Top Ten

December 19, 2014

Centennial changes pay structure for part-time professors to hourly wage

Centennial College has introduced changes to its pay structure for part-time professors. Non-full-time faculty will now be paid by the hour, and only for the hours they spend in front of a class. Centennial’s AVP Human Resources Yves Deschenes says that the change “was not about cost-cutting; it was about equity, and many part-timers (who teach six hours or less a week) will actually see a 5 per cent raise. From a labor cost perspective, it’s costing us about $800,000 to harmonize these rates so it’s a painful transition, but now we have a rate for part-timers that is consistent.” But RM Kennedy, VP of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU), which represents some of the faculty affected, said “basing it on an hourly rate has caused a lot of distress. A teacher who taught 5 courses now has to teach 7 to make the same money.” Kennedy also said that “it could affect the quality of work they do. Now they’re only paid for their hours in front of the class, but with the amount of essays, there’s no possible way you can mark in that time.” Deschenes, however, said that “our primary objective was to create a system as transparent as possible, and one that was in line with colleges across the province.” Toronto Star

Sophisticated exam cheating scam busted at uWaterloo

A University of Waterloo math student and a York University PhD candidate are facing charges following what is being described as a “sophisticated” attempt to cheat on an exam at uWaterloo. The Waterloo Region Record reports that the 2 suspects met via a website that pairs students writing an exam with other students who will write it for them. After uWaterloo officials received a tip about forged student ID cards, they heightened verification measures at some exams, checking cards’ magnetic strips with a computer. This prompted a student to leave the exam early, before her card could be checked. She was later found to be in possession of an altered ID card. “It’s nothing short of criminal and should be treated as such,” said uWaterloo spokesperson Nick Manning. The accused uWaterloo student was held in custody and later released after posting $3,000 bail and turning over her passport and other travel documents. Manning said that the case is remarkable for its sophistication. “These are exceptionally talented and bright students who must be under extreme pressure to perform. It’s just a very sad situation.” The Record

New campaign at uMontréal aims to raise awareness about sexual consent

In order to raise awareness about sexual consent, the Université de Montréal has launched a new campaign with a strong, clear message: “Without yes, it’s no!” uMontréal Rector Guy Breton noted that the issue of consent is not currently a big problem at the university, and added, “that type of behaviour is unacceptable in all circumstances.” Vincent Fournier Gosselin, secretary general of the Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l’Université de Montréal (FAÉCUM), said that the campaign was the students’ idea, who wanted to raise awareness of the resources available at uMontréal. “We have the elements that are necessary, but we needed a clear message,” Gosselin said. “Without consent, it’s assault.” Both Maclean’s and the Toronto Star recently examined the sexual assault policies at Canadian universities, finding that very few had stand-alone policies. Colleges Ontario and the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) have recently launched reviews of existing policies at member institutions, and Ontario’s 24 public colleges have agreed to work together to develop a province-wide policy detailing procedures and resources for victims. Montreal Gazette

E-learning program about human rights introduced at Humber

Humber College has launched a new e-learning program called “Pathways to Human Rights Education and Action” that educates students on human rights in Ontario. The program, reportedly the first of its kind at a Canadian PSE institution, is a 30-minute, voluntary module that is completed online. Students do not receive credit for the program, but do receive a certificate of completion. “With this type of training, we’re working on building global citizenship,” said Nancy Simms, program creator and Director of Humber’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Diversity. “It enables local and international students to have a better understanding of the Ontario Human Rights Code and also helps prepare them to be successful in an increasingly diverse job market.” The program was piloted in the summer and officially launched in November; approximately 500 students have participated so far. Humber News

Business schools must engage alumni in order to remain competitive

As competition among PSE institutions for students and donors increases, business schools are turning to alumni relationships to strengthen brand and reputation. At Western University’s Ivey School of Business, the Alumni Association created Global Ivey Day to engage Ivey alumni around the world; the event has grown to 58 events in 33 cities worldwide in 5 years. “Your best brand advocates, if you’re an academic institution, are your alumni,” said association Chair Mark Healy. “A strong alumni base that does well on their own, and is very connected and does things for one another, is huge for the brand of the school.” For business schools in particular, brand and reputation are extremely important in the race for students, helping the institution stand out from the competition. Academica Group consultant Stefanie Ivan recently commented in a blog post that reputation is key to getting business students to choose one institution over another, and that engaged alumni are critical to building and enhancing a brand’s reputation. Globe and Mail

Scientists, journalists both at fault for over-hyped, misleading results

A new study suggests that scientists and journalists must both shoulder the blame for over-hyped reports on research results. The National Post reports that more often than not, the media is blamed for the various, often contradictory studies that receive press coverage and that often receive sensationalistic headlines. However, a study from the British Medical Journal that examined coverage of health stories found that inaccurate details that appear in the news often originated in press releases. More than one-third of press releases made claims about the impact of health research on humans even though the study had been carried out on animals; one-third also made claims of causation when the study in question had only established association. The study notes that the press releases were often written by or approved by scientists, not press officers, and that those press releases that were identified as being more hyped often received less coverage. This suggests, the authors say, that journalists may be more discriminating than they are given credit for. The National Post speculates that scientists may be moved to exaggerate the significance of their findings as a result of a more competitive funding landscapeNational Post

Entrepreneurship is important, but should not be PSE's sole focus

In an opinion piece for University Affairs, Dan Harvey, a University of Alberta PhD student researching the pre-eminence of entrepreneurship in contemporary culture, and Imre Szeman, Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies at uAlberta, look at how entrepreneurship has become “the new socioeconomic common sense” in North America. They turn a critical eye to the current emphasis on entrepreneurship in Canadian PSE. “We worry that in the drive to produce entrepreneurial graduates, not only in business but across curriculums, we ill-equip them to deal with the pressing challenges of the times,” they say. Harvey and Szeman argue that the entrepreneurship model trains students to accept and glorify a world of risk that has little room for a vibrant public sphere or the welfare state. They add that there are a number of challenges that exceed the structures imposed by the entrepreneurship model, and while acknowledging that entrepreneurship is important, they say that Canadian institutions must think more broadly about their educational goals. University Affairs

Forbes touts MMgmt degrees as next big thing in business education

Forbes magazine suggests that US business schools are looking to Europe for the “next big thing in business education”: pre-experience Masters programs and, in particular, Masters in Management (MMgt) degrees. Forbes notes that while applicant numbers to MBA programs have been down in the US, 58% of Masters in Management programs are seeing consistent growth in applicant numbers. According to the article, MMgt programs are already popular in Europe, where the number of GMAT test-takers has been increasing. Graduates of these programs are attractive to employers, who appreciate their flexibility and openness to new ideas. The article does point out one key challenge facing MMgt programs: the degree lacks the branding punch of the MBA. Whereas an MBA is a recognizable degree around the world, MMgt degrees go by a wide variety of names and acronyms and may therefore be confusing to students and employers. Forbes

Total US law school enrolments at lowest point since 1987

The American Bar Association (ABA)’s Section on Legal Education has reported that law school enrolments in the US hit a 27-year low this fall. 119,775 students enrolled in 204 ABA accredited schools in the fall of 2014, down 6.9% from 2013 and down 17.5% from a historic peak in 2010. This marks the lowest level of total enrolment at law schools since 1987, at which point there were 175 ABA-accredited law schools. Two-thirds of ABA law schools reported declines in first-year enrolments from 2013; 64 schools reported declines of greater than 20%. 37,924 full-time and part-time students began their legal studies in fall 2014, down 4.4% from 2013 and down 27.7% from the historic high first-year enrolment of 52,488 in 2010. 2014 marks the lowest level of first-year law school enrolment since 1973. Inside Higher Ed | ABA News

US institution takes aggressive approach to advising to improve graduation rates

US institutions are becoming more aggressive when it comes to improving their graduation rates. Georgia Regents University, for instance, has implemented a program called “4 Years 4 U,” which is described as being “intrusive by design.” The advising office contacts freshmen and sophomore students whose behaviour or performance is cause for concern, such as skipping classes or performing poorly on assignments. Faculty members are asked to report any such students to the advising office, who then contacts students to encourage them to meet with an adviser. The approach is not without its critics, though: some faculty have suggested that Georgia Regents is pushing students to take too many courses, especially given that many of their students also hold full-time jobs or have families. Others wonder if a centralized approach to advising may hurt the bond between faculty and their students, as well as costing students’ their professors’ expertise on some advising issue, even as it frees up faculty members’ time. The Chronicle of Higher Education