Top Ten

April 9, 2014

uWaterloo looks at $24-million expansion to architecture school

The University of Waterloo is looking to expand its School of Architecture at the Cambridge campus, reports The Record. The $24-million expansion would add 80,000 square feet to the existing campus and would house a new integrated design program with room for 300 undergraduate and 60 graduate students. uWaterloo officials are asking for $8 million from the city of Cambridge, $8 million from the federal government through the new Building Canada Fund, and $8 million from the province. The new program will combine areas of industrial design, communication design, and the new field of interaction design, and will be project-based, collaborative, and entrepreneurial, with an incubator system expected to be established. "I think it's a fantastic opportunity both for the School of Architecture and for the city of Cambridge," said the school's Director, Ila Berman. "It's an area and a disciplinary field that's expanding." The Record

Sault College completes campus revitalization

Ontario’s Sault College has wrapped up a 4-year campus revitalization project with the completion of the “Common Link,” a hub connecting the new Student Health and Wellness Centre with existing infrastructure. The link is named for President Ron Common, who was honoured with a commemorative plaque during the grand opening of the link. Funding for the $2.5-million link project was provided by the Ontario government and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, with materials donated by Tenaris. “Dr Common’s student-centred approach has been welcomed by all those guided by his leadership over the past several years,” notes Jordan Borneman, Sault College Students’ Union President. The new 40,000-square-foot Student Health and Wellness Centre features academic labs, fitness rooms, and a gymnasium. Sault News Release

ECUAD launches new entrepreneurship program

Emily Carr University of Art + Design is launching a new program, the Scotiabank Platform Entrepreneurship Program (Platform), thanks to a $250,000 donation from Scotiabank. Platform is designed as a 6-month entrepreneurship program for recent art and design graduates and will provide students with the knowledge to develop business plans and pitches, match students with advisors and venture capitalists, and feature workshops and mentorships with industry professionals. Students will learn “basic business start-up skills and [will be introduced] to various topics including: financial planning and risk management; market analysis; communications strategies; intellectual property management; and basic business administration.” The first participants in the new program will begin in fall 2015. ECUAD News

Centennial unveils plans for new residence

Centennial College has announced plans to build a new student residence at its Progress campus that will provide accommodation for 740 students and will include space for labs, classrooms, and a new teaching restaurant. The Centennial College Residence and Culinary Arts Centre will be funded, built, and managed by Knightstone Capital Management, with partners Diamond Schmitt Architects, Canadian Campus Communities and FRAM Building Group. The $85-million, 8-storey residence will have 2- and 4-bedroom suites, each containing a bathroom and kitchen, as well as communal kitchens and gathering spaces. The entire first floor will be dedicated to the Culinary Arts Centre, and a conference and banquet centre will be located on the top floor. The building will be LEED gold-certified, and will promote a “living learning” experience by encouraging students to partake in extra-curricular activities. Construction is set to begin this spring, with completion slated for summer 2016. Centennial recently completed renovation of its Ashtonbee campusCentennial News Release

Postscript: October 18, 2014

Centennial College held a groundbreaking ceremony at its Progress Campus on Friday for the new Centennial Residence and Culinary Arts Facility. The new, $85 M building will combine 740 residence spaces, a culinary arts teaching facility, and conference and event spaces. Residents will occupy 2- and 4-bedroom suites with each resident having a private bedroom and sharing communal kitchens and lounge space. There will also be a yoga studio, shared lounge space, and a movie screening room. The culinary arts facility will offer 7 kitchen labs, a teaching restaurant, a café, and 8 classrooms that will accommodate up to a total of 600 students. The building has been designed with sustainability in mind and will be LEED-certified. Centennial News

New initiatives at uRegina business school

The Faculty of Business Administration at the University of Regina has recently launched a number of initiatives designed to help make the school “known as Canada's school for experiential education and research,” explains Dean Andrew Gaudes. One interesting initiative is the Hill Legacy Pin program for undergraduate students in the Paul J Hill School of Business; incoming students get a pin that they are expected to wear at university events and that will be exchanged for an Alumni ring upon graduation. The graduate hands the pin to a new incoming student along with a letter of reflection, creating an “instant mentorship.” Another initiative is a new bundling program that allows students to take courses outside of the business school that focus on one country of interest. This gives students in-depth knowledge of a specific area combined with business skills. In addition, the MBA program has developed a more international focus, a new postgraduate diploma helps students “top up” and prepare for an MBA, and articulation agreements with international schools are being explored. Leader-Post 

Canada’s “skills gap” is actually an “experience gap”

The problem that recent graduates are having finding quality work in their fields is not due to a skills gap, but an experience gap, says a recent article in Maclean’s. The article explores the criteria employers are looking for when they post “entry-level” positions, finding that many of these positions state the need for 2-5 years of experience. Many recent graduates do not possess that level of prior experience without undertaking a co-op program, explains researcher Sophie Borwein of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, who is currently working on a report on the topic. Employers today are also less willing to train new employees, especially around the soft skills needed for the labour force – communications, time management, etc. Internships are another way to gain this valuable experience before hitting the job market, but internships, and co-ops, are hard to find and competition is high. Institutions such as Queen’s University have introduced internship programs that match recent graduates with employers, but Queen's has only 300-500 job postings per year for over 17,000 students. Maclean’s

Canada needs to expand trades training opportunities

Although the system is not suitable for a direct implementation in Canada, Germany’s vocational training system offers many areas of consideration for Canada, says Dan Kelly, President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in a recentFinancial Post article. Kelly was a member of the delegation that recently joined Employment Minister Jason Kenney on a study tour of Germany and the UK to explore approaches to skills and vocational training in those countries. Kelly notes that Germany has a reverence for trades that doesn’t fully exist in Canada, and suggests that a change in attitude towards employment in the trades would benefit Canada. He also notes that Canada would likely not support the idea of placing children into specific training streams as early as age 11 or 12, but that increased focus in high school on vocational training “makes sense.” Kelly hopes that the provincial agreement on theCanada Job Grant will lead to the development of proper workplace training programs and that “provinces will soften their attachment to the status quo and borrow from experience elsewhere to build a training culture in Canada.” Financial Post

Glocal Classroom conference explores intersections of technology and learning

The first of 4 conferences on transforming education through technological innovation was held recently in South Africa at the University of Stellenbosch, with participation from partner universities Guelph in Canada, Malmo in Sweden, and Flinders in Australia. The conferences are designed so the institutions can share expertise and best practices in blending classroom and virtual teaching and learning experiences; the “Glocal Classroom” concept is “about bringing together ideas on how to work together with local knowledge in a global virtual technology-driven classroom through web-based learning,” explained Russel Botman, Rector of Stellenbosch. One conference participant said technology can help universities develop high quality programs, strengthen student engagement, improve the student learning experience and intensify research, but noted that they are not encouraging a decline in face-to-face instruction. "We need to extend higher education through blending online opportunities within the framework of lifelong and open distance learning." The next conference is to be held at Guelph in May. University World News

AACC releases implementation guide for transformation of community colleges

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has released a new guide outlining strategies for community colleges to achieve specific objectives. “Empowering Community Colleges To Build the Nation’s Future: An Implementation Guide” addresses 7 goals identified by the AACC and includes several strategies to approach each. Some of the goals identified include: by 2020, reducing by half the number of students who come to college unprepared, doubling the number who finish remedial courses and make it through introductory college-level courses, and closing achievement gaps across diverse populations of students. The guide’s concrete suggestions can help colleges tailor solutions to their needs, Rey Garcia, President of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, stated. "While the challenges are daunting and there will always be more work to be done, the implementation guide sets community colleges on a path to take on this difficult work." Chronicle of Higher Education | Full report

Consortium aims to enable transfer of apprenticeship experience into academic credit

US VP Joe Biden announced this week a new consortium of colleges, businesses, and labour unions that will make it easier for students enrolled in apprenticeships to gain academic credit for their work. Participating institutions must agree to provide credit to individuals that complete specific apprenticeship programs, with recommendations from third-party organizations such as the American Council on Education and the National College Credit Recommendation Service. The consortium will be run by the Departments of Education and Labor, and participation is voluntary. The consortium will provide much-needed certainty for students who want to know whether they can use an apprenticeship as a path to a college degree, according to Tina Grant, former Director of the National College Credit Recommendation Service. Biden urged the audience at the annual conference of the American Association of Community Colleges to consider joining the consortium. Institutions that have already signed on include the Community College of Baltimore County and the Wisconsin and Ohio Community College systems. Inside Higher Ed | Chronicle of Higher Education