Top Ten

February 5, 2015

Students may have a tougher time getting into uCalgary, uAlberta next year

PSE students hoping to study at the University of Calgary may find things a bit more competitive in the coming years. Provincial projections suggest that demand will be up; however, uCalgary may not have enough seats to accommodate all the students who want to attend. Metro News reports that based on the provincial figures, uCalgary could fall as many as 4,600 seats short by the 2022–23 school year. "The bottom line is we know there's enrolment challenges for all of Calgary, put particularly at the University of Calgary," said Provost Dru Marshall. The high demand could drive up the school's entrance grade average, which is already hovering near 85%. A spokesperson for AB's Advanced Education Minister said that the province takes a holistic approach to enrolment, noting that other institutions in Calgary should have enough spaces to accommodate peak demand. Meanwhile, the University of Alberta is planning to scale back admissions in some departments as a correction to years of over-enrolment. Programs including nursing, engineering, and some sciences are expected to be affected. Metro News (uCalgary) | Metro News (uAlberta) 

Advocates say ON law schools do not provide enough training on domestic violence

The Toronto Star reports that only 2 Ontario law schools have incorporated domestic violence instruction into their first-year ethics or professional resonsibility courses, in spite of recommendations from the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee. In 2011, the Committee found that many victims of domestic violence had been given poor, and sometimes fatal, legal advice, prompting the Law Commission of Ontario to create teaching modules on domestic violence for first-year ethics and professional responsibility courses. However, Patricia Hughes, Executive Director of the Law Commission, told the Star that "to my knowledge, no one actually took up the suggestions we made." Hughes says that inadequate training can lead lawyers to offer "extreme mis-advice" to victims, potentially putting lives in danger. Moreover, without training, some lawyers may not catch warning signs of domestic violence. According to the Star, only Western University's and Lakehead University's law schools have incorporated the mandatory training. 4 other institutions said that the material is covered in some criminal or family courses. Hughes acknowledged that making changes to the curriculum can be difficult, but said that "this should be part of that basic stuff." Toronto Star

USSU President FineDay calls for increased access for underrepresented groups

Canadian universities must work harder to increase access for traditionally underrepresented groups such as Aboriginal peoples, refugees, youth-in-care, and those with low socioeconomic status, says Max FineDay, President of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union, in a recent post to Academica’s Rethinking Higher Ed Forum. FineDay points out that many institutional mission statements suggest goals of enriching the public good or serving the local community; however, he argues that many universities fall short of this goal. Noting the benefits of programs such as those offering tuition credits to former youth-in-care, FineDay states, “We don’t need more reports, recommendations, investigations, or focus groups. We need action. This should be prioritized by all universities in partnership with the diverse communities affected.” He says that universities need to create, and implement, action plans with timelines, and that governments need to support these plans financially. “This will take time and perseverance. We may not get it right on the first try—but that shouldn’t stop us from trying. The benefits are too important,” concludes FineDay. Rethinking Higher Ed

CBU launches project to increase immigration to area

Cape Breton University has launched the Rural-Urban Immigration Pilot for Cape Breton Island, an initiative designed to increase immigration to the island. The project involves the creation of a task force consisting of members of various PSE institutions, municipal organizations, and private industry that will assess current needs and issues around immigration to Cape Breton. In addition, current international students in the area will be surveyed for their perspectives, and community-based research projects will help determine best practices and next steps. The initiative will conclude in the spring with a comprehensive report and strategic plan. “We have an opportunity to learn from international students studying in the area, to understand their challenges, identify opportunities, and eventually make changes that will make Cape Breton a desirable location to reside. This report will help the Island in many ways and will also be of interest to other rural and urban areas in the Province,” said Keith Brown, VP International and Aboriginal Affairs. CBU News | Cape Breton Post

MUN, WesternU share economic impact reports

Economist Wade Locke has found that Memorial University accounts for more than $1 B in economic activity each year. Locke, a faculty member at MUN, says that this translates to roughly 11,200 full-time jobs, good for 5.6% of Newfoundland and Labrador's employment. Locke adds that the university also generates $250 M in revenue for the provincial government. "If it wasn't for the fact that we have a university here you wouldn't see the same level of prosperity and vice versa," Locke said. Western University also recently completed a similar analysis, and found that its total annual economic impact is $11.3 B, with $3.6 B of that being realized in London. 15,480 jobs in Canada are connected to WesternU, including 10,840 in London. Moreover, the report says that WesternU alumni were found to have improved their earnings by a total of nearly $5 B as a result of their education at the institution. "Western is deeply embedded into London's social and economic fabric. As we grow and play a larger role on the international stage, we are confident that our position as a key contributor to the economy will continue to strengthen," said WesternU President Amit Chakma. CBC |WesternU News | WesternU Report

StudentsNS publishes case studies on PSE student finance

StudentsNS has published a series of hypothetical case studies that shed light on the costs faced by PSE students in Nova Scotia. StudentsNS acknowledges that the "case studies are not perfect and certainly cannot capture all the circumstances of the more than 50,000 students attending postsecondary education in Nova Scotia." However, they argue that the case studies illustrate students' changing circumstances, the effects of provincial policy decisions, and the impact of StudentsNS' own activities. StudentsNS says that their case studies point to a number of overall trends, such as that students with dependents often struggle with unmet needs; that debt levels for students with high financial need have decreased thanks to improvements to the Nova Scotia Student Assistance Program and the Canada Student Loan Program while the debt of those with less financial need has increased; and that while tuition for NS students has fallen marginally, ancillary fees have significantly increased. Full Study

New report suggests Canada is at risk of losing digital information

The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) has released a new report based on an expert panel’s assessment of the challenges and opportunities faced by memory institutions—libraries, archives, museums, and galleries—as they adapt to new digital technologies. Leading in the Digital World: Opportunities for Canada's Memory Institutions suggests that Canada is currently falling behind, risking the loss of vast amounts of digital information. “Overall, our 13-member Expert Panel determined that, to meet the challenges presented by the digital revolution, memory institutions will need to focus strategic and business planning around digital technologies," said Doug Owram, Chair of the expert panel. "There is an opportunity for these institutions to collaborate more strategically and develop interactive relationships with users, thereby enhancing content and providing meaningful experiences." The report offers several key findings, including that many of the challenges faced by these institutions are situated in technical issues around managing large volumes of data and that collaboration is essential for digital adaptation. CCA News Release | Full Report

UBC alumni share stories about making a difference

alumni UBC is asking its members to share their stories about projects that are making a positive change in the world. The "your evolution" website allows alumni to upload stories about projects they are passionate about. The public will then be asked to vote on their favourites, with the winner receiving a "social entrepreneur support kit" that includes a photography session or video production package, a mentoring session with UBC President Arvind Gupta, and a consultation with a UBC faculty member. This is the second year that the program has been offered. "Through 'your evolution' we want to support the many ways our 300,000 strong global alumni community is changing the world for the better," said Jeff Todd, Executive Director of alumni UBC. UBC News

"It's a Juggle" career advancement resource website launched

The Pardy Group, a private education and career planning resources provider, has launched “It’s a Juggle,” a website that is described as “a complete career advancement centre designed for anyone ages 17 to 71.” The site offers visitors information on education planning, career development, workplace skills, learning, mental health, and wellness. Users can access career assessment tools, as well as resources pertaining to job advancement, finances, virtual workplaces, and entrepreneurship. The site also includes information on learning disabilities and English as a subsequent language (ESL). Visitors can rate resources and easily share them with others. A premium version offers organizations the ability to customize and brand the website. News Release | It's a Juggle

Issues around reporting sexual assault on US campuses

A new report published by Corey Rayburn Yung, a law professor at the University of Kansas, has found that the number of sexual assaults reported at 31 large US college and universities jumped by an average of 44% during Department of Education audits conducted between 2001–12. However, once the audits ended, the number of reported incidents dropped back down to pre-audit levels, even at institutions that were fined for noncompliance. Yung suggests that in the absence of government monitoring, institutions began to once again play down the numbers. Yung says that his findings indicate the need for more resources to be allocated to the problem, but argues that funding should not be based on reported assaults. Moreover, he says that audits must be conducted more frequently and fines increased. Meanwhile, Inside Higher Edreports that some US institutions now require faculty members to report student accounts of sexual assault; however, some faculty members say that mandatory reporting will make students, who may not be prepared to file an official report, more reluctant to seek help. "Do we respect the students' wishes and thereby jeopardize ourselves? We shouldn't have to make that kind of choice," said one professor. The Chronicle of Higher Education | Yung Report | Inside Higher Ed