Top Ten

September 12, 2014

Profs attacked by students at uToronto and Red River College

A student and a former student allegedly attacked professors at 2 Canadian PSE institutions this week. At the University of Toronto, a female student attacked a math professor with a knife; the professor sustained minor injuries and was taken to hospital. The assailant, believed to be a second-year international student, was arrested at the scene. The second incident occurred at Red River College, where a former student attacked a professor before being subdued by other students. Professor Jeff Chartrand said he had alerted campus security to a potential threat to his safety by a former student, but claimed that security was “reluctant” to take action. Chartrand told the Winnipeg Free Press that his alleged attacker had previously been banned from campus. Keith Walker, Security Services Director at RRC, said, "we are reviewing the incident and ensuring college practices and processes are examined. Any required improvements will be implemented. Our first area of concern is that our staff has the necessary support and care within the college. To that end, we are raising awareness of existing safety and security measures." Police are investigating both incidents. CBC | National Post | Winnipeg Free Press

Calgary institutions recovering after late-summer snowstorm

Crews at Calgary’s PSE institutions are picking up the pieces after a freak snowstorm knocked out power and brought down tree branches on some campuses. There were approximately 200 reported outages across the city on Wednesday, and cleanup across the city could take days. “Don’t be alarmed if you hear chainsaws,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. The mechanical engineering building at the University of Calgary was temporarily closed due to a power failure, and students, staff, and faculty were advised to avoid walking or parking under trees due to the heavy snow accumulation on branches. SAIT Polytechnic advised students to be cautious for ice and debris as crews worked to clear trees of snow before more branches cracked and fell. St Mary’s University College was forced to cancel classes on Wednesday due to power outages, but classes resumed on Thursday. CBC News | uCalgary Twitter | SAIT Twitter | STMU Twitter

$31.5 M committed to establish dementia-research consortium

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and 13 public and private partners will invest $31.5 M over 5 years to launch the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA). The CCNA will engage in research to improve the lives of Canadians suffering from dementia and related illnesses, as well as their families and caregivers. The CCNA will unite 20 research teams that will focus on 3 themes: delaying the onset of dementia and related illnesses, preventing these illnesses from occurring; and improving the quality of life of Canadians living with these illnesses and their caregivers. $24 M in additional funding is expected to be contributed by partners in Quebec and Ontario. “Incredible strides in dementia research have been made over the last decade, but the CCNA recognizes the urgency to create highly effective collaborative research networks to fast-track progress and find solutions in this field. Integrating the perspectives of different stakeholders such as research users, policymakers, patients, and families is imperative to ensure positive outcomes,” said CIHR President Alain Beaudet. Canada News Release | Montreal Gazette | SFU News Release

Carleton receives $10 M gift toward new home for Sprott School of Business

Carleton University has received a $10 M gift from the Wesley and Mary Nicol Charitable Foundation to support a new building for the Sprott School of Business. The donation will help Carleton kick off a fundraising campaign for the facility. “The Sprott School needs a new home to build on its fine international reputation and foster tomorrow’s business and social leaders,” said Carleton President Roseann O’Reilly Runte. “We are extremely grateful to Wes and Mary for their leadership, which will certainly inspire enthusiasm and investment from many more alumni and members of the Canadian business community.” Wesley Nicol has previously made $1 M donations to Carleton that helped the university establish the Nicol Entrepreneurial Award and the Nicol Entrepreneurial Institute. “Mary and I proud to help build a home where Carleton’s business students can pursue their dreams and graduate with a degree from one of Canada’s best business schools,” he said. Carleton News Release

Former uCalgary doctor resigned following investigation into falsified data

A doctor who formerly worked at the University of Calgary has now retracted 9 studies produced at the university that have been revealed to contain manipulated or falsified data. Cory Toth resigned in the spring after university investigators found faked data in his team’s work. Toth told the National Post that he had “failed to supervise” his staff’s laboratory activities properly. “I was unable to determine that data provided to me was not performed in proper fashion,” he said in an email. Glenda MacQueen, Vice-Dean of uCalgary’s medical school, said that the university launched a formal investigation after a journal contacted the school and reported finding “suspicious data”. The university’s efforts led to the retraction of the submitted paper as well as another previously published study. After problems in additional studies were uncovered, the university launched a “Committee of Investigation” that in March concluded that “Toth did not have appropriate oversight of the data coming out of his lab,” which constituted “a breach of research integrity.” MacQueen emphasized that “no human participants were involved” in the retracted research, nor does the research “influence patient care decisions.” National Post

StatsCan finds that tuition fees are up 3.3%

Statistics Canada has released the preliminary results of its 2014 survey on tuition and accommodation costs for full-time PSE students, revealing that Canadian undergraduate students enrolled in full-time programs paid an average of $5,939 for tuition, 3.3% more than last year. International undergraduate students paid an average of 5.3% more for tuition in 2014-15, with tuition fees reaching an average of $20,447. Graduate students also saw increases in tuition, with domestic graduate students seeing an average increase of 2.3% and international graduate students an increase of 3.3%. Canadian undergraduates enrolled in dentistry, medicine, and pharmacy continue to pay the highest tuition fees. The executive MBA was found to be the most expensive graduate program, followed by the MBA and dentistry. Additional compulsory fees also increased across Canada, with an average increase of 2.8%. Newfoundland and Labrador was the only province that did not increase tuition, due to a tuition freeze that has been in place since 2003-04. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives predicted earlier this week that tuition fees would rise by 13% over the next 4 years. StatsCan Daily

Vanier College bans fried food and soft drink sales on campus

As part of an effort to promote healthy food and lifestyle choices on campus, Vanier College has banned the sale of fried foods and soft drinks on campus. The Quebec CEGEP estimates that it will lose close to $40,000 in revenue because of the change, but Normand Bernier, Director General of Vanier, said it will be worth the loss if the ban helps students develop healthier eating habits. The decision to ban sales of fried foods and soft drinks was supported by Vanier’s administration, as well as the Vanier College Students' Association (VCSA). "It's hard to deny that fried foods and soft drinks are enjoyable on occasion; however, today's students have become more aware of the health risks of these types of foods. That is why the VCSA fully supports the ban of fried foods and soft drinks on campus,” said VCSA President Majed Abou Alkir. The VCSA has also launched Jake’s Café, a co-op venture that will give students experience working in a restaurant setting while allowing them to have input into campus food choices. Vanier News Release | Montreal Gazette

Universities working to accommodate transgendered students

An article in University Affairs examines the efforts universities are making to be more welcoming of transgendered persons. York University, the UBC, and Western University, for instance, provide gender-neutral, single-stall washrooms around campus, and other universities are working to make trans persons feel comfortable by offering single rooms in residence. Workshops for faculty, staff, and student leaders are also becoming more commonplace, as well as designated safe spaces. Administrative issues are also being addressed, with institutions adopting record-keeping practices that ensure that transcripts, class lists, and other official documents reflect the preferred names and genders of trans students. While progress is being made, there is still much work to be done. "It is often the case in a large system that it takes time to get things done," said Jean Pfleiderer, who works in the Queen's University human rights and equity office. University Affairs

Ontario minister calls for more internationalization, better labour market data

In the wake of the release of the province’s strategic mandate agreements (SMAs) with its 44 colleges and universities, Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, says that Ontario institutions need to become “more internationalized” as they pursue a strategy of differentiation. Ontario’s differentiation strategy is intended to promote specialization at each institution, and lead to the use of metrics other than enrolment figures to evaluate institutional effectiveness. While the government has not yet indicated what those metrics will look like, Moridi did say that he thinks that more Canadian scholars at Canadian universities should be winning international prizes. Moridi also said that more students should consider apprenticeships rather than pursuing academic degrees, and indicated that the province intends to provide better labour market data to help inform student choices. “We don’t want students graduating in one particular field and then after graduating they find that there are no jobs,” he said. The Minister also noted that “the government has no new money for salaries” and said that universities “have to work within the means they have” as the government tries to eliminate a $12.5-M deficit. Globe and Mail

John Oliver tackles US student debt, for-profit PSE institutions

Comedian John Oliver recently addressed the topic of US student debt on his HBO show Last Week Tonight. Oliver says that cuts to education funding at the state level have forced colleges to raise fees, compelling students to seek additional loans. Oliver points the finger at for-profit colleges, which charge as much as 5 or 6 times the cost of a community college. For that money, Oliver says, students do not necessarily receive a better education, as much of the money is used for non-academic purposes. He includes a clip in which a former University of Phoenix Director says that for-profits spend twice as much on advertising and marketing as they do on faculty salaries. Oliver’s report also takes to task the aggressive sales tactics of for-profit college recruiters, their targeting of veterans, their graduation rates, and their employment outcomes. He also addresses the for-profit sector’s lobbying efforts, and asks viewers to write to complain  to the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) with a humourous form letter. YouTube