Top Ten

December 13, 2013

Cégeps receive increased funding for enrolment, student services

The Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe has received $10 million in funding to help meet increasing student enrolment. The funding will allow Saint-Hyacinthe to enrol 4,000 students in total. The Cégep has an employment rate 2 years after graduation that is 2% above the provincial average, at 64.9%. The provincial government has also announced $5 million in funding over 2 years to help the Fédération des cégeps strengthen services for Aboriginal students and students with special needs. Cégeps News Release (in French) | Quebec News Release (in French)

UPEI compresses BEd program to one year

The University of Prince Edward Island is changing its Bachelor of Education program, compressing it into one year from 2 to “allow its graduates to be more marketable and competitive when seeking jobs.” The move follows a 39% drop in enrolment in the university’s Faculty of Education. The renewed program will also include “expanded student experience” and better preparation for diverse classroom settings. “We will retain the same number of courses, the same practicum expectations, and the same specializations. The program will begin in May 2014 and end in May 2015, one year later,” says UPEI Dean of Education Ron MacDonald. The program’s recruitment efforts will target math, science and French undergraduates to address high-need areas in the K-12 system on PEI and elsewhere in Canada. The Ontario government this past spring, moving in the opposite direction, announced it would reduce teacher’s college admissions by 50%, and double the time it currently takes students to graduate. The Guardian

uToronto, WesternU drop Access Copyright licenses

The University of Toronto and Western University have both decided not to renew their licenses with Access Copyright, a move that many PSE institutions have also made in the past few years. Both uToronto and WesternU said they were unable to reach agreements that take into account the changing copyright landscape, which includes “changing technology, increased availability of Open Access material, changing publishing practices, and changing user expectations.” The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) welcomed the announcements. “This is a victory for students at uToronto, at WesternU and across the country, who have been challenging Access Copyright agreements at PSE institutions for years,” says CFS National Chairperson Jessica McCormick. uToronto News Release | WesternU News Release | CFS News Release

Manitoba to tighten rules around international student recruitment, services

The Manitoba legislature recently passed the International Education Act, which will allow the province’s Director of International Education to create a code of conduct for PSE institutions that educate international students. The code will include requirements on recruitment methods, course quality and student supports, and will aim to prevent “misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to international students.” The act will also require institutions to be approved before educating international students. According to International College of Manitoba (ICM) Principal Susan Deane, Manitoba’s international student population lags behind other provinces, accounting for only 3% of international students in Canada. “The legislation will act as a seal of quality to show prospective international students and their families Manitoba provides education worth investing in,” writes Deane. Winnipeg Free Press

SIAST, SIIT receive $2 million for trades from SaskPower

The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology and the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) have both received $1-million grants from SaskPower for training and programs that align with the power company’s future business needs, “and the needs of a growing Saskatchewan.” The SIAST funding will support the expansion of Power Engineering Technology and Electrical Engineering Technology Programs, which are main sources of electrical technologists and power engineers for SaskPower. At SIIT, the grant will go towards enabling Aboriginal students to upgrade their skills so they meet the requirements necessary to enrol in trades programs. SaskPower News Release | Star Phoenix

Yukon opens mobile trades training lab

Yukon College this week opened a new $1.8-million mobile trades training laboratory at the Ayamdigut campus. The lab, which will be operated through Yukon’s Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining (CNIM), consists of 2 trailers that join together to create a training lab and classroom to provide professional trades training in communities and at work sites across the territory. The lab is outfitted for classes in welding, electrical, millwright and piping, with an onboard diesel generator to provide power for heating, lighting, equipment and wireless Internet. The Yukon government provided $1.1 million for the lab, and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) contributed the remaining $700,000. Yukon News Release

New data show gender bias in scientific articles

Women publish fewer scientific articles and are involved in fewer international research projects than their male peers, according to a new study by Université de Montréal professor Vincent Larivière and colleagues. The study, which was published in the journal Nature, also shows that women’s articles are cited less often, even when they are lead author. These statistics hold true in most countries, with the exception of Lithuania, Ukraine, Macedonia and Turkmenistan. In North America, a few provinces and states “have achieved near-parity between the sexes” in academia, including Quebec, Oregon and Washington, reports University Affairs. Worldwide, there are similar pockets of equality within Brazil, Argentina and France. However, Saudi Arabia, Iran and North African countries “continue to be the worst places to try to break through as a woman academic.” The study’s researchers analyzed 5.4 million articles published between 2008 and 2012 using the names of 27 million authors. “Starting in 2008, the Web of Science database…started recording the authors’ first names rather than just their initials. This has allowed us to determine the sex of most of these researchers and thus establish the position of women in each discipline, by country,” explains Larivière. University Affairs | Nature.com

Tablets in class off to shaky start, but worth working on

A recent Quebec study examining in-class iPad use among grades 6-10 students shows that an overwhelming majority (99%) find the gadget distracting, and that many (one third) admit to playing games during school hours. Students also reported doing very little reading on tablets, and were still doing assignments on paper. In fact, about 85% of the students said they never or rarely used the iPad to prepare written work. However, when asked about the benefits of using iPads in class, about half of the teachers said it opened up better access to information, 40% mentioned the easy portability of the devices, and about one third said it allowed for greater collaboration. The study concludes that despite the challenges tablets pose, introducing them into the classroom is still a worthwhile endeavor, as long as teachers are given the proper training. The researchers surveyed 6,057 students and 302 teachers at 18 elementary and high schools in Quebec. Globe and Mail | Full Report

New network sets out to clarify, improve competency-based education

A new organization in the US, the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN), aims to share intelligence, discuss best practices, and influence the national conversation on competency-based education, reports Inside Higher Ed. "This national network will consist of representatives from colleges and universities willing to commit time and effort to solving common challenges around developing quality competency-based models capable of scaling or spreading to affordably serve more students," reads the invitation document. Those involved in the project recognized a need to share guiding principles on competency-based education while interest is high. "There’s really a danger of people just repackaging what they’re doing and calling it competency-based education because it’s the buzzword du jour," says Amy Laitinen, a consultant for the project. The Lumina Foundation is funding the 3-year effort, and non-profit research firm Public Agenda is coordinating the work. Inside Higher Ed

PSAT administrator tries for a bit of fun with cow stickers

The College Board, which administers PSAT/NMSQT tests in the US, has recently sent high schools stickers donning cows and the phrase “Gee Whiz” to be handed out to the test-takers, aiming to “have a little fun.” The College Board explained that the idea for the stickers came from the mocking social media reaction to 2 particular passages in a version of the PSAT test: one concerning “the claim that legions of modern children have never seen a cow,” and the other including the words “Gee Whiz.” A College Board spokesperson said the goal was “to recognize the student experience,” while advertising the organization’s free college-planning resources. The back of the stickers read, “Who would have thought cows could be so inspiring? We hope that the PSAT is always this fun.” Chronicle of Higher Education