Top Ten

June 26, 2014

Sault College receives donation of recreational facility

Sault College has recently acquired the Sault College Tennis and Boat Club recreational facility, thanks to the generosity of the Dr Lou and Mae Lukenda Charitable Foundation. The facility will allow the college to offer enhanced experiential learning opportunities to students in programs such as the Natural Environment and Outdoor Studies program. The facility will also allow Sault students and the wider community to pursue recreational activities including kayaking, canoeing, long boarding, sailing, and tennis. “The vitality of many of our programs is enhanced by our area’s surrounding beauty. With this substantial gift, Sault College can continue our work in helping students develop critical skills and capacities that are conducive to leadership and growth for positive change in the local and global workforce,” said Sault President Ron Common. Sault News Release

UoGuelph opens plant-preservation facility

The University of Guelph has officially opened a state-of-the-art cryopreservation facility, located at the Gosling Research Institute for Plant Preservation (GRIPP). The new facility will allow researchers to freeze living tissue from endangered plants for future use. “This novel facility will help prevent the loss of plant diversity, which is critical to sustaining the planet,” said VP Finance and Administration Don O'Leary. GRIPP’s founders, Philip and Susan Gosling, have donated another $2 million towards the institute, creating a professorship in integrated plant production systems, the Gosling Chair in Plant Conservation, and the Gosling Foundation Plant Conservation Endowment to fund research, education and training. “GRIPP can make a difference. We can do research on conservation, we can start developing and cloning disease-resistant plants, and we can repopulate devastated areas,” said Susan Gosling.UoGuelph News Release

Fanshawe proposes Canada’s first product testing and research centre

Fanshawe College has submitted an application to the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) to develop a 20,000-square-foot research centre that would test products from around the world. The proposed centre would reportedly be the first of its kind in Canada, with current testing centres located in Texas and Germany. Fanshawe’s proposal is for a centre that would provide consumer testing to identify product strengths and weaknesses, as well as research into how products can be improved. “We will assist business to become more cost-effective, more productive, and help them get products and ideas to market faster and cheaper than they could,” said Ben Cecil, AVP Academic. The centre would likely be located at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, where Western University recently opened its new Collider Centre for Technology CommercializationLondon Free Press

UK suspends visa eligibility of 60 institutions over systemic student visa fraud

The UK’s immigration and security ministry has stripped 3 universities and 57 private colleges of the right to host international students after an investigation revealed widespread fraud in English language testing. The UK visa process requires all foreign students to undergo English language testing. More than 29,000 invalid results and 19,000 questionable results have so far been identified, results largely provided by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Officials estimate the numbers will be much higher when the investigation is concluded. Glyndwr University, in north Wales, has had its “highly trusted” status suspended; the University of Bedfordshire and the University of West London are no longer allowed to sponsor new international students, pending further investigation. Immigration officials have also discovered a significant number of foreign students working more than their visas allow. A criminal investigation has been launched into the activities of ETS Global, the company’s international subsidiary. Times Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed

Changes to education system needed for Canada to succeed

If Canada is to flourish in the rapidly changing, “technology-fuelled and hyper-competitive global economy,” it must change the way youth are educated, writes Kevin G Lynch, Vice-Chairman of BMO Financial Group. In a contribution to the Globe and Mail, Lynch suggests 2 significant opportunities for change in Canada’s education system: excellence and differentiation. Lynch states that benchmarking in the public education system can allow students to excel in necessary fields. Improving results in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), expanding STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) instruction in high schools, and improving second language skills are all necessary to excel, writes Lynch. As well, Canada’s PSE institutions should focus research efforts on specialized areas to compete globally; differentiation instead of similarity, says Lynch. He also suggests expanded dual vocational training models and experiential learning opportunities. “Our biggest risk may be in not taking one, being complacent when a sense of urgency is called for,” he concludes. Globe and Mail

NSERC’s PromoScience recipients announced

Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), recently announced the recipients of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) PromoScience Program, which funds PSE institutions and other organizations to develop programs designed to attract youth to study STEM fields. $2.9 million in funding is being awarded to 59 organizations across the country for programs in computer science, agriculture, marine studies, northern ecology, astronomy, mathematics, and science journalism. “Through our government’s investments in science outreach and science summer camps, we are instilling a passion and curiosity in science, technology, engineering and math that will inspire young Canadians to pursue careers in these disciplines later on in life,” said Holder. Winners include the University of Alberta’s Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology program, workshops organized by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology that will teach high school students and teachers how to create apps for mobile devices, and urban farm education science summer camps for youth led by Algoma University. NSERC News Release | uAlberta News | UOIT News Release | AlgomaU News

Majority of Canadian students discuss PSE financing with parents

According to a new survey of Canadian high school and PSE students, although 68% of students reported having a discussion with their parents about the costs of PSE and how to pay for it, many students said that the discussion made them realize the cost of PSE was higher than they expected, and often, the support offered by parents was not enough to cover all costs. Of the students who had a discussion with their parents, 32% said they realized they would have to find other sources of financing to pay for PSE. 57% of students said they used student loans to cover some, if not all, of the costs of PSE. When students were asked to reflect on the financial discussion with their parents, 36% said if they were to do it over again they would have a more realistic idea of the costs of PSE; 26% said they would have had the conversation earlier (55% said they had the discussion in grade 11 or 12). The survey results shed light on the relationships between students and parents when it comes to financing PSE, an important topic as the costs associated with PSE continue to increase. DH News Release | Full Report

PSE still worth the investment, says US Federal Reserve Bank

A college degree is still worth the investment, reports the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRB), regardless of rising tuition costs and declining pay in a poor job market. The assertion comes as a result of a study FRB conducted on whether a college or university degree is worth the investment; the study found that graduates have been getting around a 15% return on bachelor’s degrees for the last decade. However, the study also found that certain majors yielded better returns; engineering majors got the best return (21%), followed by those who majored in math, health and computers (18%), and business (17%). Education majors received the lowest return on investment at 9%. The study also found that even underemployed graduates would have a worthwhile return over their lifetime. Businessweek | Report

Study finds IT most concerned about cyber-attacks to administrative systems

According to a new report by the SANS Institute, a US-based network security training organization, the biggest area of “unease” regarding IT security is central administrative systems. This was followed by faculty and staff computers and web applications, and faculty and staff mobile devices. The study found that although a majority (76%) of institutions focus efforts on protecting personally identifiable information, only 54% encrypt this information in transit. Respondents indicated that attacks against internal database systems and servers were the “primary attack vector” that was of utmost concern; faculty and staff “endpoints” and vulnerability to malware was another area of significant concern. Respondents also suggested that many IT departments were understaffed and facing budget restrictions, making it increasingly difficult to monitor and protect systems and servers. "Despite these concerns, institutions are working to provide open and secure educational environment[s] to their clients, the faculty, staff, students, parents and benefactors," said study author Randy Marchany, Chief Information Security Officer at Virginia Tech University. Campus Technology

The rise and fall of computer science degrees

The Chronicle of Higher Education has taken a close look at computer science degrees and their proliferation over the last 3 decades. The Chronicle found interesting peaks in the numbers of computer science bachelor’s degrees awarded, with the highest peaks occurring in 1985–86 and the years 2002–04. The Chronicle study did not find concrete reasons for these peaks, but suggests several reasons, including a “primed pipeline” when students in the 1970s and 80s were learning code in elementary and high schools, and fluctuations in the job market that attracted increased number of learners studying computer science. The article concludes by suggesting that the argument whether youth should be learning code in school is second to the argument that kids should be learning how to think like a programmer, or “computational thinking.” This would hopefully increase the numbers of females and minorities involved in computer science, and allow more people in various fields to “solve problems like a computer scientist.” The Chronicle of Higher Education