Today's Top Ten

October 28, 2021

NS institutions facing infrastructure deficit of over $1B

Postsecondary institutions in Nova Scotia are facing an infrastructure deficit of over $1B, reports CBC. NS has some of the oldest institutions in Canada, and efforts to balance institutional budgets have resulted in delays to infrastructure improvements and maintenance. Though government documents showed a combined deficit of over $600M, Association of Atlantic Universities executive director Peter Halpin says that the shortfall is around $1.3B with deferred maintenance being the most critical issue. Halpin says that both the size and age of the structures are a factor, explaining that institutions with older structures are struggling to keep up with maintenance and meet the expectations of students. CBC (NS)

U of T announces plans to go climate-positive with divestment strategy, geoexchange system

The University of Toronto has announced plans to divest from fossil fuel investments and to make its St George campus climate-positive. As part of this plan, U of T has pledged to divest all direct fossil fuel investments within the next year and divest from all indirect investments in fossil fuels by 2030. The U of T will put $400M from its endowment portfolio into sustainable investments by 2025, with a goal of having an endowment portfolio with net zero carbon emissions by 2050. U of T has also joined the UN-Convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, stating that it is the first university in the world to join the Alliance, and has announced plans to implement a geoexchange system on its St George campus to reduce carbon emissions. U of T | Bloomberg | InfoTel (ON)

Rethinking carbon neutrality in higher education: Opinion

Carbon neutrality in higher education should be rethought so that institutions can more effectively respond to the climate crisis, writes Alex Barron. Barron provides tips that institutions can use to change their view of carbon neutrality, such as refocusing on plans to stop burning fossil fuels, strategically examining their purchasing decisions, and ensuring that the land owned by the institution is managed in climate-friendly ways. Barron also encourages promoting clean electricity, being educated about and establishing a plan to reduce the use of offsets, and speeding up climate change goals. “[I]nstitutions can’t be full climate leaders unless we are doing everything we can to collaborate with our communities to help our society meet our climate goals,” writes Barron. Inside Higher Ed (Editorial)

MB requested postsecondary institutions to create plans in days to expand nursing programs

Correspondence between Manitoba’s department of advanced education and university administrators shows that postsecondary institutions were told to create “significant modification applications” to scale up nursing programs within days, writes Maggie Macintosh of the Winnipeg Free Press. The documents show that a public servant contacted administrators at the University of Manitoba, Brandon University, Université de Saint-Boniface, and University College of the North on May 12th. A follow-up meeting was held the following day, in which MB requested that it receive nursing expansion proposals by May 18. The institutions were allegedly told not to submit cost projections. Members of the Manitoba Nurses’ Union and UManitoba educators have critiqued MB’s approach, saying it does not take into account academic integrity, research operations, and instructor recruitment. Winnipeg Free Press (MB)

UWindsor to track coastal changes through Parks Canada Coastie Initiative

The University of Windsor will be using pictures of the coast to examine shoreline changes as part of the new Coastie Initiative launched by Parks Canada. This year, cell phone cradles will be installed at five national parks: Prince Edward Island National Park, Fundy National Park, Kouchibouguac National Park, Point Pelee National Park, and Sable Island National Park Reserve. Park visitors can use the cell phone cradle to take a picture of the location, which UWindsor will use to track coastal changes such as shoreline retreat, dune erosion and recovery, storm surge and ice cover, vegetation structure, beach use, and rip current locations. “Citizen science is an ideal way for us to collect the very important information we need to monitor shoreline change across Canada,” said UWindsor faculty of science dean Chris Houser. UWindsor | Lethbridge News Now | CBC (AB)

VFS launches Creature Animation program

Vancouver Film School’s School of Animation has launched a Creature Animation program. The program aims to meet the industry need for creature animators, and is geared towards industry professionals who have significant experience in animation or VFX. Students in the six-month program will learn the fundamentals of CG animation, will learn about breaking down the physical actions of creatures, and will complete a final film project. “VFS is proud to be offering the brand-new Creature Animation program through our School of Animation,” said VFS Head of School of Animation Colin Giles. “With such a high demand for creature animators in the industry, this is an exciting opportunity for professionals to take their career to the next level.” News Wire (BC)

Western joins UC3 to accelerate solutions to climate change

Western University has announced that it has joined the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3). The coalition aims to accelerate climate change solutions both locally and globally, and to teach, research, and build community resistance. As part of the UC3, Western will participate in initiatives such as mobilizing resources and expertise, scaling campus initiatives to impact the broader community, collaborating with global leaders on climate solutions, and hosting climate forums. “Research-intensive universities are well-positioned to share their best sustainability ideas, practices and policies with each other and with the communities where they reside,” said Lynn Logan, vice-president (operations and finance) at Western. “That’s what the UC3 does so well, and we’re pleased we can contribute to – and learn from – some of the best of our peers.” Western (ON)

NorQuest, AHF partner to support BIWOC student success

NorQuest College has partnered with Accelerate Her Future (AHF) to provide Black, Indigenous and women of colour (BIWOC) students with increased network building. The partnership will provide BIWOC students with increased access to AHF’s Fellowship Circle and opportunities such as career learning labs, mentorship, and network building. The cost will be covered by NorQuest as part of its commitment to supporting BIWOC student success. “NorQuest is committed to the idea of we are who we include,” said NorQuest President Carolyn Campbell. “We have it within our power to break down entrenched barriers in our system, and genuinely make learners of all ages and circumstances understand that they belong at NorQuest.” NorQuest (AB)

Solving the issue of finding expert peer reviewers: Opinion

Journals often struggle to find peer reviewers, and remuneration may help solve the issue, writes Adrian Furnham. Furnham says that journals often request highly productive academics to peer review work, but these academics receive an overwhelming amount of such requests. The author says that professionalizing the process through payment may help solve the problem, but questions how this could successfully be implemented and whether the pay would be conditional in any way. Furnham says remuneration could lead to benefits such as higher standards for reviewers, while it could also lead to downsides such as reviewers being chosen based on economic need rather than expertise. The author also discusses making peer review mandatory for academics or charging authors for submissions. Times Higher Ed (Editorial)

George Brown, CTA sign agreement to grow the culinary tourism sector

George Brown College and the Culinary Tourism Alliance (CTA) have signed a MOU to grow and increase leadership in the culinary tourism sector. George Brown and CTA will work on initiatives that will ensure food tourism remains a meaningful and sustainable contributor to local economies around the world. The agreement includes opportunities in continuing education, industry conferences, and the creation of an on-campus industry hub and national tourism consortium. “We are excited about the potential to advance tourism industry transformation,” says Lorraine Trotter, George Brown Dean of the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts. “This agreement opens doors to exciting possibilities of new collaboration and is a great opportunity for our two institutions to learn from each other, contribute to thought leadership and create opportunities to better support our students and the tourism sector.” CTA (ON)