Top Ten

March 6, 2014

uWindsor to investigate controversial student referendum

University of Windsor President Alan Wildeman has asked the university’s Student Alliance (UWSA) to defer finalizing a referendum on whether to support the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which asks individuals, corporations, and governments to boycott companies that produce in Israeli-occupied areas of Palestine or companies backed by the Israeli government. If passed, the student referendum would make the UWSA officially endorse the movement. Wildeman has expressed concern about the safety of uWindsor students following an incident in which UWSA VP Academic Affairs Jake De Jong’s office was vandalized with graffiti that said “Zionist” over a Star of David. Wildeman told the UWSA in a letter that “he respects its right to conduct a referendum and that the university wants all students to feel free to express and debate their views on important issues.” “However, [uWindsor has] begun an investigation into complaints about the referendum process,” wrote Wildeman. CBC | uWindsor Statement | Wildeman Letter

Update: March 7, 2014

The University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (UWSA) has responded to a letter from uWindsor President Alan Wildeman regarding a controversial Israel boycott referendum. A UWSA statement on Facebook says that since the UWSA is an autonomous body, complaints regarding the referendum should be brought to the union’s Chief Returning Officer to be examined by an Electoral Monitoring Committee. “The UWSA will continue to work together with the university to work towards the best situation for all involved,” reads the statement. UWSA Statement

Alberta establishes $1.1-billion research endowments

The Alberta government will be creating 2 new endowments that provide funding for social and cultural innovation, and agricultural innovation. The endowments are part of Bill 1, which will also increase the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund for trades-focused education and establish the new Alberta Future Fund for large, one-time investment needs that may come up in the future. At $1.1 billion overall, the funding will create what Alberta calls the largest social innovation endowment in Canada. University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera applauded the government “for showing such critical leadership—not only for creating the [new endowments] but also for funding [them] at a level commensurate with the importance of the work [they] will promote and support. I have no doubt that many in Canada and beyond will be taking notice of what’s happened this week in Alberta.” Alberta News Release | uAlberta Blog

NS Royal Gaelic College board considering dropping controversial word “royal”

Royal Gaelic College CEO Rodney MacDonald is weighing in on the controversial recent addition of the word “royal” to the institution’s name, saying the RGC board of governors is carefully considering a proposal to drop the word. Critics of the word say the name is offensive because most of the Gaelic-speaking migrants who sailed to Nova Scotia in the late 1700s were forced out of the Scottish Highlands following a battle with the English. Nova Scotia MLA Allan MacMaster is defending the argument for dropping the word from the college’s name, calling it “a slap in the face to those who know their Gaelic history.” Globe and Mail

uRegina launches “Think big and choose the Arts” campaign

The University of Regina’s Faculty of Arts has launched a new campaign that encourages students to “think big and choose the Arts.” The campaign, launched on February 26, includes an entertaining YouTube video that references typical jokes about arts graduates and aims to debunk the myths surrounding job prospects for students graduating with humanities degrees. “Without an arts education, how can you make an informed decision about the issues that really matter?” the video asks. The faculty is also running print ads in local newspapers, posters in Calgary Light Rail Transit (LRT) stations, and a 15-second spot on a local television station. The campaign will be wrapped up by the end of May. uRegina News Release

uCalgary Qatar receives accreditation for nursing programs

The University of Calgary in Qatar has received a 7-year accreditation by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN). “CASN accreditation is recognized worldwide for promoting excellence and as an important, objective method of assessing professional education programs,” says a uCalgary news release. uCalgary says the accreditation is also an “important ingredient in the National Health Strategy’s aim of regulating health-care practitioners in Qatar and ensuring the quality of the education they receive for professional development.” CASN gave uCalgary’s overseas campus high marks for its ability to adapt its nursing program to incorporate the local culture, and to support students whose first language is not English. uCalgary Today

ECUAD launches “Satellite Studios for Teens”

Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art + Design will be offering “Satellite Studios of Teens,” beginning this summer, in the Resort Municipality of Whistler and at the University of Northern British Columbia. The new studios will allow young students from these areas “who are serious about pursuing a future career in the creative economy to attend a world-class institution dedicated to this field.” Modelled after ECUAD’s Summer Institute for Teens, the pre-university programs are developed and taught by ECUAD faculty, and involve participation and input from various councils, community groups, cultural organizations and educational institutions. The Whistler program will run from July 7 to 18, while the UNBC-based program will run from July 14 to 25. ECUAD News Release

MUN Grenfell Campus opens new student residence

Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus has officially opened a new 5-storey, 200-room student residence that will be able to house 600 students. The residence features a lounge and kitchen on each floor, and laundry and storage facilities. A partnership between Grenfell Campus and College of the North Atlantic allows 23 of the rooms to be reserved for CNA students. The Newfoundland government provided $23.3 million in funding for the construction of the residence. NL News Release

Private sector-college applied research activity up by 19% in 2012-13

A report released this week by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) reveals that the number of applied research partnerships between the private sector and colleges and institutes increased by 19% to 5,444 in 2012-13. It also shows that private sector funding for college applied research increased by 21% to $72 million in the same year. The report also reveals that students became more involved with applied research in 2012-13, with an increase of 22% of students engaging in applied research over 2011-12. There are 98 Canadian colleges and institutes that have dedicated applied research divisions, and ACCC institutions invested a total of $49 million in applied research activity in 2012-13, according to the report. ACCC News Release | Full Report

C-BEN choses partner institutions experimenting with competency-based education

A group of 18 American PSE institutions and 2 higher education systems have signed on to participate in the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN), an organization financed by the Lumina Foundation that aims to share intelligence, discuss best practices, and influence the national conversation on competency-based education. “The R&D strategy the institutions will undertake as part of this network will provide an evidence-based approach to advancing high-quality, competency-based education capable of serving many more students of all backgrounds,” explains a C-BEN news release. A C-BEN steering committee, comprised of PSE “innovators” from several of the participating institutions, will guide the work. C-BEN News Release | Chronicle of Higher Education

2015 US budget proposes tax breaks for students

The US government’s budget for the 2015 fiscal year includes a proposal to extend a tuition tax credit and to provide tax relief to student loan borrowers whose debt is forgiven under income-based repayment plans. The tax benefit for tuition, included in the American Opportunity Tax Credit, provides up to $2,500 in partially refundable tax credits for tuition. The credit is set to expire in December unless congress agrees to extend it. President Obama also proposes simplifying the tax system for nearly all Pell Grant recipients, giving them a reduction in their taxes or an increased tax credit. Inside Higher Ed