Top Ten

January 16, 2015

COU opposes recommendation to allow colleges to grant nursing degrees

The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) has issued a statement in opposition to Colleges Ontario’s request to allow the province’s colleges to grant nursing degrees. COU says that the province has heavily invested in collaborative programs, and that a switch away from such a system would introduce a significant financial burden to the province. Moreover, COU argues that accrediting more programs and increasing enrolment would make it difficult to find enough clinical placements. COU President Bonnie M Patterson noted, “some time ago, the province agreed that patient care had become so complex that nurses needed research, theory, critical thinking, and practise in order to be prepared. As a result, the government made a policy decision to move to collaborations between universities and colleges. This collaboration continues to bring benefits to thousands of students, postsecondary institutions, and Ontario’s health care system.” COU News Release

uWinnipeg ethics board rejects stem cell project following questions about private partner’s credentials

The University of Winnipeg is backing out of a joint project it had proposed with Regenetek Research, a firm that sells stem-cell treatment to persons with multiple sclerosis. The decision, made by uWinnipeg’s ethics committee, comes in the wake of an investigation by the Winnipeg Free Press that called into question the credentials and research of Regenetek owner Doug Broeska. The Free Press reported that Broeska did not receive a PhD from the University of Manitoba as he had claimed; nor did he have one from Brightland University, which the paper says does not exist. Moreover, the Free Press said that Broeska’s claims that his clinical trial had been approved by “several” institutional ethics review boards was also false. “The ethics review had some questions—about the project, the protocol, and about Regenetek—and they were waiting for followup. At a certain point, the right questions were asked,” said Jino Distasio, uWinnipeg’s AVP Research and Innovation. Winnipeg Free Press

Students protest return of anti-gay demonstrator to uRegina campus

Students at the University of Regina on Monday protested the return to campus of Bill Whatcott, an anti-gay, anti-abortion activist. Whatcott was recently found not guilty on a mischief charge related to an on-campus incident in April. uRegina said that it opposed Whatcott’s views but was compelled by the not-guilty verdict to allow him to demonstrate on campus. “Although I respect the decision of the court, I still believe the material [Whatcott and fellow activist Peter LaBarbera] distributed to be discriminatory, in breach of our policy, and detrimental to the promotion of successful debate,” said uRegina President Vianne Timmons. “Far from promoting healthy and reasoned debate, his propaganda, which I find offensive, perverts it.” Whatcott said that Timmons is “entitled to her views, but as a public servant of a public university, she’s not entitled to keep views off this campus.” Students greeted Whatcott’s return with a civil demonstration, including signs with pro-LGBT messages. StarPhoenix

UBC program offers path for internationally trained midwives to work in BC

A new program at UBC will pave the way for internationally trained midwives to be granted licenses to work in British Columbia. The program, which will complement UBC’s existing 4-year midwifery undergraduate degree program, will launch as a pilot with 4 students this spring, with plans to accept 8 first-year students by January 2016. The program will be tailored for each student in order to recognize individuals’ diverse experience and training. After completing the program, students will be eligible to sit the Canadian Midwifery Registration Examination to apply for licensure from the College of Midwives of BC. BC will provide $680,000 in support of the program. “This program, combined with the doubling of enrolment in our 4-year bachelor’s program, will help UBC fill the province’s growing need for qualified midwives by providing an additional pathway to licensure,” said Michelle Butler, Director of UBC’s midwifery program. She also noted that the program will help diversify the profession to reflect BC’s immigrant and second-generation communities. BC News Release | UBC News Release

Valuables, charitable donation stolen from uToronto Engineering Society

Police are investigating after thieves broke into the University of Toronto Engineering Society’s Blue & Gold committee room, making off with valuables and an $800 donation for the Daily Bread Food Bank. The Engineering Society says that the thieves used shovels, hammers, and bolt cutters to gain access to the room. Most of the items taken were of “personal, sentimental, or community heritage value,” including hardhats, coveralls, trophies, and a homecoming banner. The nature of these items, often used in special events, leads the Engineering Society to suspect that a rival school or college may have been behind the theft. “It’s extremely unfortunate that they’ve taken our friendly rivalry so seriously,” said Engineering Society President Teresa Nguyen. Globe and Mail

MacEwan receives $1.5 M gift for hockey scholarships

MacEwan University has received a donation of $1.5 M from Bill Comrie, founder of furniture retailer The Brick. The gift will be used to establish $5,000 scholarships for members of the university’s men’s and women’s hockey teams. “Financial support is important to our athletes who give so much to our university, often forgoing part-time work to play on our teams. Not only will these scholarships help current players, they will help attract talented and competitive players in the future,” said MacEwan President David Atkinson. MacEwan has announced that it will name a new training facility in its Christensen Centre for Sport and Wellness after Comrie in recognition of the gift. MacEwan News Release | Edmonton Journal

CAUT says federal granting priorities cause researchers to shy away from controversial topics

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) says that federal granting priorities are causing researchers to shy away from topics including immigration and assisted suicide. According to CAUT data, overall tri-council funding has dropped by approximately 6% over the past 8 years, with funding for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council dropping by 10.5%. Since the government implemented its Mobilizing Science and Technology policy for guiding research priorities in 2007, targeted grants for natural-science research that require matching funds from industry or other partners or that are allocated for specific areas such as energy or advanced manufacturing have gone up by a third; funding for basic research, however, has decreased by nearly 10%. “Universities are being transmogrified by the retreat of government,” said Arthur Schafer, head of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba. “They want research that’s going to be marketable, they want research that’s going to, very directly, translate into products—that means corporate. We don’t serve the community, we serve the corporate sponsor.” Globe and Mail

Recruitment professionals go digital with new marketing campaigns

An article in University Affairs recounts how PSE institutions are turning to digital tools to complement their traditional student recruitment campaigns. Digital campaigns offer a number of benefits to recruitment professionals, particularly around measurement. “People want to know, ‘is it effective?’ With traditional media, we don’t know. I think we’re being forced to move to tactics that we can measure and gauge,” said Catherine Riggins, Director of Branding, Marketing, and Recruitment at Royal Roads University. Riggins recently launched a campaign for Royal Roads that used Google Glass and GoPro video cameras to give prospective students a glimpse of what life is like at the institution. Digital campaigns can also help institutions better reach prospective international students. However, digital marketing can present some challenges. Recruiters “haven’t been able to let go of the old media and have been trying to do more and more things with the same budget,” said Ken Steele, co-founder of Academica Group. University Affairs

PSE institutions face significant enrolment challenges in 2015

American PSE intitutions are facing a “perfect storm” of enrolment challenges in 2015, says an article in University Business magazine. According to the article, some of the demographic challenges that were already moving to top of mind in 2014 will only become more pronounced, and the ongoing debate over the value and purpose of PSE is sure to continue. Institutions will be in a bind: to improve enrolment, they will be forced to decide between taking on students that they normally wouldn’t accept and dropping tuition prices, both of which could have a negative effect. To help alleviate these problems, some institutions are reallocating their resources from enrolment to retention and focusing more on students in the middle years of their degrees. In the US, some schools are examining the impact of discounting tuition and thinking about how to change prospective students’ attitudes toward the sticker price of their education. Marketing will also need to play a key role, with institutions emphasizing high graduation rates and alumni success stories. Tighter integration and increased collaboration across administrative portfolios will also be needed to help ensure enrolment and retention success. University Business

More Scottish universities exploring 3-year degrees

Universities in Scotland are increasingly beginning to offer 3-year, accelerated degrees. Most recently, the University of the Highlands and Islands began to offer a 3-year bachelor of science degree intended to help students “embark on their chosen career more quickly and save money in the process.” The University of Dundee, Abertay University, and Queen Margaret University have all also launched 3-year programs with similar promises. Lindsay Paterson, a professor of education policy at the University of Edinburgh, said that the new programs are emerging in response to questions about the affordability and efficiency of 4-year degrees. Many Scottish institutions were already charging students from elsewhere in the United Kingdom for only 3 years of study. Paterson says that “there is a degree of unsustainability about that 4-year program. That can’t go on forever, having to subsidize that from other sources.” While some noted that a 3-year program can increase flexibility for students, there are concerns that such an approach will sacrifice quality in the pursuit of enrolment numbers. Inside Higher Ed