Top Ten

June 20, 2013

Provincial auditor provides report to uRegina

The results are in from the provincial audit conducted at the request of University of Regina president Vianne Timmons, with 26 recommendations to strengthen uRegina’s research program. The report categorized the recommendations into several specific areas: “oversight, updating policies and procedures, evaluating risks and benefits of research initiatives and monitoring compliance.” The report did not examine how research funding was administered, but rather assessed the effectiveness of processes surrounding research. uRegina VP Research Dave Malloy is looking forward to implementing these recommendations, and stated that it was a “teachable moment,” with some “cultural changes” to be made. Malloy hopes to implement changes and address recommendations within 18 months. uRegina News Release | Regina Leader-Post | CBC | CTV | Auditor’s Report (see ch. 15)

Skills shortages cost Ontario economy billions annually, says report

Ontario is losing out on as much as $24.3 billion in economic activity and $3.7 billion in provincial tax revenues annually because employers cannot find people with the skills they need to innovate and grow in today’s economy, according to a new report by the Conference Board of Canada. To provide more data on the skills shortage that has been discussed lately, and to quantify its cost to Ontario, the Conference Board conducted the “Ontario Employer Skills Survey,” in which more than 1,500 Ontario employers representing over 760,000 employees participated. The survey shows that the most widespread needs are for employees with 2- or 3-year college diplomas (57%); 4-year degrees (44%); and trades (41%). The Conference Board argues that various stakeholders have a role to play in the solution to the skills-gap problem: employers should increase their training and development investments and provide more work-integrated learning opportunities, educators should align programming with the needs of the economy, government should allocate additional resources to work-integrated learning experiences, and collect and share better labour market information, and students should match their own education with the realities of the marketplace. Full Report

CAUT concerned about confidentiality of faculty records

According to a complaint filed by a leading Canadian criminologist, the University of Ottawa failed to help 2 of its researchers protect the confidentiality of their records. The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2) states that “institutions shall support their researchers in maintaining promises of confidentiality.” The complaint accuses uOttawa of breaching its obligations, and, therefore, calls into question the entire basis of the TCPS 2, and whether it has “any regulatory teeth.” The confidentiality breach in question is related to the murder trial of Luka Magnotta, who may have been interviewed years earlier by a uOttawa research team. CAUT Bulletin

Alberta PSE tech schools get smallest cut, new data reveals

Technical and trades-focused Alberta PSE institutions have received a smaller cut than some of their PSE counterparts in recent provincial budget-tightening, according toMetro News. Data provided to the paper shows that although the province made a 7.3% reduction to the Campus Alberta grants, it also made funding alterations to infrastructure and apprenticeship technical training grants, allowing technical institutions like Calgary’s SAIT Polytechnic and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to take a smaller cut overall. According to Metro, these technical institutions will only see a 5.6% reduction to their funding year-over-year, which is much lower than the next lowest reduction -- 7.8% at the University of Alberta. Metro News

Emily Carr uses crowdsourcing in fundraising campaign

Emily Carr University of Art + Design has launched a new fundraising campaign on “Indiegogo,” the world’s largest crowdsourcing platform. Indiegogo rewards donors with “perks” that have been identified and provided by the fundraiser, such as the alumni membership packages that Emily Carr is offering to their donors. The “Match it Up” campaign asks the Indiegogo audience to donate towards a $50,000 goal that will be matched by a member of Emily Carr’s board of governors. Emily Carr News Release | Indiegogo Page

McGill management school receives European accreditation

The Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University has been granted the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) accreditation for a 5-year period by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). According to the EFMD website, institutions accredited by EQUIS must demonstrate not only high general quality in all dimensions of their activities, but also a high degree of internationalization. This announcement comes after University Affairs reported that more Canadian universities are seeking accreditation from US organizations as well, in an effort to compete globally. 9 other Canadian management schools are EQUIS accredited. McGill Reporter

ACCC agrees to strengthen tech training, applied research ties with Brazil

The Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) and Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development have signed a memorandum of understanding that recognizes the importance of supporting applied scientific and technological cooperation between Brazil and Canada. Initiatives to come out of the agreement include developing projects that support a capacity building program for Brazilian students or professionals in ACCC member institutions, exchanges of researchers to promote or consult on applied research, and capacity building and training within applied R&D for joint projects. The agreement comes as a delegation of 20 Canadian Institutes of Technology are visiting 20 communities across Brazil, part of a campaign aimed at doubling the number of foreign students enrolled at Canadian colleges. ACCC News Release

PSE needs leadership of change, long-term priorities

In a recent commentary, University of Saskatchewan Provost and VP Academic Brett Fairbairn examines the current surge of announcements by PSE institutions that describe budget deficits and cuts, and suggests that some of the one-year budget plans may not be as effective in the long term as a multi-year approach. Fairbairn acknowledges the need to address provincial budget cuts, but notes “short-term solutions can have the effect of distorting academic priorities” and leave universities overly dependent on tuition revenues. He suggests that multi-year prioritizations will become the norm as PSE adjusts to governmental budget fluctuations, and states, “instead of management of programs, we increasingly need leadership of change.” Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Unpaid internships don’t lead to jobs, US study

Unpaid internships don’t necessary lead to better job prospects, according to US data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). It asked more than 9,200 US seniors from February through the end of April whether they've received a job offer, and if they've ever had either a paid or unpaid internship. It found that 63.1% of students who had done a paid internship received at least one job offer. However, only 37% of former unpaid interns said they had received a job offer, which is only 1.8% more than those who had never interned. And data shows that it gets even worse when it comes to salary. Among students who found jobs, former unpaid interns were actually offered less money than those with no internship experience. (This US data comes at a time when PSE pundits and stakeholders here in Canada are also questioning the fairness of unpaid internships.) The Atlantic

Provosts meet to discuss online learning

A group of university provosts, known as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), is consulting on topics surrounding massive open online courses (MOOCs), which include whether there is a need to outsource to platform providers such as Coursera and 2U, and whether outsourcing could have negative effects on academic control and faculty intellectual property rights. One provost said that the talks are informed by a “desire to improve education using technology.” The CIC executive director stated that “the provosts’ goal is to create a coherent posture and strategy,” and that “private sector” values should not drive decisions at universities. The CIC will discuss expanding their CourseShare program, which is used by member universities to share language courses. The CIC is made up of provosts from the Big 10 universities and the University of Chicago. Inside Higher Ed