Top Ten

November 19, 2013

uSask Global Institute for Food Security receives $2 million for research

University of Saskatchewan’s Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) has received a 5-year, $2-million funding agreement from Viterra Partners, to help the GIFS address the increasing global demand for safe, reliable food. “Enhanced yield and agronomic improvements for the major crops grown in western Canada are among the benefits we see resulting from our investment in this historic initiative. It will also contribute to a vibrant economy in the province and the University of Saskatchewan as a centre of excellence in plant science research,” says Viterra’s North America President and CEO Kyle Jeworski. Viterra will also provide GIFS with land adjacent to its rural facilities. uSask News Release

Students, faculty worry about US-based email storage

Some Canadian universities are outsourcing their e-mail storage and transmission to US-based providers such as Microsoft and Google, raising concerns among students and faculty about US intelligence services gaining access to private information, reports the Globe and Mail. uToronto is considering switching its faculty email to Microsoft’s cloud-based service, which Edward Snowden, “the former intelligence contractor turned whistleblower,” says the US National Security Agency has been monitoring. Meanwhile, other universities, such as Dalhousie and uAlberta, have already made the switch. While university officials say the move will save “millions of dollars,” some professors and students worry that conversations, opinions, and research results will be left exposed, “compromising not just privacy but also competitiveness.” According to the Globe, uToronto is looking at new encryption technology designed to make e-mail less vulnerable. The University of British Columbia is building its own cloud-based e-mail system, and plans to share it with other universities. Globe and Mail

CFS-O calls on province to raise minimum wage

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O) is joining other organizations in the province in a push to raise the minimum wage to $14, reporting that many of Ontario’s minimum wage workers are students. “Low wages make it increasingly difficult for students and their families to pay for PSE," says Alastair Woods, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Raising the minimum wage and reducing tuition fees would help ensure no student is forced to decide between paying tuition fees and buying groceries." CFS-O made a series of recommendations in a submission to the Ontario Minimum Wage Advisory Panel, including increasing the minimum wage to $14 per hour, indexing the minimum wage to CPI, eliminating tiered wages and ending unpaid internships. CFS-O News Release

Bow Valley College unveils new Aboriginal Centre

Alberta’s Bow Valley College has opened a new Aboriginal student centre, the Iniikokaan (Buffalo Lodge) Aboriginal Centre. The centre is a dedicated space for Aboriginal learners to access cultural resources and connect with elders and traditional teachings. In addition to providing space for individual and group studying, the centre “incorporates many Aboriginal symbols and artifacts of significance to Aboriginal Peoples of Southern Alberta,” providing a space of “serenity” and a “home away from home” for the college’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students. The centre is “open to all college learners, faculty and staff, so its focus also includes deepening a shared understanding of Aboriginal teachings and ways of life," says Sharon Carry, BVC President and CEO. BVC News Release

CBIE launches new site for international, study-abroad students

The Canadian Bureau for International Education has launched a new website for international students studying in Canada, and Canadian students studying or working abroad. iStudent Canada provides students with information on the application process, financial aid, the country in which they study, and other tips, “driven primarily by the first-hand experiences of students and international educators.” Current students and faculty will contribute to blogs, and will be available to answer questions about international study via forums on the site. “With iStudent Canada, we have created an informative, fun and dynamic space for students to explore international study opportunities and to connect with peers and professionals in a meaningful way,” say CBIE officials. CBIE News Release | University World News | iStudent Canada  

Algonquin launches new advertising campaign

Algonquin College has launched an advertising campaign that focuses on its ability to help students “receive a solid, hands-on education that leads to job placement.” The ads feature people dressed in uniforms, scrubs, or business attire, and the revolving phrases: “For the future you want, get the education you need” and “Connected to real life, real jobs.” The campaign, which runs until March, can be seen on bus shelters, transit, cinemas, print and on-line media. “We wanted to stress the fact that the college — the largest college in Eastern Ontario — offers students many options,” says Algonquin Director of Marketing Eric Hollebone. Algonquin News Release

UOIT unveils new Kinesiology Teaching Laboratory for hands-on learning

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s Health Science faculty has opened a new teaching laboratory for kinesiology students, giving them more opportunities for applied learning. Health Sciences Dean Ellen Vogel says the lab will provide students with “hands-on exposure to current measurement techniques in an increasingly important field in health care.” There are currently 352 students enrolled in UOIT’s Kinesiology program and 42 students in the Fitness and Health Promotion diploma-to-degree bridge program. UOIT News Release 

uWinnipeg signs agreement for increased India-Manitoba opportunities

The University of Winnipeg has signed a memorandum of understanding with the India Association of Manitoba to create the India Centre for Academic, Business and Community Excellence, which will serve as an ongoing resource for those interested in India-Manitoba opportunities from the educational, corporate and social sectors. The partnership will bring such initiatives as student exchanges, joint workshops, co-hosting eminent personalities from India on topics of mutual interest, forums such as “Let’s Talk India,” and the creation of a joint website. uWinnipeg President Lloyd Axworthy says the university has been forging a strong relationship with the India Association of Manitoba for a number of years, citing its sponsorship of the “Folklorama” India Pavilion.uWinnipeg News Release  

Google Books wins landmark copyright case

Google Books has won a major legal case regarding the scanning and searching of millions of books, with the judge ruling that the program constitutes fair use. The lawsuit was originally brought to court by authors and publishing groups in 2005; Google settled with the publishers in 2012, but the Authors Guild continued legal action claiming copyright infringement. The judge noted the program’s promotion of text mining, as well as its benefits as a research tool for librarians, scholars, and students. According to the judge, Google Books gives "‘traditionally underserved populations,’ including those who have trouble reading printed material, much broader access to books.” While Google Books representatives and many academic librarians are “absolutely delighted,” the Authors Guild has indicated it will appeal the decision. Academic libraries have long supported the Google Books program; in 2007, 12 US universities jointly opened their libraries to Google Books, allowing for the digitization of more than 10 million titles.Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

SJSU faculty propose tightened MOOC policy

The San Jose State University faculty senate is considering a policy that would forbid the university to sign contracts with outside technology providers without the approval of tenure-track faculty members in whichever department would be affected. "A series of conflicts over the last year has highlighted issues related to communication and transparency, has opened serious rifts in our shared sense of community, and has contributed to extremely low morale," says a statement found in the draft proposal. A recent experiment, in which Udacity trial courses were taught to inner-city youth, showed those students performing worse than their traditional classroom counterparts. San Jose faculty also wrote an open letter criticizing the idea of "one-size-fits-all vendor-designed" courses, after the university suggested a famous Harvard professor’s edX courses be incorporated into philosophy lectures. Chronicle of Higher Education

Updated: Nov 20, 2013

San Jose State University’s Academic Senate has voted 38 to 2 in favour of a resolution asking the chancellor of the California State University system to review governance at SJSU. The vote took place following “concerns about the direction the campus has been taking,” mainly regarding partnerships with outside technology providers. The senate has postponed a vote regarding gaining veto power on the agreements with these providers. Chronicle of Higher Education