Top Ten

November 12, 2014

George Brown opens new green building construction and innovation centre

George Brown College has officially opened its new Green Building Centre at the Casa Loma Campus in Toronto. The centre will serve as a hub for students, instructors, and industry to work together to develop environmentally friendly and energy-efficient construction practices and products. The centre will provide opportunities for students to participate in applied research that is directly applicable to the construction industry. “This new applied research facility enables us to connect the Canadian construction and engineering sectors to the tools and experts they need to accelerate local, sustainable green building technology. Not only are we helping our partners fast-track the business lifecycle and develop new products that will have a lasting impact on the community, but our students are also learning the importance of sustainable, green building techniques and processes,” said Robert Luke, VP Research & Innovation at George Brown. George Brown News | Canada News Release

Fanshawe cuts ties with agency operating unlicensed group homes

Fanshawe College has announced it will sever ties with an organization running unregulated group homes in London, Ontario, reports the London Free Press. The move comes after a fire at a home operated by People Helping People, in which a 72-year-old resident died. Students in the first year of Fanshawe’s human health services program have previously been placed with People Helping People, interacting and socializing with residents. Fanshawe representatives toured several homes run by the organizations, and “no flags were raised about conditions” at that time. However, at least one former Fanshawe student expressed concerns about her placement, saying she was often left alone with residents when she was supposed to have someone else with her at all times. Fanshawe spokesperson Elaine Gamble told the Free Press, “No other students will be placed with People Helping People.” London Free Press

Academica survey finds first-year students choose programs based on values, not money

Data released by Academica Group indicate that students are more likely to choose their program based on passion rather than potential income or job placement rates. A survey of just over 600 first-year students on Academica’s StudentVu panel found that 87% of respondents said that personal, passionate interest had very much or quite a bit of an influence on their program choice, compared to 44% who said income potential and 42% who said job placement rates. Nevertheless, students were thinking about their careers: 44% said that they believed that their program would lead them directly to a career. 20% believed that their current program would be just one of multiple programs they would complete before embarking upon a career, and 16% planned to attend multiple institutions. Only 20% said that they didn’t know what their career path would be yet. The data seem to indicate that students are motivated more by their passions and interests than money when thinking about their studies and career aspirations, and that they are willing to take a bit of a risk to pursue them. Academica Blog | Survey Summary

PSE institutions work with industry to attract students to Ontario food and beverage industry

Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector has partnered with PSE institutions to address the need to attract more young people to careers in the agricultural and food industry. A new report jointly released by the University of Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and Food and Beverage Ontario (FBO) assessed the demand for workers in the food and agriculture sectors, finding the need for increased numbers of skilled workers. The report, titled Planning for Ontario's Future Agri-Food Workforce: A Report on Agriculture and Food and Beverage Processing Training in Ontario Colleges and Universities, further found that the supply of graduates from provincial PSE institutions is not meeting industry demand. A roundtable on the issue was also held recently, with participants coming together to discuss and collaborate on future initiatives, including the education action plan. "The roundtable brought together industry, government, colleges and universities from across the province, and this collaboration will help strengthen the future of Ontario's agri-food workforce," said Rob Gordon, OAC Dean. FBO News Release | Full Report

CICan forges partnerships in China

A 45-person delegation representing Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) was recently in China to strengthen the organization’s relationship with the country’s PSE sector. During the trip, CICan signed 2 new MOUs that will facilitate the creation of partnerships between CICan member institutions and Chinese schools. CICan signed an agreement with the China Education Association of International Exchanges, a not-for-profit organization focused on applied learning and technological education. The agreement will encourage student mobility and faculty exchanges in both directions, and create opportunities for Canadian students to learn and intern in China. A second MOU with the Guangdong Provincial Department of Education will lead to the sharing of Canadian expertise in curriculum development as well as enhancing student mobility. CICan News Release

YorkU launches campus-wide entrepreneurship program

A campus-wide initiative at York University will help students interested in entrepreneurship get their business ideas off the ground. YorkU has partnered with organizations including Collide Hub Inc, ventureLAB, and York Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI) to create LaunchYU, which will identify and support students interested in entrepreneurial careers. The initiative will offer workshops, networking opportunities, and on-campus access to start-up accelerator programs provided by program partners. LaunchYU will be facilitated by Innovation York, the Faculty of Health, and the Lassonde School of Engineering. “Our goal is to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in our students and ensure that startup companies created at York University reach their maximum potential,” said VP Research & Innovation Robert Haché. YorkU News Release

UBC holds group-based midterms for over 50 classes

In most exam settings, talking to your neighbours can get you in trouble. At UBC, however, more than 50 courses offer 2-stage midterm exams that include a group component. Students initially complete an individual exam before getting into groups of 4 to sit the exam again, with each group submitting one copy of the completed test. “Usually with an exam, feedback will come as a mark and then many students will throw the exam away. Here, we’re making them review the exam while they still care about the answers to the questions,” said Brett Gilley, an instructor at UBC’s Vantage College. Research indicates that the group portion can have a significant positive effect on student learning and retention. Moreover, Gilley said, the group component better prepares students for the workforce. “It’s more reflective of what people are going to do … What they’re going to have to do is explain their ideas to a small team of people they may or may not know,” he pointed out. UBC News

Changes to temporary foreign workers program affect universities' ability to recruit faculty, administrators

Recent changes to Canada’s temporary foreign worker program are creating challenges for universities seeking to hire top foreign scholars and administrators, causing delays and sometimes forcing institutions to reject qualified applicants. Changes to the regulations introduced over the summer force employers to demonstrate that they tried but were unable to find a Canadian for a job opening and to disclose the number of Canadian applicants and interviewees. Employers must also provide an explanation for why a Canadian was not hired and submit transition plans that indicate what they are doing to recruit more Canadians or to create a permanent position for a foreign worker. Employers can apply for an exemption if they are hiring based on a need for a unique skill, but some institutions that sought such an exemption were denied. “It’s making it harder for us to do what we believe the government expects us to do, which is hire the best regardless of where they come from,” said Alan Harrison, VP Academic at Queen’s University. University Affairs

NB colleges adapting to meet province's needs

An article in the Globe and Mail describes the circuitous path taken by New Brunswick’s community colleges as they try to meet the needs of the provincial labour market. NB’s bilingual community college system has moved from focusing on trades training to professional training, transitioned from a corporate body to being part of the government and back again, and grown to include 11 institutions. Today, NB’s colleges are operating more independently, taking on research, and working to better meet community needs. In so doing, they are helping fill skills gaps and helping NB prevent outmigration of students to other provinces. In 2013, NB’s French-language colleges attracted more research dollars than any other Atlantic Canadian college. But the colleges continue to face demographic challenges, and are faced with a shrinking pool of high-school graduates from which they can recruit. In response, colleges are introducing essential-skills courses for adults and partnering with high schools to create pathways to PSE. Globe and Mail

Can a co-operative model save the world's "boutique" universities?

The world’s “boutique” universities—small-scale institutions with perhaps just a few hundred students—fill a valuable niche in PSE, but many are struggling to remain financially viable in an age of mass education. Writing for University World News, Maurits van Rooijen, Rector of the London School of Business and Finance, says that it is increasingly difficult for universities with fewer than 1,000 or 1,500 students to survive, though things can vary widely by country and region. van Rooijen says that boutique universities are challenged by the burden of central costs, forcing some to “seek shelter with a larger institution, offloading much of the burden of overheads.” Others are banding together with other institutions to form a kind of co-operative to share certain expenditures, such as international marketing, recruiting, and information technology costs. van Rooijen believes that the co-operative structure presents the best opportunity for many boutique institutions around the world to remain viable. University World News