Top Ten

July 25, 2013

Controversy over proposed TWU law school

Clayton Ruby, a prominent Toronto lawyer, is opposing the establishment of a new law school at Trinity Western University in BC, because of what he calls an inherently homophobic covenant to which students must adhere. The covenant states that all staff, students, and faculty must agree not to engage in “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” Ruby’s concern is that lawyers graduating from the proposed program will have received their training in ethics and rights in an environment that does not agree with Canadian laws. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is reviewing the request for accreditation, and their decision is likely to be made soon. The proposed school has encountered opposition from legal bodies such as the Canadian Bar Association and the Council of Canadian Law Deans. Globe and Mail

Education ministers agree to include residential schools in curriculum

Earlier this month, the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) met for their annual meeting in Nunavut, the first time the meeting was held in Canada’s newest territory. Nunavut premier and minister of education Eva Aariak encouraged the ministers to take action regarding the inclusion of residential school history in school. The ministers agreed that “education can promote reconciliation and mutual understanding,” and resolved to address the ongoing legacy of residential schools in Canada by including the subject in curricula across all provincial and territorial school systems. The ministers also agreed to focus on the success of indigenous students, beginning with early learning opportunities. The ministers have agreed to work to improve collaboration among all education partners, including the federal government, and stated the need for the federal government to fulfill funding responsibilities to indigenous education. CMEC News Release | Nunatsiaq Online

Canada Job Grant to be discussed at premiers’ meeting

As Canada’s premiers meet this week for their annual meeting, the proposed Canada Job Grant will be a hot topic, as several premiers have vocally opposed the program that plans to cut funds to already established Labour Market Agreements among the provinces, and redirect funds to a federal program that will further require provincial contribution. At the heart of provincial opposition seems to be the lack of consultation between federal and provincial governments. The federal government has been fairly silent on the details of the program, prompting Nova Scotia’s premier to call it a “mystery program.” Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, hopes that the premiers spend time brainstorming ideas and solutions, as opposed to “bickering over control.” The Canada Job Grant program was the topic of a recent report that termed it “deeply flawed.” CBC | Ottawa Citizen

uAlberta, Ryerson make top business incubator list

Entrepreneurship incubators at the University of Alberta and Ryerson University have been named as 2 of the world’s top business incubators by a Swedish research initiative. TEC Edmonton, a not-for-profit joint venture between uAlberta and the City of Edmonton, made the 17th spot on the list. Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone, which has been operating since 2010, was named the 25th best incubator. The “University Business Incubator Index” bases its rankings on 3 different categories: value for ecosystem (job creation, economy enhancement and talent retention), value for client, and attractiveness (resources, past success rate). UBI Index Website

Engineering students may not support political stances of student unions

A new blog post by Zane Schwartz, news editor at uToronto’s Varsity student newspaper, discusses the apparent conflict between some engineering students, and local or federal student unions. According to Schwartz, and based on an ongoing conflict at uToronto, engineering students often depend on future employers that may be involved in targeted opposition measures by student unions, such as tar sands development and military exploits. Many central student unions at campuses across Canada are members of, or sympathetic to, the Canadian Federation of Students, which takes active political stances. Some, though certainly not all, engineering student unions are concerned that some of these political views are antithetical to the end goals of engineering students. Jessica McCormick, chairperson of the CFS, stated that such political stands are based on democratic votes, and encouraged engineering students to get involved. CFS has often been criticized for a lack of transparency and a focus on issues that depart from student concerns. Maclean’s

Holistic approach may reduce materialism of business students

A University of Windsor researcher has found that teaching business students a more holistic approach to management theory rather than focusing on maximizing profits improves their critical thinking skills and makes them less likely to be materialistic and individualistic. Kent Walker, an assistant professor in the Odette School of Business’ strategy area, followed more than 230 students who were enrolled in a semester-long introductory management course. One group was taught the standard approach to management, and a second learned under a ‘multi-stream’ approach “that acknowledges that financial performance is important, but also accounts for the emotional, psychological, spiritual, ecological, and physical health of corporations, their employees, and other stakeholders.” Walker found that the second group had lower scores on measures for materialism and individualism, which “could have significant policy implications for business schools, where concerns have been expressed about notable increases in individualism and materialism among students as they move through their programs.”  uWindsor News Release

Google adds e-textbooks to offerings

Google announced this week that it would be adding e-textbooks to its online offerings. Beginning in August, users will be able to go to “Google Play Books” and purchase a variety of textbooks for full price or rent them for 6 months at up to 80% off. The tech company made the announcement as it unveiled its new Nexus 7 tablet, and said it is working with Cengage, Wiley, Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Macmillan. Inside Higher Ed | Android Press

US senate approves student loan interest bill, ending stalemate

The US senate voted this week to undo an increase on the interest rate of student loans, instead tying the rate to the financial markets, ending a month-long stalemate between Republican and Democrat Senators. Interest rates on new undergraduate loans would be set at 3.9% this year instead of the 6.8% rate put into effect 3 weeks ago. The bill is expected to pass the House of Representatives before the August recess, and be signed into law by President Obama, who has spoken out in favour of the bill. Chronicle of Higher Education

More Australian PSE students struggling to make ends meet

More Australians are attending university than at any time in the past 150 years, but most now struggle to live on incomes that are below the poverty line while their levels of debt have soared by almost 30% in the past 6 years, according to a new report by Universities Australia. The report, which is based on a survey of nearly 12,000 students across the university sector, found that 80% of full-time undergraduates work an average of 16 hours a week; a third regularly miss classes because of their jobs; and 17% said they often went without food or other necessities. Half the students said the demands of their jobs negatively affected their performance at university – a 10% increase since the previous report on student finances was released in 2006. Chronicle of Higher Education

Court fails student's inappropriate “Hot for Teacher” essay

An Oakland University student in Michigan who was suspended earlier this year for an essay entitled “Hot for Teacher,” has been unsuccessful in suing the university for violating his First Amendment rights. In the essay, Joseph Corlett quotes the Van Halen song of the same name and then goes on to write of his affection for an instructor. Corlett, backed in the case by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, noted that students had been encouraged to be creative and write about whatever they wanted in their writing journals. Judge Patrick J. Duggan rejected the claims, saying that because "universities undoubtedly retain some responsibility to teach students proper professional behavior,” this was not a First Amendment issue. "When the plaintiff referred to his Oakland University English professor as 'stacked' and graphically compared her to a sitcom character he fetishized in a writing assignment, he brought a pig into the parlor,” says Duggan. Inside Higher Education