Top Ten

May 21, 2014

uSask Provost resigns before emergency board meeting

Shortly before the start of an emergency board of governors meeting at the University of Saskatchewan Monday night, Provost and VP Academic Brett Fairbairn submitted his resignation, citing his “genuine interest in the well-being of the University of Saskatchewan.” Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris asked uSask board Chair Susan Milburn to convene the meeting to determine whether administration broke the University of Saskatchewan Act when Robert Buckingham was fired as Dean of the School of Public Health. Stating that it believes “it is in compliance with the University of Saskatchewan Act,” the board issued the following statement regarding uSask’s administration: “We do not want to act in haste and therefore we have not made any final decisions, other than to maintain our strong commitment to financial sustainability and renewal. We will conclude our due diligence before a decision is rendered on university leadership.” The board will continue its discussion on the matter at the next board meeting, scheduled for May 26. uSask News | Globe and Mail | StarPhoenix | National Post | Inside Higher Ed

Canadian business schools make executive education rankings

The Financial Times has released its 2014 ranking of executive education programs at business schools, with 6 Canadian institutions making the list in the open enrolment category (top 70), and 4 in the customized programs (top 80) category. In the open enrolment category, University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management tied for 20th spot, followed by Ivey Business School at Western University (22); Queen’s University’s School of Business (28); York University’s Schulich School of Business (39); Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia (49); and the University of Alberta’s School of Business (66). In the customized programs category, Rotman placed 42nd followed by Ivey (45), Schulich (57), and Alberta (77). uAlberta was a newcomer to both lists this year. Globe and Mail | Rankings website

triOS Corporation buys Eastern College

Mississauga-based triOS Corporation has purchased the assets of Eastern College, a career college with campuses in Halifax, Saint John, St John’s, Moncton, Fredericton, and Charlottetown. Eastern joins triOS Corporation’s subsidiary triOS College, whose 9 campuses in southern Ontario offer hands-on practical skills training in technology, business, and healthcare. The acquisition will enable triOS Corporation to share curriculum, best practices, and program offerings between the colleges in the Atlantic provinces and Ontario, though the Atlantic Canada locations will continue to operate under the Eastern College name. “TriOS Corp is excited to expand into Atlantic Canada. Eastern College staff and students will now enjoy the reputation, professionalism and experience that triOS has been providing to thousands of individuals in Ontario,” said triOS Corporation CEO Frank Gerencser. triOS News Release | Chronicle-Herald

uRegina unveils first stage of its Gateway Project

The University of Regina unveiled a new gateway to its campus last week, featuring a new sign, new sidewalks and pathways, and upgraded landscaping. uRegina VP Administration Dave Button said that “the new lighting and sidewalks will create a safer, more accessible campus, while the new sign and improved landscaping will help put our University on the map.” The total cost of the project was approximately $950,000, including $378,000 for a recycled, stainless-steel sign that should last for 100 years. The sign and accessibility enhancements represent the first stage of uRegina’s Gateway Project; still to come are initiatives to renew signage across campus and to give specific street addresses to buildings. “Students have told us that [some locations are] hard to find. If we come up with better street names and numbers for each of the buildings, they’ll at least be able to Google it,” said Button. uRegina News Release | Leader-Post | CBC

Report urges action to improve Filipino youth university completion rates

A new report authored by the Filipino Youth Transitions Project in Canada (FYTIC) has shed light on the educational pathways of Filipino students in Ontario. The report, the result of collaboration between York University, the Community Alliance on Social Justice, and other community organizations, found that the Filipino community is unusual among Ontario immigrant communities. While Filipino parents have higher university degree completion rates than the average of all immigrant groups, Filipino youth have among the lowest rates. The FYTIC report attributes this situation to affordability issues among low-income Filipino families, as well as specific shortcomings in the educational system. The report also suggests that Filipino boys, especially, may suffer from a lack of mentoring and role models within the community. The authors offer a series of recommendations to address these issues, including suggestions to recruit more Filipino teachers and develop social programs with enrolment incentives. YorkU News | Full Report

uWaterloo, uBordeaux launch bio-based chemistry program

The University of Waterloo is teaming up with France’s Université de Bordeaux to offer Canada’s first bachelor’s degree in bio-based chemistry. Bio-based chemistry involves identifying sustainable alternatives to using fossil fuels as raw material for polymers, surfactants, and other chemicals. uWaterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur, French Consul General Jean-François Casabonne Masonnave, and uBordeaux VP-International Laurent Servant were on hand at a joint conference at uWaterloo this week to sign a letter of intent to initiate the chemistry program. The 2 universities are also taking the conference as an opportunity to initiate a longer conversation about future partnerships. Approximately 100 researchers and delegates have converged on Waterloo this week to discuss a range of interests including energy consumption, resource management, biotechnology, and sustainable water supplies. uWaterloo News Release

uManitoba takes technological approach to promoting research integrity

The University of Manitoba has adopted 2 new ways to promote research integrity among its researchers and students. First among these is an online tutorial that will cover topics including the student-supervisor relationship, ownership of data, plagiarism, and copyright and publication ethics. In addition to the tutorial, the university will make available iThenticate plagiarism detection software. This tool checks written work against billions of content items, including research published behind paywalls; its purpose is to allow authors to identify “unintended duplication or uncited references.” The software will not be used by faculty to check student work but to verify their own. “iThenticate provides our faculty, students and staff with the tools to ensure we are reaching and exceeding the highest standards of excellence at our institution,” said uManitoba VP Digvir Jayas. Campus Technology

Coursera founder leaves day-to-day role to work with “China’s Google"

Andrew Ng, the founder of online-education provider Coursera, has announced that he will step down from his day-to-day responsibilities with the company to pursue a position as Chief Scientist with the Chinese search engine Baidu. “Coursera has grown to a level where I am confident that it will continue to grow and thrive,” he said. Ng, head of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, will help build Baidu’s AI lab in Sunnyvale, California. Baidu has recently been focused on developing AI and deep learning technology; the Sunnyvale location will be their third research lab. Ng has also previously worked on AI-related projects at Google in addition to his roles at Stanford and Coursera. He will remain Coursera’s chairman and continue to “evangelize” for the company. Notably, Coursera has been trying to increase its foothold in the Chinese market. The Chronicle of Higher Education | Gigaom

International enrolments from East Asia could be on the wane

A new report in the Chronicle of Higher Education takes a close look at shifting demographic trends in Asian student applications to US universities. The article warns that the slowing rate of South Korean applications may be a harbinger of things to come for US schools that have become overly reliant on tuition from Chinese students. Growling affluence in South Korea in the 1990s fueled a boom in US applications from that country, a situation that is echoed in the Chinese situation today. However, a US degree has not offered Korean or Chinese graduates the competitive edge in the job market that many expected it would; moreover, a recent study has found that Korean graduates of American colleges are actually less successful than their counterparts who remained at home, due in part to a lack of a professional network. Moreover, opportunities that were previously only available abroad—such as superior English language instruction and state-of-the-art research facilities—are becoming accessible at home or through international exchanges between the countries. While analysts point out that Chinese enrolments are unlikely to plummet suddenly, numbers will begin to taper off. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

University of Texas program helps students from lower-income families stay in school

An article in the New York Times examines the plight of low-income university students who are at risk of dropping out due to their unstable or uncertain financial situations. Statistics in the US show that parental income is the most significant factor in predicting degree completion rates; only about 25% students from lower-income families will complete their degree, compared to 90% of students from higher-income families. According to the article, low-income students face several disadvantages before even arriving on campus. Many have trouble navigating financial-aid paperwork or choosing a good school; others are unaware of help that is available to them and drop out after facing what could have been a surmountable obstacle. The article describes a new program at the University of Texas that attempts to tackle this problem by better addressing these students’ doubts and misconceptions with support programs and a leadership network. New York Times