Top Ten

December 5, 2014

Scientists outraged over changes to CIHR’s grant funding

Canadian scientists are alarmed at a recent decision by the governing council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), which some say will force researchers to depend on resource industries for funding. The changes will reportedly cut in half the budgets of each of CIHR’s 13 research institutes, allocating the other half of the money into a common pool. According to the CBC, the institutes will need to compete against one another for money in the common pool, and scientists will be forced to find matching external funding. This latter provision is particularly troubling for researchers at the Institute for Aboriginal People’s Health. “Unfortunately for Aboriginal people, we don’t really have many organizations we can leverage with,” said Rod McCormick, BC Chair in Aboriginal Early Childhood Development at Thompson Rivers University. Scientists are also concerned that the changes will force the institutes to rely on industry partners, who may be the source of some health problems. CBC News

Royal Roads, Queen’s, MTA receive major donations

Royal Roads University and Queen’s University have both received major gifts of at least $5 M, while Mount Allison University has received a donation of $1.5 M. On Wednesday, Royal Roads received a donation of $5 M from international education entrepreneur Sherman Jen; the donation is the largest in the institution’s history. The gift has launched Royal Roads’ “75 Years of Changing Lives” celebration and will be used to establish an on-campus centre dedicated to the promotion of global understanding through education. Queen’s received $5.5 M from long-time benefactors Isabel and Alfred Bader. $3 M of the gift will support the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, $1.5 M will support the Jewish Studies program at Queen’s, and $1 M will be allocated to postdoctoral fellowships in humanities departments. MTA received $1.5 M from alumni Robert and Susan Winsor to help support the restoration of Hammond House, Sackville’s only National Historic Site and former residence of painter John Hammond. Hammond House is now used as the official residence of MTA’s President. The parlour of Hammond House, frequently used for events and gatherings, will be renamed the Winsor Lounge in recognition of the gift. Royal Roads News Release | Victoria Times-Colonist | Queen’s News Release | MTA News Release

Nursing students prepare to take new, US-administered exam as of January

As of January, the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination (CRNE) will be replaced by the online NCLEX examination, administered by the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing, in all provinces save Quebec. The shift has forced many nursing students to adapt quickly. “The way the switch to NCLEX happened, it was very much something many universities hadn’t planned for,” said Dillan Radomske, a student at the University of Saskatchewan. Most curricula were targeted toward the CRNE, which was focused on the “art of nursing” and community health, whereas the NCLEX exam is more technical, Radomske said. The shift to the US-administered exam reflects changes in the role of nursing in Canadian healthcare, which is following the US toward treating a population with more acute and complex needs. The change was announced when Radomske was in the midst of the second year of his nursing education, but he says that uSask has done a good job of adjusting its curriculum. Moreover, the online exam will mean that he and other nursing students will receive their results much faster. StarPhoenix

Trent to launch interdisciplinary Water Sciences BSc program

Trent University has announced that it will launch in 2015 a new bachelor of science program in water sciences, reportedly the first of its kind in Canada. The program will help equip students to become environmental leaders and experts ready to address issues associated with water supply. Students in the interdisciplinary program will complete courses drawn from departments including biology, chemistry, geography, and environmental and resource sciences. “To really get a true sense of the science of water, you need to cover all of the disciplines. We tend to think we are water rich in Canada, and in some places, we are. But there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be there in the same quantity and quality 50 years from now,” said geography professor James Buttle. Holger Hintelmann, Dean of Arts and Science at Trent, added, “there is great complexity in this field, and we know that potential employers are looking for this kind of knowledge.” Trent News Release

StatsCan report finds that fewer than half of Canadian adults with disabilities have jobs

New data released by Statistics Canada show that just 49% of working-age Canadians with physical or mental disabilities have a job, compared with 79% among the general working-age population. Approximately 2 million Canadians self-identified as having a disability in 2011, the year covered in the data. According to Denise Bergeron, National Director for Government Relations and Advocacy with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the issue is often that people incorrectly assume that a person with a disability will be unable to perform a job, or that they will require special accommodations. The data also show that the employment rate for persons with disabilities was much higher among those who held a university degree, rising to between 77 and 83%; among those with a severe disability who held a university degree, the employment rate was 59%. Persons with disabilities were also found to be paid less than those without a disability, even for performing the same work. CBC News | StatsCan Daily

StudentsNS releases report on barriers faced by students with disabilities

StudentsNS has released a new report addressing barriers faced by persons with disabilities in pursing PSE. Among the issues examined in the report are how “disability” is defined and contextualized in Canada society; current PSE support systems for students with disabilities; and barriers including those in the classroom, in institutional and government policy, and within student financial assistance programs. The report notes that persons with disabilities are significantly underrepresented at PSE institutions in Nova Scotia, and calls for improvements to programs aimed at increasing the participation in PSE of persons with disabilities. Among the recommendations made in the report are that the provincial government and all NS PSE institutions develop long-term strategies to make education more accessible and inclusive, and that all PSE develop, implement, and enforce written policies addressing accommodations as well as the rights of students with disabilities. StudentsNS also calls for better integration between disability services offices and academic advising or other wellness services to help reduce the stigma of being associated with the office. They also call for changing the name “disability services” to something less alienating to students. StudentsNS News Release | Full Report

CICan releases Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes

Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) has launched its “Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes.” The Protocol highlights 7 principles that CICan has identified as being essential to meeting Indigenous peoples’ learning needs and to support self-determination and socio-economic development of Indigenous communities. “The Indigenous Protocol highlights opportunities for Canada’s postsecondary institutes to meaningfully collaborate with First Nation communities. Enhancing relationships between First Nation communities and postsecondary providers will likely generate an environment of mutuality designed to encourage success among Aboriginal learners,” said Ken Tourand, Chair of CICan’s Indigenous Education Committee and President of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. CICan has invited all of the 137 colleges, institutes, polytechnics, and CEGEPs it represents to sign the protocol; approximately 25 signed at Wednesday’s launch. CICan News Release | CBC News

Plagiarism at business school often linked to group work, UoGuelph research finds

Research conducted as part of the University of Guelph’s 2012–13 Academic Integrity Report shows that of 140 allegations of academic misconduct at its business school, 106 were related to group work. “It is usually one person in the group that does something the rest of the group is not aware of,” said Kerry Godfrey, Associate Dean at UoGuelph’s College of Business and Economics. The number of allegations includes instances where unsuspecting group members were drawn into an investigation as a result of another student’s misconduct. UoGuelph’s data show that 41 students in the College of Business and Economics were found “not guilty” of any wrongdoing, often after being implicated as a result of a team member’s actions. Students who were found guilty received punishments ranging from a formal warning to a mark of 0 for the course. Julia Christensen Hughes, Dean of the College, says that plagiarizing in group work is “absolutely a problem” across the country, but that “the bigger issue around group work is actually when the work is supposed to be independent work but students end up doing it more collaboratively”—sometimes even enlisting parents to help. The Record

Report links state disinvestment in PSE to increase in student loans

A new report from an American think tank argues that state disinvestment in PSE has been a major contributing factor in skyrocketing student debt in the US. According the Center for American Progress, the onset of the Great Recession of 2008 led to austerity measures that included, among other things, cutbacks in states’ investments in public universities, colleges, and training centres. As institutions increasingly turned toward tuition revenue to overcome budget shortfalls, students in states with the highest rate of divestment paid a higher net price relative to similar students in other states. Between 2008 and 2012, 29 state governments decreased their level of total direct support to public institutions, while 44 state governments reduced their direct support of public colleges on a per-student basis. Over the same period, the share of students borrowing at public colleges jumped from 24% to 30%, while the average amount borrowed rose from $5,736 to $7,063. Borrowing was found to increase the most in those states which had divested the most. Full Report

Canadore web series uses zombies to reach out to students

Students and faculty in Canadore College’s Digital Cinematography and Television programs have been teaming up with the institution’s marketing department to produce a web series that raises awareness by capitalizing on the current popularity of zombies. Producing the webisodes, which feature the tagline “Canadore Wants Your Brain,” offered a valuable learning opportunity, with Canadore students acting as the cast and crew. “The students were so engaged. This will be a huge portfolio piece for them. These types of collaborations are what make Canadore such a unique place,” said professor Yura Monestime, who served as the series’ Director of Photography and Co-Executive Producer. Carrie Richmond, Marketing Coordinator at Canadore, said that the series exemplifies what institutions must do to reach their audience. “You can’t just advertise in the traditional means anymore and yield the same results. You need engaging content—grab their attention and then tell your story.” Canadore News