Top Ten

January 23, 2015

UBC renames Faculty of Law in recognition of $30 M donation

UBC’s Faculty of Law has received a gift of $30 M from Peter A Allard, reportedly the largest gift ever made to a Canadian law school. The Faculty of Law will be renamed the Peter A Allard School of Law in recognition of the donation. UBC says that the gift “will bring unprecedented benefits to students and faculty.” It will be used to support faculty recruitment and retention; student initiatives, including entrance awards, summer employment opportunities, and enhanced admissions practices; and experiential learning programs and clinical opportunities. UBC will also allocate some of the funding to create the Allard Prize for International Integrity, which will help the law school promote human rights and anti-corruption efforts around the world. “As a proud UBC alumnus, I am pleased to make an investment today that will enable students to pursue a profession that strives to create a more just society,” said Allard. Allard’s donation marks the largest single contribution to UBC’s “Start an Evolution” fundraising campaign; it has also prompted the School of Law to launch a new, $10 M fundraising campaign to encourage others to follow Allard’s example. UBC News Release

RRC asks police to investigate installation of surplus marble in former president’s home

In the wake of the Manitoba government’s review of financial and human resources practices at Red River College, the institution’s board of governors has announced that it has asked the Winnipeg Police to investigate allegations that former President Stephanie Forsyth assumed possession of surplus marble that had been marked for disposal following a campus building project. In October, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation reported that Forsyth had installed the marble in her renovated kitchen. Lloyd Schreyer, Chair of the RRC board, said in a statement that “the board looked into this to the best of its ability but determined we do not possess the necessary legal tools to adequately conclude the review.” The provincial report did not address the marble directly, but noted that RRC was reviewing the allegations. Winnipeg Free Press

More than half of candidates failed QC's English-language nursing exam

The majority of candidates who sat the English version of the Quebec Order of Nurses’ licensing exam failed the test this year. Just 47.3% of candidates who wrote the English version of the test passed, compared to 78.7% of candidates who wrote the test in French. Some nursing students and educators have said that poor translations are to blame. Fiona Hamley, Nursing Program Coordinator at Dawson College, said, “there were problems with the way terminology was used which are not the same terminology used in the English education, and there were problems with syntax and grammar that could have caused students to take more time.” Order President Lucie Tremblay denied the claim, stating that “they should have been able to answer those questions.” Nevertheless, Tremblay said that the organization is treating the issue “very seriously.” The Order has found that over the last 5 years, the performance gap between students writing the English version and the French version of the exam has been growing steadily. Tremblay said that other factors, not the translation, may be at play: she noted that fewer nursing students at English institutions have participated in exam preparation workshops, which have not previously been offered in English. Moreover, fewer nursing students at English schools participate in paid apprenticeships. Montreal Gazette | CBC News

PSE institutions evaluating policies on intramural team names

A number of universities are considering implementing policies concerning the names of intramural sports teams. This movement comes not long after the University of Calgary created a student advisory committee in response to complaints that some team names were sexist or promoted violence against women. The University of New Brunswick, Mount Royal University, and the University of Saskatchewan are among those that are looking into the issue. Cary Primeau, Recreation Coordinator at uSask, says he hasn’t received any specific complaints, but he is thinking about the issue. He said he anticipates it will be a topic of conversation at the upcoming Western Canadian Campus Recreation Conference. Chris Dawe, Director of Recreation at MRU, said that his department has made changes to their policy manual to discourage potentially offensive names. “We did shore up some of the language in the team handbook so our participants are a little more clear on how we could make decisions around team names,” he said. National Post

Canada’s national data systems for PSE “embarrassingly inadequate”

In a post for Academica’s Rethinking Higher Ed Forum, Glen A Jones, Ontario Research Chair in PSE Policy and Measurement, calls for a strategic reinvestment in Canada’s national data systems for higher education. Jones says that Canada knows less about its PSE system than almost any other developed nation, and describes our current national data systems for higher education as “embarrassingly inadequate.” He argues that funding cuts at Statistics Canada have hit PSE policy research particularly hard, and says that the elimination of the long-form census has had a significant negative impact on researchers' and policymakers' ability to understand educational attainment by region or community or to truly understand the nature of any skills gap. He also notes that we lack data for entire sectors of the education system, such as the growing private education sector. Canada, he says, must “develop, fund, and implement a new national data strategy for the sector that will provide a more solid foundation for the development of evidence-based policy and informed public discussion.” Rethinking Higher Ed

CD Howe study finds Pathways to Education has significant effect on high school, PSE success

A new study from the CD Howe Institute has found that the Pathways to Educationsupport program for disadvantaged students “had a significant effect on high-school graduation and postsecondary enrolment.” The report specifically examines the success of the program at sites in Toronto, finding that at the Regent Park public housing site, the Pathways program led to an increase of 15% in high school graduation rates and of 19% in postsecondary enrolment rates. While the rates of improvement at 2 other Toronto sites were not quite as high, the authors of the study said that they were nevertheless significant. The Pathways program offers tutoring, mentoring, counselling, transition assistance, and incentives for students to excel; since its inception at Regent Park in 2001/2002, it has expanded to 11 other communities. “The Pathways program is an impressive array of supports provided to disadvantaged youth over their entire time in high school … The expected financial gains alone from being eligible for the program likely offset direct costs. Taking into account other benefits from higher education … makes the program look all the more promising,” said study author Philip Oreopoulos. CD Howe News Release | Full Report

New Education Abroad Lexicon released by CBIE

The Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) has launched Canada’s Education Abroad Lexicon. The resource is available online and consists of terms and definitions useful to those involved in international education. The lexicon was developed in consultation with educational institutions in Canada, through the use of a survey asking for agreement on certain definitions. New terms will be added to the resource in the future, as the CBIE hopes to create “Canada’s comprehensive and authoritative vocabulary for education abroad.” The terms currently included are meant to help institutions and governments develop new programs and track Canadian participation in education abroad. CBIE News Release | CBIE Lexicon

NBSA releases pre-budget submission calling for more experiential learning

The New Brunswick Student Alliance has issued a pre-budget submission to the provincial finance minister that calls for more support for graduates transitioning to the labour force through increased experiential learning opportunities. The NBSA is also asking the provincial government to remove the income assessment from loan applications, in order to prevent penalizing those students who must work while studying; dedicate funding to make campuses more accessible; invest in international student healthcare; direct mental health resources to PSE campuses; and adequately fund NB’s PSE institutions. “If we want New Brunswick to benefit from the education post-secondary students are receiving, we need to support them during their studies and do all we can to give them the opportunity to stay and work in the province after graduation,” said Greg Bailey, NBSA Board Chair. NBSA News Release | NBSA Submission

Study finds heavy Facebook use can negatively affect grades for freshman, but not seniors

According to a new report, Facebook may not present a long-term correlation with lowered GPAs among college students. The US-based report found that students who spent a lot of time on Facebook while working on assignments tended to get lower grades; however, this was only true for freshman, sophomores, and juniors. In general, seniors spent less time on Facebook, and the study suggests that time spent on Facebook by seniors did not correlate with lower grades. The report’s author also noted that for younger students, the adaptation to a new social environment is almost as important as the transition to a new academic environment, and could explain the higher rate of Facebook use among younger students. The author hopes the study will help PSE educators in their dealings with students and social media, as outright banning of Facebook may “alienate students and not allow for the leveraging of the important social affordances of Facebook in support of the first-year transition process.” The Chronicle of Higher Education

Twitter users discuss how to ruin a date with an academic

A new Twitter meme shares phrases under the hashtag #RuinADateWithAnAcademicInFiveWords, poking fun at the challenges that some scholars face interacting with non-academics and each other in the dating world. The tweets suggest that, by and large, academics do not enjoy Fox News or The History Channel, but feel passionate about Oxford commas. Competition between researchers and questions about the value of scholars’ work seem particularly touchy, as does peer review; one popular tweet says, “I was your reviewer B.” In response, some other Twitter users began posting under the hashtag #AceADateWithAnAcademicInFiveWords. There seems to be some debate over whether or not academics like talking about their research on a date; the phrase “let’s not talk about research” was shared under both hashtags. The Chronicle of Higher Education