Top Ten

February 13, 2015

Facing $4 M deficit, Loyalist weighs its options

Faculty and staff at Loyalist College are concerned about possible changes that could come as a result of a projected $4 M budget deficit. A professor who spoke to the Belleville Intelligencer under the condition of anonymity said that "the financial difficulties the college is having are quite extreme ... We've been getting a lot of e-mails from upper management saying there's going to be lots of changes." The Intelligencer cites emails exchanged between OPSEU Local 420 President Bernard Belanger and Loyalist President Maureen Piercy in which Piercy says that the institution is facing a fiscal "perfect storm." Some faculty and staff at the college have expressed concerns about a lack of transparency regarding the budget situation, but Piercy said that her office has not received any complaints. "These processes take some time. We're very much in the plan-development process. I'm asking managers to communicate with their teams," she said. She noted that this year's deficit is comparable to last year's, but that this year the college lacks the reserves needed to offset the budget gap. She added that the college expects to reduce the deficit by $2.4 M by the end of the school year, and that "nothing is off the table." Belleville Intelligencer

WesternU student suspended, banned from campus after hack and racist tweet

Western University was the victim of a hack into one of its Twitter accounts on Tuesday that resulted in a racist message being shared on social media. It is believed that a user accessed a computer in the Western Student Recreation Centre weight room. Police later interviewed a student who was subsequently removed from residence and banned from campus for one week. The accused student will also face a hearing and may be subject to further disciplinary actions including suspension and possible expulsion. In the wake of the incident, WesternU reaffirmed its zero-tolerance stance against racial slurs. "This isn't tolerated. Period. There is no place for racism at Western. This goes against our values, as well as our student code of conduct," said acting AVP (Student Experience) Angie Mandich. WesternU's student leaders also denounced the message and administrators commended those who quickly spoke out against the tweet. WesternU News | CTV

Lawyers say Express Entry rules put foreign students at a disadvantage

Some experts are warning that Canada's new Express Entry program could discourage students from coming to the country. The new rules, introduced January 1, use a points-based system to evaluate workers applying for permanent residency in Canada. But, some immigration lawyers say that because the new regulations put all applicants into a single pool, they do not duly consider skilled workers already living in Canada on work permits and visas; moreover, some criteria may be more difficult for highly skilled workers to fulfill. Specifically, workers whose employers have completed a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) start out 600 points ahead. Immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges says that this can put foreign students who hold work permits at a disadvantage. Many foreign students were issued work permits as part of a government effort to recruit talented young people, but are employed in positions that did not require an LMIA. A government spokesperson countered that students already working in Canada have other advantages around their education, work experience, language skills, and youth, but some lawyers have argued that there should be specific, relaxed rules for highly skilled workers. PSE institutions in Quebec recently criticized provincial immigration laws as hindering their ability to recruit international faculty.  CTV

uWinnipeg first Canadian PSE institution to sign on with Safe Cities initiative

The University of Winnipeg has signed on to the United Nations Safe Cities initiative, reportedly becoming the first PSE institution in Canada to do so. The Safe Cities initiative was launched to foster safer environments for women and girls; in 2013, Winnipeg was chosen as the first Canadian city to join the initiative. A forum was held on Wednesday to offer students the opportunity to learn about the program. Participants discussed personal experiences with sexual violence as well as ways to raise awareness and find solutions. "This was kind of the infancy of the program—just kind of getting students together, getting the conversation going, where do we want to take this?" said initiative steering committee member Emily Epp. On-campus sexual violence has lately been a priority focus of PSE institutions across Canada and the US. CBC

BC introduces new private career training sector legislation

The government of British Columbia has introduced new legislation designed to enhance the province's private career training sector. The Private Training Act replaces the existing Private Career Training Institutions Act and transfers the authorities and functions of the Private Career Training Institutions Agency to the Ministry of Advanced Education. It will introduce higher quality standards and stronger enforcement mechanisms, as well as reducing regulatory requirements for private institutions with a strong track record of compliance. The new law is projected to lead to $1.5 M in savings for the province over 3 years due to improved efficiencies and administrative savings. "New legislation positions the sector for success by strengthening quality assurance, providing greater support to private career training institutions, and continuing to protect students," said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. BC News Release

Ryerson students campaign for more gender-neutral washrooms

Ryerson University's Trans Collective, a student group that represents transgender students, is calling on the institution to provide an equal number of male, female, and all-gender bathrooms. "We believe that using a bathroom is a human right. Many buildings on campus have only male and female bathrooms, which transgender people don't necessarily feel comfortable using," said Trans Collective Coordinator Star Harwood-Jones. Harwood-Jones said that Trans Collective has reached out to university administration about the issue, but is growing frustrated with the rate of progress. The group hopes to see all-gender bathrooms added to high-traffic areas such as the Student Campus Centre and the Victoria Building by the end of the year. Ryerson currently has 43 unisex bathrooms; a committee has been convened to produce recommendations in response to students' concerns. Metro News

PEI institutions work together to improve persistence rate

Holland College, the University of Prince Edward Island, and College Acadie IPE are working together to improve western PEI's persistence rate. The institutions are launching an initiative called PEI Campus West, through which they will offer a set of PSE courses at the Holland College Waterfront Campus that will count toward a credential at any of the 3 institutions. The institutions plan to offer 5 courses in each of the fall 2015 and winter 2016 semesters in areas including business communications, computer literacy, accounting, sociology, and psychology. "What we hope to do is transition a greater number of people in western PEI to postsecondary. That's really the goal," said Holland Registrar Donna Sutton. "It's to try and say, 'you know what, you're not sure what you'd like. Come and sample a couple of these courses and, regardless of what institution you end up at, we will honour that credit.'" The province is providing financial support for the initiative. The Guardian

UTM launches I-CUBE accelerator

The University of Toronto Mississauga on Tuesday celebrated the opening of the I-CUBE accelerator. I-CUBE, located within UTM's Institute for Management & Innovation, will help student entrepreneurs bring new products to market. It offers business development and commercialization services for students, as well as space for students engaging in entrepreneurial activities. Teams of student entrepreneurs will also be able to access an entrepreneur-in-residence, faculty members, and volunteer mentors from the local business community. "At U of T Mississauga, we are committed to creating a culture of Innovation, and I-CUBE offers our student entrepreneurs the chance to brainstorm, develop viable concepts, and proceed through the early stages of commercialization. Our students will benefit from the expertise of faculty, alumni, and local industry as they learn life-long skills and develop their potential to be the next global innovation leaders," said UTM Principal Deep Saini. UTM News Release

COU releases report on universities' community impact

A new report from the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) highlights the impact its members are having on their communities. The reported, entitled Change Agent—Ontario's Universities: Transforming Communities, Transforming Lives looks at the central role universities play in Ontario's economic growth, generating more than $55 B in economic activity and directly or indirectly supporting nearly 700,000 jobs. It also cites ways in which students, faculty, and staff are improving communities through initiatives such as non-profit organizations, outreach programs, and entrepreneurial activities. The report notes that faculty members at Ontario's universities devote approximately 20% of their time to services that enhance their communities, and that universities work closely with local organizations that address issues such as bullying and mental illness. COU News Release | Full Report

PSE requires integrated approach to evidence-of-learning

A Gates Foundation-funded report released this week offers a basic framework for measuring "evidence of learning" (EoL). The report says that, given the changing expectations of employers, students, administrators, and faculty, it is critical to provide a way for individuals to present evidence of their lifelong learning. It identifies "critical integration gaps" that prevent the development of a system that meets the needs of all stakeholders; it also provides a framework to be used by PSE leaders to align disconnected programs and solutions. The framework is based on 5 segments—align, experience, validate, assemble, and promote—that emphasize the needs and objectives of students, institutions, and employers. The report also suggests that the need for an integrated framework to evaluate EoL presents PSE institutions with an opportunity to reassert their position as "stewards of quality and students' accumulated evidence of learning." A complementary report looks at the competitive landscape of companies that provide EoL-focused solutions. Inside Higher Ed | EoL Framework Report | EoL Supplier Ecosystem Report