Top Ten

October 7, 2013

Canadian academics released from Egyptian jail

2 Canadian academics imprisoned in Egypt since mid-August have been released from jail. Tarek Loubani, an emergency room doctor at Western University, and John Greyson, a filmmaker and professor at York University, spent 51 days in a Cairo prison after being arrested for “participating with members of the Muslim Brotherhood” during protests. The 2 were not formally charged, however, and after weeks of lobbying by Canadian officials, were released. The 2 men are currently unable to leave Egypt though, reports CBC, and may have to wait until an ongoing investigation is concluded. National Post | CBC | Chronicle of Higher Education

uSask medical school put on probation

The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine has been officially put on probation by the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools, after being put on a “warning of probation” in 2011. The committee found the school to be “weak or deficient” in 10 accreditation standards, including faculty not providing timely feedback to students. Other problems that have been cited at the school include issues with grading objectives and inadequate student space for study, lounge and lockers. The 2011 warning sparked the creation of an implementation plan that outlines recruitment, hiring and compensation strategies, including bringing in more clinician scientists and biomedical scientists to kick-start research. The plan will be discussed by university council in October. Globe and Mail

UQTR raises $27 million during campaign

The Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières announced this week that it raised $27 million so far during its 2009-2014 fundraising campaign, exceeding the original $20-million target. The money will be used to increase student financial aid and to fund various priority development projects, including the development of a campus in Drummondville. The campaign, which ran under the theme “S’investir pour le savoir,” was chaired by former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and his wife Aline. UQTR News Release (in French)

OCAD launches design competition for symbol of access

OCAD University, along with the Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, has launched an international contest with the goal of designing a new international symbol of access for those with disabilities. The current symbol, a stick figure in a wheelchair against a blue background, was introduced in 1968; critics say it is neither “welcoming nor inclusive,” and since less than 3% of people with disabilities use a wheelchair or motorized scooter, it is not representative of the wide range of disabilities. The “Reimagining Accessibility” design contest, open to all PSE students, will run until October 25, and winners will be announced November 1. OCAD News

WLU to open new centre for cold regions, water research

Wilfrid Laurier University is opening a new Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science this fall. The 2-storey, 14,000-square foot building will allow scientists from across Canada to focus on some of the country’s most pressing questions about water, environmental and resource issues in cold regions, which will have implications for policy development and resource management. The centre will also house WLU’s Canadian Aquatic Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Boreal Ecosystem Research (CALIBER), its Cold Regions Research Centre (CRRC), and the Laurier Institute for Water Science (LIWS). WLU News Release

Frontier Centre paper slams education courses

Bachelor of Education courses use weak academic standards, biased teaching, and “nonsensical edu-babble,” according to a new report released by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (FCPP). Frontier’s Education Research Fellows Michael Zwaagstra and Rodney Clifton chronicled the day-by-day events in an education foundations course at a Canadian education faculty from the perspective of one recent graduate. “The students spent more time navel-gazing and discussing irrelevant issues than they did studying effective ways of teaching and learning,” the authors write. “If anything, students who complete this education foundations course will become worse teachers if they incorporate the edu-babble they used in the course into their teaching practices.” The report recommends that universities re-examine the courses offered by their education schools and ensure they meet the necessary academic standards, and that provincial governments take a hard look at teacher certification requirements and the teacher pay scales found in collective agreements. FCPP News Release

COU lauds campus entrepreneurship supports

The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) this week released a report that highlights the various entrepreneurship incubators and programs at the province’s university campuses. The report, Entrepreneurship at Ontario Universities: Fuelling Success, describes startup incubators, entrepreneurial partnerships with other organizations, summer and internship entrepreneur opportunities, and academic programs in entrepreneurship. It also highlights several successful entrepreneurs who began at an Ontario university. Ernst and Young’s recent G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer 2013 ranked Canada among the top 5 G20 countries for entrepreneurship. COU News Release | Full Report

uToronto researchers examine untapped potential of service workers

Businesses and policymakers must recognize the untapped potential of increasing numbers of highly educated workers in low-paying service jobs, says a report by researchers at the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute and the Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity. The report examined what are known as routine-service jobs, including retail staff, food service workers, cleaners, taxi drivers, and secretaries; the occupations account for 45% of Toronto’s workforce and have the worst employment conditions of all occupations. They are also more educated on average than routine-service workers in any other Canadian Census Metropolitan Area, and increasingly so -- the proportion of routine-service workers in the Toronto region with bachelor’s degrees increased from 13.3% in 2001 to 20.2% in 2012, while the proportion with graduate degrees roughly doubled over the same period. The authors concluded that employers and policymakers need to place more emphasis on work-based training and education. Businesses must also do their part to invest in their workers and increase the creativity content of routine-service jobs, say the researchers. uToronto News Release | Paper

Conference explores need for reform in law schools

The University of Alberta held a conference recently on the future of law school, and academics and professionals who attended the event stated the need for legal education reform due to the changes occurring in the legal profession. According to Richard Susskind, a UK-based independent adviser, there are 3 major forces of change in the legal profession: clients demanding more for less; liberalization, or the disappearance of the billable hour; and technological changes to how routine legal services are performed. Gillian Hadfield, a professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, supports teaching law students problem-solving skills; University of Alberta law professor Peter Sankoff agrees, and says that professors need to look closely at how they are teaching. Susskind stated that “law schools are not adequately preparing students for legal practice as it is today.” Canadian Lawyer Magazine

Nonprofit launches website for first-generation PSE students

The nonprofit Center for Student Opportunity in the US has launched a campaign, entitled “I’m First,” aimed at first-generation university students (in this case, those who are the first in the family to attend PSE). The campaign features inspirational video testimonials of first-generation students and graduates, tips on how to navigate university, and a list of PSE institutions in the US. The campaign is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Inside Higher Ed | Campaign Website