Top Ten

December 12, 2014

Ontario loans MaRS additional $86 M

Ontario will loan the MaRS Discovery District an additional $86 M, in spite of recently being criticized by Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk for offering a “high-risk” $224 M “bailout” loan to the facility. “This is not a failed project. This is a project that has not been completed,” said Michael Nobrega, Chair of the Ontario Centre of Excellence and Co-Chair of a panel on the future of the MaRS tower. The $86 M repayable line of credit brings the total amount of money committed to MaRS by the province to $395 M. Ontario Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid admitted that “this project had some significant difficulties along the way,” but said that “this is the best path forward. It will ensure that the government’s loan is fully repaid with interest while also continuing our support for Ontario’s innovation economy.” Duguid argued that walking away from the building would be the wrong approach. “Our government’s priority is to get this building leased up as quickly as possible so that MaRS can begin its loan repayments to the province.” MaRS Chair Gord Nixon has announced that the building has obtained letters of intent from 5 new tenants, more than doubling its current occupancy. Toronto Star

uWaterloo breaks ground on new teaching and research facility

The University of Waterloo held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday for a new 56,000-square-foot facility that will support teaching and research. The 4-storey building will include kinesiology labs and what will be one of the largest lecture theatres on campus, with room for 350 students. It will also be home to one of a small number of anatomy labs in Ontario that is not part of a medical school. “Our physical expansion is only now catching up with the academic and research expansion that has occurred over the past several years. Producing world-class research and providing exceptional training remains a top priority, and our new facilities will help support that,” said James Rush, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. uWaterloo News Release | CBC News

Durham, Fleming, Trent, UOIT team up on FastStart entrepreneurship program

Durham College, Fleming College, Trent University, and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology have teamed with Spark Centre and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster (GPIC) to launch a new FastStart program. FastStart is designed to help enhance students’ entrepreneurial skills while providing them with resources to develop business plans and bring products to market. “Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit among students is a key component of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy, through programs that help transfer their ideas and skills to the marketplace while creating rewarding careers,” said Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Reza Moridi. The FastStart program will be available to students in any program at the 4 participating institutions, and will offer customized services, progressive programming, boot camps, and incubators, as well as opportunities for students to transition to the Spark Centre, GPIC, or other local business access development centres. UOIT News Release

Ryerson launches new bridging program for internationally trained doctors

Ryerson University’s G Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education yesterday launched the new Internationally Trained Medical Doctors Bridging Program. The program will help integrate qualified, internationally trained doctors into non-licensed health-care employment. It will address a number of barriers faced by internationally trained doctors through an 11-week curriculum that will include sector-specific in-class training and 4-week practicum placements. The program is responding to an identified need for health professionals qualified to participate in and support non-clinical initiatives. Students will also develop their skills in areas such as health research, health informatics, data analysis, and health management. The first cohort of students will begin their studies in mid-January. Ryerson News Release

Selkirk College to continue to offer tuition-free adult basic education

British Columbia’s Selkirk College will continue to offer tuition-free adult basic education (ABE) programming. The news comes after the province announced that it will no longer provide funding to education providers for upgrading courses offered to adults already holding a diploma. “Selkirk College has no plans to charge tuition for ABE in January … Until we receive a clear commitment that no reductions to our operating grants are planned by the province for ABE programming, we will also not be contemplating any changes to our programming or tuition charges,” said Selkirk President Angus Graeme. Graeme noted that the province’s announcement will likely affect the college’s overall budget, but that it remains to be seen what impact it will have on frontline delivery. Selkirk News Release

CFI annual report highlights recruitment, accountability, commercialization

The Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has published its annual report, highlighting the organization’s investments in research infrastructure as well as the progress it has made toward strategic goals. The report describes the work done by the CFI through the John R Evans Leaders Fund, which helped support more than 470 projects at universities across Canada, as well as work done to recruit leaders for these projects. The CFI reports that of the 146 CFI-funded project leaders newly recruited to institutions, 144 said that CFI-funded infrastructure was an important factor in their decision; moreover, 60% of those new recruits came from outside of Canada. The report also highlights the support offered by the CFI to projects funded through the Major Science Initiatives Fund and work done to advance private-sector innovation and commercialization through the College-Industry Innovation Fund. The CFI also describes its efforts to evaluate the outcomes and impact of its funding, and lists a number of commitments it will make to achieve its strategic aims in 2015. CFI News Release | Full Report

triOS Scarborough expands to a new campus location

triOS, a private career college based primarily in Ontario, has expanded into a new Scarborough location. CEO Frank Gerencser explained that the move was necessary because the college had outgrown its previous Scarborough location. “Our new space easily accommodates our current student population and will allow us to grow in size to support the Scarborough community. We’re very excited about the opportunity it presents,” he said. The new location will be home to 5 faculties: business, technology, healthcare, law, and supply chain. “The feedback we’ve received so far is excellent,” Gerencser said. “Not only is it a beautiful campus central to the city, it’s very convenient, it’s easily accessible by public transit, and there’s plenty of parking.” Hamilton Spectator

Nielsen study finds decline in traditional TV viewing as audiences take control of content

A new report from Nielsen shows that live TV viewing is down among all US audience groups. The data from Nielsen’s Total Audience Report point to some significant changes in the US content landscape. Among the study’s findings are that linear TV viewing among 18–24-year-olds dropped 19.5% from 21.5 to 17.3 hours per week; that time spent watching time-shifted TV increased from 13:12 to 14:20 per week; and that viewing of Internet video increased by 60%, from 6:41 to 10:42 per month. Time spent using apps or the web on a smartphone also increased significantly, from 35:44 per month to 47:35 per month. These results suggest that consumers are taking charge of their own content discovery experience, and that viewing choices are increasingly informed by technology as the popularity of smart TVs, tablets, and subscription video-on-demand services continues to grow. “Length and access are not top of mind for the viewer looking for that quality content; they look for what they want, when they want,” stated Nielsen. Marketing| Full Report

US college enrolment is down for third consecutive year

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) has released a new report showing that US college enrolment has declined by more than 1% for the third consecutive year. This year, enrolment dropped 1.3%, a slower decline than either of the previous 2 years, but still representative of approximately 265,000 students. The decline was largely driven by a smaller number of adult students going to school, with many returning to the workforce as the US economy recovers. 2-year public institutions saw a 6% decline, while 4-year private institutions saw a 0.4% decline. 4-year public institutions and 4-year private non-profit institutions, meanwhile, saw increases of 2.2% and 1.6%, respectively. The NSCRC also notes that the steeper decline in 2-year public enrolments may be partially due to the reclassification of some institutions. Inside Higher Ed | Full Report

USF's flexible, tech-inspired renovation

An article in Campus Technology looks at how some US PSE institutions are being inspired by the tech industry when making their campus design choices. The article focuses specifically on the University of San Francisco, which recently underwent a substantial renovation of its academic advising offices. “We’re in the middle of the city. We can’t just build new buildings. So we have to take the area that we have and be really intentional and efficient with it,” said Project Planner JJ Thorp. The result was a sweeping redesign that extended as far as eliminating paper documents in order to free up the floor space occupied by filing cabinets. They also introduced office “pods” consisting of 2 glass and 2 solid walls. Computers and documents can be secured in panels within the walls when not in use, and the pods themselves collapsed and moved. The system is highly flexible, designed to be reconfigured as circumstances and needs change. Thorp said that he initially had some trouble selling everyone on the concept, but most eventually got on board. Campus Technology