Top Ten

June 10, 2014

Faculty foursomes apply for uAlberta President position

4 faculty members have submitted an application to the University of Alberta’s presidential search committee, proposing to share the position’s posted salary and work as a foursome. While the letter takes a jocular tone—it suggests that one researcher’s expertise on monstrosity prepares her to deal with government officials—the faculty members hope to make a point about a growing gap in wages between some university administrators and faculty. Kathy Cawsey, a professor at Dalhousie University, helped organize the gesture. “There’s a disparity between these administrators' large salaries and the rhetoric of austerity that they espouse,” she said, adding that she and her colleagues are “not hoping for a huge amount from this movement, but with small actions like this, we’re hoping to get people aware of this.” Cawsey said she knew of at least 14 other groups that were preparing similar applications. “This is a joke, but it’s a serious joke. We’re making a point in a lighthearted way,” she said. Edmonton Journal | CBC | Inside Higher Ed

Nova Scotia offers immigration pathway to keep international students post-graduation

Nova Scotia has made changes to its Provincial Nominee Program that are designed to make it easier for international students to immigrate to the province. As of June 6, international graduates who have a job offer in-hand from a NS employer will be able to apply for permanent residency through the program’s Skilled Worker stream. It is hoped that the changes will help NS retain skilled workers as well as help the province’s PSE institutions attract more international students. “International graduates are educated, they’ve made friends, they know the language, and they’re already familiar with all the great things Nova Scotia has to offer. Over the past year, there hasn’t been a provincial door open to help them stay. Today, that changes,” said NS Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab. Demand for university education in the maritime provinces has been decreasing, and NS and the federal government have made attracting international students a priority. Nova Scotia News Release

International student enrolment in BC grows

A record number of international students enrolled at British Columbia PSE institutions in 2012–13, according to new figures. The province saw a 20% increase in international students, growing from 94,000 in 2009–10 to 112,800 in 2012–13. The increase was largely driven by applicants from India and China, whose numbers increased by 188% and 68%, respectively, over the 3-year period. The influx of international students has also benefited the BC economy. The new figures say that international students spent approximately $2.3 billion in BC on tuition, accommodation, and other living expenses, as well as on arts, culture, and recreation. This figure marks a 28% increase from 2009–10. International students’ dollars helped support 25,500 jobs. BC hopes to increase the number of international students coming to the province by 50% by 2016, in accordance with the federal International Education Strategy. BC News Release

Universities share solutions to student drinking

University leaders met in Halifax yesterday to discuss strategies for curbing high-risk drinking among students. The workshop, hosted by Acadia University and the Association of University and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), included presentations from public policy experts and researchers. Ann Dowsett Johnston, author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship between Women and Alcohol, gave a lunchtime address on the effects of alcohol and alcohol-related marketing on female PSE students. Jim Kim, who was President at Dartmouth College during its leadership of the National College Health Improvement Program’s learning collaborative on high-risk drinking in the US, gave a video address to attendees. Several Canadian universities have recently launched initiatives to help reduce student drinking. AUCC News Release

Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management expands co-op offerings

The Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) at Ryerson University has announced that it is expanding its co-op program. Beginning in the 2014–15 academic year, second-year students in the school’s Accounting & Finance and Hospitality and Tourism programs will be eligible for co-op opportunities, with work terms commencing in May 2015. TRSM plans to launch 11 co-op programs over the next 3 years, eventually covering all full-time degree BComm programs and majors offered by the school. It hopes to have 16% of its students enrolled in co-op programs by 2017. TRSM Dean Stephen Murphy said, “the odds of securing a program-relevant job post-graduation are greatly increased for co-op students. In fact, many co-op students secure employment well in advance of graduation—either through their co-op employers or elsewhere.” Ryerson News Release

UBC builds yurts on campus farm for sustainable solution to growth

The University of British Columbia turned to a centuries-old architectural model when building the latest addition to its campus farm: the Mongolian yurt. Yurts—tent-like, circular, semi-permanent structures—have been common in central Asia since before the time of Genghis Khan. They can be constructed or deconstructed in just hours and do not require a foundation. UBC’s yurt is constructed completely from natural materials, including a wooden floor, cotton coverings, and wool insulation. The university plans to use the building for courses, children’s programming, community workshops, and for its Culturally Relevant Urban Wellness Program, through which elders teach at-risk youth how to grow food and medicine plants. “We were bursting at the seams with our programming and our current facilities couldn’t keep up with the growth that we were seeing. Building a yurt seemed like a sustainable solution,” said UBC Farm Director Amy Frye. UBC News

Business, finance students need stronger sense of industry’s history

Finance professionals would benefit from a stronger sense of economic history, writes Reuters financial journalist Jeffrey Goldfarb. Goldfarb argues that “widespread ignorance of financial history is an overlooked systemic risk” and notes that such material is not a required element of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam. According to Goldfarb, deep contextual understanding of circumstances that contributed to historical financial crises is necessary if those in the finance industry hope to avert future crises; however, the CFA Institute has been slow to impose any appropriate requirements on test writers. MBA programs, too, have been reluctant to demand that students demonstrate understanding of the history of finance. While some schools do offer courses in the history of the financial industry, they are frequently electives rather than required learning. Globe and Mail (subscription required)

The New Yorker offers rebuttal to MLA PhD recommendations

An article published in The New Yorker is critical of the Modern Language Association (MLA)’s recommended changes to graduate education in literature. The piece, written by Joshua Rothman, offers a brief history of changes in PSE that led to the current “crisis” in graduate education in the humanities, arguing that humanities departments have, ironically, been victims of their own success. Faculty have effectively convinced many undergraduates of the importance of their subjects, contributing to an increasing number of graduate students studying the humanities. Rothman notes that the MLA insufficiently attributes the role of increased graduate student enrolment in producing a PhD job crisis; instead, MLA leaders justify increased enrolment by emphasizing the need for the continued accessibility of advanced degrees in the humanities. He also notes the drive among humanities PhD programs to expand the field of view for post-PhD employment options. Rothman, however, counters that “a continuing over-production of PhDs will only make the problem worse.” Rothman suggests instead that “to really respond to the crisis, [programs] will have to do something really unthinkable: turn good students away.” The New Yorker

Harvard invests heavily to enhance value of MOOCs

The Boston Globe has offered readers a glimpse into the production of massive open online courses (MOOCs) at Harvard. Harvard has invested heavily in the production values of its online course offerings as part of its HarvardX programming; the set the Globe describes would not be out-of-place in a network television studio. The university has assembled its own production company, and its course materials often involve costumes, detailed scripts, and weeks of intensive labour and preparation. Harvard offers materials that range far beyond recorded lectures, including mini-documentaries, animated films, and interactive software. “The first and most important lesson is, you are not just replicating the classroom,” said MOOC producer Zachary Davis. Harvard is spending between $75,000 and $150,00 to develop each new MOOC, and some faculty—including those participating in the MOOCs—are concerned about the costs, as well as potential disruptions to on-campus students’ learning. “There are serious, completely unresolved questions all over the place here,” said Stephen Greenblatt, a renowned Shakespeare scholar. However, Harvard insists that HarvardX must support itself without taking away from campus needs. Boston Globe

MBA applicants prefer hands-on approach, program reputation

New data from a survey of approximately 900 business school applicants suggest the value of a hands-on approach to business school admissions. The report from the US-based Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants found that Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business scored very highly among applicants for their highly personalized approach to applicants. The report also suggested that applicants valued program reputation and impact on career over location, culture, and published rankings. Female respondents to the survey were less likely than male respondents to plan to be self-employed or own their companies after finishing their MBAs, and also had lower salary expectations. Underrepresented minority applicants, meanwhile, anticipated a higher pay-off as a result of their degrees than white applicants, expecting that the MBA would help them overcome the lower average pay they received before business school. Most (51%) applicants expected to be employed in consulting post-graduation, but only 28% of MBA graduates succeeded in finding work in this field. Businessweek