Top Ten

November 18, 2014

Alberta defers decision on tuition increases; students protest at legislature

Alberta PSE students gathered at the provincial legislature on Monday to protest the consideration of “market modifier” tuition increases, which they have vowed to fight because they could reduce accessibility. The province was expected to announce its decision on Monday, but Minister of Advanced Education Donald Scott said he would defer judgement until a later date. “I want to make sure that I’ve taken the time to consider all the information that’s been provided … I consider the students and the institutions partners in education,” Scott said. Alberta institutions have proposed increases to tuition fees for selected professional programs, particularly where tuition levels are currently far below national averages, in order to ensure adequate funding to compete on quality. uAlberta has suggested raising tuition for its law school by 58%; while uCalgary wants to raise tuition for its engineering program by 42%, its law school by 25%, and its business school by 18.5%; and Mount Royal University wants to raise fees in its nursing program by $100 per course. CBC News | Metro News

uManitoba warns faculties and non-academic units to prepare for 4% budget cuts

David Barnard, President of the University of Manitoba, has warned the institution’s faculties and non-academic units to prepare for budget cuts of 3-4% for the 2015–16 academic year. After years of low provincial grants and frozen or controlled tuition rates, inflation is outpacing uManitoba’s resources. Barnard said in a media release last week, “Put bluntly, the funding model in place does not enable the university to fully support the outcomes our students, staff, and faculty are capable of achieving for themselves and, ultimately, for the betterment of Manitoba.” uManitoba is drafting its 2015-16 budget assuming either a 2.5% increase, or no increase at all, in government funding. The CBC quotes several students and faculty members who question the transparency of the budget process, and have organized a public assembly for November 26th “as a means of organizing resistance to the impending cuts.”  CFS-Manitoba has passed a motion to “resist austerity.” The president of the uManitoba Students Union, Al Turnbull, also sits on the university board and Senate’s strategic planning committee, and observes, “When there’s no money, you can’t make any perfect decisions … This is in many ways a dark time for the university." CBC

Montreal PSE institutions partner on research centre as part of city-wide campaign

Several Montreal PSE institutions will contribute to a new research centre in support of the “Je vois MTL” campaign, a city-wide initiative with the goal of reinvigorating Montreal. The Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Montreal (CIRM), described as the first research initiative of its kind, will bring together researchers from McGill, the Université du Québec à Montreal, Concordia University, L’Université INRS, and Université Laval in order to identify and develop a number of projects for the city. The researchers represent a wide range of disciplines, from music and architecture to economics and law. “If Montreal is a university city—and that is certainly the case—this city needs a centre like the CIRM, which is working to bring together all the strengths of academic research and turn our combined knowledge of this city into projects for Montreal,” said CIRM Director Pascal Brissette. McGill News Release

Manufacturing consortium invests in skills training for youth

A number of Canadian manufacturers are teaming up to train young workers for highly skilled positions. The Ontario Manufacturing Learning Consortium is recruiting primarily from the ranks of unemployed, underemployed, and disadvantaged youth and paying participants as they complete a 6-month program that includes in-classroom work and on-the-job training. The firms participating in the Consortium are motivated by skills shortages as well as changes in the temporary foreign workers program. “It’s almost impossible to get [governmental approval] for a machinist … so we need to train people internally,” said Robert Sochaj, Executive VP for Cyclone Manufacturing, one of the businesses that has signed on. Member firms will spend between $15,000 and $20,000 per worker who participates in the program; however, program participants are not obligated to work for the firm providing the training. “Industry has not taken the role that it must do if we’re going to bring about good training programs. Industry has to be more active,” said Rod Jones, Co-Director of the program. Globe and Mail

Union representing federal scientists abandons neutrality to oppose Harper

Members of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), a union that represents scientists and other professionals in the federal public service, have agreed to actively campaign against Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the next federal election. The move breaks the union’s long-held tradition of neutrality in elections. The PIPSC says that it believes the Canadian government under Harper has done significant damage to the federal public services, interfering with and muzzling the work of scientists in the federal employ. “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. The government has forced non-partisan organizations such as ours to make a very difficult choice: to remain silent or to speak out. We have chosen to speak out,” said PIPSC President Debi Daviau. CTV News

New website to connect employers with co-op students in BC and Yukon

The Association for Co-operative Education, BC/Yukon (ACE) has launched a new, responsive website that will connect students and employers. The website represents all accredited co-op institutions in the region. Co-op posters will be able to specify whether they want their advertisements targeted at specific institutions, or a wider range of students. There will be no charge to job posters. The website will also include features on recipients of the BC/Yukon Co-Op Student of the Year Award; it also features a blog with tips for students on matters including using LinkedIn to help with the job search and building a personal learning network for co-op students. ACE News Release | ACE Website

OECD report has Canada falling behind in R&D

Canada is not keeping up with its global competitors in research and development, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). The report has Canada dropping out of the top 10 R&D spenders to 12th overall. The OECD found that Canada invested $21.8 B in R&D in 2012, less than the $22.7 B it spent in 2004. Canada has also fallen behind in measures of R&D “intensity,” a calculation based on R&D spending as a percentage of gross domestic product. The OECD average for intensity is 2.4%; Canada came in at 1.69%, behind 20 other countries. Canada’s underperformance can be partially attributed to a lack of investment by the private sector, which is, at 0.88% of GDP, near the bottom of the OECD rankings in that category. In 2001, this figure was 1.26%, but has declined steadily since. Globe and Mail | OECD News Release | Full Report

UBC’s branded content initiative featured in Strategy

Canadian marketing magazine Strategy has featured the UBC’s Sauder School of Business’s branded content campaign for its MBA program. The campaign puts the institution itself in the background, focusing instead on alumni success stories. It features a long-form narrative microsite that highlights the experiences, companies, and research of 6 alumni. Media for the campaign was created by freelance journalists and documentary filmmakers. Brad Gamble, AD of Marketing Communications, said that the campaign is intended to focus on shareable content in order to better reach an audience of digital natives. The content is organized around the Sauder School’s 3 pillars: global perspective, bold ideas, and the power to do good. The site will be promoted in digital and print media, and will also be translated to reach a Chinese audience. Strategy | Sauder Microsite

International enrolment up in US

The number of international students enrolled at US PSE institutions is up 8.1% for 2013–14, according to the latest annual “Open Doors” report published by the Institute of International Education (IIE). The number of US students studying abroad also increased, by 2.1%. The growth was driven primarily by the number of Chinese students coming to the US to study. The Open Doors data show the number of Chinese undergraduate students studying at US institutions increased by 17.9% and the number of graduate students increased by 11.8%. This latter figure seems to contradict a recent report from the Council of Graduate Schools which found that Chinese enrolments were down; however, this is because the CGS data refer to first-time enrolments whereas the IIE data cover total enrolments. In fact, this year’s IIE data corresponds with the 11% increase in total Chinese graduate-level enrolment reported last year by CGS. The IIE data also reflect CGS data on the growth of enrolment of students from India, which were up by 6.1%. The number of international students enrolling from Canada was up 3.5%. Inside Higher Ed | IIE News Release | Full Report

US institutions marketing second bachelor's as way to improve graduate employability

A growing number of US PSE institutions are marketing second bachelors’ degrees to graduates looking to improve their employability in a tough labour market. While many institutions have long offered postbaccalaureate training, these new programs distinguish themselves by offering students complete degrees in a reduced time period. Oregon State University, for instance, has since 2012 offered a computer science degree that can be completed in just one year. The courses are being touted as a way for graduates to build complementary skills to their previous degrees, and present an alternative to a master’s degree, which may require a previous degree in the field; moreover, many employers do not require the higher credential. They also present an alternative to postgraduate diploma programs, which may not provide the credential that some employers are looking for. However, pursuing a second degree—even in an abbreviated time period—can be costly, especially for the kind of underemployed graduates for whom these programs are being designed. The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)