Top Ten

February 13, 2014

Federal budget includes funding for research, internships, training

Canada’s 2014 federal budget tabled on Tuesday includes a new Canada First Research Excellence Fund, which will provide $1.5 billion over 10 years for PSE research, starting with $50 million in 2015-16. Universities, colleges and PSE associations from across the country are welcoming the new funding. The budget also pledges an increase of $46 million annually to research granting agencies such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and $40 million to support up to 3,000 full-time internships for PSE graduates in high-demand fields. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is applauding the budget measure that will see the value of a student-owned vehicle removed from the student loan eligibility consideration, which will add an estimated $8 million in aid for students each year. The budget also includes a Canada Apprentice Loan that provides apprentices registered in Red Seal trades access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year, and the Flexibility and Innovation in Apprenticeship Technical Training pilot project that will expand the use of innovative approaches for apprenticeship technical training. The government has also pledged $10 million over 2 years for colleges to do social-innovation research with community organizations. Budget | Globe and Mail | ACCC News Release | AUCC News Release | Polytechnics Canada News Release | CASA News Release | Chronicle of Higher Education

Olds College, students add $144.5 million to regional economy

The Olds, Alberta area in 2011-12 received some $45 million in added income due to the operations of Olds College and the spending of out-of-region students, reveals an economic impact report by Economic Modeling Specialists Inc for the college. The report also says Olds graduates who were active in the regional workforce generated another $99.7 million in added income through their higher earnings and the increased productivity of their employers. “Olds College is fortunate to be situated in such a vibrant community with a balanced, robust economy. This Economic Impact modelling lends support to the notion that the college is another driving force in our region in what is truly a virtuous circle,” says Olds VP Student and Support Services Kathy Kimpton. Olds News Release | Full Report

Canada to go ahead with Jobs Grant plan with or without provinces

The Canadian government will go ahead with its controversial Jobs Grant plan despite the fact that several provinces are not on board, reports the Toronto Star. This week’s federal budget confirms that the government, which would provide $15,000 for skills training to employees, will launch the plan April 1. The federal government still doesn’t have sign-off from all of the provinces; Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Brad Duguid says the grant would pull money away from programs that benefit youth, First Nations, people with disabilities, and other groups. Duguid added this week that there is agreement across the country that the current grant program can be improved by using alternate sources of funding. Toronto Star

Update: February 14, 2014

Employment Minister Jason Kenney told the Globe and Mail that the government is willing to delay the launch of the Canada Job Grant program, which currently lacks sign-off from all provinces. “If we come to an agreement, there may be some flexibility on the start date. But we have to figure out whether we’ve got agreements or not [before April 1],” said Kenney. Globe and Mail

UBC taskforce releases interim campus safety report

The University of British Columbia has released an interim report of its Campus Safety Working Group, which was appointed last November to address safety concerns following a series of 6 sexual assaults that took place on campus from April to October 2013. The report offers recommendations around: the effectiveness of using cameras on campus; how to promote a safe, caring, and respectful campus community; potential UBC and RCMP partnerships; the development of better communications tools; and campus mobility and visibility. The taskforce will be taking student, faculty and staff comments on the report until February 25, which will inform a final action plan. UBC News Release | Full Report

StudentsNS launches “More Than Yes” consent campaign

Students Nova Scotia (StudentsNS) has launched a new “More Than Yes” education campaign that aims to promote greater understanding of sexual consent among students. The campaign will feature posters, stickers for condom wrappers, and a website: The website, which will be advertised on social media platforms at high-risk times (Friday nights, special school events), contains the message, “tentative responses such as ‘I guess’ or even ‘…sure’ are inadequate. Consent needs to be loud and clear.” StudentsNS Executive Director Jonathan Williams says, “We hope this campaign will be informative about everyone’s responsibility to receive clear consent from their partner, without coercion, before engaging in sexual activity. Seeking consent is not about avoiding a ‘no,’ it’s about receiving an enthusiastic Yes.” StudentsNS

Trades Training BC launches new website

Trades Training BC (TTBC), a consortium of 14 PSE institutions that provide trades training, has launched a new website for current and prospective trades students. The site aims to provide visitors with information about trades programs and where to find training opportunities in the province. The website also includes a Jobs Board that includes current trades job postings. The site is organized into clearly-defined sections for information about apprenticing in BC, vocational training, foundation training, how to find a job, and financial aid advice. There is also a “quick schedule finder” on the homepage that allows a prospective student to search a trade or program and see where it is available in the province. TTBC News Release

Students benefit from teaching assistants trained in inquiry-based instruction

A recent study from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) reveals that providing inquiry-based training to graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) can improve both teaching effectiveness and student outcomes. Inquiry-based training focuses on teaching to develop students’ questions and observations, as opposed to the more traditional content-based approach. The HEQCO study was conducted in the Carleton University biology department in fall 2012, and divided 52 GTAs into 2 groups: one given inquiry-based training, and the other given traditional training. In 3 different measures (student evaluation, cognitive learning evaluation and the students’ final grades), the GTAs enrolled in the inquiry-based training group had higher teaching effectiveness scores. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

Ontario youth smoking rate dropping

A new report out of the University of Toronto reveals that fewer school-aged children in Ontario are smoking, despite the fact that the overall smoking rate has remained the same for the last 5 years. The report, produced by the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit at uToronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, shows that in 2013, 6% of grade 11 and 12 students had smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days, compared to 12% in 2005. “The decline in youth smoking rates will likely result in a gradual overall decrease in smoking rates if more young adults are able to remain smoke-free,” says a uToronto news release. uToronto News Release | Toronto Star | Full Report

Gifts to US universities, colleges top pre-recession records

Donations to American PSE institutions totaled $33.8 billion in 2013, which is a nearly 10% increase over 2012 and the biggest sum ever raised by the sector, reveals a survey by the Council for Aid to Education. The council's annual Voluntary Support of Education survey tallies donations by individuals, companies and foundations, and counts only gifts that have been received, not simply pledged. The survey also reveals that the largest growth by source was in total gifts by alumni, which increased by $1.3 billion, nearly 17% more than a year earlier. Chronicle of Higher Education

UK government cuts funding for PSE grants

The UK government has cut higher education funding by £125 million (roughly $228 million) with the delivery of its letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The 2014-15 funding leaves out a dedicated £37-million Access to Learning Fund, which gave discretionary grants to the poorest students. The government letter explains to the HEFCE that the council should “simplify funding streams where they seek to deliver a similar objective.” Times Higher Education