Top Ten

February 6, 2014

Alberta PSE institutions to be required to post “sunshine list”

The Alberta government says PSE institutions in the province will be required to disclose the salaries of employees who make more than $100,000 per year, reports the Calgary Herald. The government recently released its own “sunshine” list of about 3,100 government employees who made over $100,000 a year in 2012 and 2013. Alberta Associate Minister of Accountability, Transparency and Transformation Don Scott says there will be an expectation for taxpayer-funded organizations to do the same. He “hopes to ensure compliance with the new provincial salary disclosure policy without legislation, but may draft laws if necessary.” Scott added that a framework for compliance will be developed, and that no deadline for compliance has been set. Calgary Herald

New multiple-entry visas to benefit foreign students

The Canadian government has announced that visitors to Canada will be automatically considered for a multiple-entry visa for 6 months at a time, for up to 10 years, without having to reapply, which will make it easier for international students to visit home. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) applauded the move. “CASA has been calling on the government to provide multiple-entry visas to students and we’re happy these changes are being made,” says CASA Chair Amanda Nielsen. “Improving the clarity of visa applications will help government reach the goal of increasing Canada’s international student population.” Canada recently launched its new International Education Strategy, sparking considerable discussion within the PSE sector. Canada News Release | CASA News Release

PSE institutions partner to open research centre on disability and work

Several PSE and research institutions have this week launched a new Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP) that will bring together 50 academics from across the country and another 46 community partners to tackle the issue of disability and work. “We need to develop evidence-based policy options that will help injured, ill and disabled workers stay in the job market,” says University of Toronto Associate Professor and centre Co-Director Ellen MacEachen. The centre, which will be headquartered at Toronto’s Institute for Work and Health, is funded by a 7-year, $2.8-million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. CRWDP News Release | Toronto Star

uWinnipeg faculty vote in favour of strike action

The faculty association at the University of Winnipeg has voted 92% in favour of strike action. Global News reports that 73% of 345 eligible members cast ballots in the vote. No strike deadline has yet been issued, and mediated talks are scheduled to begin today. uWinnipeg officials say they “remain committed to the mediation process and to reaching a new Collective Agreement within our financial means.” Contract talks broke down between the 2 parties late last month. Global News | uWinnipeg News

Update: February 11, 2014

The University of Winnipeg and its faculty association have reached a tentative 3-year agreement, reports the Winnipeg Free Press. The faculty voted in favour of a strike last week after talks broke down. The agreement was reached after a mediator was assigned to the negotiations. Winnipeg Free Press

NOSM develops new COI policy for pharma gifts

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine has developed a conflict of interest policy that aims to prevent pharmaceutical companies from using undue influence on faculty and students. Under the new policy, gifts from such companies will be pooled into one pot of money and used for educational activities. “The students can be as unbiased as they can when attending these education events and they can hopefully know that the education that they're receiving at these events is as unbiased or balanced as it can be,” says Adrienne Shnier, a doctoral student at York University who evaluates these kinds of policies for medical schools. NOSM Dean Roger Strasser says the policy has taken 3 years to develop, and expects it to evolve to cover other conflicts as they come up. A 2013 study ranking Canadian medical schools’ conflict of interest practices revealed that more than half of such policies were either “permissive” or nonexistent. CBC | Policy Document

uOttawa developing campus master plan

The University of Ottawa is currently undergoing the first phase of consultations in its campus master plan development, with feedback suggesting several areas where improvement could be made. Some respondents noted areas of the uOttawa campus that are crowded and lack common space for studying or collaborating; others suggested the need for more green space and more lab and research space. uOttawa has launched a new blog for updates and feedback from stakeholders. Consultations are planned with members of the campus and Ottawa communities, and an open house will be held later this month. The campus master plan initiative is expected to be completed in the summer of 2015. Ottawa Citizen | Blog

NB releases 2014-15 provincial budget

The New Brunswick government has tabled its 2014-15 budget, which affirms the 2% increase to operating grants for universities and colleges and 3% annual tuition cap announced in November. Funding for deferred maintenance and other PSE initiatives have been maintained at 2013-14 levels. The New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA) says it is “disillusioned by the provincial government’s failure to invest in a more affordable, accessible, high-quality PSE system in NB” despite having saved $8.2 million in PSE, Training and Labour. NB Budget | NBSA News Release

Poll says NS middle-income earners would pay higher taxes for lowered tuition

A survey by the Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Education Coalition says that 71% of Nova Scotians who make between $40,000 and $70,000 a year would pay higher taxes if they knew the money went towards lowering university and college tuition. The poll, which surveyed 800 people in December, also reveals that more Nova Scotians say they were concerned about PSE and health care (at 65%) than taxation (64%) or crime (39%). According to Metro News, the coalition—which is comprised of NS student, faculty and public employee associations—plans to meet with Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan to advocate for a 15% tuition decrease at NS universities and colleges. The poll has a margin of error of 3%, 19 times out of 20. Metro News | Poll

Anthropology journal moves to open-access model

The scholarly journal Cultural Anthropology is going open-access in an attempt to return “publishing to the commons, where academic life begins.” The publication has just published its first free, open-access article online. “The economic impact of open access is very difficult to gauge at this point,” says Brad Weiss, a former president of SCA, the society that publishes the journal. “The SCA is fortunately well positioned to handle even major expenses in the years between now and the end of 2017. Beyond that, the SCA hopes to show that a major journal can remain viable through a combination of grants, institutional sponsorships, and, crucially, membership support.” Cultural Anthropology | Chronicle of Higher Education

Texas PSE institutions offering “affordable baccalaureate” option

South Texas College and Texas A&M University at Commerce have introduced the joint Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program, which can be completed in 3 years for $13,000 to $15,000. The program, supported by the College for All Texans Foundation and a 2-year, $1-million grant from Educause and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is being launched 2 years after Texas Governor Rick Perry called on the state’s colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees that would cost students no more than $10,000 each. Students will be able to complete the first 90 credit hours required for the degree through online modules; the last 30 credit hours will be offered in both a face-to-face and online format. Chronicle of Higher Education