Top Ten

January 14, 2015

Alberta opposition critic calls for review of PSE exec salaries

Alberta’s advanced education critic has called for a review of executive salaries at the province’s PSE institutions. “When looking at salaries there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to what Alberta university presidents are making. This government needs to look at whether they’re compensating people in a reasonable fashion with an eye to protecting the public purse,” said Kent Hehr. Hehr’s comments come in response to the annual reports submitted to the province on December 31 by its public PSE institutions. A spokesperson for Don Scott, Alberta’s Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education, said that the government has no plans to review salaries. “The institutions are independent, they’re board-governed, and they can look after their business,” he said. According to the annual reports, Alberta’s 4 academic and research universities paid out close to $12.5 M in compensation to their presidents and vice-presidents. Calgary Herald

Documents reveal scrutiny faced by uOttawa after hockey sexual assault scandal

Documents obtained by the Globe and Mail reveal the depth of scrutiny faced by the University of Ottawa in the wake of its suspension of its entire men’s hockey team following an alleged sexual assault committed by some of its players. The Globe reports that uOttawa received more than 150 emails expressing a variety of opinions on the decision; moreover, in August, university Chancellor and former Canadian governor-general Michaëlle Jean wrote to uOttawa President Allan Rock expressing her concerns about “perceived guilt by association,” which she described as “a large burden for a young person to experience.” Jean wrote that “there is a great need for counselling to help the Gee Gees regroup and move on as a team. They need some tools to overcome this traumatic experience and also understand that the impact is mainly on the young woman who’s been assaulted.” Jean recommended that Rock make available counselling on an individual and collective basis, and that the university provide leadership for broader learning and growth in the wake of what happened. Globe and Mail

Students from France to pay out-of-province Canadian tuition rate in Quebec

La Presse reports the details of an agreement in principle between Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and French President François Hollande that will modify the current special status afforded to French students studying in the province. Since 1978, French students have paid the same tuition fees as Quebec residents rather than the significantly higher fees charged to international students. Under the new agreement, French students will pay the same amount as out-of-province Canadian students studying in the province. The approximately 8,000 French students studying in Quebec will continue to pay under the terms of the previous agreement. The revised agreement is intended to help address a budget crunch in Quebec. La Presse | McGill Daily

Conference Board grades provinces on PhD education

The Conference Board of Canada has published provincial rankings of PhD education in Canada, casting a critical eye on the country’s PhD graduation rates. Quebec is the only province to receive a grade of C for its PhD graduates; the other 9 provinces received no better than a D grade, with 5 receiving a D-.The report also points out that a high number of PhD graduates leave Canada after completing their studies. The Conference Board says that the fact that graduation rates are poor across the country suggests a structural problem and speculates that Canada’s private sector does not provide enough incentive for students to pursue advanced education, noting that Canadian firms hire fewer PhD graduates than their US counterparts. The report also suggests that while Canada’s completion rate for high school, college, and university students is strong, the country’s education system does not do enough for participants at higher levels of study and so is not effectively attracting students to advanced research programs. Conference Board

Concordia’s John Molson School of Business receives donation of $1.6 M in software

Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business has received a donation of $1.6 M in software from data analytics and trading technology provider CQG. CQG will provide 24 licenses for its CQG Integrated Client software, which consists of tools for charting and analyzing the derivatives market. The software will enable 150 students annually to learn about trading strategies based on real-time and historical financial information and analytical tools. “We are grateful for CQG’s investment in the John Molson School of Business. This gift will allow our finance students to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-market situations, giving them an edge as they transition from their studies to the business world,” said Concordia President Alan Shepard. Concordia News Release

College Student Alliance launches student financial planning website

The College Student Alliance (CSA) has launched a new website intended to help students find and capitalize on financial assistance opportunities from a variety of sources. “Our new website offers college students a one-stop shop for financial assistance opportunities in Ontario. There are many websites that offer funding information but this website integrates different sources so that students are able to use one site to find and apply for funding with ease,” said CSA President Matt Stewart. Students will be able to search for funding sources specific to their needs, and will also be able to use a a budget calculator to help them plan and make savvy financial decisions. CSA News Release

Agencies help researchers defraud journal peer-review process

Some unscrupulous scholars have found a new way to make sure their work makes it to publication: they act as their own peer reviewers. These researchers create false identities and email addresses that are slight modifications of renowned experts in their field, and then recommend the fictitious person as the most qualified reviewer rather than risk sending the work to the real scholar. Because peer review is anonymous, the real person is unlikely to be aware that their reputation has been abused in this way. Such scams remain uncommon, but are prevalent enough that the Committee on Publication Ethics has issued a warning that it “has become aware of systematic, inappropriate attempts to manipulate the peer review processes of several journals across different publishers. These manipulations appear to have been orchestrated by a number of third-party agencies offering services to authors.” The blog Retraction Watchsays that it has found more than 100 papers that have been withdrawn due to this kind of fraudulent peer review. Ottawa Citizen

Lambton launches redesigned website

Lambton College has launched a revamped website that will make it easier for students and prospective students to access information about the institution online. The new site was designed by employees from the college’s marketing and IT departments. It features a responsive design that will accommodate the growing number of users accessing the site from their mobile devices. “We are very proud of this new website and the months of hard work that went into creating the new design and functionality. Our team worked incredibly hard to ensure this new website will provide prospective students with an enhanced user experience and easier access to information about Lambton College programs and services,” said Cindy Buchanan, Senior Director of Marketing, Communications & Business Development at Lambton. Additional features are expected to be added to the website over the coming months. Lambton News Release

Colgate University engages alumni with targeted online "fusion" courses

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on how Colgate University in New York State is using free online courses to improve engagement with its alumni. The institution offers special courses that are available only to alumni or others who have made a special request. The courses are “add-ons” to in-person courses offered to Colgate students and allow Colgate to test out online offerings on a relatively safe audience. The alumni are able to interact with current students through online discussion forums, Twitter re-enactments, and videoconference calls. Professor Karen Harpp, who teaches “The Advent of the Atomic Bomb,” says that the alumni provide “a wide perspective from different ages and from different disciplines” that can help current students get a stronger grip on the course material. The courses are offered free to alumni, but Colgate accepts donations, offering what may be a new, indirect approach to fundraising, while promoting lifelong learning. The Chronicle of Higher Education

Significant restructuring needed to prepare UK students for new labour market realities

In an op-ed for The Guardian, UK policy consultant Sonia Sodha calls for substantial restructuring to higher education in order to better equip students for work. Sodha claims that while universities in the UK have pursued substantial growth, they have not adapted to the changing labour market. “Graduates are now responsible for forging their own careers in a fluid market compared with the jobs for life that were the norm a few decades ago and employers are demanding a completely different set of skills,” she writes. She says that universities in the UK should be subject to more scrutiny and regulation, and that prestigious institutions such as Oxford must embrace technology. Moreover, she says that first-year curricula should be standardized to enable young people to study locally for the early portion of their degree before moving on to a specialist institution. She also suggests that professional degrees could be co-delivered and funded by universities and employers, and considers intensive 2-year courses that combine university with other ways of adjusting to adulthood. The Guardian (UK)