Top Ten

October 3, 2014

NorQuest and Edmonton Oilers partner on hospitality training institute

NorQuest College and the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) have partnered to create the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation Hospitality Institute. The new institute will be a hands-on training centre for a wide range of fields, including guest services, service industry operations, and event delivery. Programs will be relevant and customized for Alberta’s hospitality industry and will be designed to open doors for many inner-city residents and at-risk youth in northern AB. EOCF committed $1.5 M for the institute, which will create 100 annual bursaries of $1,000 for learners requiring financial support. A portion of the funds will also go towards a new training facility and kitchen in NorQuest’s Centre for Learning, scheduled to open in 2017. NorQuest News | Edmonton Journal

High school student’s death renews demand for safety regulation of co-op placements

A high-school student has died while on a co-op work placement at an Ontario auto recycling plant. Adam Keunen’s death has triggered calls for improvement to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) or the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), in order to attempt to prevent further accidents in the future. Currently, interns and co-op students are not covered under these laws, which outline training and safety procedures for employees. NDP MPP Peggy Sattler recently introduced a private member’s bill calling for better protections for students and unpaid workers in ON; previously, 2 NDP MPs introduced a similar bill at the federal level. In response to Keunen’s death, the Canadian Intern Association stated, “these tragic incidents necessitate that the Ontario government undertake a fulsome review of co-ops, academic internships and experiential learning programs to ensure the safety and well being of students and young workers is being protected.” Toronto Star | CBC | Cdn Intern Assoc News Release

MITT receives provincial support for expansion plans

Manitoba has announced funding and support to expand the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, a hybrid secondary/PSE institution that allows students to complete high school while simultaneously receiving college-level credits. The MB government has committed $500,000 to add 4,050 square feet of classroom space at MITT. In addition, MITT is also working to enhance its partnership with the Division scolaire franco-manitobaine to allow more Francophone students to access MITT programs. Earlier this year, MB announced a new, expanded mandate for MITT, allowing for additional credentials to be delivered and for more students to be admitted annually. President Paul Holden stated, “this is a different and exciting new way to think about education and training and how to access it. It will create extraordinary opportunities for students and industry.” MITT News

McMaster launches Optimal Aging Portal to provide high quality health information

McMaster University has launched the Optimal Aging Portal, a new website that will help Canadian seniors access quality health and medical information. Described as the “Rotten Tomatoes” of health advice—a reference to a popular movie rating website—the portal will offer evidence summaries, blog posts, and web resource ratings in order to help users sift through the enormous volume of health information that is available online. “What sets the Optimal Aging Portal apart from the crowd is its emphasis on providing only the best evidence, and telling you why it’s considered the best,” said professor Anthony Levinson. “The portal filters out the noise and makes it easy to understand how scientific evidence and other types of information can help you.” McMaster Chancellor Suzanne Labarge, who in 2012 contributed $10 M to help fund the Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative, added, “there is so much misleading information around and, frankly, a lot of people are selling snake oil … We decided having a trusted source would be really important as part of the Initiative.” McMaster News | Optimal Aging Portal

More counsellors needed to deal with mental health issues on campus

Recent campaigns designed to address student mental health on campus, such as the one launched last month by the Canadian Federation of Students - Nova Scotia,  are valuable; but, according to Maclean’s writer Josh Dehaas, it is important to recognize that regular life stressors, including debt, are not the same as mental illness. York University psychologist Gordon Flett points out that financial stress can trigger mental illness, but only in those individuals who are already susceptible. “Mental illness can be exacerbated by all kinds of things—$30,000 student loans included—but that doesn’t make it a cause,” adds Dehaas. Learning coping methods to deal with the added stress that PSE can bring is imperative to helping students dealing with mental illness. And, as Dehaas states, there are “not enough counsellors teaching students how to cope.” Maclean’s

Humber shares its first internationalization strategy

Humber College has published the details of its internationalization strategy. Humber’s approach is organized around 5 goals: recruit an increasingly diverse group of students from around the globe; provide opportunities for students to earn credits while studying abroad; ensure that faculty and staff are equipped to support internationalization; develop partnerships focused on intercultural academic exchanges and collaboration that engage the Humber community; and advance initiatives that enable faculty and students to contribute to international development initiatives globally. To achieve these goals, Humber will invest in marketing efforts and international student support services. Moreover, the institution has launched a Global Citizenship Certificate, a set of courses, travel experiences, and co-curricular activities that fit into students’ current studies. Humber says that it will also work on further internationalizing its curriculum and processes, as well as expanding its network of international partnerships, among other initiatives. Humber Blog | Strategy Document

UBC receives $9.1 M for Alzheimer's research

UBC has received 3 gifts totaling $9.1 M to support Alzheimer’s disease research. Geologist and entrepreneur Charles Fipke has given $5.5 M to help fund the purchase of state-of-the-art brain imaging technology, $3 M to endow a professorship focused on Alzheimer’s research, and $600,000 to outfit a lab at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brian Health. Fipke said he was motivated to contribute the gift after learning that his friend, former British Columbia Premier Bill Bennett, was suffering from Alzheimer’s. UBC President Arvind Gupta said, “investing in the most creative, dedicated, and determined scientists, and putting the most sophisticated technology at their fingertips is the surest means to making breakthroughs against this disease.” UBC News

uToronto holds place in THE rankings as others slip

The University of Toronto has held its 20th-place position in the Times Higher Education’s annual World University Rankings, while other Canadian institutions that appeared in the top 200 last year have fallen. UBC, which ranked second among Canadian institutions, slipped from 31st to 32nd, while McGill University dropped from 35th to 39th. Phil Baty, editor of the rankings, noted that Canada’s performance is striking given its heavy investment in education. “The drop is not a dramatic fall but a very consistent slip … Is there too much of an egalitarian system? That sounds perverse, but is there a sense that the universities are being funded too equally, that there needs to be greater protection for the smaller group at the top?” Baty asked. McGill President Suzanne Fortier said, “we have not seen any additional investments in quite a number of years now and also we have to live within quite a lot of constraints.” McMaster University was the only other Canadian institution to break the top 100, appearing at 94th, down 2 places from last year. The University of Victoria made significant gains, cracking the top 200 at 173rd. Full Rankings | Globe and Mail

uAlberta proposal could signal differentiated fees

A proposal under consideration among University of Alberta administrators could see students in programs such as economics pay more than students taking an English degree. While many professional programs already follow a differentiated fee structure, this proposal would extend the approach to undergraduate majors, charging economics majors an additional $150 per course for domestic students and $554 for international students. “Economics is the most professional program we have [in the faculty of arts],” said Lesley Cormack, Dean of Arts at uAlberta. “People become economists and earn very high salaries.” Should the university approve such a proposal, it would still have to be vetted by the province, which has invited PSE institutions to submit “market modified” tuition fee applications to potentially avoid the current fee cap in 3 programs. Economics is not among the 3 programs already identified by uAlberta, but could be first in line should the provincial initiative expand. Whatever happens in Alberta will surely be of interest in other provinces, especially Quebec, which is currently facing budget cuts. Globe and Mail

Controversy at uMichigan over handling of football player's concussion

The University of Michigan is under fire after its football coach failed to remove from a game a player who was showing visible symptoms of a concussion. The player in question had also suffered an ankle injury earlier in the game, and commentators had questioned whether he should have been removed even prior to the hit that apparently caused the concussion. On Tuesday, students marched on the university President’s home demanding a response, and alumni, students, and the media have questioned whether player safety is being taken seriously enough. uMichigan has issued statements admitting problems with how the incident was handled, but many are calling on the institution to take more decisive action, including firing the football coach or the university’s athletic director. The incident has prompted discussion on what the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) can or should do to better handle the risk of brain injuries among its athletes. The NCAA did release guidelines regarding concussion and other brain injuries earlier this year, but critics have said that they amount to little more than non-binding suggestions. Inside Higher Ed (Michigan) | Inside Higher Ed (NCAA)