Top Ten

October 15, 2014

UFV updates Education Plan and launches new SEM plan

The University of the Fraser Valley has updated its UFV Education Plan 2011–2015 and unveiled a new Strategic Enrolment Management Plan, both intended to guide UFV’s program planning and enrolment efforts for the next few years. The update to the Education Plan reflects the new expectations of the BC government as outlined in the BC Skills for Jobs Blueprint, which ties funding to provincial and regional labour market needs. UFV has identified 3 program areas for future development: health and wellness, agriculture and the environment, and digital media technologies. The newly created Strategic Enrolment Management Plan is the institution’s first, and sets out 9 enrolment goals for the future, including increasing student retention after first year; increasing upper-year transfer opportunities; and offering more experiential learning opportunities to students. Much of the SEM plan focuses on supporting current students to ensure timely graduation and future employment. UFV News

Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences offers first degree program

Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences launched its first degree program this fall, the culmination of a decade of work for President Wolfgang Zimmerman. The degree—a bachelor’s in disability management—is, according to Zimmerman, unique in the world. This offering further distinguishes the institution, which has previously offered workplace safety education through North Island College, in collaboration with Continuing Studies at UBC. “There is no dedicated university anywhere in the world that is focusing exclusively on all aspects of workplace health. You have bits and pieces of this entire field at various universities … We wanted to take an integrated approach to all aspects of workplace health,” Zimmerman told the Vancouver Sun. The not-for-profit university is located in Port Alberni, BC, but the institution offers students a blended model similar to that of Royal Roads University, with much of the instruction taking place online. Vancouver Sun | Alberni Valley News

SFU establishes visiting scholars program with India

Simon Fraser University has formally signed an agreement with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to create a new visiting scholars program. The agreement reportedly makes SFU the first western Canadian university to receive ICCR support for such a program. Through the partnership, SFU will host scholars in disciplines including international studies, contemporary arts, business, and world literature. “This program strengthens our already extensive ties with India. Bringing leading Indian scholars to SFU will enrich our educational programs and research environment, while providing opportunities to further share India’s rich heritage and culture with the communities we serve,” said SFU President Andrew Petter. SFU News Release

HEQCO President shares strategies for improving Canada's universities

In an op-ed for the Globe and Mail, Harvey Weingarten, President of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, says that in the wake of Canadian universities’ recent slip in global rankings, it is time to take action to improve Canada’s universities. Weingarten lists 4 tactics that have been used by other countries who have faced a similar challenge: movement away from micromanaging institutions by the government; the creation of clear accountability mechanisms; the introduction of outcome-based, rather than input-based, funding structures; and the adoption of differentiation policies. He notes that some provinces have already begun to pursue some of these strategies; but, he says that these 4 tactics must operate interdependently to be successful. Weingarten says that Canada especially lags behind other countries when it comes to defining outcomes and collecting data, as well as in its commitment to continuous improvement and institutional accountability. “It is time for Canada to get more serious about improving its colleges and universities and we do not need, nor do we have, 8 to 10 years to figure this out,” he writes. Globe and Mail

OCADU unveils new marketing campaign and website

OCAD University has launched a new marketing campaign, inviting potential students to “turn what you love into a future.” The campaign will be unrolled this week in Toronto’s subway stations and transit shelters, and online through social media and on targeted websites. It features images of the Sharp Centre for Design and the tagline “overactive imaginations are a good thing.” The campaign is meant to highlight OCADU’s Digital Futures program, which merges art, design, computing and business skills. The campaign is also designed to drive traffic to OCADU’s new website, which was developed with input from the OCADU community. “Creative thinking and problem-solving skills are what employers are looking for in the workforce,” said President Sara Diamond. “Active, collaborative and experiential learning are intrinsic to all of our programs and nurture these competencies.” OCADU News Release

Students stand to benefit from studying in another province

A uToronto student’s contribution to the Globe and Mail suggests that students don’t need to travel to another country to experience culture shock; for some, it only takes moving to another province. Kelowna-born Hayden Rodenkirchen describes the many “quirks” he experienced after moving to Toronto, but also sheds light on how studying in another place can help students better appreciate unique facets of their home provinces. Rodenkirchen also points to how living in another province can be a journey of self-discovery. “At times,” he writes, “it felt existentially challenging to change my perspective. On trips to British Columbia, old friends would note that my priorities no longer seemed entirely ‘BC’ … In Toronto, meanwhile, I still felt ill-adjusted.” But Rodenkirchen concludes that the experience was a valuable one. “Students in our country,” he says, “may benefit from grappling with more of it.” Globe and Mail

QC’s new teachers face difficult job market

The Montreal Gazette recently explored the difficulties facing many recent graduates from the province’s teacher education programs, noting that declining enrolment in the province’s English school boards has led to a decline in new hires. As parents increasingly send their children to French schools, the province’s English schools face dwindling enrolment, affecting the nearly 2,000 graduates from provincial teacher education programs. However, the opposite seems to be true for the province’s Francophone school boards, which are experiencing an enrolment surplus; the Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys says it cannot find enough teachers to fill the available positions in its schools. The CSMB plans to open 2 new schools in September 2015. According to the Gazette, “the bottom line is that teachers who master French are more likely to find employment and the ability to instruct in both languages opens more doors across the 2 sectors.” Specializing in a high demand area, such as math, science, or arts can also help new graduates in the job hunt. Montreal Gazette

Op-ed warns that government policies on science communication could be "crippling"

An op-ed from Sarah Otto, Director of the Biodiversity Research Centre in the Department of Zoology at UBC, calls for open sharing of knowledge between scientists and the public. Otto's piece responds to the recent report from Evidence for Democracy that suggests that Canadian scientists are limited in their ability to communicate their findings. Otto cites several cases of scientists who were censored by the government, and suggests that they represent just a small sample of likely cases. She also cites a study from the Professional Institute of the Public Services of Canada, which found that 90% of scientists working in 40 federal departments felt that they could not speak freely with the media about their work. Otto warns that “withholding knowledge is crippling” and calls on the government to “let scientists speak, let them make sure that the facts are straight, and let them at least speak as individuals if they cannot speak for their departments.” Toronto Star

New US survey suggests that hiring of new graduates should increase in 2015

A new report from the Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) at Michigan State University predicts that hiring of new graduates with bachelor’s degrees will increase by between 16% and 20% in 2015. Graduates are expected to be particularly in demand in the information services sector, which includes telecommunications companies, motion pictures, broadcasting, and publishing; the report suggests that hiring in this sector could jump by as much as 51%. Finance and insurance are also set for a turnaround following a year of cutbacks, and Proessional, Business, and Scientific Services—which includes fields as diverse as management consulting, accounting, engineering, and computing services—are also poised for significant increases. The only sector expected to see a decrease in hiring is education services, which is anticipated to dip by 2%. According to CERI Director Philip Gardner, growth is being driven by pent-up demand, an improving economy, and an increase in the number of retirements. Forbes | The Chronicle of Higher Education

Report suggests consolidating course sections to reduce costs

A new report from the Education Advisory Board suggests that colleges and universities could cut costs without sacrificing student-faculty ratios simply by consolidating courses with empty seats. The report draws on data from 7 US colleges, and the authors say that their data can be used to limit the number of “superfluous sections” and help administrators prioritize their investments in smaller courses. According to the researchers’ data, 40% of sections are less than 70% filled to capacity. They also found that one institution stood to save $300,000 in adjunct teaching costs and $1.5 M in full-time faculty costs by consolidating lower-division anthropology courses. However, similar approaches at other schools have met criticism from faculty. Others have pointed out that a higher number of sections may be necessary in order to provide course times that fit with students’ schedules. Inside Higher Ed