Top Ten

July 8, 2014

uWindsor threatens cuts to benefits, issues deadline in labour dispute with faculty

Members of the Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA) face significant cuts to their employee benefits if they do not accept a 2-year wage freeze. uWindsor President Alan Wildeman told the union that unless a tentative contract is in place by midnight on July 7, the university will no longer contribute to pension plans, issue reimbursements for professional development expenses, collect union dues, or pay health insurance benefits to WUFA members. uWindsor will also suspend the grievance and arbitration provisions in the collective agreement. Wildeman told Blackburn News that “every employee at the university, except the faculty, have taken at least two years of base zero percent on their wages and benefits. I’m simply asking faculty members to do the same.” Union President Anne Forrest described the step as “unprecedented” and warned that it could sour the relationship between faculty and administration even after the labour dispute is resolved, and lead to future difficulties in recruiting and retaining faculty. uWindsor has been in a legal lockout position since June 17. More developments are expected overnight. Windsor Star | Blackburn News | WUFA

Postscript: July 8, 2014

The University of Windsor will not cut benefits to members of the Windsor University Faculty Association, in spite of the contents of a letter sent to the union last week. Faculty members received a letter on Monday indicating that all action would be deferred until a later date. “I don’t know what to make of it,” said WUFA President Anne Forrest. WUFA held a rally at noon on Tuesday as talks continued between the union and the university. Blackburn News | Windsor Star

Report calls for national education strategy

In order to halt and reverse “an alarming slide in the quality of Canada’s education and skills training systems,” Canada must establish a federal council of ministers responsible for education and training–with input from experts and advisory bodies​–to develop a federal education strategy, says a new report ​​from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE). According to the report's author, the true purpose of the ​current ​inter-governmental Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) is to resist federal intrusion in education policy. Downward trends in reading, science, and math skills among Canadian teenagers, coupled with low rankings in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) assessment of adult literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills, indicate the need for greater national intervention into education and skills training and the establishment of measurable goals and national targets, along with greater investment by private businesses into vocational education and training, according to the report. ​“The fact that Canada is now falling behind many other countries in education and skills acquisition is not a crisis per se. It becomes a crisis only if we fail to act quickly and systematically to improve our performance,” says the report. CCCE News Release |Maclean’s | Report Summary

Laurentian approves building contract for architecture school

The board of governors at Laurentian University recently approved a $23.9-million building contract for Phase 2 of the Laurentian School of Architecture. Phase 2 involves the construction of a new 55,000-square-foot facility that will provide classrooms, studio space, a lecture hall, lounges, and office space. “It is an exceptional and innovative design and we believe the final result will be an exciting, visually stunning addition to the cityscape,” said Laurentian Architecture’s Founding Director, Terrance Galvin. “The whole community is going to see this beautiful structure taking shape over the months to come, and I think it’s going to be thrilling to watch this dynamic process.” Phase 1 of the project involved renovating 2 heritage buildings, which currently house the architecture school. The Laurentian School of Architecture officially opened in September 2013, the first new architecture school to open in Canada in over 40 years. Laurentian News

BC projects most-in-demand jobs over next decade

BC Jobs Minister Shirley Bond has identified the 10 careers that she says will be most in demand in the province in the next decade, as they become affected by an aging workforce and a limited supply of new workers. The list emerged as part of the provincial government's initiative to re-engineer the education system in order to provide more skilled workers for an anticipated employment boom. Leading the diverse list are registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses, followed by transport truck drivers and carpenters. According to Bond, not only is attracting youth to the trades a major concern, so too is the need to attract workers to the north and to rural locations. “It’s not up to government alone, we have to work with communities and industry to get people to think about a different lifestyle choice,” said Bond. BC has boosted its funding for labour market analysis and is relying less on federal data, noted Bond, partially due to criticism that federal labour market data is flawed. Globe and Mail

Anatomy animation technique has big educational potential

A former University of Toronto student has developed new visual models that could dramatically change anatomy education. Brendan Polley has created a digital animation technique that allows users to manipulate and examine 3-dimensional anatomical models using a device that costs just $80. Polley uses illustration software to add texture to CT scans of body parts. With a LeapMotion device—typically used for video games—users can turn the model and select and highlight objects with simple gestures. Polley’s models have great potential as interactive teaching tools, and can incorporate animated simulations as well as a quiz component. With further development, he foresees his work being used for surgical simulations, in distance learning, and to complement or replace dissections in labs. He plans to sell his software through LeapMotion’s app store. uToronto News

Foreign-trained doctors face difficulty finding residency positions

A new study published by a University of Toronto researcher sheds light on the “brain waste” phenomenon among foreign-trained doctors immigrating to Canada, whereby skilled individuals’ abilities are underutilized in their new country. Aisha Lofters’ survey of international medical graduates shows that only 55% living in Canada are currently working as physicians. Lofters also found that the success rate of Canadians who studied medicine abroad and applied for residency spots in Ontario was 20%; among immigrant international medical graduates, the success rate drops to 6%. Many respondents said they felt they were misinformed about the chances of obtaining a residency position in Canada and were forced to take “survival jobs” instead of practicing medicine. “Our findings suggest that brain waste is pervasive for physicians who migrate to Ontario and that both brain drain and brain waste have no easy or quick solutions,” says Lofters. uToronto News

Canada ranks sixth in Thomson Reuters' Highly Cited Researchers list

Thomson Reuters has published its 2014 list of Highly Cited Researchers. The report divides scientific research into 21 fields and identifies those research papers that were among the top 1% most cited in a given field. The results show that the United States spends more on science than any other country, and is the base of operations for 13 of the 17 top scientists. China and Saudi Arabia are new additions to the top 15 science countries. Canada ranked sixth in global impact; however, this position drops when countries are ranked by top scientists per capita. Howard Alper, Chair of the Science, Technology and Innovation Council, suggests that this figure may point less to a lack of top scientists than a difficulty in drawing attention to Canadian research. Canada’s top scientist in the rankings is Salim Yusuf, Director of McMaster University’s Population Health Research Institute. Globe and Mail | Full Rankings

Mount Allison discontinues seniors' tuition discount

Senior citizens attending Mount Allison University were dismayed to learn that they will no longer receive a discount that provided them with free tuition. Mount Allison’s VP International and Student Affairs Ron Byrne said that the discontinuation of the program was the result of necessary budget adjustments, which included tuition and other fee increases and staffing adjustments. “We realized the change to our senior tuition discount could cause concern for some seniors taking classes at Mount Allison. This is why we contacted affected individuals by telephone to alert them to the change and to answer any questions they might have as a result,” Byrne said. “We have created a streamlined bursary application process for seniors and will continue to work directly with them to assist with the application process.” However, one student noted that the bursary covers less than a quarter of the cost of full-time studies. 7 students received the tuition discount last year. CBC | Sackville Tribune-Post

uAlberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry receives CACMS, LCME accreditation

The Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta has been recognized with accreditation from the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). The CACMS and LCME assessed uAlberta against 132 accreditation standards and awarded the university a full and unqualified 8-year approval. “Our medical students actively contributed to this highly successful medical school accreditation. They continue to benefit from an educational experience that is student-focused and committed to excellence,” said Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry Dean D Douglas Miller. uAlberta will be the last school to undergo full CACMS and LCME accreditation before Canadian medical school accreditation is repatriated to CACMS. uAlberta News Release

Universities must embrace lifelong learners, alternative pathways

More universities could learn from the example of northern European countries and place more emphasis on lifelong learning, writes Romina Müller in University World News. Examining Germany and the US in particular, Müller notes that education providers must adapt to meet the growing demand for education outside of the traditional path to university graduation. She notes that flexible study formats, including blended learning, distance learning, tailored institutional offerings, or alternative admissions criteria could help meet the unmet needs of students who have PSE experience from outside the university. Müller also suggests that universities should be more open to “non-linear pathways” for students who may not have transitioned smoothly from K-12 education to the university. “Universities need to come down from their ivory tower and need to realise that continuing education is no longer the task of adult education providers or lower ranked higher education institutions,” she says. University World News