Top Ten

January 7, 2015

Ryerson receives $13 M donation to create innovation and entrepreneurship institute

Ryerson University has announced that it has received a $13 M gift from Jack Cockwell and the Brookfield Partners Foundation. The donation will be used to create the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as to support Ryerson’s new Student Learning Centre, scheduled to open in the spring, and to fund innovation projects on campus. “This extraordinary gift is a bold statement of confidence in Ryerson students as young innovators,” said Janice Fukausa, Chair of Ryerson’s board of governors. Outgoing Ryerson President Sheldon Levy will serve as the first honorary Chair of the Brookfield Institute. The gift was announced as part of Ryerson’s $200 M “Make Your Mark” fundraising campaign, and brings the total amount donated to Ryerson by Cockwell and the Brookfield Partners to $20 M. Ryerson News Release

SK's Bethany College to close in May

Bethany College in Hepburn, Saskatchewan has announced that it will close its doors in May, 2015. The 87-year-old Christian college offers programs in areas including Biblical Studies and Christian Studies. Academic Dean Gil Dueck cited declining enrolments as the impetus for the closure; enrolment at Bethany dropped 40% this year, and the college now has less than half the number of students that it did 9 years ago. “It’s not always easy for students to see a job credential on the other side of it. Its aims are more kind of church-based and having to do with character and stuff that isn’t as readily transferable to specific job outcomes. We live in a time when education is often perceived in terms of its cash value in terms of job prospects,” said Dueck. The college is Hepburn’s largest employer; 15 staff and 9 faculty members will lose their jobs as a result of the closure. CBC

Lethbridge College reports growth in winter applications, enrolments

Lethbridge College has announced a bump in applicants and new student registrations in the winter term. The number of applicants increased by 13.2% compared to last year, while the number of registrations so far has jumped by 15.8%. Lethbridge Registrar Marko Hilgersom said that the increases are largely being driven by interest in the college’s online courses. “More and more students are taking online courses and online programs and we have a large selection of online classes … We’ve invested in that area and it really does show in our numbers,” he said. Hilgersom noted that applications for online courses have increased by as much as 30%. Lethbridge’s Unit Clerk certificate program, its Child and Youth Care Diploma, and its Computer Information Technology program are proving to be especially popular. “Instead of having a section that might have had 5 empty seats, now that whole class is full. That’s nice to see,” said Hilgersom. Lethbridge Herald

Maritime grads face greater unemployment, lower wages, higher debt

A report released last month by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC) suggests that university graduates from Canada’s maritime provinces may face greater challenges than their counterparts in other parts of the country. According to the report, maritime graduates are enduring a higher unemployment rate and lower wages than graduates elsewhere in the country; they also bear higher levels of student-loan debt. APEC President Elizabeth Beale said that in the Maritimes there is a significant gap in the opportunities for professional program and applied science graduates and those in other fields. “I think it says something about … how do we structure our education programs in the humanities and social sciences to make sure that those individuals … will also have better employment prospects because at the moment, we’re releasing young people into the labour market without much thought of what kind of jobs they’re going to get in the future,” she said. She also said that employers must be more willing to invest in young workers. CBC

Controversy over plans to move STU chapel

Plans by New Brunswick’s St Thomas University to move the university chapel from its current location are being criticized by members of the local community as “ridiculous, stupid, and asinine.” STU’s board of governors recently voted unanimously to relocate the chapel in order to create more common space for students. "Learning amongst university students takes place not just in the classroom, but so much of it takes place outside … And that social cohesion also is critical to the success of university students,” said President Dawn Russell. A committee made up of church goers, current and former professors, alumni and members of the St Thomas community has formed to protest the move, stating that moving the chapel “would signal a shift in priorities for the university.” CBC (chapel plan) | CBC (critics of move)

uCalgary creates student committee to review intramural team names

The University of Calgary has formed a student advisory committee to review the names of intramural sports teams after complaints that many team names are sexist or promote violence against women. Previously, teams were able to choose any name they wanted, but in future, team names that are potentially offensive will be submitted to the committee for review. “Changing the name should not diminish your ability to enjoy competition. But it will make it easier for others to enjoy it in the spirit of inclusiveness,” said Don McSwiney, a spokesman for the kinesiology faculty. A small group of students is protesting the changes and have created a Facebook group that states, “censorship of thought and speech is unacceptable in a free society such as ours. We believe you can say what you want. And it is your right to offend or be offended.” National Post

More recent grads turning to career coaching services

Recent graduates are increasingly turning to career-coaching services to help them achieve their professional goals. This represents a new demographic for coaching services, which are typically used by older professionals to help them get ahead. Younger professionals, however, are turning to coaches to help them get a foothold in their career, to get out of dead-end jobs, and to prepare for internship and job interviews. Career coaches also help young grads develop their résumés and learn how to network effectively. “People realize they don’t want a career in what they studied, or [their] parents are pushing them in a certain direction—or they do know what they want but it’s almost like they’re afraid to want it,” said Toronto-based coach Sarah Vermunt. Jennifer Bouley, another career coach, says that 50 or 60% of her clients are in their 20s or early 30s. “They have these skills and amazing accomplishments but they don’t think they can use them,” Bouley said. Toronto Star

PSE institutions must lead sea change against giving students grades

Grades are an outmoded 19th-century invention and should be replaced, writes Elyse Watkins, a master’s student in international education policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Watkins says that the continued reliance on grades as a kind of educational currency “has stifled creativity and reinforced a negative climate for learning which underlies academic dishonesty, competition, and anxiety.” Moreover, the grading system can limit the opportunities of students who did not earn good grades due to mitigating circumstances or different learning needs. Watkins says that the value of grades should first be re-evaluated and that educators should shift their emphasis toward alternative forms of assessment, such as written feedback, one-on-one interactions, and peer collaboration. She adds that colleges and universities must play a leadership role in this shift, and rely less on grades as an entry requirement for PSE. Globe and Mail

Personality traits found to be superior indicators of academic performance

A new study from Australian researchers has found that personality may be a better indicator of academic success than forms of intelligence that are typically measured by standardized testing. The researchers looked at personality traits such as extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience and found that students' self-assessments in these areas proved to be as much as 4 times as accurate at predicting academic performance than other measures of intelligence. Openness to experience and conscientiousness were found to have the strongest link to academic success. “In practical terms, the amount of effort students are prepared to put in, and where that effort is focused, is at least as important as whether the students are smart,” said Arthur Poropat, the study’s lead author. Huffington Post

Report finds differences in how male and female students participate in online class discussions

A new study released by Piazza Technologies, a discussion-platform software provider, indicates that there are significant differences in the way women and men participate in online class discussions. The study found that in STEM courses, female students ask questions more often than their male counterparts, but are less likely to answer. Women were also found to be more likely to answer questions on the platform anonymously. The study is based on the participation of more than 420,000 students in undergraduate and graduate STEM classes in the US and Canada. The authors of the report suggest that their findings point to a confidence gap between the genders in STEM courses. “We know that students answer questions more when they feel more confident. We know that they use the anonymity setting when they feel less confident,” said Jessica Gilmartin, Chief Business Officer for Piazza. The researchers added that the gap varied across different disciplines, and was found to be smaller in humanities courses and reversed in social science and business courses. The Chronicle of Higher Education | Full Study