Top Ten

March 13, 2014

Trio charged in English proficiency exam scam

Police in London, ON have charged 3 people for allegedly using fake passports to write English proficiency exams for foreign students, who paid $7,000 for the service. The 3 people in custody are all Greater Toronto Area residents, and have been charged with “possession of a forged passport, possession of a forged document, personation at examination and personation to gain advantage.” The Canadian Border Services Agency will also be reviewing any possible misrepresentation by students who have applied for study permits. This past December, a woman was given a 2-year prison term for a similar immigration scam that helped international students get around language requirements. London Free Press

Concordia engineers to rewrite frosh chant songbook

Concordia University engineering student association leaders Katherine Bellini and Antonin Picou have passed a motion that will see offensive frosh chant songbooks rewritten. “Initially, I heard these songs and it was so inappropriate it made me feel unsafe, so I addressed this issue to promote a positive culture change within the school,” says Bellini. The move will mean the creation of a Student Spirit Committee that will be in charge of reviewing promotional material and ultimately, for rewriting the chants. The motion also looks to improve student leader training, and create a policy on good conduct and complaint resolution. Saint Mary’s University recently released a report on “cultural changes to prevent sexual violence and inspire respectful behavior and a safe learning environment,” which was assigned after a frosh chant glorifying non-consensual underage sex was captured on social media. CBC

uAlberta, Banff Centre launch Peter Lougheed Leadership Initiative

The University of Alberta, in partnership with the Banff Centre, has launched the Peter Lougheed Leadership Initiative, which will deliver programming aiming to “inspire and mentor emerging, current and next generation leaders whose skills and vision will have a lasting impact on Alberta and beyond.” The initiative, named after Alberta’s 10th premier, will also focus on building enhanced capacity for community governance, creativity and entrepreneurship through programs for non-profit and community leaders. Last week, the Alberta government committed to the project $70 million—$7 million in each of the next 10 years—that will be split equally between uAlberta and the Banff Centre. The remaining funding for the $210-million project will come from private donations and the federal government, according to the Edmonton Journal. uAlberta News Release | Edmonton Journal

uToronto launches Office of Indigenous Medical Education

The University of Toronto recently held an official launch of the new Office of Indigenous Medical Education (OIME), which aims to bring issues of cultural safety and awareness to medical students at uToronto. OIME was established last year to help support the growth of Aboriginal health professionals, as well as to graduate “more knowledgeable non-Aboriginal practitioners by integrating Aboriginal health issues and concepts into the undergraduate medicine curriculum in the form of lectures, panels, research projects and electives.” OIME brings issues such as Indigenous health and experiences, social determinants of health, and Indigenous health concepts to classrooms. Ideas of cultural safety serve to highlight “how to provide care in a culturally safe manner, recognizing their biases to the patient’s background or religion or race or sexual orientation, being aware of it so that their interaction with the patient can be much more therapeutic. Make the patient feel much more safe in their interaction with the doctor.” Windspeaker | uToronto News Release

UoGuelph joins many universities offering entrepreneurship incubators

The University of Guelph’s Co-operators Centre for Business and Social Entrepreneurship (CBaSE) has launched an entrepreneurship incubator to help students and alumni launch their business ideas. “The Hub” is open to all UoGuelph students and graduates, and those accepted into the program will receive $8,000 in start-up funding, office space, and mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs. “We approach entrepreneurship not as a discipline but as a daily practice,” says CBaSE Director Melanie Lang. “Students are assigned to meet certain milestones based on the type of business they’re trying to start.” The Hub also offers workshops led by business professionals on topics such as financial literacy, marketing, sales and negotiation, intellectual property rights and legal matters. The Hub is taking applications until March 23, and the program will begin this summer. UoGuelph News

OUSA survey reveals students place teaching ahead of research, reduced class sizes

A new report by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) reveals that undergraduate students prioritize enhanced instructor training over increased research opportunities and even reduced class sizes. The report, Beyond the Traditional Classroom: Teaching and Learning in Contemporary Higher Education, presents results of OUSA’s Ontario Post-Secondary Student Survey, and particularly the data on students’ experiences with high-impact learning, their views on the balance between teaching and research, and what resources should be prioritized at their university. The data also indicate that “for the most part, students are accessing high-impact and work-integrated learning at greater rates than ever, and are having a broad selection of pedagogical experiences.” More than half of the 9,000 students surveyed said they have experienced an online course. OUSA News Release | Full Report

HEQCO report suggests some professors could be teaching more

The teaching capacity of full-time professors at Ontario’s universities could increase by 10% if professors who are not active researchers taught more, suggests a report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO). The authors studied the teaching/research workloads and remuneration for assistant, associate and full professors in the economics, chemistry and philosophy departments at 10 universities across the province. They found that approximately 19% of the professors sampled “demonstrated no obvious recent contribution of scholarly or research output, although universities generally adhere to a faculty workload distribution of 40% teaching, 40% research and 20% service.” The report recommends that those “research non-active” professors should increase their teaching loads to double those of their “research-active” peers, for an 80% teaching and 20% service workload distribution. HEQCO News Release | Full Report

Record number of uCalgary medical grads choosing family medicine

A record number of University of Calgary medical graduates are choosing careers in family medicine, reports UToday, with more than double the number of family doctors coming from the university than in 2008. “Albertans have long faced a shortage of family doctors,” says uCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon. “The University of Calgary is proud to support the Faculty of Medicine’s concentrated efforts to promote family medicine as a fulfilling career among the next generation of physicians and the demonstrated commitment to meeting the needs of our community.” Of the 79 graduates who will study family medicine this year, 28 will stay in Calgary for their residency; the rest will do their residencies in Edmonton and other cities across Canada. uCalgary UToday

Not all US universities rushing towards branch campuses

While the number of US university branch campuses overseas has risen in the past several years, Inside Higher Ed points out that a few PSE institutions have decided against establishing international campuses right away. George Washington University has recently reversed its course on a planned branch campus in China in partnership with Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics. GWU officials cite a lack of faculty support as its main reason for cancelling the plans, and have decided to begin a broader discussion with its faculty about opening such a branch campus. Columbia University is careful not to promote its network of 8 Global Centers as branch campuses. The centres are meant to promote faculty research and student exchange opportunities. “We don’t invest in brick and mortar, we don’t hire faculty, we don’t recruit students and thus our exit strategy is an efficient one,” says Safwan M Masri, Columbia’s Executive VP for Global Centers and Global Development. Inside Higher Ed

New US online learning survey reveals changing attitudes among academic leaders

A new survey on online learning at American PSE institutions reveals that the number of chief academic officers who say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy has dropped since 2012, to 66% in 2013. However, “institutions that do not have any online offerings account for all of the decrease from 2012 to 2013, while those with online offerings are as positive in 2013 as they were in 2012.” The survey of 2,800 academic leaders also shows that the number of CAOs rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face instruction decreased to 74% from 2012, following almost a decade of positive growth (57% in 2003 to 77% in 2012). However, the number of students taking at least one online course increased by over 411,000 to a new total of 7.1 million in 2013. Full Report