itself in a familiar place again this year — ranked number one in the country in a survey of recent law graduates by Canadian Lawyer magazine.

The UVic Ring reports that the law school has earned an “A” rating in the annual survey of law schools, published in the magazine’s February edition. “For a small law school to be consistently ranked number one by its students is particularly gratifying,” says UVic law dean Andrew Petter.

The law school finishes ahead of the universities of Alberta and Toronto in the survey, which measures the quality of curriculum, faculty, facilities and student body, testing standards, and the relevance of the overall education.

The magazine notes that grads from UVic law agree that the school’s strongest feature is its people – both faculty and fellow students. “The ‘A’ we’ve received for our students and faculty is a well-deserved tribute to the people at UVic law,” adds Dr. Petter.

UVic has ranked number one in the country in seven of the past eight of the magazine’s surveys.

Board approves tuition hike and differential fees

EDMONTON — The University of Alberta Board of Governors came to a compromise position on a controversial proposal to increase tuition fees and introduce differential tuition fees in some faculties.

In a marathon 4 1/2 hour meeting Jan. 17, most of which was spent debating tuition fees, board members amended a proposal that would have seen a general 6.4 per cent tuition increase for the coming year, along with differential fees that would have sparked even greater increases for students studying business, medicine, and law.

Citing rising costs and fierce competition for faculty from other universities - most of which already charge differential fees — the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, and the School of Business had requested differential fees. They also proposed directing 20-30 per cent of the revenues towards scholarships and bursaries, enabling lower-income students to join the faculties.

But student leaders argued passionately against differential fees, suggesting a 7.5 per cent across-the-board increase, which would raise an equivalent amount of tuition revenue as the differential fee increase, was "the lesser of two evils." Though bound by Students' Union policies to vote against any tuition fee hikes, student board members said they'd support directing funds from the general increase towards the faculties seeking differential tuition fees.

The board approved a 6.9 per cent general tuition increase and agreed to implement differential tuition fees. For medical students, tuition will rise more than $2,000 per year for the next three years, to $12,037 per year in 2005-06. Tuition for law students will grow to $8,575 in 2004-05 from the current $4,300 per year. The cost to enter the MBA program will rise to $9,778 in 2004-05 from $4,491 this year. All of the increases will be grandfathered, and will not affect students currently enrolled in these programs.

Young scientist finds shark populations decimated

HALIFAX — It's hard to think of sharks, those deadly killing machines, as "vulnerable." But according to a study by Julia Baum and others in Dalhousie's Biology department, shark populations in the Northwest Atlantic are shadows of what they were 10 years ago, thanks to human overexploitation, Dalhousie News reports.

In an article published in the prestigious Science journal on Jan. 17, Baum and the team analyzed how total populations of sharks such as scalloped hammerheads, whites and threshers in the Northwest Atlantic have each dropped by over 75 per cent in the past 15 years. The study attributes this decline largely to the expansion of fishing fleets out into the open ocean in the last 50 years.

The study estimates that "all recorded shark species, with the exception of makos, have declined more than 50 per cent in the past eight to 15 years." In other species, such as the hammerhead shark, the population has dropped by 86 per cent since 1986.

The reason the study is getting so much attention is that the image of the frightening predator appeals to the public. Sharks are also controversial. Fishing quotas introduced in the United States have been the source of lawsuits from the fisheries and from conservation groups.

Another reason for the interest, Baum says, is there had been little reliable information available on the marine predators. "Sharks are one of the least known large species in the world," says Ransom Myers, her thesis advisor. "We have good data on only a few populations, and the population status is unknown for almost all species in the world, even though there is great conservation concern for the group."

SFU urged to help public evaluate social changes

VANCOUVER — Jerry Zaslove wants Simon Fraser University to lead academics in helping communities cope with a changing world order, Simon Fraser News reports.

The founding director of the institute for the humanities at SFU has partnered with community education programs in continuing studies and outside organizations to develop a unique lecture series called The Future of Poverty, A Social Justice Series.

“Academics rarely partner with frontline social activists to help the public evaluate social and economic changes. This lecture series achieves that,” says Dr. Zaslove.

The professor emeritus of humanities continues to nurture the humanities institute’s development as a model of academic public service.

Dr. Zaslove says the lecture series is structured to give people the background to evaluate the impact of unprecedented social change across Canada and their options for making adjustments.

“For the first time in many years people en masse are experiencing the effects of job cuts, retrenchment, business reorganization, healthcare cuts and reduced access to higher education,” says Dr. Zaslove.