Top Ten

February 24, 2014

BC budget confirms continued PSE funding reduction

The 2014 British Columbia budget, tabled last week, extends a PSE funding reduction of some $50 million per year for 3 years announced in last year’s budget. The province’s advanced education budget is projected to decrease from $1.952 billion this year to $1.911 billion by 2016-17. The budget does make a commitment to boosting skills training opportunities in BC, citing the addition of the NorKam Trades Centre of Excellence in Kamloops, trades training facilities at Camosun College, facilities at Okanagan College, and a new campus for Emily Carr University. The budget gives no dollar figure for these initiatives, but Finance Minister Mike de Jong told the Vancouver Sun that the government is spending $2.3 billion to build or renovate several PSE buildings over the coming years. BC Budget 2013-14 | Vancouver Sun

Selkirk planning multi-campus upgrades

Selkirk College is planning a $27-million upgrade to its Silver King campus in Nelson and its Castlegar campus. “What we’re proposing up at the Silver King campus is a fairly extensive renovation to primarily the shop space,” says Selkirk President Angus Graeme. “We don’t need a new trades building. It’s an excellent campus, an excellent site, but it does need some modernization.” The recently-tabled provincial budget pledged capital investments for trades training institutions, but didn’t mention Selkirk as one of the institutions that will be funded. However, Graeme says, “Just because Selkirk wasn’t mentioned by name in the budget, doesn’t mean it’s out of luck.” He continues, “There may be funds that are rolled out in terms of programs for this year that we can apply to. As soon as those come out, I will jostle to be at the front of the line.” Nelson Star

Ryerson creates fellowships for South African entrepreneurs

Ryerson University has created 8 new fellowships that will offer student entrepreneurs from South African universities opportunities to develop businesses within Ryerson’s incubators. The incubators, including the Digital Media Zone (DMZ), will offer the entrepreneurs mentorships, business development advice, collaboration opportunities, and valuable international experience over a 3-4 month placement. 4 South African universities are taking part in the initiative: the University of Witwatersrand, the University of Johannesburg, Stellenbosch University, and the University of Venda. Each university will provide a shortlist of applicants, based on video pitches and business plans, with a zone steering committee making final decisions. Ryerson’s DMZ has previously collaborated to build entrepreneurial bridges with countries such as China, Israel, and India – most recently with the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute. “The future of the global economy is in the hands of our young people,” says Ryerson President Sheldon Levy. “Ryerson is proud to partner with South African universities in promoting entrepreneurial innovation and great ideas.” Ryerson News Release

UBC releases draft report to address gender-based violence, Aboriginal stereotypes

The University of British Columbia has released its draft recommendations report, developed by the President’s Task Force on Gender-Based Violence and Aboriginal Stereotypes. The draft document’s release launches a campus-wide consultation process that will run until March 5, 2014, at which time consultation feedback and the recommendations will be submitted to President Stephen Toope. The task force was established to “tackle some of the attitudes and lack of understanding related to gender-based violence, as well as the trivialization of Aboriginal cultures” that became evident during orientation week activities that included insensitive, offensive chants. “I don’t believe we can single-handedly reverse the current pop culture with its casual gender-based violence, nor can we eradicate well-rooted Aboriginal stereotypes that prevail nation-wide,” says Louise Cowin, VP Students and task force member. “But we can certainly take more intentional and bolder actions for our students, faculty and staff here at UBC.” UBC News Release   

NB invests $1 million to expand Teen Apprenticeship Program

The New Brunswick government is investing $1 million over 3 years to expand its New Brunswick Teen Apprentice Program, which gives high school students early training and employment in the skilled trades. "This year the program will expand to 28 high schools across NB and continue to grow each of the following 2 years,” says PSE, Training and Labour Minister Jody Carr. The program connects employers with students starting in Grade 10, allowing the students to experience a trade, gain 3 years of summer employment, earn credits toward graduation, and complete the first level of a formal apprenticeship. "This is our first year expanding the program outside the Saint John and Sussex areas, and we are excited to be growing it in all parts of the province, such as Oromocto, Fredericton and Nackawic," says Christina Taylor, Executive Director of the program. NB News Release

Collège Boréal opens Orientation and Entrepreneurship Centre for French newcomers

Collège Boréal has opened an Orientation and Entrepreneurship Centre at its London, ON site, which will allow the college to “help new French-speaking immigrants with their integration and orientation needs, and will help newcomer entrepreneurs.” The centre is funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). “This Centre will truly meet the needs of the Francophone immigration community in London,” says Boréal President Pierre Riopel. “We now have the necessary tools to provide a greater arsenal of tools available in French, which will allow them to start their own business and be successful at it. We would like to thank CIC for recognizing our commitment to this clientele.” Boréal News Release

UBC professor creates “Generation Squeeze” advocacy campaign

University of British Columbia Professor Paul Kershaw has founded an advocacy network, Generation Squeeze, which works with various organizations and citizens to “speak up for those in their mid-40s and younger.” Kershaw and Generation Squeeze Director of Public Engagement Eric Swanson explain in a recent op-ed that while many government initiatives support the growing number of retirees, there is a lack of support for younger generations. The Generation Squeeze campaign suggests increasing spending on programs aimed towards people under 45 by $1,000 per person. “We pursue this vision in the market by looking for like-minded companies that can save younger Canadians time and money with member discounts on products and services, just as CARP negotiates discounts for seniors,” reads the Kershaw and Swanson op-ed. Globe and Mail

Laurentian launches campus-modernization project

Laurentian University has announced it will renovate its Great Hall as the first step of a modernization plan for its Sudbury campus. The 60-year-old hall will undergo a $2.09-million overhaul that will update lighting and furnishings and provide students with many more food choices, including more locally-sourced and healthy options. “We’re joining the majority of Canadian universities in providing meal plans for students in residence, providing students and their families the assurance of fresh, nourishing meal choices throughout the academic year at a reasonable price,” says VP Administration Carol McAulay. The renovations to the Great Hall are part of a larger campus modernization plan, outlined in the 2012-17 Strategic Plan, which includes $50 million in campus upgrades and renovations to classrooms, labs, study areas, and social spaces over the next 3 years. Sudbury Star

UK takes notice of Canada’s international education strategy

As part of Canada’s new federal campaign to increase the number of international students to 450,000 by 2022, marketing efforts are directly targeting countries such as Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam, promoting the broad recognition of Canada’s PSE credentials, the comparatively safe, welcoming and multicultural society and the possibility of immigration, along with the relative affordability of tuition. A recent piece in Times Higher Education reports that in many countries, “There is no awareness that Canada has world-class educational establishments,” a problem that the marketing campaign hopes to address. Gail Bowkett, Director of Research and International Relations for the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, notes that “it is very much about building awareness and building your brand and making those mobile students aware of the value proposition.” Another facet of the marketing campaign is to portray Canada’s cold weather as a positive to students from warmer countries that may be turned off by the thought of the snow and ice. “It’s about a whole new experience and opening up new experiences – in a whole new climate.” Times Higher Education

Elite US universities still working out MOOC kinks

Elite US universities Cornell, Princeton and Yale are all in the process of experimenting with online education alternatives and different business models following various concerns voiced about revenue and intellectual property rights, reports Inside Higher Ed. Cornell, which will launch its first 4 MOOCs on edX in a few weeks, has released a Distance Learning Committee report in which faculty urged a “a diverse portfolio of distance learning avenues, continually rebalancing it as evidence emerges.” Also, faculty at Yale and Princeton are wondering whether building courses for Coursera is worth the time and effort required to establish a presence on yet another platform. Yale has made a compromise with faculty opposed to more MOOC offerings using Coursera’s recently-launched fee-based feature Signature Track. “Faculty members at Yale are welcome to enable Signature Track for their courses as an option, but with one catch: The courses also have to be free and open to anyone around the world. Faculty members can skip Signature Track too, if they wish,” explains Craig M Wright of Yale’s Committee on Online Education. At Princeton, a debate is underway regarding who owns the intellectual property of MOOCs. Edward W Felten, a Princeton professor of computer science and public affairs, says, “One can create high-tech course materials that use video and interaction with a computer, and that can be like the 21st-century version of a textbook. What this means is when it comes to the course materials that are used for teaching [in a MOOC], those materials are more like writing, and therefore the intellectual property in the materials would be treated like a textbook.” Inside Higher Ed