Top Ten

June 27, 2013

Alberta’s campuses begin to re-open after flood

As southern Alberta continues to clean up and assess damage after last week’s devastating floods, several campuses have re-opened facilities and resumed operations. The University of Calgary was spared flood damage, and all 4 campuses are open as of Wednesday. Mount Royal University is also resuming operations at all locations. SAIT’s main campus is now open, but the downtown Culinary Campus remains closed. Bow Valley College’s Calgary campuses are closed, and officials say they will remain closed until at least July 2. Several BVC campuses outside of Calgary have resumed operations, although online courses are mostly unavailable due to lack of power at the main campus. Both SAIT and uCalgary have provided residence space to evacuees and emergency personnel during the flood and resulting clean-up. SAIT is offering commuters parking spaces at its downtown lot, and will provide campus space for Stampede staff training this week. Both Lethbridge and Medicine Hat experienced flooding and evacuations, but their PSE institutions have not reported any closures or cancellations. Calgary Herald | BVC Update | BVC Campus Closure Map | SAIT News | uCalgary Emergency Plan

Canada commits $2.4 million to primary health care research

Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s minister of health, this week announced that Canada, in partnership with the Quebec, BC, Australia and New Zealand governments, will give $2.4 million in funding to 12 research teams focused on improving community-based primary health care in Canada and other countries. The funding, which will be used to tackle pressing challenges such as chronic disease prevention and management, as well as access issues for vulnerable populations, is part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) investment agency. The research teams come from Memorial University, uToronto, WesternU, uMontréal, uManitoba, McGill, the Bruyère Research Institute, McMaster and UBC. CIHR News Release

TDSB survey finds high levels of stress in East Asian teens

A large student census conducted across the Toronto District School Board determined that high school students are experiencing increased amounts of stress and worry about the future. Now, analysts have determined that certain ethnic groups are feeling significantly more stress than others, and academic success is linked to these results in an unexpected way. According to the survey, which polled almost 103,000 students in grades 7-12 in the TDSB, East Asian teens are experiencing the highest levels of emotional distress, while enjoying the highest graduation rates (85%). Other students, who have self-identified as black, Middle Eastern, or Latin American, display much more emotional confidence but have lower graduation rates. The results indicate that academic success does not guarantee confidence about oneself or one’s future. Officials intend to use the survey findings to “fill the gaps in student support programs and develop a new mental health strategy” for the TDSB. Globe and Mail

BrandonU and ACC partner to offer youth-in-care tuition waiver

Manitoba’s Brandon University and Assiniboine Community College have partnered with the province’s 4 Child and Family Services Authorities to offer a tuition waiver program for youth exiting the child welfare system. The partners all expressed excitement about the initiative, which seeks to remove barriers to PSE access for youth-in-care, and BrandonU’s president Deborah Poff stated, “education is not only good in itself but it is also a mechanism for social and economic mobility.” This new partnership joins one that is already in place at uWinnipeg, as well as Ontario’s newly announced tuition grant program for Crown wards and youth leaving care. BrandonU News

uWindsor adds course registration to mobile app

The University of Windsor has added the ability to register for courses to their mobile app, myUWindsor. Originally developed in 2012, the app offers a range of services including maps, schedules, finance tracking, menus, and events. Now students will be able to register for courses from their mobile device as well, and uWindsor says they are one of the first Canadian universities to add this feature to mobile offerings. uWindsor’s acting registrar stated that “this on-the-go technology is another way of meeting [students’] needs.” Windsor Star | uWindsor News

14 PSE institutions win website awards

This week, 14 institutions from across Canada were given “eduStyle Higher Ed Web Awards” for excellence in web development. Awards in 15 categories were handed out, adjudicated by both judges and online public voting. uAlberta was voted "best overall website," by the judges, and Tyndale University College by people's choice. Both Tyndale and YorkU’s Lassonde School of Engineering, took home 3 awards overall, and both Brescia University College and Memorial University received 2 awards each. Other award-winners included Carleton, McGill, Queen’s, Royal Roads, Ryerson, Trinity Western, uSask, uToronto’s Rotman business school, and WesternU. eduStyle Website

How to get more women in technology

Morgane Richer La Flèche, the Canadian delegate at the 2013 G(irls)20 Summit in Moscow, discusses ways in which to get more women into technology fields, in an op-ed in the Globe and Mail. Richer La Flèche points out that the tech sector offers fast job growth and high wages, and that “getting women in tech is one small way of closing the income gap.” She suggests that in order to solve the gender inequality issue in the technology sector, we must find out why it exists in the first place. A fellow summit speaker says that “while gender stereotypes, external pressures, and lack of exposure deter girls from tech, the absence of female role models and mentors [is] also a serious issue.” Ann Mei Chang, senior advisor for Women and Technology at the US Department of State, points to the structure of computer science education, saying it “favors a male way of thinking and calls for gender-specific approaches adapted to the interests of girls.” Richer La Flèche adds that in order to get more women into technology fields, government needs to have a greater awareness of the issue, integrate computer coding into elementary-school education across Canada, and make technology a central component of the curriculum. Globe and Mail

India increasing grants, fellowships to improve PSE equity

India's University Grants Commission (UGC) is addressing the perceived gaps in the country's higher education system by establishing several initiatives designed to increase accessibility. The UGC hopes that by increasing the number of fellowships, reserved spaces, and financial assistance, the number of women enrolled in some disciplines will increase. The UGC is revisiting its existing programs, which were implemented to ensure greater equity among social groups, genders and minorities. There is also a lack of enrolment in teacher education in India, and officials are keen to increase these numbers to strengthen primary and secondary school education, which will further access to higher education. Economic Times

US survey finds limited public awareness of MOOCs

A recent US survey has found that there is low awareness of massive open online courses (MOOCs), and that students who are familiar with MOOCs are the least likely to say they are a good idea. Only 23% of all survey respondents are familiar with MOOCs, with employers and students being the most likely to be familiar with the concept at 33% and 30% respectively. The study, conducted by US communications firm Brodeur Partners, surveyed 1,042 Americans and used an over-sampling of PSE students and their parents. The study also showed that whether or not a university offers MOOCs does not often influence a student’s decision to attend a particular institution -- 23% said it would make them more likely to want to attend a university, 26% less likely. Brodeur Partners News Release | Chronicle of Higher Education

Studying overseas "rewires the brain"

Many students who studied overseas would say that the experience changed their lives. In fact, studying abroad also changes a student's brain, according to research by a doctoral student at the University of North Dakota. Yuliya Kartoshkina, who is writing her dissertation on the subject, says that this happens because of how memory works. Our individual experiences stimulate one of the 100 billion neurons in our brains. Repeated experiences stimulate multiple neurons, and over time, these neurons fire together to establish patterns. This in turn creates memories and expectations, shaping how we perceive the world. "Our brain is wired to recognize patterns, including certain elements of culture," Kartoshkina said. "By growing up in one culture, our brain is wired in a certain way." When a student spends time in a different culture -- with a different set of experiences -- these patterns of expectations are interrupted. Kartoshkina has pointed out that this research could benefit study-abroad advisers at PSE institutions, helping them better understand how the brain works, and then preparing students accordingly for what they might experience while studying in a different country. Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)