Today's Top Ten

March 24, 2017

Canada invests in skills, WIL, Indigenous learners with 2017 budget

The federal government has introduced a new budget that focuses on skills, innovation, and Indigenous learners. Among the budget’s PSE highlights is an investment of $90M over two years to support the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, a federal initiative that distributes non-repayable financial support to Indigenous students attending higher education. The budget also includes $117.6M over eight years for 25 “Canada 150” Research Chairs and $221M over five years to support Mitacs’ goal of providing 10,000 work-integrated learning placements every year for Canadian postsecondary students and graduates. Several organizations have also applauded the government's investment of $225M over four years to create a new organization to support skills development and measurement in Canada. Finally, the budget allows the Canada Student Loans Program to expand eligibility for part-time students and students with dependents. Universities Canada | CICan | Polytechnics Canada | CFS | CASA | CAUT

UWaterloo focuses on student wellness in wake of suicides

The University of Waterloo has reached out to students in one of its residence buildings to assist with grief counselling after a student died in his dorm room earlier this week, reports the Waterloo Region Record. The 19-year-old's death marks the second fatality this year to happen under similar circumstances in one of the school’s residences. “We do everything we can to assist the family and support the students as they go through the grieving process,” said Chris Read, UWaterloo associate provost, students. UWaterloo Spokesperson Matthew Grant adds that the school has 22 counsellors, two psychiatrists, a mental health nurse, and peer support groups, in addition to a health centre with physicians to help students who feel overwhelmed. Students at the school have reportedly started a petition calling for better mental health services since their peer’s death this week. Waterloo Region Record | CBC | Waterloo Region Record (Petition)

“Probably the largest single budget cut we've ever had”: SK reduces PSE base funding by 5%

“It's a huge number,” said University of Regina President Vianne Timmons in response to the recent announcement that Saskatchewan will cut its base funding for PSE by 5% in the upcoming year. CBC reports that the most recent budget tabled by the province will also see the government decrease its overall spending in the Ministry of Advanced Education by $44M. Timmons noted that the cut will almost inevitably result in a tuition increase at URegina: “[it] will be a tough, tough year for us and tough to manage this, especially when growing. We will have to increase tuition but I'm committed to keeping the tuition increases reasonable.” University of Saskatchewan President Peter Stoicheff echoed Timmons’ surprise, adding that “I can't side step the fact that a minus five [per cent in funding] is probably the largest single budget cut we've ever had in our history.” CBC | StarPhoenix | NationTalk

UOttawa signs MOU announcing collaboration with NCTR

The University of Ottawa has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. UOttawa states that by signing the MOU it has committed itself to strengthening Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples in three ways: by deepening the understanding of Indigenous knowledge and culture among all students, staff, and faculty members; by increasing the university’s engagement with Indigenous communities; and by exploring innovations in teaching and learning to foster Indigenous student success and increase understanding of Indigenous peoples among all students. “We are thrilled to see the University take up the challenge of the Truth and Reconciliation journey,” said Ry Moran, Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. “We look forward to working closely together to advance Truth and Reconciliation in this country.” UOttawa

Lambton partners with Michigan-based Davenport to provide Master’s pathway for international students

Lambton College has announced that it has signed a new pathway agreement with Michigan’s Davenport University that will allow international students to transfer credits from Lambton towards a Master’s degree at Davenport. The bridging opportunity will require international students to meet the criteria of the agreement before having their transfer credits accepted. “We are very pleased to be able to offer an educational pathway of this level to our students,” says Chris Slade, Dean of International Education and Computer Studies at Lambton. “This agreement speaks volumes about the quality of the programs we provide and the unique features of the coursework are students are exposed to.” Lambton

Relationship between science, innovation has been “drastically simplified”

“Because governments are convinced that innovation is a good thing, they prioritize investments on activities that (presumably) lead to innovation,” writes Creso Sá of the University of Toronto. The author argues, however, that the idea that there is a direct line running from scientific knowledge to innovation and economic development has been “widely discredited.” The author argues that investing in science for the purpose of promoting innovation misses the fact that a majority of the activities driving innovation have nothing to do with science, but are rather tied up in “improvements firms make in producing, distributing and marketing their goods and services.” For this reason, Sá concludes that much of the current innovation agenda supporting science “should recognize that government agencies do not have the foresight to predict, let alone engineer, commercial technology breakthroughs.” Globe and Mail

U of T opens centre for sexual violence prevention

The University of Toronto has launched the tri-campus Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre, which will coordinate efforts between U of T’s three campuses to combat sexual assault. “I want to help create a campus where everyone knows this is a safe place and sexual assault is not tolerated no matter what your status is,” commented the centre's executive director, Terry McQuaid. The centre will provide consultations across the school's campuses, educate the community about issues such as consent and intervention, serve as the first point of contact for anyone in need, and manage the sexual violence reporting process. U of T reports that the centre has set up a temporary office on its St George campus, and that permanent locations for the centre on other campuses are expected to open in April. MetroNews | U of T

NIC partners with Chinese city on new program

International students at North Island College will have new opportunities to hone their hospitality skills thanks to a new partnership between the school and the city of Tianjin in China. The partnership will see NIC and Tianjin create a new program that will focus on developing Chinese students’ English language skills and their knowledge of the tourism sector, which is reportedly growing in Tianjin. “We developed a 6 month program that brings students here from China to, at first, learn English, and slowly blend them into some modules around tourism and hospitality, with the focus on the [growing] cruise line industry,” said NIC Executive Director of International Education Thevi Pather. The new program is set to begin in September 2017. MyComoxValleyNow

How to address students’ stereotyping beliefs about their instructors

“As professors we are careful—or we should be—not to translate our personal beliefs about students’ capabilities into our expectations of how they will perform academically,” writes Manya Whitaker for Chronicle Vitae, “but we rarely think about how students’ expectations of us affect our performance.” Whitaker says that the latter threat is often more pronounced for women or for members of racialized groups who may feel anxiety about whether they are confirming or disproving students’ stereotypical beliefs. With this in mind, Whitaker reflects on how she works to challenge students’ stereotypes by forming genuine relationships with them, later concluding that “in offering students my whole self without cautionary tape restricting our interactions, students begin to understand me beyond my social markers, and thus, begin to understand themselves in relation to their social contexts.” Chronicle Vitae

UAlberta upgrades Dentistry/Pharmacy building to administrative hub

The University of Alberta’s Dentistry/Pharmacy building will be restored and converted into an administrative hub, thanks to the Government of Alberta’s decision to commit $149M to the building's renovation. “I thank the government of Alberta for this timely and important investment in one of the University of Alberta’s oldest, most iconic buildings,” said UAlberta President David Turpin. “The Dentistry/Pharmacy Building has supported students and learning outcomes for nearly a century and its restoration will continue to uphold excellence in education for generations to come.” Global News reports that the building has been deemed a provincial heritage site, and that this restoration will address $78M in deferred maintenance. Global News | Edmonton Journal