Top Ten

August 18, 2014

YorkU removes racist anti-immigration flyers

York University has removed a series of racist flyers that were recently posted on campus. The posters, entitled “The Changing Demography of York University,” juxtapose images of past York University sports teams, which predominantly consisted of white men, with more recent teams, which are racially and ethnically diverse. The posters include racially charged anti-immigration messages. In a press release, a spokesperson for the York Federation of Students (YFS) said that students “are disturbed and appalled by these blatantly racist flyers.” The organization believed to be responsible for distributing the flyers at York has also posted similar material in nearby Brampton. The YFS called on the university to take immediate action in response to the posters. A spokesperson for YorkU said that the flyers had been posted without the university’s consent or knowledge and were removed immediately. YorkU also contacted the organization that is believed to have distributed the flyers and ordered them to cease and desist using the university’s logo and photographs. CBC | Toronto Star | YFS News Release

StatsCan releases corrected labour force survey data

Statistics Canada has released a rare correction of its monthly labour force data, withdrawing their original claim that the Canadian economy had created just 200 jobs in July. In the new report, StatsCan says that 42,000 jobs were added. StatsCan attributes the mistake to a human error that came about as a result of a major redesign of its Labour Force Survey. In a statement, StatsCan said that “certain respondents that should have been classified as employed were counted as not in the labour force resulting in an overestimation of job losses in full-time employment.” The original release misreported the figures for full-time job losses as 60,000 rather than the correct figure of 18,000. The July figures also show that among people aged 25–54 employment rose by 38,000 in July, but the unemployment rate changed very little  as more youths participated in the labour market. Among students aged 20–24, employment was up by 32,000. However, because employment and the number of returning students grew at a similar pace, the rate of employment remained largely unchanged compared to July 2013. StatsCan Daily | Toronto Star

CBIE urges Canada to create study-abroad scholarships

The Canadian Bureau for International Education has released the details of its pre-budget submission to the House of Commons Finance Committee. CBIE, which comprises 150 K-12 school districts, universities, colleges, institutes, and language schools, recommends that Canada offer 50,000 study-abroad scholarships to Canadian students by 2022 in order to overcome what the organization calls “Canada’s Global Engagement Challenge.” CBIE President Karen McBride said, “international education with all its benefits—leadership development, cross-cultural communication skills, second- and third-language proficiency—is a two-way street, and our students need to experience these gains.” CBIE recommends that a minimum of 10,000 awards of $1000 each be offered in 2015, ramping up to 15,000 awards to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. CBIE News Release | Full Submission

COU releases reports on senior-care education

The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) has released a series of reports that explore best approaches to enhancing the knowledge and skills of health and social care providers to better meet the needs of older Ontarians. “Ontario universities play a key role in educating health providers for the needs of today and tomorrow. The release of these reports continues to move forward the discussion opened at the Better Aging: Ontario Education Summit on how we can advance the care and support for older Ontarians,” said COU President Bonnie M Patterson. The reports cover topics including core curricula for entry-to-practice health and social care worker education, perceptions of practitioners and practitioner organizations of gaps in senior care competencies, patient and caregiver perceptions of educational needs, and continuing professional development. COU News Release

Vanier Scholarship and Banting Fellowship recipients announced

Canada has announced the recipients of the 2014 Vanier Scholarships and Banting Fellowships. The awards go to doctoral and post-doctoral researchers carrying out research in the health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, and the social sciences. This year there were 166 recipients of Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and 70 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships, totaling more than $34 M. “Our government is investing in developing, attracting and retaining the world’s best young research talent to ensure Canada remains a leader in discovery and applied research,” said Canada’s Minister of State (Science and Technology) Ed Holder. “Today’s recipients ... are world-class researchers who will make the breakthrough discoveries and innovations that Canadian jobs, our economy and our quality of life depend on.” Canada News Release

2014 Academic Ranking of World Universities released

The Academic Ranking of World Universities 2014 has been released. The list ranks universities based on 6 factors: the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel prizes and Field Medals; the number of highly cited researchers; the number of articles published in Nature and Science; the number of articles indexed in the Thomson Reuters Science Citation Index Expanded and the Social Sciences Citation Index; and per capita performance. Harvard University topped this year’s rankings, followed by Stanford University. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology displaced the University of California, Berkley from its third-place spot as Berkley dropped to fourth. The University of Toronto was the top-ranked Canadian university, moving up 4 spots to 24th. The University of British Columbia moved up 3 spots to 37th. McGill University dropped from 58th in 2013 to 68th this year. McMaster University also finished in the top 100 at 90th, up 2 from 2013. Canada had 21 universities in the top 500 altogether. Universities in Asia and in particular China made significant gains in this year’s rankings. ARWU 2014 | Times Higher Education

Collège Boréal SMA highlights support for Aboriginal education, francophone culture

Ontario has released the strategic mandate agreement (SMA) it signed with Collège Boreal. The agreement identifies Boréal's key differentiators as its support for francophone education and culture and its significant French-language PSE network, which reaches 27 communities across Ontario. The college’s medical radiation, ultrasonography, funeral services, and veterinary care programs are also identified as areas of strength. The SMA notes Boréal’s many community and national partnerships, applied research activities, and employment services as further strengths. The college’s support for blended and experiential learning are also highlighted. The SMA acknowledges Boréal’s high number of first-generation students and its considerable population of students with special needs as well as its support for the success of Aboriginal students through the college’s Louis-Riel Centre. 5 proposed areas for growth are identified in the report: administration, health, community services, technology, and skilled trades. Boréal SMA

Laurentian SMA cites institution’s blended culture, regionally inflected research

The strategic mandate agreement (SMA) signed between Ontario and Laurentian University highlights the university’s blended English, French, and Indigenous culture, as well as its research activity in environment and conservation, health and wellness, social and culture research and creativity, engineering, mineral and materials science, and particle physics. Laurentian is cited for its strong community engagement programs, including its social work program in Indigenous Relations and its participation in the Re-greening of Sudbury project. Additional areas of strength mentioned in the SMA include the university’s engagement with the mining industry and its efforts to increase the participation rates of Aboriginal people in university education. The SMA further identifies the valuable relationship between Laurentian’s research agenda and the characteristics of its region. Laurentian’s proposed program areas for growth include architecture; engineering and earth sciences; French language programs in Sudbury; forensic science, criminal investigative science, and IT; and northern health development and Indigenous relations. Laurentian SMA

Google launches “Classroom” learning management system

Google has officially launched its new learning management system, simply called “Classroom.” The platform has been available in preview since May, but is now in full release. Classroom integrates with Google’s Apps for Education suite, enabling teachers to create within Google’s office software assignments that students can complete and return with just one click. The platform also includes features for grading, real-time feedback on student work, commenting, homework collection, and announcements. A spokesperson for Google noted that there is significant interest from third-party developers to build tools that will integrate with the platform, but would not reveal any further details. THE Journal

The Atlantic profiles the Minerva Project

The cover story in the latest issue of The Atlantic contemplates the future of college education in the US, focusing specifically on tech entrepreneur Ben Nelson’s Minerva Project. Instruction will be delivered to students via a proprietary platform that was designed around the principles of psychologist and former Harvard Dean Stephen M Kosslyn. The author of the article, who participated in a test run of a Minerva class, describes the experience as “exhausting ... with no relief in the form of time when my attention could flag ... If this was the education of the future, it seemed vaguely fascistic. Good, but fascistic.” Minerva takes a scientifically rigorous approach to identifying best practices and learning techniques, shunning tradition for data-driven decision-making. Rather than lectures, students are subjected to a barrage of quizzes and reasoning tests. Minerva has an international student base—Nelson believes that in time as many as 90% of students will come from overseas—many of whom come from “unconventional” backgrounds. “We are now building an institution that has not been attempted in over 100 years,” Nelson said. The Atlantic