Today's Top Ten

May 14, 2021

BC launches Capacity to Connect resource

The Government of British Columbia has launched Capacity to Connect, an open educational resource for training postsecondary faculty and staff on how to recognize and respond to students who are in distress. Capacity to Connect, which was developed by BCcampus, can be used for in-person or online training sessions. Faculty and staff will receive training in basic health and wellness knowledge, as well as how to refer students to the appropriate tools and resources, and allow trainees to apply their learnings through a variety of scenarios. “The Capacity to Connect resource is a vital approach to build confidence and capacity in support of student mental health and well-being,” said Mary Burgess, executive director, BCcampus. BC | Facilitator’s Guide (BC)

UWaterloo, BlackBerry announce five-year technological partnership

The University of Waterloo and BlackBerry have announced a five-year partnership that will aim to identify, explore, and create transformational technologies. Through the multi-million-dollar partnership, UWaterloo and BlackBerry will fast-track research and development on technologies to turn them into market-ready products. UWaterloo will work with BlackBerry to develop and conduct research projects to refine BlackBerry’s product ideas, with a particular focus on areas such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. BlackBerry will become one of the Gateway for Enterprises to Discover Innovation’s three founding partners and will support cross-campus co-curricular learning opportunities, the creation of scholarships, and collaboration with other UWaterloo groups. UWaterloo (ON)

MHC, GPSD6 partner to create Sunrise Collegiate

Medicine Hat College and Grasslands Public Schools (GPSD6) have partnered to create Sunrise Collegiate, an institution that will offer students grades 7-12 and adult learners flexible distance courses and in-person support. “Collaboration and creative approaches are the best way we can expand access to learning in the region to ensure people have the skills and knowledge they need to build careers,” said MHC President Kevin Shufflebotham. “We’re creating clear pathways for students to pursue their goals, and the experience will help students feel comfortable on campus, and confident in their pursuit of higher education as a result.” MHC (AB)

Institutions should better support their members against intimidation: Opinion

Researchers need better institutional protection against intimidation, writes Vincent Denault, a postdoctoral researcher at McGill University. The author describes how researchers who use scientific knowledge to challenge conventional wisdom and pseudoscience are subject to intimidation attempts via social media. Denault explains that researchers, doctoral students, and postdocs who are conducting valuable research are often left on their own to defend their research while having to deal with intimidation that puts their mental, physical, and social health at risk. The author calls for institutions to address the issue of intimidation and to provide meaningful support to members who speak to the public. University Affairs (National)

OPSEU president responds to Bouzi’s allegations of systemic racism

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) president Warren “Smokey” Thomas has responded to the allegations of systemic racism from Algonquin College’s faculty union president Annette Bouzi. “The revelations shine light on some of the reasons OPSEU/SEFPO is actively engaged in efforts to dismantle anti-Black and other forms of racism within the union and in the workplaces we represent,” said Thomas, who told CBC that he welcomed the reports. Thomas said that staff will “apply an equity lens” to the union’s system and structures, and that three positions on OPSEU’s employment equity team would be made permanent. "I am encouraged to hear that President Thomas welcomes being called out because Black and racialized OPSEU members, as well as our allies, will continue to call out these injustices until we concretely see these 'provocative' changes and the real results promised," responded Bouzi in a written statement. CBC (ON)

UBC to receive $2M from BC for ALS professorship

The University of British Columbia will be receiving $2M from the Government of British Columbia to establish a permanent professorship dedicated to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research. The position will focus on conducting research to find a cure for ALS, increase access to local clinical trials to people with ALS, and allow those with ALS to access local potentially life-changing research. “Your life changes from the moment that you’re diagnosed, and often, access to new medical resources becomes one’s primary inspiration to keep fighting the disease,” said Brad MacKenzie, the chair of the ALS society’s advocacy committee. Times Colonist (BC)

Cambrian announces suspension of admissions to music performance program

Cambrian College has announced that it will be suspending admissions to its music performance program due to declining enrolment. Cambrian spokesperson Dan Lessard explained that enrolment has been declining in recent years, and that only ten students had enrolled in the first-year class. “We want to now work with our faculty and the program leadership to figure out how we can reinvigorate that program, to get more students interested so that they do enrol, and get that number up to a point where we can start a new cycle,” said Lessard. A column written by Shelbey Krahn on behalf of Sudbury’s Bel Canto Chorus has requested transparency with enrolment data, arguing that the program may have healthy enrolment again without Laurentian University’s competition and emphasizing the importance of the program to the community. CBC | The Sudbury Star (ON)

Canada funds projects to help internationally trained nurses become certified

The Government of Canada has announced three projects that will help internationally trained nurses to complete their certification or licensure and become qualified to work in Canada. McMaster University has received over $799K for skills upgrading and employment supports for internationally trained nurses; the Progress Career Planning Institute has received over $795K to help newcomer nurses bridge the gap between their skills and the requirements for licensed professionals; and Touchstone Institute has received over $799K to provide an online self-assessment tool and modules that will help prepare them for certification. The funding aims to support newcomer nurses in getting quality jobs faster and contributing to their communities as Canada rebuilds after the COVID-19 pandemic. NewsWire (National)

Cegep students protest requirement to write French proficiency exam remotely

The Journal de Montréal reports that teachers and students are concerned by the Government of Quebec’s education ministry announcement that students will write the provincial French proficiency exam online next week. Teachers and students told the Journal that the online format will increase cheating and punish honest students. Students will reportedly be required to sign a declaration before they write the test and the Ministry of Education will use anti-plagiarism software. A petition on this topic has gathered over 4,400 signatures, and concerns have been expressed about the stability of the anti-plagiarism software and the possibility of related technological glitches and difficulties. Journal de Montréal (QC)

Arguments for throwing out remote learning lawsuits could have long-term consequences: Analysis

Students displeased with remote learning have filed hundreds of lawsuits in the US seeking tuition refunds, writes Yale University Professor Stephen L Carter, but what is concerning is how those schools are winning their cases. "As plaintiff after plaintiff argues that the schools have breached contracts requiring in-person classes, networking opportunities, and all the benefits of the bright, cheery campuses pictured in recruiting materials,” institutions have countered that their promotional materials and websites – and the experiences depicted therein – are not contractual in nature. While this is a valid defense, Carter explains, there could be long-term consequences in insinuating “that the campus experience is worthless” in terms of the value of tuition or suggesting that the benefits to in-person instruction are negligible. Carter concludes by noting that he does not disagree with the decision to opt for remote learning or the dismissal of the lawsuits, but that it is “strange and sad to see schools winning their cases” on these arguments. Bloomberg (Editorial)