Top Ten

January 15, 2015

uOttawa hockey players to sue over suspension

22 members of the University of Ottawa’s men’s hockey team will launch a class action lawsuit against the institution over their suspension in the wake of sexual assault allegations made against some players. The court filing, which names the university as well as uOttawa President Allan Rock, indicates that the players are seeking $6 M in damages; the suit claims that the players who were not charged “have had their reputations tarnished and their future careers damaged” by the suspension. The court filing also says that the lead plaintiff, Andrew Creppin, faced “tension between [him] and his family” and “was harassed when wearing his team jacket.” It notes that after  2 players were charged, “the rest of the team suffered and continue to suffer the stigma of the scandal … Some players were so filled with anxiety they could not longer attend class and their marks suffered. Others were harassed … Some team members lost their summer jobs.” uOttawa says that it will review any documents pertaining to a legal action once they have been served. Ottawa Citizen | National Post | Toronto Star Globe and Mail

Postscript: January 19, 2015

The University of Ottawa has announced that it will extend the suspension of its men’s varsity hockey team through the 2015–16 season. In a news release, uOttawa said that it plans to take the time to “implement measures that will be key to re-launching the men’s hockey program.” President Allan Rock said, “we feel it is essential to wait for the Task Force on Respect and Equality to submit its report, which is expected shortly. We are also looking to hire a new men’s hockey coach. Given these circumstances, we feel that this is the best decision.” The uOttawa release also notes it is well behind its competitors in terms of recruiting and selecting players. uOttawa’s announcement comes not long after a $6 M class-action lawsuit against the institution was filed by 22 members of the team over their suspension. uOttawa News Release | National Post | Toronto Star

New uRegina strategic plan emphasizes Indigenization

The University of Regina announced its new 5-year strategic plan on Tuesday. The plan is entitled peyak aski kikawinaw­i—Cree for “we are one with Mother Earth”—and highlights Indigenization and sustainability as uRegina’s 2 areas of emphasis; student success, research impact, and commitment to communities are also identified as key areas of priority. The university will examine any new programs, buildings, and services through a First Nations lens. uRegina President Vianne Timmons said that implementing the plan will “be a challenge” and will require the “realignment” of institutional resources; however, she added that she hopes “attrition” will enable the institution to “minimize layoffs as much as possible.” The plan names a number of specific goals, including increased student completion rates, more Indigenous learning, courses in each program that address Indigenous concepts, integration of the liberal arts across disciplines, more tenured and tenure-track faculty, and a reduction in deferred maintenance. uRegina News Release | Leader-Post

WLU faculty voice opposition to proposed program cuts

Wilfrid Laurier University’s new Integrated Planning and Resource Management (IPRM) process is facing opposition from faculty, who have taken the fight to the media. Robert Kristofferson, President of the WLU Faculty Association, told the Waterloo Record that the plan has the support of a minority of faculty. “We advised [the board of governors] that the faculty councils representing a majority of faculty were against the process. And we urged them to return the academic decision making to the university senate, which is its rightful place,” said Kristofferson. “At the beginning, it was stated this was just a good idea for universities to prioritize programs. As time unfolded and the administration of the university started to say there was a budget crisis, it became much more attached to that.” Kristofferson described the process as “destructive to morale.” Mary-Louise Byrne, a faculty member who co-chaired the consultations that produced the report, said that WLU is entering a period of austerity budgeting and that decisions must be made about what programs will be supported. She added that no decisions have been made, and that none will be made until after the board of governors endorses the recommendations. OCUFA Blog | Waterloo Record

Postscript: December 18, 2015

Wilfird Laurier University Senate has passed a series of motions endorsing the recommendations made in the institution’s controversial Integrated Planning and Resource Management report. The Senate voted to support the recommendations made by the Resource Management Team, the Administrative Priorities Team, the Academic Priorities Team, and the Planning Task Force. The WLU board of governors will hold a special meeting to discuss the IPRM report on February 2. “Making choices is essential. But boy is it hard,” said WLU President Max Blouw.  WLU News Release

uSask board approves tuition increase

The board of governors at the University of Saskatchewan has approved a tuition increase that will see rates increase by an average of 2.4% for the 2015–16 academic year. Most undergraduate students will see an increase ranging between 0 and 3%, while graduate students will see their tuition rise by 2%. Students enrolled in uSask’s College of Arts and Science will pay $5,790 in tuition for 2015–16, a figure that is projected to be 11% below the median rate of comparable programs in Canada. Interim Provost Ernie Barber noted that this announcement comes a bit earlier than usual in order to “provide students with more time to plan for the financial resources they need for the upcoming year and to access the supports they may need to help fund their education.” He added that financial aid remains a priority for the institution, and that uSask will invest a third of every dollar collected through tuition and fees in undergraduate and graduate scholarships, bursaries, and prizes. uSask News Release

Colleges Ontario calls for stand-alone nursing programs at colleges

A new report from Colleges Ontario entitled Opening Doors to Nursing Degrees: Time for Action calls on the province to allow colleges to offer stand-alone nursing degree programs, rather than forcing them to offer such programs jointly with universities. “This would be an important step to improve health-care education in the province. Allowing students to attain a nursing degree at one postsecondary institution will be more efficient and provide more options, particularly if students live in a community that doesn’t have a local university,” said Colleges Ontario President Linda Franklin. Provincial requirements on nursing education used to allow students to attain their credentials at colleges, but changes made in 2000 stipulated that new nurses must have baccalaureate degrees. In a news release, Colleges Ontario says that changes in the postsecondary landscape that enable colleges to grant 4-year degrees mean that many colleges are ready to offer stand-alone nursing programs. The release further notes that in many joint programs, colleges are already providing as much as or more than 90% of the curriculum. Colleges Ontario News Release

MUN revises core requirements for BA degrees

Memorial University has announced changes to the core requirements for its bachelor of arts degree. The revisions, which were approved by the university senate on Tuesday, include replacing the humanities and social sciences requirements with a breadth of knowledge requirement, replacing the research and writing requirement with a focused critical reading and writing requirement, introducing a quantitative reasoning requirement, and adjusting the second language requirement to become a language study requirement. Students currently enrolled in the Faculty of Arts will have the option of continuing under the old requirements or following the new ones; all students who enrol in 2015 will follow the new requirements. MUN News Release

Ontario apprenticeship registrations rising, but completion rates remain a concern

A new report published by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) says that while the province's apprenticeship registration rates have grown nearly every year since 2000, completion rates have not kept up. In Apprenticeship in Ontario: An Exploratory Analysis, HEQCO estimates that fewer than half of Ontario’s registered apprentices complete their requirements within 2 years of their expected completion date. However, the report does note that Ontario had a completion rate of 46.8% in 2012, possibly the sign of an upward trend. Previously, the completion rate had fluctuated between 30% and 39%. Apprenticeship programs for boilermakers, steamfitters/pipefitters/sprinkler system installers, early childhood assistants, industrial electricians, and petroleum/gas/chemical process operators all had completion rates of greater than 80%, while those for bakers, floor covering installers, concrete finishers, aircraft mechanics/aircraft inspectors, and roofers/shinglers had completion rates below 10%. Ontario was also found to have the highest female apprenticeship participation rate in Canada, though female apprentices tend to cluster in a small number of occupations. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

WLU President says universities must learn from Dalhousie scandal

Wilfrid Laurier President Max Blouw says that the Dalhousie University dentistry scandal presents a learning opportunity. “I believe that controversy, real challenging issues like this, are helpful in the long run to society because it shines a spotlight on human behaviours, very, very objectionable human behaviours,” he told the Waterloo Record. According to Blouw, the case of the 13 male dentistry students who participated in a misogynistic Facebook group prompts us to think about how to “alter human behaviours through education.” “If a person makes a mistake, do you condemn them or do you help them learn from it or do you do a bit of both? You know, punishment, but at the same time a learning opportunity.” Blouw is working with his counterparts at 19 other publicly funded universities in Ontario to develop a plan to tackle sexual violence on campus. Waterloo Record

Should Canada have a national PSE research organization?

University Affairs editor and blogger Léo Charbonneau says that Canada would benefit from having a national organization similar to the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO). Charbonneau notes that Statistics Canada and organizations like the University of Ottawa’s Education Policy Research Initiative and the Conference Board of Canada, do conduct high-quality higher education research. However, he argues that “all of these together just don’t quite add up to a whole.” In contrast, Charbonneau says, HEQCO has carried out a robust research agenda that has brought together the work of a number of different authors. Such a program, he says, would be highly useful to help fill a national knowledge gap around PSE in Canada. University Affairs

Educause identifies top campus IT trends to watch for 2015

Campus IT is at an “inflection point,” according to a new report from Educause, a US-based non-profit organization made of up of IT leaders working in PSE. The Educause report says disruptive technologies that so far have been picked up by early adopters will begin to reach the mainstream in the coming year, but that some institutions may need third party help to keep up with the pace of change. Educause lists what it identifies as the top 10 IT issues of 2015, including challenges around hiring, retaining, and updating the knowledge and skills of technology staff; developing IT funding models that sustain core services while facilitating innovation and growth; increasing IT’s capacity for managing change; providing user support in the “new normal” IT environment, which includes mobile devices, online education, cloud-based services, and bring-your-own-device (BYOD); and developing an IT infrastructure capable of responding to change and new opportunities. Educause | Inside Higher Ed