Top Ten

April 14, 2014

Alberta’s redistribution of PSE funding

After cutting $147 million in funding to PSE institutions in 2013-14, the Alberta government recently announced it would add $82.5 million back into the PSE budget. However, according to some, the variations in the return of funding signal preferential treatment for certain technical programs and even for entire schools. Metro News compared the provincial funding for individual institutions in AB in 2012-13 and 2014-15, revealing a fairly large disparity between institutions. For instance, where the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary are both facing declines of more than 3% in their provincial operating grants compared to 2012-13, Bow Valley College has received a 2.18% increase, and St Mary’s University College received an increase of more than 10%. John Muir, spokesperson for Alberta’s advanced education ministry, told Metro that the funding increases were in response to specific proposals submitted by institutions. "We relied on post-secondary institutions to identify those programs to us that were in high demand and where the labour-market demand was for them,” he said. Metro News

Students sue YorkU for $20.5 million after campus shooting

The 2 York University students injured in a March shooting incident, along with 6 witnesses, have filed a $20.5 million lawsuit against YorkU. The claimants are “alleging a pattern of negligence, we’re alleging that security has been overlooked and our allegation is that steps could have been taken and measures could have been taken,” said Sandra Zisckind of the law firm Diamond and Diamond. The students state that YorkU security did not respond to the incident in a timely manner, and that “even after the firefighter and police came to the scene and attended the situation, there were no York security personnel seen anywhere.” Annie Malik was shot in the leg and is seeking $18 million for physical and emotional pain and suffering. Namra Malik was injured by shrapnel; she is seeking $1 million for physical and emotional pain and suffering. The 6 other witnesses are each seeking $250,000 for emotional pain and suffering. Global News | National Post | Toronto Star

NS plans industry-led apprenticeship agency

The Nova Scotia government has made amendments to its Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act and the Community Colleges Act that will enable the creation of an industry-led apprenticeship agency. The agency will encourage more employer involvement in apprentice training programs and will create more apprenticeship opportunities for students. It will also allow for recognition of out-of-province training, preventing interruptions in the apprenticeship process. Changes to the Community Colleges Act will ensure more industry influence in trades training so that pre-apprentices get the training they need. Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan said, "these changes will help us to build on our partnerships with industry, employers, apprentices and trainers so our trades can continue to grow and our workforce can take full advantage of opportunities." NS News Release

uWinnipeg joins Innovation Development network

The University of Winnipeg has announced it will be the first institution in Canada to join a network of American universities offering an Innovation Development program to industry. The certificate program provides students with the skills to turn innovation into reliable systems, including “concepts and methods for creating, communicating, and commercializing meaningful and unique ideas.” The program was developed by the University of Maine and the Innovation Engineering Institute. American companies that have had training in the program report up to a six-fold increase in innovation speed as well as decreased levels of risk. The program will be offered on a part-time basis and will accept the first cohort in September 2014. uWinnipeg News

OUSA releases report on students’ municipal experiences

A new report from the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), the second in a series based on its Ontario Post-Secondary Student Survey, suggests that in order for municipalities to encourage students to stay in the area after graduation, they must ensure they are making students feel welcomed and connected. “Home Schooled: Municipal Affairs and the Student Experience in Ontario” examines the experiences students have while attending school in a new municipality, including housing quality, public transit, safety, and municipal engagement. The report found that “over half of students surveyed felt that municipalities were not actively engaging with students. Further, approximately two thirds of students reported that they did not intend to remain in the community where they had undertaken their studies.” OUSA President Amir Eftekarpour further noted, “the affordability of high-quality housing and accessible public transit in a particular municipality can heavily influence an individual’s choice of university, or whether or not they will pursue a degree at all.” OUSA News Release | Full Report

Kwantlen restructures its Faculty of Community and Health Studies

As of April 1, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Faculty of Community and Health Studies has been renamed the Faculty of Health, coinciding with the move of the Special Education Teaching Assistant program to the Faculty of Arts. This was the only non-health focused program in the faculty; other programs in the newly named Faculty of Health include nursing, psychiatric nursing, health care assistance, and health unit coordination, as well as the new School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the first of its kind to be offered in BC by a public institution. Kwantlen News Release

HEQCO to study models for intermediary management of outcome-based PSE funding

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) is commissioning an international study of public PSE systems that use “intermediary bodies, at arm’s length to government, to advise on and/or distribute public (government) funding for higher education institutions.” A 2013 HEQCO report advised the government to “consider devolving and depoliticizing outcomes-based funding decisions to an external group of experts.” The RFP mentions 3 examples of such intermediaries managing fund transfers: the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and the Israeli Council of Higher Education. The study, to be delivered by November 2014, is not to include research funding models, but is focused on higher education teaching and learning funding.  HEQCO 14/15-RFP-012

Online institutions gaining credibility with Americans

According to a 2013 poll of over 1,000 American adults, the perception of the quality of an online education is improving. The survey found that 37% of respondents agree or strongly agree that online institutions offer high-quality education; this is a 7% improvement from 2011. 27% of respondents said they either disagree or strongly disagree, and 34% remained neutral. However, many more respondents indicated that community colleges (58%) and traditional colleges and universities (77%) offer high-quality education compared with online institutions. In addition, the survey found that 59% of Americans felt employers were at least somewhat likely to hire an individual with an online degree over someone with a traditional degree, all else being equal. Business leaders polled in a separate survey were less likely to hire a candidate with an online degree over one with a traditional degree; 47% of business leaders said they would hire someone for their own business with an online degree over another candidate. This shows that although perceptions of online education are improving, there is still a large gap in perceived quality. Survey results 

US profs’ gender pay gap is more a representation gap

Using data from the Association of American University Professors’ Faculty Salary Survey, the Chronicle of Higher Education examined the existing pay gap between men and women in academe. According to the Chronicle, although female faculty do make less on average than their male counterparts, there is a bigger picture. The averages do not take into account the disproportionate representation of men in full and associate professor ranks, and similarly, the disproportionate representation of women at the instructor level. Men are also overrepresented at higher-paying research institutions and in higher-paying fields such as engineering. Women make up higher numbers of faculty at lower-paying 2-year institutions and are much more likely to work in lower-paying fields such as psychology. There are varying reasons for pay inequality in academe, with challenges for women including “workplace policies, tenure and promotion processes, and the work-life balance.” As more women enter traditionally male-dominated fields and climb the ranks, the gap will narrow, but it may take “intentionality” and “policy adjustments” to fully close the gap. Chronicle of Higher Education | AAUP Survey Results

New professor-evaluation site lets students get artistic

The newest website offering students a chance to evaluate their professors doesn’t rely on a grading scale or on opinionated rants – it consists of drawings made by students. allows students to digitally sketch their professors, publish those drawings online, and rate other students’ drawings. Website creator Jesse Littlejohn is not a student, but got the idea from a friend. As the site’s sole moderator, he gets final say in what drawings make it onto the site. But he says the results have been “very positive … Most of the drawings seem to be motivated by love for the professor. There are a lot of inside jokes.” There are drawings that cast professors in a negative light, but Littlejohn noted it cannot be an “uncreative attack.” The site has so far been most popular at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Washington, and within the California State University System. Chronicle-Vitae