Top Ten

July 21, 2014

Alberta launches new Innovation Council to enhance economic development

Alberta has created the new Alberta Innovation Council in order to better focus provincial research and innovation abilities and enhance economic growth. The 13-member council will be chaired by Premier Dave Hancock. The body will serve as a “‘system architect,’ providing vital oversight and advice to align priorities, advance strategic initiatives and clarify roles and responsibilities while providing advice to government on ways it can enhance research and innovation in the province.” Council members include representatives from industry, the Campus Alberta system, and the innovation sector. The Innovation Council will work with the Alberta Research and Innovation Authority (ARIA) and the Alberta Economic Development Authority (AEDA) as well as many provincial ministries including Agriculture and Rural Development and Innovation and Advanced Education. Alberta News Release

High student summer unemployment rates continue

Canada’s students are struggling to find summer employment, a trend that has continued for the last 6 years, reports the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in a new Behind the Numbers blog post. The unemployment rate for students age 15–24 was 16.5% in June, a rate that has changed little since 2010 and is only marginally better than the June 2009 rate of 18% during the recession. Student participation in the labour market overall has also declined, perhaps partially caused by more students choosing to take summer classes than look for summer employment. The blog post suggests that declining student employment can have far-reaching effects on later post-graduation employment, and can help students avoid amassing high levels of PSE debt. It is suggested that government cutbacks have played a part in declining student employment, as less funding is available for wage subsidies to non-profits and other organizations that hire students. A recent survey of Academica Group’s StudentVu panel found that most respondents found it challenging to secure summer employment. Behind the Numbers

UoGuelph releases guidebook to encourage community engagement

The University of Guelph has released a new guidebook meant to connect the campus community with the wider Guelph community. The community resource guide lists campus services open to the entire community, including counselling, workshops, continuing education programs, and more. The guide also highlights the many collaborations and partnerships between UoGuelph and surrounding community organizations and businesses. “We've been trying to provide ways for people to get access and understand what's available at the university … I hope if they read the guide they will see that there are lots of chances for them to be engaged,” said recently retired UoGuelph President Alastair Summerlee. The resource will be available in print and online. UoGuelph News Release | Guelph Mercury

CBIE receives funding to support international initiatives

The Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) has received funding from Canada’s Global Opportunities for Associations (GOA) program that will help it strengthen its relationships with its international partners. CBIE will use the funding to conduct agriculture- and healthcare-focused education networking missions between Canada and Ukraine; it also plans to support cooperation missions and capacity-building initiatives in Libya as well as to explore markets for K-12 and PSE in Latin America and the Maghreb region of Africa. CBIE also intends to develop market-focused information resources in local languages. “GOA support will allow us and our member institutions to expand the international connections of Canada’s education sector and to introduce Canadian education and training expertise to new clients,” said CBIE President Karen McBride. Colleges and Institutes Canada also recently received funding from GOA. CBIE News Release

NSCAD looks forward to a new campus in the next decade

Not long after its board of governors passed a motion to keep its downtown Fountain campus, NSCAD University is already looking ahead to a new campus. Any such ambitions are at least 7–10 years from becoming reality, but NSCAD President Daniel O’Brien believes that it is a feasible option. The sale of its current campuses could net the institution between $25–$30 M, and O’Brien notes that “normally when you’re making new builds like this, the provincial government will assist at some level. They’re quiet about it and they don’t commit too soon, but they usually come in on a percentage basis.” A new campus would likely cost $60–$70 M, but O’Brien believes that by starting the conversation early, NSCAD will be better positioned to avoid any pitfalls and to capitalize on any unexpected opportunities. NSCAD's board of governors recently decided that the institution should remain autonomous rather than merging with other area institutions. ChronicleHerald

Suggestions to overcome male student attrition rates

A post published on the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO)’s It’s Not Academic blog hopes to prompt further discussion of challenges faced by male students in PSE. Author Joe Henry, Associate Dean of Student Success at Sheridan College, notes recent data that indicate that males are more likely than females to leave PSE in their first or second year, as well as HEQCO research indicating a widening gender gap in university participation. Henry also says that male students are less likely to use advising or counselling services on campus, and seem less engaged in student leadership or co-curricular programming. He offers 3 key recommendations. First, he says PSE institutions should emphasize guidance and career counselling for male students, and look at male access to female-dominated careers. Second, he says PSE institutions must find mentors and positive role models for male students. Finally, he calls for further research into the specific challenges faced by male students in PSE. HEQCO Blog

Douglas sales program recognized by US organization

The US-based Sales Education Foundation (SEF) has recognized British Columbia’s Douglas College as one of the top sales schools in North America. Douglas is the only Canadian institution to appear on the list, which ranks institutions that offer at least 3 sales-specific courses and sales internships. “It is encouraging to see Douglas once again included on this list of institutions which are doing amazing work in sales education,” said Douglas marketing instructor David Moulton. “It’s recognition that we’re providing our students with the high-quality preparation they need to get their careers off to a strong start.” Douglas has been affiliated with SEF, which offers scholarships, grants, and assessment tools, since 2011. Douglas News Release | Georgia Straight

Cornell Tech designs new campus with flexibility in mind

Cornell Tech, a collaboration between Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is designing its Roosevelt Island campus with change in mind. The campus planners recognize that the needs of the future are impossible to predict and are accordingly focused on flexibility. Designers are trying to create a smart building, where all maintenance functions share data with one another and are capable of responding to a room’s occupancy. Classrooms will have the latest, bleeding edge features—though at Cornell Tech’s current, temporary premises, much of it doesn’t work. Instead of offices, plans include “office zones” filled with workstations as well as “huddle rooms,” “swing spaces,” and “collab rooms.” “We want this building to support and encourage collaboration across very different groups of people who might normally be siloed in different places across a university,” said Cornell Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher. Faculty members are skeptical of the lack of offices. The Chronicle of Higher Education

US campus CFOs pessimistic about PSE business models

The results of a new survey suggest that chief financial officers (CFOs) at US colleges and universities are skeptical of their institutions’ business models. Two-thirds said that they believe reports that US PSE is experiencing a financial crisis. Just 24% of the 438 CFOs surveyed strongly agreed that they are confident in the sustainability of their business model over the next 5 years; 13% strongly agreed that they are confident in their model for the next 10 years. When asked about cost-cutting measures, many said they plan to reduce administrative positions (37%), eliminate underperforming academic programs (37%), or have part-time faculty teach more classes (35%). Collaboration was also a popular means to control costs; 55% of respondents said they want to deliver academic programs in concert with other institutions. Approximately half said that their institution had an appropriate debt level. Inside Higher Ed

Visa issues, funding cuts costing US top researchers

A protracted debate in the US over whether or not PhDs in the sciences should be granted visas could cost the country highly qualified researchers, reports an article in the New York Times. Policy makers have been debating the issue for years now, and many scholars are electing to pursue opportunities elsewhere rather than wait any longer. Even if the visa issue is resolved, cuts to federal support for science in the US have also been contributing to the brain drain. Countries like China, Singapore, South Korea, and Brazil have been taking advantage, offering top researchers lucrative employment packages. Many say that this is a bigger problem than the green card issue. “A visa is definitely not too much of a problem for many good people,” said Xiao-Wei Chen, a former University of Michigan professor who was has accepted a position at Peking University. Chen noted that in some high-profile cases, scientists even gave up their US citizenship to pursue opportunities in Asia. New York Times