Top Ten

June 6, 2013

Changes in funding process have BC Indigenous schools "in dire straits”

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) has recently announced changes to the funding application and allotment process of the provincial Indian Studies Support Program (ISSP) in BC. Up to this point, the BC-ISSP reviewed applications from its 40 First Nations institutes, determining which programs would receive funding from the $2.1million budget. On March 18, the ISSP committee received word that the provincial committee would be disbanded, and a national committee would take over the allocating of funds. This has members of BC’s First Nations PSE institutes concerned about the future of the programs, some of which were expecting funds by April 1 of this year. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) has issued a statement in support of BC-ISSP, pointing out that the federal government has made these changes without consulting with Indigenous groups. The Tyee | UBCIC News Release | UBCIC Statement of Resolution

Ontario universities warn against cut to teacher’s college admissions

The changes to teacher education in Ontario announced this week by the Ontario government will diminish quality for students, says the Council of Ontario Universities. Minister of Education Liz Sandals announced that teacher’s college admissions will be reduced by 50% and that it will now take 2 years to graduate instead of one. Industry professionals are reacting strongly to the first half of the announcement, as it means universities will see per-student funding to education programs cut. Although universities recognize the changes in the labour market that have led to the change, they warn that “further cuts to government funding will compromise the quality of teacher education in the province.” Bonnie Patterson, COU President and CEO said, “When you get a drop in per-student funding, and at the same time are being asked to fundamentally restructure the curriculum, make it longer, which would allow you to do more … that is going to have a quality impact.” COU News Release | Globe and Mail

Faculty and students concerned about future of Island Studies at UPEI

Faculty and student members of UPEI’s Island Studies Institute and its programs are concerned about a recent series of moves by the university, including the termination of the Institute’s director Irene Novaczek. Last week, students in the Master's of Island Studies program issued a letter to university officials asking for a statement of support for the future of Island Studies. They fear that without the mentorship of the Institute’s director, their studies will suffer. The university has announced an independent review to be conducted this summer of the Island Studies program, which has faculty concerned. CUPE has announced plans to meet with government to discuss ways to help the 39 workers affected by UPEI cuts. The Guardian | CBC (student letter) | CBC (review) | CBC (CUPE)

Ontario gives McMaster $13.2 million for health research

Ontario’s Health System Research Fund has announced that $13.2 million will go to 4 research projects being conducted at McMaster University. One community-based project involves working on improving the lives of those in specific neighbourhoods, who have been identified as having lower life spans and health outcomes. Another project to be funded is a follow-up to the Ontario Child Health Study, which 30 years ago found that one in 5 children experience a mental disorder. Other projects include a study on optimal aging at home, and an analysis of health system performance. The Hamilton Spectator

11 Canadian PSE institutions win CASE Circle of Excellence awards

11 Canadian universities and colleges have picked up 19 awards for various categories in university advancement. Winners of the Circle of Excellence awards were announced Tuesday by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). The University of Toronto picked up a total of 6 awards in several different categories. Upper Canada College and Queen’s University each won 2 awards for their advancement efforts and initiatives. Simon Fraser University also won 2 awards – one of them a gold award in the Recruitment Videos category. The University of Alberta, Memorial University, and the University of Manitoba also won a gold award in a variety of categories. Bow Valley College, the University of British Columbia, McMaster University and the University of Waterloo each took home one Circle of Excellence award this year. CASE News Release

uRegina and SIAST announce new joint nursing master’s program

The University of Regina and the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology will offer a collaborative master’s of nursing degree for nurse practitioners starting in 2014. The program, approved at a uRegina senate meeting last week, will “prepare primary care nurse practitioners at the graduate level, enabling them to contribute and support improved access to quality primary health care in Saskatchewan.” uRegina and SIAST already offer the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which currently has 700 students enrolled. The program will be offered online to accommodate nurses working in rural and remote areas. "[Online access] allows them to stay in their home community for the theoretical studies and, in some cases, the practical element can be there too," said the dean of the nursing division at SIAST. SIAST News Release | Leader Post

McGill looking to expand onto Royal Victoria site

The facilities of the Royal Victoria Hospital complex in Montreal are slated to be moved to the new McGill University Health Centre sometime in 2015, and McGill University is considering a takeover of the Royal Victoria site, which is directly adjacent to McGill’s campus, in order to address significant space deficits currently affecting the “landlocked” campus. Descendants of the railway barons who originally bequeathed the land are not opposed to the idea of McGill taking over, as long as the space is used specifically for health sciences vocations, whether teaching and/or research, as the original deed stipulates. No concrete funding estimates are yet given, but the site would need extensive renovations to be converted from a hospital to a teaching and research facility. Montreal Gazette

Fewer Saskatchewan students studying a second language

Data released by Statistics Canada earlier this spring shows that the number of K-12 Saskatchewan students studying a second language dropped by 50% between 1997 and 2010. The Star Phoenix points out that although some students have chosen to go into immersion programs instead, their numbers do not reflect the 44,000 drop in students who take a second language course. Eric Bolay, acting president of Canadian Parents for French in Saskatchewan, says the drop could be due to a growing urban-rural divide in access to second-language courses. “As enrolment drops at smaller rural schools, it's not always possible to hang onto language teachers, who are in high demand,” says Bolay. A consultant with the Ministry of Education points out that the decrease could also be due to changing university entrance requirements. The Star Phoenix

Advocate challenges universities to do more for disadvantaged youth

This week at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, BC’s representative for children and youth, challenged attendees to do more to engage troubled and disadvantaged youth. Turpel-Lafond suggested that universities offer “tuition waivers for all foster kids, group-home residents and all those who are the legal responsibility of the government.” She acknowledged that this idea wouldn’t solve everything, but that it would be a definitive way to “reach out and get behind” children who are most in need in society. Victoria Times Colonist

uToronto postdocs vote to unionize

Postdoctoral fellows at the University of Toronto have voted to be represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3902. According to CUPE 3902, the postdocs have been organizing since January to form their own union in order to improve their working conditions. 72% of the postdocs voted to join the union. Their next step is to elect a bargaining team, who will negotiate the first collective agreement between the fellows and the university. CUPE 3902 Announcement