Top Ten

May 29, 2014

Chiefs vote to reject education bill

The First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act has been withdrawn by the federal government after a resolution to reject the bill was passed at a Special Chiefs Assembly Tuesday. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) had previously supported the bill under the leadership of Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, but when he resigned in May the bill was put on hold. “Canada must withdraw Bill C-33 and engage in an honourable process with First Nations that recognizes and supports regional and local diversity leading to true First Nation jurisdiction of education based on our responsibilities and inherent Aboriginal and Treaty rights,” said a statement issued by the chiefs. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office responded to the resolution, repeating that the legislation would not go forward without the support of the AFN and that no new funding would be invested without “real education reforms.” The chiefs will meet again in July. CBC | Ottawa Citizen | APTN News | Anishnabek News | Globe and Mail

uSask will not launch public inquiry into Dean’s firing, remains committed to goals of TransformUS

Gordon Barnhart, Acting President of the University of Saskatchewan, has said that there are no plans to hold a public inquiry into the dismissal of Robert Buckingham as Dean of the School of Public Health; nor will the administration abandon its TransformUS program prioritization process. Reinstating Buckingham in his former administrative role is “not being considered,” said Barnhart. He moreover indicated his commitment to the goals of the TransformUS plan, though its name may change. “The name will likely disappear,” Barnhart said, while noting that “people have put in hundreds of hours planning this refocusing. It is change and people don’t always react well to it.” On Monday Barnhart was presented with a letter signed by more than 800 students, faculty, staff, and alumni asking him to stop the planned budget cuts. Globe and Mail | CBC | StarPhoenix

ACCC rebrands as Colleges and Institutes Canada

The Association of Canadian Community Colleges has launched its new brand, and will now be known as Colleges and Institutes Canada. The new name is meant to better reflect the current identities and value of the organization’s members. “Canada’s colleges and institutes have changed a lot over the last 42 years and it is time for our Association to reflect that incredible evolution. Canadian colleges now offer a wide variety of programs ranging from certificates, diplomas and degrees to post-graduate diplomas,” said Colleges and Institutes Canada President Denise Amyot. She added that the new brand will allow the organization to “demonstrate the college advantage.” The rebranding includes a new logo designed by a student at Winnipeg Technical College. Colleges and Institutes Canada News Release

“The Upside” wellness program at Lakeland College promotes positivity

Lakeland College has taken a creative approach to promoting happiness on campus. The college recently launched an initiative it calls “The Upside.” Students were encouraged to submit anonymous, positive comments about their peers, which were then posted to TV monitors on campus as well as the college’s social media accounts and website. The campaign received an immediate positive response and grew quickly, involving several departments around the college. The college already plans to continue the program next year. Its creators, Wellness Advisors Melissa Rothwell and Nadine Konyk, were invited to speak about the program at the Alberta Services for Students Conference in May and will also present at the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services conference in Nova Scotia next month. Lakeland College News

Advice on best practices for teaching and learning centres

The Director of Simon Fraser University’s Teaching and Learning Centre, Stephanie Chu, has offered insight into best practices that she believes have made SFU’s model work. Before 2010, SFU’s Teaching and Learning Centre followed a traditional model, hosting workshops and presentations on effective teaching. After a lengthy consultation period, the centre began to report directly to the VP Academic, in order to better support the entire university community. Consultants are assigned to specific faculties in order to best capitalize on discipline-specific expertise, but work together to support the university’s academic plan and provide guidance on the curriculum. Chu describes the centre’s relationship with faculty, instructors, and students as a partnership. “We don’t want to tell people how to teach. We acknowledge and appreciate the expertise people already have. That approach is working,” said Chu. BC Campus Blog

Debt, job market keep Gen Y financially dependent on parents

2 new reports from Canada and the US suggest that financial self-sufficiency continues to elude many college and university graduates. An article in the Globe and Mail says that 43% of survey participants aged 30–33 had not yet achieved financial independence from their parents, in spite of expecting to do so by age 27. 1 in 5 of respondents in the same age demographic lived with their parents, and 17% said they were getting help from parents to pay their bills. The data suggest that continued dependency may be in part due to student debt, as well as difficulty finding a full-time, career-oriented job. US data, meanwhile, also found that many young people are not financially self-sufficient. A longitudinal study that followed 2000 University of Arizona students from its 2007–2008 freshman cohort found that only half are working full-time, and about as many continue to rely on their parents for financial assistance. This report also found that debt contributed to lower well-being financially, psychologically, physically, and in terms of life satisfaction. Globe and Mail | The Chronicle of Higher Education | Full uArizona Report

Humanities scholars debate PhD reform

Scholars at the 2014 Congress of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS) are debating the future of humanities PhD programs. The ideas being put forward include the end of the dissertation, higher standards for digital literacy, and more concerted efforts to link graduate humanities education to post-doctoral employment. Paul Yachnin, Director of the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas at McGill University, says that more can be done to communicate the value of humanities PhDs’ skills; he also suggests that universities must do a better job of tracking PhDs who find employment away from academia. Yachnin works with the Future of Graduate Training in the Humanities Project, which has issued 7 recommendations for reforming humanities PhD programs. These include the creation of dedicated placement services for non-academic opportunities, replacing the dissertation with a series of projects, and limiting the duration of programs. Meanwhile, the Modern Language Association (MLA) has issued a report that recommends reducing the time it takes to complete a PhD. The MLA further recommends departments revise the pacing and quantity of coursework and promote additional competencies, including technological training. Neither the CFHSS roundtable nor the MLA believe that the size of PhD cohorts should be reduced. CFHSS News Release | White Paper on the Future of the PhD in the Humanities | The Chronicle of Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed | MLA Report Summary

New data affirms the value of college degree in the US

New data from the US reaffirms the economic value of a college degree. According to the new report, the income gap between college graduates and non-college graduates in the US hit an all-time high in 2013, with graduates earning 98% more per hour than persons without a degree. 5 years ago the income gap was 89%. At the same time, the wage premium for students who attended college but did not earn a bachelor’s degree remained stagnant. The growing income gap is not likely to be attributable to a rise in wages; rather, it is believed to be caused by a reduction in wages for non-graduates. The average hourly wage for graduates has risen by just 1% since 2003, while the wage for non-graduates has dropped by about 5%. The data nevertheless suggest that a college degree continues to deliver value, in spite of the rising cost of an education and the growing number of graduates; an article published this month in Science has calculated the long-term cost of not going to college at $500,000. New York Times | Science

Study examines reasons why international students don’t complete programs

A new study by US-based organization NAFSA: Association of International Educators suggests that while growth in the numbers of international students studying in the US continues, the satisfaction and retention of those students may be faltering. The study is considered one of the first to examine retention issues affecting international students across multiple institutions, with 500 educators and 500 students at more than 100 colleges participating. According to the researchers, educators and students differed in their opinions of why international students leave programs before completion. While educators felt that there was a combination of factors including finances, academics, English-language problems, and the desire to attend an institution that is a "better fit," students said the issues were all financial (access to jobs or internships, affordability, and availability of scholarships). This suggests that “there may be a gap in understanding about what students want and what they’re getting.” Recommendations from the report include increased transparency regarding the costs of a program and the creation of internships and work placements. The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Online MBA programs attract military personnel

US military personnel are increasingly enrolling in online MBA programs, reports Businessweek,  and now account for as many as 25% of enrolments at some institutions. There are limited numbers of elite business schools that offer a fully online MBA program, which are preferred by active members of the military who may be deployed while studying. “The level of flexibility [of traditional MBA programs] has always been a barrier,” says Mike Haynie, Executive Director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. It is expected that more than 1.5 million service members will enter the civilian workforce through 2019, creating an increased demand for MBA and other credentials. “The military is a major industry where we see students coming from,” says Susan Cates, Executive Director of the online MBA program at UNC. Businessweek