Top Ten

December 3, 2014

Faculty and staff at John Abbott College protest cuts to CEGEPs

Faculty and staff at John Abbot College gathered last week to protest government funding cuts to the CEGEP network. Quebec’s provincial government announced funding cuts of $20 M to the network in the spring, and followed that with a second round of funding cuts ($19 M) in November. Student protests against austerity measures have occurred several times this year, specifically around provincial elections and recently with the announcement of further cuts. “This time we are speaking out and joining with other CEGEPs across the province to protest the government’s austerity measures,” said teacher Jean-Marc Beausoleil. The protest was organized by the 3 unions active at John Abbott: John Abbott College Faculty Association (JACFA), the support-staff union (JACASPA), and the professional union (JACPA). Academic Dean Erich Schmedt noted that the timing of cuts makes it difficult to plan for budgets, and that cuts can have negative consequences for support programs and other aspects of the campus environment. Montreal Gazette

YorkU receives $3.75 M for youth services program

York University has received a commitment of $3.75 M over 2.5 years from the Ontario government to fund the new “Youth Research and Evaluation Exchange” program. The Exchange will work to help achieve outcomes for youth in 7 areas: health and wellness; strong, supportive friends and family; education, training, and apprenticeships; employment and entrepreneurship; diversity, social inclusion, and safety; and civic engagement and youth leadership. Carleton University, King’s University College, Lakehead University, and Laurentian University are also collaborating on the project, as well as several community organizations. “We are looking forward to making research and evaluation more readily accessible and useable to groups working with youth across Ontario, especially groups that work with vulnerable youth,” said Academic Director Uzo Anucha. YorkU News Release

SLC school of business launches digital badge program

The St Lawrence College School of Business has announced the creation of a new digital badge program that will provide students with a way to validate their accomplishments and skills. The program will use technology from the Mozilla Backpack to offer a digital complement to students’ transcripts. Badges will be available in the areas of critical thinking, communication, creative thinking, entrepreneurship, information management, leadership, networking, teamwork, and volunteering. “We’re one of the only colleges in Canada to be offering this enhanced learning opportunity for our students at this time. By earning badges, students will compete in a global environment by having their skills, abilities, and achievements verified; it’s an ideal way for them to bolster their education, making them even more career-ready when they graduate,” said John Conrad, Associate Dean of the SLC School of Business. SLC News Release

CICan launches skills training program in Senegal

Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) has announced the launch of a new Education for Employment (EFE) program in Senegal. The program, entitled “Private Sector Growth through Education for Employment,” will help train a skilled labour force in the country with help from Canadian expertise. The $20 M program will help train approximately 135,000 Senegalese students, with support from a dozen Canadian colleges, institutes, and CEGEPs. “I am very pleased to see that Canadian expertise in technical and professional training will benefit Senegalese youth and help them acquire the skills they need to succeed,” said CICan President Denise Amyot. Funding for the program will be provided by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. CICan News Release

Canadian education institutions not addressing sustainability issues

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan recently studied whether sustainability and climate-related education policies existed at Canadian PSE institutions, provincial and territorial ministries of education, and K–12 school divisions. The study found that only half of PSE institutions and half of K–12 school divisions had any policies addressing sustainability. Institutions were scored on their inclusion of 4 sustainability initiatives (SI): undertaking a sustainability assessment, signing a national or international environmental or sustainability declaration, having a sustainability office or officer, and having sustainability policies. When PSE institutions were grouped provincially, Saskatchewan and the 3 territories had the lowest average SI scores; for K–12 schools, the territories again had the lowest scores, with Ontario and New Brunswick having the highest. Very few of the K–12 schools that did have a sustainability policy focused on climate change. “There has been a steady increase in uptake of sustainability across the formal education sector over the past decade,” said Marcia McKenzie, principal investigator of the Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN). “However, our research suggests there is more to be done to ensure this goes beyond reducing institutional greenhouse gas emissions to consider broader implications.” uSask News | SEPN Research Brief (PSE) | SEPN Research Brief (K–12)

HEQCO report finds institutional mission important to outcomes-based funding models

A new report released by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) studied outcomes-based funding models in Canada, the US, Australia, and select European countries, finding that the most promising models consider institutional mission, are collaborative, and allow sufficient time for implementation and evaluation. The authors advise caution before drawing any conclusions about the effectiveness of outcomes-based funding models, as the practice is relatively new and much of the existing research focuses on earlier models, not recent ones. The report also suggests that institutions with varied missions need to be involved in the development of such funding models, as a one-size-fits-all model may not be the best approach. “If outcomes-based funding policies fail to account for differences across the institutions affected, jurisdictions may be more susceptible to unintended consequences, such as increasing retention and graduation rates simply by making admissions criteria more selective,” reads the report. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

Business schools incorporating ethics into the curriculum

Business students are increasingly being evaluated on a new core competency: their ethics, reports the Globe and Mail. “The recession really made business schools question their potential role in training the next generation of managers and finance professionals. For an organization to be sustainable, it absolutely has to have more ethical work environments and inclusive dynamics,” said Jennifer Berdahl, a professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business. At Western University’s Ivey Business School, faculty have been developing teaching materials organized around 11 character strengths including humanity and humility. Ivey, said professor Gerard Seijts, has “a whole portfolio of case materials and experiences implemented to really make character a less abstract concept.” Students have been receptive to the shift: increasingly, business students are interested in corporate social responsibilityas well as finding a balance between their job and their personal life. Globe and Mail

Axworthy criticizes franchise approach to PSE institutions

In an op-ed published in the Winnipeg Free Press, Lloyd Axworthy—former President of the University of Winnipeg and current Chancellor of St Paul’s University College at the University of Waterloo—criticizes a model of PSE that treats institutions like franchises, with the province serving as franchisors. Axworthy cites the recent throne speech by Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger as a particularly salient example. “The overall approach is now on how colleges and universities can better meet government goals of producing target skill requirements as seen by provincial bureaucrats, not on how our institutions, each in their own distinctive ways, provide graduates who can think and act to help generate economic development while providing civic leadership,” he writes. He also notes that the throne speech did not mention improving support for the international education of MB’s students. He says that rather than cancelling interest on provincial student loans, the government should have provided financial assistance directly to universities, who could then use it to support low-income students. Winnipeg Free Press

Algonquin named Canada’s top social media college

Media monitoring firm MediaMiser has published an infographic listing the top Canadian colleges on social media, based on a number of criteria. Algonquin College was found to be the top Canadian social college, reaching a broad audience on Twitter and on Facebook. Algonquin is identified in the infographic as the Canadian college most frequently mentioned on Twitter, while the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology was found to be the leader in the number of total retweets. Nevertheless, retweets about Algonquin reached a greater number of Twitter users. Algonquin also had the greatest number of Facebook likes, with Mohawk College reaching the greatest number of Facebook users. Algonquin News Release | Infographic

UK college examining policies following academic’s death

Imperial College London (UK) is reviewing its staff policies following the death of an academic who was reportedly facing a performance review. 2 anonymous sources told Times Higher Education that the deceased, Stefan Grimm, had been complaining about the intense pressure being placed upon him by his institution. Grimm was apparently concerned about the safety of his job after he failed to win a number of grants. A college spokesperson said, “following Professor Grimm’s death, Imperial’s Provost has tasked the Director of Human Resources and one of the college’s senior elected academic representatives to review the relevant college policies and procedures. Their report will be considered by a senior group led by the Provost, and the college will move swiftly to implement any recommendations.” Times Higher Education