Top Ten

September 27, 2013

Foreign Service Officers reach tentative agreement with feds

A tentative agreement has been signed between the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) and the Canadian government, effectively ending the longest strike in public service history. The 6-month strike is estimated to have cost the Canadian economy close to $1 billion, with tourism and PSE the hardest hit. PAFSO members have been without a contract since June 2011, with the biggest issues being wage equity with other public service employees, and respect and recognition. The 2 parties compromised on wage increases, and PAFSO president Tim Edwards stated that the deal “is a victory for free and fair bargaining in the federal public service.” The strike caused the delay of the processing of thousands of visas and other travel documents, affecting many international students planning on studying in Canada. Ottawa Citizen

McMaster tribunal recommends suspensions after DeGroote investigation

A McMaster University tribunal has recommended suspensions (ranging up to 5 years) for 5 faculty members, including senior tenured professors, and a written reprimand for a 6th, following an investigation into complaints made under the university’s Anti-Discrimination Policy. The tribunal’s report, which McMaster made public last week, is based on 200 hours of testimony and 2,694 documents, and reports evidence of harassment that created a “poisoned work/academic environment for a number of years.” The report does not identify any employees by name, but according to Saturday's Globe and Mail the conflict centred around Paul Bates, former Dean of the DeGroote School of Business, who stepped down in 2010 "amid tensions between his supporters and those who discredited him as a non-academic intruder."  The latter group reportedly "declared war" and allegedly interfered with the tenure process to oppose the career advancement of the former. McMaster President Patrick Deane issued a statement last Friday, saying that “the university takes seriously its commitment to provide an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment and will not tolerate such behaviour against any member of our community. As such, I fully accept the Tribunal’s findings.” McMaster News (tribunal report) | McMaster News (statement) | Globe and Mail (Friday) | Globe and Mail (Saturday)

Durham College, UOIT student association asked for financial, governance statements

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Durham College has decided to withhold student fees from the student association that represents both institutions because the association has not provided the institutions with audited financial statements for 2012-13, reports the Toronto Star. Normally, the student association gives the audited reports to the institutions’ administration, which then passes funds on to the association to pay for various student services and programs. UOIT Director of Communications John MacMillan says there have also been concerns with “internal strife and failure to practise good governance;” an official from Durham College says they want to see a governance plan proving that the association is “following the policies and procedures that ensure it properly represents students.” Association President Peter Chinweuba says “the decision is unfair as it infringes upon the autonomy of the student association.” Both institutions sent a letter to students earlier this month, informing them of the situation. Toronto Star


Postscript: April 16, 2014

The newly elected president of the student association representing students at both the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Durham College hopes to meet with officials at both institutions in order to “find a consensus on how to resolve the conflict” that currently exists between the student association and the institutions. In September, UOIT and Durham decided to withhold the student fees they collect for the student association, citing financial and governance concerns. The institutions are still withholding spending control, but Meri Kim Oliver, Durham College VP, Student Affairs, stated “we certainly hope for there to be a relationship where we can negotiate a go-forward approach and that it works for all parties.”

eCampus Alberta sees increased online enrolment

Alberta’s online PSE portal, eCampus Alberta, is reporting a 13% increase in course registrations, bringing the total to 20,851 registrations by 11,418 individual learners. eCampus Alberta last year recruited students from 18 new communities, and 10% of registrations were made by people outside of Alberta. The programs that saw the largest increases in registrations are Business and Management; Academic Upgrading; Social Sciences, Law and Interdisciplinary; Social, Community and Protective Services; and Health Care. eCampus Alberta offers funding to institutions for course development through the Online Curriculum Development Fund. To date, $4.5 million have been awarded to develop 389 unique courses, with 68 more courses currently under development. eCampus Alberta News

NL developing growth strategy that features PSE

Higher education is a key area in which to develop Newfoundland and Labrador’s population growth plan, NL’s Advanced Education and Skills Minister Joan Shea said last week at an event at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus. The province’s growth strategy, which is outlined in a discussion paper released recently, will aim to attract students to PSE, and then encourage them to stay and work in NL after they graduate. The plan also involves incentivizing expatriate NL citizens to return to the province, to provide opportunities for current residents to remain here, and to help fill the growing demand for skilled labour with people from outside the province when the demand can’t be filled from within. Western Star | NL News Release

uVic opens startup incubator to wider campus

The University of Victoria has announced that it will be expanding its startup incubator to be available across all disciplines at the university. Launched last year by the Gustavson School of Business, the Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs (ICE) “provides tools, expertise and space on campus to help entrepreneurs take an idea to the stage where it is ready for investment.”  The ICE currently has more than a dozen startups taking advantage of its resources, and uVic is now encouraging all entrepreneurs from the uVic community to take part. “The Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs will provide students and staff…from all faculties the support to develop their ideas, while also building relationships with the region’s business leaders and entrepreneurs,” says uVic VP Academic Reeta Tremblay. uVic News Release | Times Colonist

uWinnipeg lab latest to join crowdfunding trend

A research lab at the University of Winnipeg is using the crowdfunding platform Microryza to help fund its work in understanding neurological diseases such as ALS and schizophrenia. The team hopes to raise $15,000 by October 29 to help pay for laboratory equipment and research personnel. A recent University Affairs article reported on the growing trend of using crowdfunding to raise money for research projects, and pointed out that projects that have a wide popular appeal, like the uWinnipeg research, are best suited for crowdfunding. uWinnipeg News Release

Making the case for men’s centres on campus

According to an expert on the psychology of boys and men, campuses and communities should create men’s centres that are dedicated to studying, serving and supporting male interests and needs. Psychology professor Miles Groth will be speaking at an event in Toronto organized by the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), which is raising funds to establish the Canadian Centre for Men and Families. Groth studies issues relating to the “declining rate of enrolment and completion of bachelor’s degrees among young males,” and suggests that the solutions to this problem must come from the “boys and the men themselves.” Some critics question the politics behind arguments for male-oriented centres, but much research recently has explored the declining engagement of boys and young men in education. National Post

Rogers and Next Issue partner to offer magazine tablet app

US publishing consortium Next Issue Media has formed a partnership with Rogers Media and will be launching a new tablet app in Canada next month that will allow users to pay $9.99 per month for a basic subscription, providing unlimited access to more than 100 Canadian and US magazines. Rogers users will be the first to gain access to the new app; the rest of Canada will be able to download the app in December. Rogers Media President Keith Pelley said the company’s investment in the platform “reinforces [its] commitment to [its] digital future and the magazine industry.” Some Canadian titles to be included are Chatelaine, Maclean’s, Sportsnet, MoneySense, and Canadian Business. American titles include Vanity Fair, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Time and The New Yorker, among others. Next Issue launched in the US in 2012 and currently has over 120,000 subscribers. Marketing Magazine

Purdue software “signals” students when they’re failing a class

Software developed by Indiana’s Purdue University that tracks students’ academic progress and sends them notifications about how they’re doing – called Signals -- has led to a boost in graduation rates. Since 2007, students enrolled in at least one class with Signals saw a higher graduation rate than did those who were not in classes with the software. Classes that used the software also resulted in higher retention rates. The software takes in some 20 data points from Blackboard and other course-management systems and “signals” students about how they are doing with green, yellow, or red lights. Matt Pistilli, a research scientist for teaching and learning technologies at Purdue, says that “the extraordinary thing is that students take study and work habits influenced or pushed by Signals and apply them to other classes as well.” Chronicle of Higher Education