Top Ten

August 25, 2014

Ryerson SMA focuses on support for entrepreneurial education, urban ecosystem research

The strategic mandate agreement (SMA) between Ryerson University and Ontario identifies as the institution’s key areas of differentiation its support for interdisciplinary thinking and innovation; its collaboration with industry, the public, and the non-profit sector; and its distinctive “zone” model of entrepreneurial education. Ryerson is also identified as playing a unique role as a city builder. Ryerson is recognized for its focus on professional accreditation and experiential learning through programs such as its Digital Media Zone (DMZ). The SMA also cites as strengths Ryerson’s several entrepreneurial zones, including the Innovation Centre for Urban Energy (iCUE), the Fashion Zone, the Design Fabrication Zone, and the Transmedia Zone. Ryerson’s contributions to urban ecosystem research are also noted. The SMA further emphasizes Ryerson’s support for online learning, distance education, and adult learning, and its commitment to education access for underrepresented groups including first-generation students, Aboriginal students, persons with disabilities, and internationally educated professionals. The SMA identifies 5 proposed areas of program growth: innovation and entrepreneurship, design and technology, management and competitiveness, creative economy and culture, and health and technology. Ryerson SMA

AB students upset at proposed market-based tuition increases

Student leaders in Alberta are concerned about proposed plans for market-based tuition hikes for select programs. Students at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary say there have been mixed messages and a lack of consultation and transparency regarding tuition increases. Navneet Khinda, Chair of the Council of Alberta University Students, said they were “blind-sided” by the news, and that while there had been discussion of “a whole bunch of issues,” market modifiers were never addressed. Levi Nilson, VP External for the uCalgary Students’ Union, said he would like to see “major consultations” with students before any tuition hikes are implemented. The uAlberta law faculty would like to increase tuition to be more in-line with law programs across Canada. A spokesperson for AB advanced education said the province has not officially called for submissions, but is open to “using market modifiers to address existing tuition anomalies.” Edmonton Journal | Calgary Herald

uSask President will no longer have tenure veto power

The President of the University of Saskatchewan will no longer have the power to veto tenure decisions. The change was stipulated in a new 3-year collective bargaining agreement tentatively agreed to by the university and the uSask Faculty Association. “I am pleased we have reached this agreement,” said Ernie Barber, uSask’s Interim Provost. “Tenure is a significant career milestone for academics and one of the most important decisions that a university makes. I believe the proposed changes are respectful of our collegial processes and will bring resolution to this important issue that has been widely debated in recent months.” In July, the StarPhoenix reported that uSask was considering appealing an earlier arbitrator’s recommendation that the President not have veto power over tenure decisions, though uSask said at that point that it was still engaged in an internal review of the policy. StarPhoenix

Revolutionary Brampton university proposal ruled ineligible by MTCU

Perhaps one of the most exciting responses to the Ontario government’s capacity expansion call came from Centennial College, in conjunction with the City of Brampton, outgoing University of Guelph President Alastair Summerlee, and outgoing UoGuelph Provost Maureen Mancuso. Their one-page letter describes a small undergraduate university that would award only interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) degrees, without majors, minors, or even academic departments. Students would learn in an active, inquiry-based environment from teaching-focused faculty on flexible staffing contracts, utilizing ePortfolios, eTextbooks, experiential learning, and work placements. (The proposal sounds a lot like a public version of Quest University, which adds very small class sizes and the block method of teaching to generate the highest National Survey of Student Engagement [NSSE] scores in North America.) Yet the Brampton proposal also includes an emphasis on social and participatory learning and internships, and a focus on preparing graduates for entrepreneurship, and for careers in the technology, health, and creative sectors in particular. The radical proposal was not to build a UoGuelph satellite campus, but to create an entirely new university—and because it was not associated with an existing public university, MTCU determined that the proposal would not be assessed as part of the capacity expansion framework. The City of Brampton intends to continue pursuing its PSE strategy in other ways. Brampton letter of intent | Brampton Guardian | Guelph Mercury

UoGuelph-Humber’s approach to education leads to 19% increase in student confirmations

Maclean’s has published an article on the success of the University of Guelph-Humber, which has experienced a 19% uptick in student confirmations even as Ontario on the whole saw a drop. UoGuelph-Humber offers students 7 career-focused programs that include work-experience opportunities designed to increase graduate employability. The programs are especially attractive to students looking for a practical option but who want to obtain a university degree in order to pursue graduate or law school. According to President John Walsh, the appeal is clear. “You get into the workplace faster, you have more job-ready skills, and you haven’t sacrificed anything out of the quality of a university degree,” he said. The Maclean’s article notes that the success of UoGuelph-Humber may speak to a demand for alternatives to the traditional model of university education, citing a number of the responses to the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities’ capacity expansion request. Maclean’s

Arctic research gets funding boost from feds

Canada has announced the creation of the National Research Council (NRC) Arctic Program, which will establish research partnerships focusing on technology designed to improve the lives of northerners and to advance economic development in Canada’s North. The federal government has reportedly committed $17 M over 8 years to the project, and is seeking a further $65 M in co-investments by industry over the same term. The announcement was made at the Yukon Research Centre of Excellence at Yukon College, where researchers currently explore innovative approaches to common northern problems. The 4 priority areas for the NRC’s new Arctic Program are resource development, northern transportation and shipping, marine safety technologies, and community infrastructure. “The Government of Canada, through its investments, is improving the lives of the people in the Yukon through increased opportunities in education and training, and through northern focused research,” said Yukon College President Karen Barnes. Yukon College News | Canada News Release | Maclean’s | Whitehorse Star | CBC

CFS-Ontario passes motion to boycott Israel

At the recent annual meeting of its executive, the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students passed a motion to boycott Israel. The motion, put forward by representatives of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), passed unanimously. CFS-Ontario executive member Anna Goldfinch said that the resolution “endorses a number of solidarity tactics that have been called for by Palestinian civil society.” RSU President Rajean Hoilett said that during the school year his organization will host several panel discussions that will be intended to provide Ryerson students the opportunity to voice dissenting views on the matter, and emphasized that at these events there will be “no room for anti-Semitism or Islamophobia.” Globe and Mail

Fleming SMA highlights college’s role as regional training hub, applied environmental research

Ontario has released the strategic mandate agreement (SMA) signed between the province and Fleming College. The SMA identifies as Fleming’s key areas of differentiation its comprehensive program portfolio, its role as a regional hub for trades education and training, its specialized programs in environmental and natural sciences, and its applied research programs offered through the Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment. Fleming is recognized for providing students with career-ready, labour-market-ready training that supports local social and economic development, and for its Applied Learning Enhancement Strategy, which emphasizes personalized and work-integrated learning. The SMA further highlights Fleming’s focus on improved access for first-generation students, Aboriginal students, and students with special needs. The college’s partnerships with regional school boards and its pathway programs to 5 universities are also noted as strengths. 4 programs are identified as proposed areas of growth: natural resources and environmental sciences, trades and technology, healthcare and community services, and arts and heritage. Fleming SMA

US-based institute says online CBE is most likely to disrupt PSE

Online competency-based education (CBE) is the innovation most likely to disrupt the PSE sector, according to the institute founded by the man who coined the phrase “disruptive innovation.” The Clayton Christensen Institute says that online CBE is poised to capitalize on a convergence of several factors in the US including rising tuition costs, climbing student debt, PSE costs, student dissatisfaction, and demand for academic credentials beyond traditional degrees. Currently, the Institute says, normalized “embedded inefficiencies” at US colleges leave them unable to capitalize on the opportunity of online education. The change will take time, but the Institute’s researchers say students are increasingly looking for targeted programs, tailored support, and identifiable skill sets, all of which are more effectively provided by online CBE. eCampus News

US schools increasingly selling beer at on-campus sports venues to raise revenue

American PSE institutions are increasingly turning to beer sales to increase revenue for athletic departments, reports the Globe and Mail. Currently, 21 on-campus football stadiums allow fans of legal drinking age to purchase beer during games, an increase of 100% from 5 years ago. As home entertainment systems improve, serving alcohol is one way to encourage fans to watch games at the stadium rather than at home, says University of Akron Athletic Director Tom Wistrcill. At West Virginia University, beer sales were initiated in part to prevent fans from coming and going from tailgate parties during the game. Campus police there report a sharp decline in alcohol-related incidents during games. The revenue created from beer sales is especially enticing to cash-strapped athletics departments that do not receive television revenues. Globe and Mail