Today's Top Ten

September 28, 2016

HEQCO to mark “Canadian first” by measuring development of core skills in ON colleges

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario has announced that it will achieve “a Canadian first” by administering an international test on literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving to first-year and graduating students at 11 colleges in Ontario. Titled the Essential Adult Skills Initiative, the pilot project will use the OECD’s Education & Skills Online assessment to measure how well students have developed core skills in literacy, numeracy, and technology-enabled problem-solving over the course of their college education. “The initial goal is that colleges and universities use these results as instruments for quality enhancement,” says HEQCO President Harvey Weingarten. “If the pilots prove successful, this could become standard practice in Ontario and beyond.” HEQCO states that a similar pilot is planned for Ontario universities in 2017. HEQCO

“Graduates who end up leaving the Maritimes are not moving solely for employment,” says MPHEC

Six out of ten graduates from universities in the Maritimes are still living in this region two years after completing their degrees, according to a new infographic released by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. The infographic offers insight into the current activities of graduates, finding that a similar proportion are still pursuing their studies regardless of whether they live in the Maritimes. MPHEC’s research further shows that the proportion of graduates who are working two years after graduation does not vary considerably between those who leave the Maritimes and those who stay. For MPHEC, these findings suggest that “those graduates who end up leaving the Maritimes are not moving solely for employment.” MPHEC | Infographic

uToronto scholar to become first non-Brit head of Cambridge

Stephen Toope of the University of Toronto has become the first non-Briton to be nominated as Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, reports Simona Chiose of the Globe and Mail. The director of uToronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, Toope is an international legal scholar and past president of the University of British Columbia. The article notes that Toope will arrive at Cambridge during a period of uncertainty for British higher education. “The UK is trying to assess the impact of Brexit and what it means for the research relationship that crosses the channel,” says Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada. “To have someone like [Toope], who is a bridge builder, someone who has the qualities of tenacity and diplomacy, is a very timely appointment.” Globe and Mail

UArctic network can become “distributed Silicon Valley in the Arctic,” says president

“Arctic research is something with and for the people of the North, instead of something people do and later tell Northerners,” says Lars Kullerud, the Norway-based president of the University of the Arctic. Speaking at UArctic’s first congress in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Kullerud argued for a turn from the Arctic’s traditional emphasis on fishing, mining, and oil and gas exploration to creating a knowledge economy that could make UArctic’s 180 affiliated universities and colleges into a “distributed Silicon Valley in the Arctic.” “This is absolutely critical and hugely overdue,” says University of Alberta Professor David Hik. “Higher education and shared knowledge are really the keys to building capacity, especially human capacity among Northerners.” CBC

McMaster receives largest-ever government investment for labs

McMaster University has received its largest ever government investment in laboratories and research capacity. A $43M combined investment from the federal and Ontario governments–along with $24.3M from McMaster and an additional $7.6M from the Independent Electricity System Operator–will reportedly support the construction of a six-storey addition to the Arthur Bourns Building, the repair and retrofit of existing labs within the building, and the conducting of McMaster's campus electricity and heat cogeneration project (COGEN). “It's a scale of investment that will really make a difference here. This is not about investing in a university just for the university's sake,” said McMaster President Patrick Deane. “It's about investing in the province and the country for the benefit of the people of Ontario and the people of Canada.” McMaster |Hamilton Spectator

“Time will never be better” to enhance recognition of prior learning, writes KPU dean

“Today’s savvy students are quickly learning to curate their own learning experiences,” writes Patrick Donahoe for University Affairs, which is why “the time will never be better” to enhance the recognition of prior learning at Canadian PSE institutions. As dean of the faculty of academic and career advancement at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Donahoe argues that many of today’s students engage in numerous forms of meaningful learning beyond the classroom. He adds that institutions will better serve these students by assessing their prior learning according to rigorous standards and coaching students on how to effectively document learning from their workplace, community service, and volunteer experiences. University Affairs

uRegina opens Laboratory for Behavioural Business Research

The University of Regina has announced that it has officially opened the new Laboratory for Behavioural Business Research. The lab is reportedly outfitted to conduct focus groups, advanced computer simulations, and experiments, and will be used to conduct a wide variety of behavioural research on topics such as problem gambling and workplace team dynamics. “Access to advanced technology that this lab will offer is not very common for business students, particularly undergrad students, so we hope it will create a whole new level of interest and scholarly activity,” said Andrew Gaudes, dean of the Hill and Levene Schools of Business. uRegina | Leader Post

Students more interested in PSE facilities than academic reputation, says UK study

Students in the UK base their choice of a PSE institution more on an institution’s facilities than on its academic ranking and reputation, according to a new study by the UK’s Association of University Directors of Estates. Times Higher Education reports that 44% of surveyed students viewed academic rankings as important to choosing a university, while 42% said they were influenced by reputation. Nearly two-thirds of students (61%) said that a school’s facilities were an important factor. “It’s clear potential students are choosing universities which offer the best overall experience, perhaps more than ever before,” said AUDE Chair Trevor Humphreys. “Effective estate management is key to ensuring higher education institutions deliver the best possible student experience, both academically and socially.” In Canada, Academica Group's research has also identified facilties as a potential differentiator for postsecondary applicants. Times Higher Education

Lambton to expand, upgrade Centre of Excellence in Energy & Bio-Industrial Technologies

Students, professors, and researchers at Lambton College will have the opportunity to work in state-of-the-art research facilities thanks to $6.5M in joint federal-provincial funding. The funds will support the expansion and upgrading of Lambton’s Centre of Excellence in Energy & Bio-Industrial Technologies. The changes will include improvements to environmental sustainability and the reduction of greenhouse gas production. The project will seek to boost Lambton’s efforts in such areas as work-integrated programming, applied research, and business incubation. “This funding, which will support infrastructure and drive innovation in skills development and research, firmly secures Lambton College's place as a global leader in Energy and Bio-Industrial Technology,” said Lambton President Judith Morris. Lambton

Concordia to support industry growth, innovation with aviation think tank

Concordia University will seek to support researchers and facilitate exchanges with industry professionals through the opening of a new aviation think tank. The university states that the centre will help stakeholders collaborate to explore key issues of strategy, policy development, and communications as they relate to the aviation sector. “This new initiative will provide a dynamic platform for dialogue to address the priorities of business, government and the public on issues ranging from sustainability to profitability,” says Concordia President Alan Shepard. “A key objective will be advancing academic research in this rapidly evolving field.” Concordia