Top Ten

February 5, 2014

uSask sells donated property for $10 million

The University of Saskatchewan has sold 3 buildings near its campus in Saskatoon to Vancouver's New Summit Partners for $10 million, the Star Phoenix reports. The property, which was donated to uSask in 2009 by engineering professor emeritus Karim Nasser, included 2 apartment buildings and one commercial building. uSask Director of Corporate Administration Judy Yungwirth says the university allocated the money to university services and infrastructure at the time of donation, and that the proceeds from the sale will be used to pay back the money that has already been given out through an internal loan. Star Phoenix

BC contributes $4.5 million to heavy-duty transportation training centre

The British Columbia government is providing $4.5 million to allow the BC Institute of Technology (BCIT) and Vancouver Community College (VCC) to create a new Motive Power Centre, which will house heavy-duty transportation programs from both institutions. BCIT says the new centre will create partnership opportunities for BCIT, VCC and prospective employers, while also providing the physical space to allow industry to participate in the centre. “Around 43% of the one million jobs expected to open by 2020 will require trades or technical training,” says BC Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk. “Co-locating two existing heavy-duty transportation programs into one centre will benefit students, industry and employers.” The 142,000-square-foot facility is set to open to students in September 2014. BCIT News Release

TEC Edmonton partnership to provide cloud-computing services to businesses

TEC Edmonton, a business accelerator formed by the University of Alberta and the City of Edmonton, has partnered with CANARIE and Cybera “to provide Edmonton-area businesses with a suite of powerful, cloud-based resources to support product development and commercialization.” The agreement will enable businesses to access CANARIE’s Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR) program, which provides low-cost cloud-based computing resources for the development of new products. Jim Ghadbane, President of CANARIE, stated, “Partnerships like this make it easy for entrepreneurs and small businesses to get the support and services they need, when they need it, to move from idea to market launch.” The partnership is an extension of the ‘Powered by DAIR’ partner model, which has been launched in communities and PSE institutions across Canada, including at New Brunswick Community College. CANARIE News Release

uWindsor piloting new teaching and learning technology

The University of Windsor is piloting a new lecture capture and student engagement platform, Echo360, to enhance its teaching and learning options. The flipped-classroom technology allows students to watch and engage in lectures wherever they have access to the internet and on any web-enabled device. They can also use Echo360 to respond and ask questions, and to collaborate with their peers. “These tools engage students in deep learning both in and outside the class, through digital polling, rich media recordings of instruction, and social learning opportunities,” says Acting Director of Open Learning Nick Baker. “The tools also provide instructors with deep usage analytics to help them understand student progress.” The pilot program is part of one of the recent Productivity and Innovation Fund grants awarded to uWindsor by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. uWindsor News Release

MUN receives $1.98 million for geophysics education and research

Memorial University has received a $1.98-million donation from Hibernia Management and Development Company Ltd (HMDC), and will use the money to create a new fund to enhance geophysics education and research. The endowment will also allow MUN to purchase specialized equipment for geophysical exploration and its geophysics laboratories, and create a new guest-speaker series that will host up to 3 geophysical experts annually for the next 3 years. Earlier this year, HMDC provided an additional $420,000 in funding to support the university’s development of a new environmental geology and geophysics field school. MUN News Release

SIIT seeks transfer agreements with Sask PSE institutions

Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies President Riel Bellegarde is seeking transfer agreements with universities and colleges in the province to make more PSE options available to SIIT’s students. "If a person wants to pursue higher education, they can get their start with us and go to other institutions and if they're successful there, then we're all successful," says Bellegarde. SIIT is also focused on building more relationships with the business community. Currently, the institute has a workforce development unit and 7 career centres with job coaches who work directly with industry and labour, seeking out opportunities for students. The 36-year-old institute offers more than 60 programs, 16 of which are offered on reserves. Star Phoenix

NIC to raise tuition by 2%

BC’s North Island College has approved a 2% tuition hike, effective August 15, the maximum increase allowed under the province’s tuition limit policy. The increase was opposed by the 2 student representatives on the board of governors, but the increase is necessary to balance NIC’s budget, reports the Comox Valley Record. The tuition increase will add approximately $74,000 in revenue to programs funded by NIC’s base operating grant from the province, which is expected to be reduced again this year. "There's a great deal of sympathy on the board for the students' position. It would, I believe, be the board's preference not to have to increase tuition, if we were to be appropriately funded," said NIC Director of College and Community Relations Susan Auchterlonie. Comox Valley Record

Education purchases driving tablet sales

Tablet purchases by educational institutions are currently the main driver of overall tablet adoption, according to a breakdown of the tablet market by the International Data Corporation (IDC). The analysis shows that the fourth quarter of 2013 saw tablet sales grow 28.2% year over year, down from a growth of 87.1% the year before. The report says that “institutional purchasing, rather than consumer demand, seems to be the main force that's continuing to push tablet adoption.” In Canada, Olds College is among those driving such tablet adoption; the Alberta-based institution announced that it would work towards becoming the first fully integrated iPad learning environment in Canada. Education Dive | Campus Technology | IDC Press Release

US scientists reading fewer scholarly papers

Scientists in the US are reading fewer scholarly papers for the first time in 35 years, according to a survey out of the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee. In 2012, US scientists and social scientists estimated that they read an average of 22 scholarly articles per month, compared to the 27 they reported reading in the same survey last conducted in 2005. Not surprisingly, the survey also revealed an increase in digital consumption, with more than half of scholars saying they read the articles on a digital screen compared to just one-fifth of scientists doing so in 2005. Scientists also reported spending less time on each article compared to 2005.

UK experiments with US-style GPA to solve evaluation problems

Britain is experimenting with an American-style GPA system to attempt to solve grade inflation and other student evaluation problems. 21 universities are adopting the system over the traditional one, which is divided into 5 distinctions: first-class honors; second class, upper level (referred to as a 2.1); second class, lower (a 2.2); third class; pass without honors; and fail. As most employers look for candidates with at least a 2.1, critics of the British system say it creates an artificial division between those with a 2.1 or higher, and those who achieve lower than a 2.1. “If the pilot is successful—and I don’t see why it should not be—reform will gather momentum, so that by the end of this decade I expect all UK universities to have adopted the national GPA model that we are working on,” says Robert Burgess of the University of Leicester, who is supervising the pilot. Chronicle of Higher Education