Top Ten

August 19, 2014

BC newspaper publishes confidential TWU law degree program review

The Vancouver Province has published the full text of the April 2013 external review of Trinity Western University’s proposed law degree, observing that the 5-member panel seems to express “serious reservations,” including concerns about curriculum, academic freedom, the employability of the school’s graduates, and the impact of the mandatory community covenant on TWU’s ability to hire top-quality faculty. TWU President Bob Kuhn has responded in a statement that the Province article is “one-sided” and demonstrates little understanding of the academic review process. "It is not at all unusual for the external reviewers to raise issues or concerns with some aspects of a proposal … The article also fails to fully report that the panel concluded that in every area of review the proposal either met or exceed the required standard or met the standard on certain conditions,” Kuhn says. The TWU law school has been approved by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada National Accreditation Committee, but continues to spark controversy in the legal community. Vancouver Province | TWU statement

Canada, New Brunswick commit funding to innovation and R&D

Canada and New Brunswick have jointly committed funding to support innovation and research in Atlantic Canada. NB announced that it will contribute $82 M in funding over 5 years to support innovation in the province. Canada committed to investing up to $5 M in support of research, development, and commercialization activities at the Atlantic Cancer Research Centre, and $2 M to improve research capacity in big data research at the University of New Brunswick. “Our government’s plan to create jobs by developing our natural resources and growing our knowledge sectors will drive our economy for generations,” said Craig Leonard, NB’s Minister of Energy and Mines. Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency News Release

Business Development Bank of Canada funds accelerator program at uToronto

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has agreed to invest in the Rotman School of Management’s Creative Destruction Lab at the University of Toronto. The Lab offers an 8-month business accelerator program that is designed to help commercialize promising technology. It offers researchers the opportunity to connect with and benefit from the expertise of experienced entrepreneurs. “You can’t teach entrepreneurship in a classroom. You’ve got to find people who have the entrepreneurial DNA ... [and] surround them with the experience and the know-how,” said Dominique Bélanger, VP Investments and Partnerships at BDC. Bélanger said that the partnership is representative of a revised approach to venture capital investment in Canada that is more in tune with Canadian strengths and focuses on regional specializations. BDC previously invested in the healthcare accelerator Accel-RX, using funding set aside by the federal government to invest in Canadian startups. Globe and Mail (Subscription Required)

51% of Canadian students expect to take on debt for their education

The results of an online CIBC survey offers insight into student attitudes toward education debt. CIBC reports that 51% of Canadian PSE students have borrowed or will need to borrow money to pay for their education. 73% of those respondents expect to graduate with more than $10,000 in debt, and approximately 40% expect to owe more than $25,000. 66% said that they anticipate being able to pay their debt back in 5 years or less. But CIBC’s Executive VP of Retail and Business Banking Christina Kramer said that “while [students’] intentions are admirable, they may not be realistic.” Further data indicates that it isn’t just tuition that contributes to high student debt. A Bank of Montreal survey found that PSE students spend an average of $1,121 just on school supplies. Student respondents to that survey cited textbooks, new clothes, computers, and furniture as additional major expenses. CIBC News Release | Toronto Star | Financial Post | The Record

Reddit, Imgur, and Twitch partner to provide data to researchers

Social networking websites Reddit, Imgur, and Twitch have launched a joint initiative called the Digital Ecologies Research Partnership (DERP), which they say will facilitate “open, publicly accessible, and ethical academic inquiry into the vibrant social dynamics of the web.” According to Imgur’s Tim Hwang, the three sites share the conviction that “there are ways of doing research better, and in a way that strongly respects user privacy and responsible use of data.” Hwang says that his group can help academic researchers gain access to data from social media platforms beyond Facebook and Twitter and facilitate cross-platform analysis. McGill University joins Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in signing up to access the data. Molly Sauter, a McGill Student who is working with DERP, said, “not only is it going to make it easier to for researchers to gain access to important and interesting data sets, but it will also help diversify the online populations and communities being studied.” Facebook recently faced controversy after it was revealed that researchers manipulated users' newsfeeds as part of a psychology experiment. The Guardian (UK)

Conestoga SMA highlights college’s contributions to Technology Triangle

Ontario has released the strategic mandate agreement (SMA) it signed with Conestoga College, highlighting the college’s support for industrial research, design, and manufacturing technology and innovation in the province’s Technology Triangle. The SMA cites Conestoga’s industry partnerships in engineering and manufacturing, food processing, and trades as specific areas of institutional strength, as well as the college’s impressive graduate employment rate. Conestoga is further cited for the variety of delivery methods it makes available to students, including experiential learning activities such as simulation, applied research, and clinical placements. The SMA also makes note of Conestoga’s support for faculty development through its Curriculum and Organizational Development Office. 6 programs are identified as proposed areas of growth: accounting and finance, advanced manufacturing, applied food safety, digital content creation, security and intelligence, and early learning. Conestoga SMA

High-impact research, innovative pedagogy emphasized in McMaster SMA

The strategic mandate agreement (SMA) between Ontario and McMaster University highlights the university’s unique pedagogical approach, research-intensive setting, and its diverse program strengths. The SMA notes McMaster’s implementation of problem-based learning and inquiry and its distinctively collaborative and interdisciplinary culture, as well as the high impact of its research projects like the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre, the on-campus nuclear reactor, and the Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization Program. McMaster’s Innovation Park and its partnership with Mohawk College are also cited as being beneficial to economic development. The agreement highlights several areas of institutional strength in the areas of teaching and learning, including McMaster’s Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning and its redesign of high-enrolment courses into blended formats. McMaster also receives recognition for its support of Indigenous students, Crown Wards, and other underrepresented groups. The SMA identifies 5 areas of growth: health sciences and the broad determinants of health, fostering robust societies, business and economics, science and engineering, and communications and culture. McMaster SMA

Millennials value empathy and good citizenship, not self-interest

A report in the New York Times outlines findings from various sources about the habits and attitudes of millennials. According to the article, millennials, whose perspective is framed by the 2008 economic crash, are less interested in high salaries than they are in interesting, fulfilling work. Further, millennials are generally willing to embrace risk, pursuing their own ventures rather than seeking the security of a corporate job. They are less likely to be interested in prestige brands than they are the corporate social responsibility efforts of a company, and embrace “the values of good citizenship.” The article refutes the stereotype of millennials as being narcissistic, suggesting that instead their highest values are empathy and open-mindedness. They tend to be optimistic, but nevertheless are conscious that failure is a very real possibility. “I know that as hard as I work—and I work very hard—I very well may fail. And it’s liberating to know that,” said one individual interviewed for the piece.  New York Times

Money ranks US colleges based on bang for the buck

Money magazine has released its list of the US’s “best colleges for your money.” The magazine describes its list as “the first list of colleges that combines the most accurate pricing estimates available with estimates of likely earnings that take into account a student’s economic background, test scores, and major.” With its rankings, Money hopes to offer students and parents insight into “real value for their tuition dollars” and into which colleges most enhance earning potential. The rankings consider 18 factors divided into 3 primary categories: quality of education, affordability, and outcomes. Schools were scored based on six-year graduation rate, instructor quality, graduation rate, net price of a degree, student loan default risk, and post-graduation earnings, among other factors. Based on these criteria, the top college in the US is not Harvard or Yale but Massachusetts’ Babson College, a small college focused on business and entrepreneurship. The Webb Institute (New York), MIT, Princeton, and Stanford round out the top 5. Money

US institutions partner with Amazon on co-branded stores

Purdue University in Indiana has announced that it has become the second Amazon Campus in the US. The partnership creates what Purdue describes in a news release as “a new, co-branded experience where students can purchase lower-cost textbooks and other college essentials.” Through the partnership, Amazon will offer Purdue students expedited shipping benefits and will create on-campus locations where students will be able to pick up orders and drop off rented textbooks. Purdue will receive a percentage of eligible sales. “This relationship is another step in Purdue’s efforts to make a college education more affordable to our students,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. Purdue does not have a university-run bookstore, though there are many independent operators in the vicinity of campus. The University of California at Davis, meanwhile, is planning to expand a pilot program with Amazon. UC-Davis collects slightly more than 2% of most purchases from the co-branded store, and has netted $139,000 from the arrangement in the 2 quarters since the program launched. Inside Higher Ed | Purdue News Release