Top Ten

August 12, 2014

Ontario publishes responses to capacity expansion request

Ontario has made public 27 notices of intent submitted by municipalities, colleges, and universities in response to the province’s Major Capacity Expansion Policy Framework. Most were submitted by PSE institutions; however, the province also received one from the City of Niagara Falls. 7 of the proposals were submitted jointly between multiple institutions, and several institutions submitted multiple proposals. The scope of submissions varies: Western University, for instance, submitted a proposal to add a new “Student Experience Facility” that would house technology-enabled teaching and learning spaces, student entrepreneurship spaces, and student services spaces. A submission from Centennial College, former University of Guelph President Alastair Summerlee, and UoGuelph Provost Maureen Mancuso, however, ambitiously describes the creation of a new Brampton campus that would offer an interdisciplinary curriculum, a heavily integrated experiential learning component, and that would eliminate majors and minors. The Centennial proposal also says that costs would be limited through the use of “flexible staffing contracts” for faculty. Notices of Intent

AUCC recommends federal investment in research, job opportunities, and Aboriginal Canadians

In its pre-budget submission, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada recommends the federal government focus on funding for research and innovation, creating an opportunities strategy for young Canadians, and on initiatives to attract Aboriginal Canadians to PSE. In its report, AUCC urges Canada to commit to “predictable, multi-year funding for research funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation.” In order to maximize the number and variety of jobs for Canadians, AUCC also recommends that the government invest in programs including a voucher program to support the hiring of co-op students and interns; a federal tax credit for co-op and paid internship programs; funding for institutional support of co-op placements and internships; additional funding for research internships delivered through Mitacs’ programs; and expanded incentives for investing in young entrepreneurs. AUCC also recommends that the government triple support for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s Postsecondary Partnerships Program, create 500 graduate scholarships for Aboriginal students, provide more funding to Indspire bursaries and scholarships, and invest in “reach back” and transition programs at Canadian universities. AUCC Submission

WesternU receives funding for neurodegenerative disease research

Western University has received a $5-M donation from Jim and Louise Temerty and the Temerty Family Foundation. The funding will help researchers at WesternU’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry to study the prevention, early detection, and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases including ALS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and vascular cognitive impairment. “Ontario is home to some of the world’s most accomplished brain researchers and clinicians who are transforming the future health of Canadians. My family and I are pleased to be able to support this one-of-a-kind research that has the potential to change the course for people suffering from these debilitating diseases,” said Jim Temerty. The funding will support a 5-year study led by WesternU researcher Michael J Strong. “Our ultimate goal,” Strong said, “is to determine if, by studying the disease as a component of a larger whole, we can develop early treatment strategies long before the disease fully takes hold.” The donation will also benefit from matching funds from the Ontario Brain Institute. WesternU News Release

Study North Initiative receives $3 M from Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation

The Study North Initiative, a collaborative effort between Collège Boréal, Cambrian College, Canadore College, Confederation College, Northern College, and Sault College, will receive a $3-M investment from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC). The Study North Initiative promotes study and work opportunities in northern Ontario to students in southern Ontario. “Northern Ontario Heritage Fund’s support of this initiative will not only assist in raising the profile of northern colleges and the high-caliber programs they offer but will showcase the vast opportunity our colleges and communities have to offer prospective students,” said Northern President Fred Gibbons. Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle said, “our government recognizes that northern Ontario’s colleges are essential to preparing northerners for the workforce and to responding to forecasted labour shortages in a number of sectors including the mining industry. I am very pleased that the NOHFC could invest in this important initiative.” Northern News Release | Confederation News Release

UFV Agriculture Centre of Excellence receives federal funding

Western Economic Diversification Canada will contribute more than $2.1 M to be used for new training equipment at the University of the Fraser Valley’s Agriculture Centre of Excellence. The equipment will enhance existing programs as well as be used in 2 new programs focused on the design and implementation of automated agricultural systems and robotics. “Thanks to this investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Agriculture Centre of Excellence will be well-equipped to train students on the latest in agricultural mechatronics and robotics. With this training, students will enter the workforce ready to design and maintain the advanced technologies that will help innovate agriculture in BC,” said Barry Delaney, Chair of the UFV board of governors. UFV News Release

Ontario releases details of SMA with Algoma University

Ontario has published the strategic mandate agreement (SMA) it signed with Algoma University last week. The SMA identifies as a key area of differentiation Algoma’s role in helping the Sault Ste Marie region transition to a knowledge-based economy, as well as its support for educational access for Anishinaabe students, first-generation students, and students from small towns. The SMA further notes Algoma’s key role as the eighth-largest employer in the region, as well as its efforts in collaborating with employers to develop programs that meet the needs of the local economy, especially in areas such as alternative energy, information technology, and eco-tourism. Algoma’s small class sizes and focus on undergraduate education were also identified as strengths. Among Algoma’s existing programs, liberal arts, biology, business administration, computer science, and social work were pointed to as areas of institutional strength, while undergraduate arts and sciences were identified as a proposed area of growth. Algoma SMA

SMA between Algonquin, Ontario released

The strategic mandate agreement (SMA) signed last week between Ontario and Algonquin College emphasizes the institution’s work with industry partners and its leadership in broadening learner access to PSE, as well as its innovative use of technology to enhance learning experiences. The SMA notes Algonquin’s strong graduate employment rate, as well as its commitment to work-integrated learning. Moreover, the report comments on the variety of program delivery methods available at Algonquin, including co-op programs, short-term contract placements, internships, and inter-professional education settings. The report identifies 10 program areas of strength, including health and wellness; digital technologies and design; hospitality and tourism; and communications, creative media, and entertainment. As proposed areas of growth, the SMA points to health and wellness; digital technologies and design; management, administration, and leadership; and engineering, technology, and the trades. The SMA also comments on Algonquin’s support for student mobility, as well as its competency-based learning units. Algonquin SMA

Intel says one-third of Canadian PSE students’ education time is spent online

A new report released by Intel says that Canadian PSE students spend one-third of their education time online. According to student respondents, research is conducted online 78% of the time and homework is done online 52% of the time. Students also frequently use the Internet to collaborate with peers (87% of respondents) and to communicate with professors and instructors. Many students did admit that they were concerned about technological distractions; nevertheless, two-thirds of respondents said that they felt technology helped them maintain a personal relationship with teachers in spite of large class sizes. The report notes that mobile technologies are increasingly commonplace in Canadian classrooms, and are frequently being utilized by faculty to improve engagement and to complement in-classroom instruction methods. The report says that 69% of teachers surveyed agreed that mobile technology is making education more collaborative between students and teachers. Intel News Release

Professor says faculty must resist becoming “helicopter teachers”

An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education reflects on the rise of what the author calls “helicopter teachers,” who are overly accommodating of students. The author of the piece suggests that faculty have become too quick to raise a grade in response to a student complaint, and in their efforts to be available have set an expectation of 24/7 access. The author also says that the rise of detailed scoring rubrics effectively “spoon-feeds” students who, without such a guideline, are anxious of receiving a grade less than an A; he also notes with dismay the growth of his syllabus from a “rough-and-ready description of the course” into a 13-page document replete with “pages of administrative boilerplate” and “a 2-page explanation of what a ‘thesis’ is and a page explaining each of the assignments.“ The author says that it is incumbent on faculty to challenge students and remind them that their education is something that must be worked at if it is to be meaningful. The Chronicle of Higher Education

State performance metrics could have negative implications for some successful institutions

An article in Inside Higher Ed looks at the implications that tying state funding to measured performance could have on institutions whose missions do not align with the government’s metrics. New College of Florida is offered as an illustrative example. The institution features small class sizes and close faculty–student interaction. However, because its students’ successes are not counted under state performance laws, it has lost $1 M in funding—about 3.7% of its budget. The Florida laws assess colleges on 10 factors including students’ post-graduation jobs and rates of pay, as well as whether they go on to complete a graduate or professional degree. However, the Florida regulations do not count students who get jobs outside of Florida or go to grad school abroad. Of New College’s 144 graduates last year, 10 went on to further education at prestigious foreign universities, and about 20 took jobs outside of Florida. The students are doing well, but are not being measured under the state’s assessment framework, leading to increased financial hardship at the college. Inside Higher Ed