Top Ten

February 27, 2014

SAIT receives $5-million gift for scholarships

SAIT Polytechnic has received a $5-million donation from Calgary philanthropist David Bissett to create a bursary and scholarship program. The gift is reputed to be the largest given to a college or polytechnic for scholarships from an individual in Canada. The Bissett Scholar Program will each year give 9 entrance bursaries of $7,500 to graduating high school students with financial need in Calgary. The scholars will be supported throughout their time at SAIT with academic and student counseling through the Centre for Academic Learner Services. Bissett says he’d like to focus his attention on diploma-based, trades and technology education. “We have a real mismatch between kids’ skills and the needs of the marketplace. This [scholarship] is good not only for the individuals, but good for the Alberta economy,” Bissett adds. SAIT News Release

uWindsor approves new welcome centre design

The University of Windsor has chosen Amico Design Build and Hariri Pontarini Architects/Architecttura Inc Architects to build its new welcome centre, with construction to begin within the next month. The 2-storey, 18,000-square-foot building, announced in the uWindsor campus master plan, “will invite visitors, future students, donors and returning alumni to explore the ever-changing campus community.” It will offer a spacious lobby for campus events, several meeting rooms, a bookstore kiosk, and a display to depict the university’s history. The building will also house the offices of Student Admissions and Recruitment; Alumni Affairs and Donor Communications; the University Campaign; Public Affairs and Communications; and Alumni and Donor Records. “The prominent second storey has been designed as a gently arcing ribbon of white glass that weaves its way around the site to visually connect the original section of main campus with the new Innovation Centre, the parking garage, and the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation,” explains a uWindsor news release. uWindsor News | CBC

Report touts results of 10-year family medicine plan for Ontario

A new report highlights the recent positive changes to family medicine in Ontario following collaboration between Ontario faculties of medicine, the Ontario government and the medical profession. The Family Medicine Expansion Report reveals that the province’s 6 family medicine programs have graduated 1,900 more family doctors in the past decade (500 per year), and have partnered with more than 155 communities—enabling these communities to recruit new graduates. Data released last year by the Ontario Medical Association indicate that 2.1 million more Ontario patients now have access to primary health care, and the family medicine report says this is due to a 10-year plan to address a shortage of family doctors. The report also states that “the process of primary care renewal is still underway; while we are on the right track, it is critical to sustain the work underway and investments made to ensure the ongoing success of primary care reform.” COU News Release | Full Report

Alberta signs MOU with China for student exchange opportunities

The Alberta government has made an agreement with the Chinese government that includes expanding opportunities for students to study in China, and for Chinese students to study in Alberta. The partnership will allow Alberta to expand the Campus Alberta Grants for International Learning, which provide Alberta’s PSE students with a chance to study abroad, to 500 additional students per year. An additional 120 scholarships are also available for students to go to China in 2014. Other initiatives announced include 4 new scholarships to support study-abroad opportunities between high school students in Alberta and China, and expanding student summer camps that provide Alberta’s junior high and high school students with a chance to visit China and learn about the country’s language and culture. "These initiatives reflect our commitment to preparing young Albertans to be global citizens who understand international issues and are capable of communicating across different cultures,” says Alberta Minister of Education Jeff Johnson. Alberta News Release

Humber launches new website

Toronto’s Humber College has launched a new website that features more stories, easier access, and a new design. The site, which prominently features Humber’s “We are…” branding, includes a new mobile-responsive design, level AA compliance with standards set in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), higher visibility for priority areas such as student success, student resources and admissions, a social wall highlighting the college’s Facebook, YouTube and Twitter activity, and the ability to comment on news stories and events. “This is the first step in a planned series of improvements to the website,” says Todd Ryoji, Humber’s Associate Director of Digital Marketing. “Ultimately, we’re working towards better meeting the needs of the whole Humber community.” Humber News Release

JIBC signs transfer agreement with Pennsylvania university

The Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) has signed an articulation agreement with Pennsylvania’s Mercyhurst University that will allow graduates of JIBC’s Graduate Certificate in Intelligence Analysis or Graduate Certificate in Tactical Criminal Analysis to go on to complete Mercyhurst’s Master of Science in Applied Intelligence. The 2 institutions forged a curriculum sharing collaboration a few years ago; the Mercyhurst curriculum has been adapted to the Canadian context. “Mercyhurst is highly respected for training the next generation of intelligence analysts. This agreement deepens the relationship between Mercyhurst and JIBC and reflects our ongoing commitment to providing expanded opportunities for students and professionals to further their education and obtain a graduate degree,” says JIBC President Michel Tarko. JIBC News Release

3M Student Fellows launch “Cult of Busy” campaign

The 3M Student Fellows have launched a “Cult of Busy” website that focuses on “busyness, the demands of student life, and the role of higher education in addressing this topic.” The site gathers multimedia resources on “busyness” to generate media attention and instigate campaigns on PSE campuses. “The 3M National Student Fellows want to challenge ‘busy’ as an ideal and ask the deeper question ‘What are you busy for?’” explains the website. It includes essays and commentaries on busyness, and best practices for “busyness exit strategies.” Cult of Busy

Instructional Skills Workshop successful in encouraging student-focused teachers

The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW), offered in 100 institutions worldwide, is successful in developing more student-centred, reflective instructors, reveals a new study from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO). The study, which is the largest to date on the ISW, found that ISW participants were “significantly less teacher-focused” in their instruction 4 months after the study, while a control group showed no change in teacher focus. “Many comments from the qualitative analysis support a shift towards increased student focus in terms of thinking about what students need, planning experiences to actively engage students and seeking student feedback,” the authors note. Participants in the study included ISW-enrolled faculty from Western University, Ryerson University, Georgian College and the University of Waterloo between February 2011 and August 2012. HEQCO News Release | Full Report

Amit Chakma says Canada’s budget shows commitment to innovation

Western University President Amit Chakma argues in a recent National Post op-ed that the 2014 federal budget shows “Canada is finally getting serious about innovation.” Chakma states that while some are calling the budget a “do-nothing” plan, the newly-announced Canada First Research Excellence Fund “is signaling that our country’s brightest minds will be more strongly supported to excel at knowledge creation.” He adds that the budget, “layered on top” of the International Education Strategy launched in January, suggests that PSE is “emerging as a national priority.” “In the research context, rather than spreading money around thinly and evenly like peanut butter across a wide range of smaller initiatives, funding criteria should focus on supporting visionary interdisciplinary projects with high potential to address significant real-world problems with national and international implications,” urges Chakma. He adds that universities also must allocate their resources wisely “in areas where they can indeed achieve global excellence.” National Post

Surveys reveal gap in business, academic leaders’ opinions of grad preparedness

Business and academic leaders in the US disagree on how prepared PSE graduates are for the workforce, reveal 2 recent surveys. A survey released this week in partnership with the Lumina Foundation shows that only 11% of business leaders "strongly agree" that today’s graduates have the skills and competencies that their businesses need. Another poll found that 96% of college and university chief academic officers said they were "extremely or somewhat confident" in their institutions’ ability to prepare students for workforce success. "That’s a real disconnect," says Gallup Education Executive Director Brandon Busteed. “But the difference is not that provosts have their heads in the sand and business leaders and Americans are entirely correct in how they’re assessing it, either.” Busteed adds that graduates’ actual preparedness level probably lies somewhere in between. The former study, What America Needs to Know About Higher-Education Redesign, found that the American public also gave institutions’ preparation of students a "dismal rating," with only 14% saying they "strongly agree" that graduates in the US are well prepared for success in the workplace. Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) | What America Needs to Know… | CAO Survey Download Form