Top Ten

October 2, 2013

uAlberta announces 121 voluntary staff buyouts

The University of Alberta has released the results of its August offer of voluntary buyouts, with 77 professors and 44 other staff members accepting the severance packages. The program will see a one-time payout of $16.7 million to the 121 departing staff, and will result in savings of up to $14 million per year, but that may not be enough to prevent further staff loss, stated Martin Ferguson-Pell, Acting Provost. The staff cuts affect various faculties, but arts and science will see the majority of faculty losses, with 30 and 15, respectively. In addition, 22 administrative staff have accepted the buyouts. Dustin Chelen, VP for the students’ union, expressed concern regarding the quality of education with fewer long-term professors, but recognized that financial difficulties have forced uAlberta to make some “tough decisions.” Edmonton Journal

uWindsor students rally during ongoing strike

Several hundred students rallied at the University of Windsor on Tuesday to protest the ongoing skilled trades and professional staff strike, which has disrupted some classes and services. The rally was organized by the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (USWA). According to CTV news, the student union is taking a pro-student stance and not backing the university or the striking CUPE 1393. “The UWSA wants to inform students of their rights during the strike, to strongly encourage both sides to return to the bargaining table and demand students be compensated for the services lost over the last month,” said UWSA President Rob Crawford. Meanwhile, uWindsor recruiters were turned away from a Catholic high school this week because CUPE 1393 had allegedly requested that the recruitment sessions be put on hold. CTV (student rally) |CTV (recruitment)

Canadian post-docs face low pay, unclear job status, skills training/career mismatch

A new report released this week by the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars (CAPS) and Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that supports industry-university research involving graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, has discovered that although 77% of postdocs are completely or somewhat satisfied with their research resources, facilities, and supervision, half of respondents report having no exposure to non-academic career opportunities. Slightly more than 50% receive no training in essential skills needed for industry careers. As well, many postdocs feel they are undercompensated, with two-thirds earning less than $45,000 per year, and say they experience a wide array of classifications, from student to employee to independent contractor. The survey was completed by 1,830 postdocs from 130 universities, research hospitals, government labs and private companies in Canada and abroad.University Affairs | Mitacs News Release | Report

Camosun reports record international enrolment growth

Camosun College is celebrating a record 35.7% increase in international enrolments this year, surpassing last year’s record increase of 27%. In order to address the needs of growing numbers of international students, Camosun’s Interurban campus has opened a new International Centre and increased the number of dedicated employees. Camosun International provides academic and counselling services for international students, as well as developing opportunities for Camosun students to study overseas.Camosun News Release

Professor proposes “Provincial Scholarship” exam

A York University professor is proposing an Ontario-wide “Provincial Scholarship” exam, offered to all high school students, to solve the issues of grade inflation and varying standards among high schools, and to encourage students to gain a broad education. William van Wijngaarden writes in University Affairs that when universities take a student’s best 6 grades to determine admission and award scholarships, it creates an unfair advantage for students in which there are “fluffy subjects” used to boost some students’ grade averages. The exam Wijngaarden proposes would include 5 equally-weighted subjects: English, French, history and geography, science, and pre-calculus mathematics. (“Excluding calculus would ensure that not only science and engineering geeks could do well,” he adds). The only requirement to keeping the scholarship would be to maintain a B+ average. Wijngaarden estimates that such an exam would cost Ontario $140 million. University Affairs

Canada needs online education strategy

Jenni Hayman, founder of the online education initiative Wide World Ed, explores the need for a national online education strategy in a recent Globe and Mail op-ed. According to Hayman, Canada has need for its own unique, online education system that reflects the educational expertise and cultural identities unique to Canada. She discusses the creation of Open2Study in Australia and FutureLearn in the UK, which were both created as not-for-profits and have funding and promotional support from federal governments, in comparison to the present situation in Canada, where “each province and territory in Canada seems to be working on its own open, and tuition-based online solutions, with a strong perception of competitiveness.” With many possible benefits to open, online education, Hayman suggests that collaboration is the key to the successful establishment of a national open, online education platform.Globe and Mail

The impact of international education in BC

Executive Director of the BC Council for International Education Randall Martin points out the impact that international students have on the province’s economic development, in a recent Vancouver Sun op-ed. Martin explains that, globally, international education is a $2.2-trillion sector in which student mobility more than doubled between 2000 and 2007, to 2.5 million students; it is over 4 million today and projected to reach 7 million by 2020. Turning inwards to BC, Martin points out that in 2010, international students spent over $1.8 billion on tuition, accommodation and discretionary spending, and the provincial GDP generated was equivalent to $1.2 billion. Over the next 10 years, Martin says, there will be 1 million job openings in BC, but adds that its current population will only fill 650,000 of those jobs. Martin stresses the fact that international students would help fill this job gap. In May 2012 the BC government released an international education strategy that aimed to welcome more students from overseas. Vancouver Sun

Questions admin should ask before adding MOOC to strategy

The Director of Duke University’s Center of Nursing Collaboration, Entrepreneurship & Technology, Marilyn M. Lombardi, offers PSE administrators looking into whether they should “jump on the MOOC bandwagon” some questions to ask first: Will such a substantial investment advance your institution’s mission and strategic direction?; How do MOOCs fit in with your strategy around competitors, filling educational disparities within certain regions, or non-traditional students?; Must revenue be generated by the MOOCs to sustain them on your campus?; Does your institution have the resources to liaison with third-party MOOC platforms like Coursera or Udacity?; How will you measure the success of the MOOCs; and “last but not least,” have you consulted with your faculty and taken into account any concerns while framing your MOOC plan? Globe and Mail

How US government shutdown will affect PSE

The US government shutdown, which began October 1, will affect university research and financial aid in the country, but the extent of the impact will only be revealed when we find out how long the shutdown will last, reports InTheCapital online news. The shutdown will halt the majority of operations at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – the largest supplier of federal grants to university research. One of the NIH’s grant cycles has already been completed; the next is scheduled for October 5, but money is usually not expected to be awarded until early next year. However, the granting organization will “not take any actions on [other] grant applications or awards." On financial aid, the US contingency plan says that the shutdown will not impact the awarding of student aid nor the servicing of student loans for now, but states that a delay for longer than a week will “"severely curtail the cash flow" to institutions.InTheCapital

Google launches MOOC on digital analytics

Google this week launched a MOOC on digital analytics, and Google Analytics specifically. Analytics Academy has opened registration for its first course, Digital Analytics Fundamentals, which will be “hosted” by Google’s “Analytics Evangelist” Justin Cutroni. The courses are video based, and include a corresponding activity designed to allow students to practice the newly-learned skills. The course forum, where students can go to ask questions or connect with other students, is hosted onGoogle+, the social network launched in 2011. Google Analytics Blog