Top Ten

September 27, 2012

Chamber report outlines key priorities for action on skills crisis

As part of the "Top Ten Barriers to Canadian Competitiveness" initiative, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its network held its largest-ever consultation with its membership on the skills crisis. Following roundtable discussions in 14 locations over the course of 12 months, the Chamber has produced a report on those consultations, identifying 4 key priorities as it moves from the consultation phase to action. The priorities include: upskilling (upgrading the skills of the existing labour force and better employing under-utilized groups); immigration (making sure immigration policy is aligned with local labour markets and employers' needs); education (improving the connections between educators and employees to balance supply with demand for skilled trades and highly skilled occupations); and Aboriginal peoples (focusing on education and workforce development, especially in western Canada and the territories where the economic and social opportunities and risks are greatest for this population). Chamber News Release | Report

Canada competes well in research on international level, report finds

According to a new report by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), Canada is well-positioned globally in both the output and impact of its science and technology (S&T), but performs especially well in 6 fields: clinical medicine, historical studies, information and communication technologies, physics and astronomy, psychology and cognitive science, and visual and performing arts. If there was an "element of surprise" to the report's findings, it was that 3 of the 6 top fields the Expert Panel on the State of Science and Technology of Canada identified reside partly or wholly within the humanities and social sciences, says the panel's chair. "Science is used here in a very broad sense, meaning scholarly inquiry and research," the chair says. "Among the panel there was an immediate acceptance of the notion" that the humanities and social sciences should be included in the review of the CCA's inaugural report on the state of S&T in Canada published in 2006. The report observes that with less than 0.5% of the world's population, Canada produces 4.1% of the world's research papers and close to 5% of the world's most frequently cited papers. Ontario, Quebec, BC, and Alberta are the powerhouses of Canadian S&T, together accounting for 97% of total national output in terms of research papers. These provinces also have the best performance in patent-related measures and the highest per capita numbers of PhD students, accounting for more than 90% of PhD graduates in the country in 2009. CCA News Release | University Affairs | Polytechnics Canada News Release | CFHSS News Release | Report

Research, international education, and Aboriginal PSE among AUCC's priorities for 2013 budget

In its pre-budget submission to the federal government, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada recommends that the government adopt a 3-pronged approach to investments and policies (research, international education, and Aboriginal higher education) that will continue to build upon Canadian universities' competitive advantage. Recommendations include enhancing support for the tri-councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, including the institutional costs of research, and investing in initiatives to enhance marketing and branding efforts to attract foreign students to Canada and leverage existing investments. AUCC says a program to improve PSE outcomes for Aboriginal people should include the following elements: university "reach-back" mechanisms; mentoring programs; and support and student services programs. AUCC Pre-Budget Submission

Concerns raised over long-term contract for CNA-Qatar

The Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party's PSE critic says College of the North Atlantic-Qatar employees are worried that their jobs may be at risk, as a long-expected renegotiation has yet to be concluded. CNA's contract with Qatar was set to expire at the end of August, but has since been extended for one year. The Liberal critic says a number of sources at CNA-Qatar have told his party that SAIT Polytechnic is being awarded the contract. A SAIT spokeswoman says she could find no indication the institution is involved in discussions with Qatar. NL Premier Kathy Dunderdale says she has been given no indication that Qatar is switching to another college. The province's advanced education minister says talks are still underway to extend the CNA presence that began in Qatar in 2002. The Telegram | CBC

SIAST Kelsey campus opens Mining Engineering Technology Building

The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday at its Kelsey campus for the new Mining Engineering Technology Building. The repurposed facility features geology and computer labs, traditional and technology-enhanced classrooms, and student study areas. Two-thirds of the space in the facility is devoted to the mining engineering technology program, and the remainder will house SIAST's business development and advancement division and other administrative offices. The mining engineering technology program has proven popular with students, with the first intake of the 25-seat program drawing 56 qualified applicants within a matter of months. SIAST News Release

UBC board approves comprehensive housing plan

UBC's board of governors has approved a comprehensive housing program aimed at helping more UBC faculty, students, and staff live on the Vancouver campus. Up to 30% of UBC's future housing will be made available only to faculty and staff under restricted housing programs, and up to 20% of future units will be allotted to faculty or staff as restricted rentals. To allow UBC to continue to recruit top faculty in a competitive global market, up to 10% of future units will be restricted home ownership for faculty. The institution will also launch a pilot non-profit housing program intended for full-time staff with annual household incomes under $64,000. UBC's Vancouver campus has more student housing (9,000 beds) than any other university campus in Canada. The university commits to keep these -- and 2,125 new spots being added by 2016 -- at or below market rates. UBC will also push for an increase to student loan programs' shelter allowance and will increase housing options for graduate students. UBC News Release | Globe and Mail | Vancouver Sun

Western U unveils redesigned website

Western University has gone live with a new-look website, which reflects the refreshed brand the institution revealed in January. Among the website's new features are access to the most frequently used sites from a ribbon that is constant across all sites that use the same template, and a rotating banner that will feature major news stories, recruitment activities, research news, and athletic and cultural events. Social media has become an ever-increasing driver of traffic to Western U's website, and that is reflected in the revised homepage, which features a directory to the institution's social media platforms. Western U is seeking feedback on the new homepage and second-level sites, and the comments gathered will be used by developers to help improve the sites in the days and months ahead. Western News | Western U website

Nipissing launches "I Heart NU" video contest

Nipissing University has kicked off a contest asking students to produce a short video or photo montage announcing what they love about the institution. The top entries to the "I Heart NU" contest, as selected by Nipissing, will be posted on the institution's website for online student judging. Submissions will be judged on creativity, effort, and production values. Prizes include a $1,000 tuition credit for first place, a $400 tuition credit for second place, and a $200 tuition credit for third place. The deadline for entries is November 16. Nipissing News | I Heart NU Contest

Graduate enrolment boom at MUN

Recent figures indicate that total graduate enrolment at Memorial University grew by 8.6% over the past year, from 3,119 graduate students to 3,386. During the same period, the number of full- and part-time graduate students increased by 9.5% and 7.3%, respectively. The number of international graduate students rose by 23% during the same period. "Graduate applications to Memorial have more than doubled during the past five years, and have increased by 32 per cent during the past two," says MUN's graduate studies dean. "This is a clear sign that Memorial University has become an institution of choice for graduate education thanks to a combination of excellent research and programs, strong student services and competitive tuition for graduate students." MUN News

Mohawk College's full-time and first-semester enrolment numbers reach record level

Mohawk College is reporting a record-breaking year for full-time student and first-semester enrolment. Preliminary enrolment figures show an increase of more than 6% in full-time enrolments over last year, with 13,048 full-time students registered to attend the institution. First-semester enrolment rose by more than 7% from fall 2011, with 6,744 full-time students starting classes in September. Mohawk College News