Top Ten

June 12, 2014

BC Law Society votes against TWU law school

The Law Society of British Columbia has passed by a vote of 3,210 to 968 a resolution declaring that Trinity Western University’s controversial law school "is not an approved faculty of law for the purposes of the Law Society’s admissions program." The vote is not binding and does not reverse an April decision by the Law Society’s governing body, known as the Benchers, that permitted TWU’s graduates to enter the Law Society’s admissions program. However, members can request a referendum if they feel that the Benchers have not “substantially implemented” the resolution within a year of its adoption. Before the vote, TWU’s President Bob Kuhn asked the Law Society to respect TWU’s religious freedom, citing a 2001 Supreme Court of Canada ruling involving the BC College of Teachers. Lindsay Lyster, President of the BC Civil Liberties Association, also asked voters to support the Benchers’ decision. However, the voices of the many speakers who opposed the original approval carried the day. “Ultimately, I fully expect that the issues raised will be decided by the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Jan Lindsay, President of the Law Society. BC Law Society News Release | Vancouver Sun | CBC | Globe and Mail | National Post | Maclean's

uOttawa to offer revived journalism program with Algonquin and La Cité

The University of Ottawa will offer a bilingual digital journalism program that it says is unique in Canada. The program will be offered jointly with Algonquin College and La Cité collégiale, with registration beginning in fall 2015. Students will be offered training on subjects including data journalism, geolocation, and quantitative data analysis, as well as writing, accuracy, ethics, and interview techniques; they will also participate in a mandatory field internship. uOttawa’s previous journalism program’s admissions were suspended last year after a report described it as “profoundly troubled.” Program coordinators Evan Potter and Marc-François Bernier said, “we’ve put in the necessary effort to remake our journalism program not only to make it attractive for students, but so that it can meet the labour market requirements of both Anglophone and Francophone media.” The former program’s structure, with students taking 2 years at the college level and 2 at the university to obtain a Bachelor of Journalism degree, will be retained. uOttawa News Release | Ottawa Citizen

Skills gap really a skills mismatch, says UofGuelph professor

An economics professor at the University of Guelph has suggested that rather than a skills gap, Canada is experiencing a “skills mismatch.” Miana Plesca said, “The percentage of people finding jobs that matched their level of education is no worse than it was 15 years ago and is actually improving. However, there has been a slight rise in over-education—people who are in jobs where they have more education than is actually required for the position.” She said that between 20–25% of employees are over-educated for their position, possibly because the percentage of individuals with PSE credentials has grown. Plesca added that employers’ claims of being unable to find skilled workers may be over-stated, and pointed out that if this were the case, there would be a corresponding increase in wages. Instead, she said, employers are looking for narrower skill sets to fill specific jobs. Plesca cautioned against increasing highly specialized, career-specific training, which she said can limit productivity. She suggested instead that there is a need for more apprenticeship programs. UofGuelph News

Sheridan, uWaterloo partner with industry to support manufacturing

2 Ontario institutions have partnered with private firms to help students develop skills essential for Canada’s manufacturing industry. Sheridan College has teamed with ABB Canada to create a Robotics Centre in the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies at the college’s Davis Campus in Brampton. Students will receive training in robotic welding, picking, and packing and palletizing, among other applications. uWaterloo, meanwhile, has partnered with Siemens Canada Ltd on a training initiative that it says will promote Canada’s capacity and research excellence in sustainable green technologies and advanced manufacturing. Under a new memorandum of understanding, select uWaterloo Mechatronics Engineering students will be eligible for new co-op opportunities, paid tuition, and full-time employment. Sheridan News Release | uWaterloo News Release

Loyalist refreshes its website

Loyalist College launched its revamped website on June 10. The new site features a fully responsive design that adapts to users’ mobile devices; it is also compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The site incorporates 5 “themes”: storytelling, social media, calendar of events, clear choices, and visual impact. It is designed to simplify access to information about the university for prospective and current students and their influencers. “When you visit us online, you will be immersed into the vibrant Loyalist learning and living experiences, which set the college apart. Through authentic images and videos highlighting our small classes, teaching excellence and fun student life, future students will feel the difference that comes from belonging to our close-knit College community,” said Loyalist President Maureen Piercy. Loyalist News Release

CBU to offer community studies degree in Listuguj First Nation

Cape Breton University signed on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding with Listuguj Education Directorate that will enable the university to offer its community studies BA in Listuguj First Nation, Quebec. CBU already delivers programming in First Nations’ communities across Nova Scotia; however, this marks the first time it will offer programming in a First Nation community in QC. The agreement will be facilitated by CBU’s Unama’ki College. “The MOU signed today signals a new strategy for Unama’ki College and CBU. Building on expertise and strong partnerships, we are extending our reach to offer CBU programming in new communities, with potential for more developments and new relationships across Canada and internationally,” said CBU VP International and Aboriginal Affairs Keith Brown. CBU News Release | Chronicle-Herald

OUSA releases report on inequities in experiential learning opportunities

A new report from the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance explores the benefits of work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities in PSE, but expresses concern about WIL participation rates among marginalized populations. The report notes that Aboriginal students and students with disabilities are 3 times less likely to have participated in co-op placements, while low-income students’ participation rate is less than half the general average. Moreover, Aboriginal students and disabled students were more likely to have participated in an unpaid internship. OUSA notes that a number of systemic and social issues, including information gaps and outside commitments, may make WIL opportunities more difficult for some demographics, and suggests that co-op education fees may also be a significant barrier. OUSA Report

HEQCO issues reports on alternative teacher practicums

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has issued a series of reports on the impact of innovative practicums on faculty of education students. The reports examine the benefits of 3 practicum models: peer mentorship programs, alternative service learning; and international practicum placements. The research found that all of the practicum models achieved benefits in terms of the development of professional identities and applied pedagogical teaching skills, while the alternative service practicum placements and international practicum placements also increased participants’ global awareness and familiarity with a range of employment opportunities. However, participants in all 3 models reported timing and structure issues as well as a need for further clarification of roles, for additional institutional support, and for a “paradigm shift” in traditional teaching practices. HEQCO Report Summary

US PSE leaders support Common Core standards

More than 200 US PSE leaders have banded together to create the Higher Ed for Higher Standards coalition in support of the Common Core standards system. Common Core standards were adopted in 45 states in 2010 and 2011 but have fallen out of favour recently, with Indiana, South Carolina, and Oklahoma repealing their adoption. Some say that US government incentives that promote the adoption of standards such as Common Core are signs of federal incursion on state matters; others say that the standards have not been adequately tested. Proponents, on the other hand, argue that Common Core can help improve student success rates by spelling out the math and English skills students should possess at each grade level to help ensure college readiness. The majority of coalition members represent public colleges and universities; the coalition itself is backed by the Collaborative for Student Success and funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Chronicle of Higher Education | Times-Colonist | Inside Higher Ed

Debate in US over researchers’ disclosure of funding sources

The case of 2 US academics who failed to disclose that their work was funded by the private prison industry has raised questions over the ethics of research partnerships in non-scientific fields. Temple University has launched an ethics investigation into the work of 2 of its faculty who argued in support of private prisons. The professors, Simon Hakim and Erwin Blackstone, claim that they disclosed some details about their funding and that further information was available on request; they also note that the work in question involved working papers rather than final articles. However, critics say that the researchers, who published pro-private-prison op-eds, should have been more forthcoming about their funding. Hakim said that he “believes [they] did” submit funding information to the newspapers that published the op-eds, but added that “it’s not that important.” Cary Nelson, author of a set of guidelines for academy–industry collaboration, countered that it is “critical” to acknowledge funding in working papers and op-eds, which can circulate widely and “shape legislation, public opinion, and political debate.” Inside Higher Ed | Philadelphia Inquirer