Top Ten

March 13, 2015

Trent offers voluntary retirement program to help ease budget deficit

Trent University has announced that it will offer an early retirement option to staff and faculty members in an effort to manage the institution's fiscal challenges. The program, put in place in agreement with Trent's staff and faculty unions, will be available as a one-time, limited opportunity. "Exactly how this affects our budget will depend on how many staff and faculty take up our offer," said Trent President Leo Groake. "Whatever happens, it won't resolve all our budget challenges, but with a significant uptake, it will be a good step in a positive direction." The program is intended to help the university's departments reduce their staff to meet reduction targets for the upcoming fiscal year. Trent is facing a projected budget deficit of $5 M to $7 M for 2015–16. The institution recently adopted "responsibility-centred management" as a means of ensuring its financial sustainability. TrentU News Release

BC to offer free tuition and child care for single parents receiving income or disability support

British Columbia has announced a $24.5 M plan that will cover school fees, daycare, medical costs, and transportation for single parents on income or disability assistance who are trying to enter the work force. Currently, individuals receiving income or disability support who want to participate in trades training or PSE classes must give up government support payments and rely on student loans. But as of September 1, BC will pay for 12 months of tuition for people training to work in one of 60 "in-demand" occupations while allowing the individual to stay on income assistance. BC will also provide for childcare costs and before- and after-school care over a year of training and for the first year at a new job. The plan does not set limits on the number of children covered under the plan, nor does it limit the cost of daycare. The plan was described by BC Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell as "one of the most significant social program shifts this government has ever introduced." Vancouver Sun

Confessions page used by BrandonU students has been shut down

An anonymous Facebook page used by Brandon University students has gone offline as the school investigates complaints of bullying and inappropriate behaviour. The page had offered students a space to anonymously submit comments or confessions, which were then posted by administrators. Prior to being shut down, the page had more than 3,000 followers and had shared approximately 800 posts. Krystal Kane, President of the BrandonU Anti-Bullying Society, said that she received an average of 2–5 complaints about the page each week, and believed that some of the posts violated Manitoba's anti-bullying legislation. BrandonU Registrar Tom Brophy said that the page had been on the administration's radar, but that the university was limited in what it could do in response. Nevertheless, he said that BrandonU was investigating some comments posted to the site. Similar websites used by students in New Brunswick were shut down in November, though some have argued that anonymous confession sites can be beneficial, as well. A recent Academica poll of 335 StudentVu members found that 58% of respondents have been victims of cyberbullying or know someone who has.  Winnipeg Free Press (1) | Winnipeg Free Press (2) | CBC

Vandals target campus teepee poles at uAlberta

Teepee poles at the University of Alberta were vandalized last weekend in an act described as “disrespectful and ignorant” by President Indira Samarasekera. The poles were wrapped in toilet paper and vinyl tape sometime over the weekend; Faculty of Native Studies Dean Brendan Hokowhitu said it was disturbing that the vandalism occurred on the heels of a display at the location about missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2-spirit people. The vandalism “has caused Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff, and faculty hurt, fear, and discomfort,” Hokowhitu said. uAlberta’s protective services and the Edmonton police have been notified, and the people responsible are being urged to come forward. Edmonton Journal | Metro News

NB massage therapy students petition court to scrap final exam results

A group of massage therapy students are in court to challenge the results of a final exam administered by the newly formed College of Massage Therapists of New Brunswick after 47 of 48 students failed. This was the first group of students to write the exam, which had never been administered in NB before. The exam is also used in Newfoundland and Labrador, where failure rates higher than 90% have been reported. The court has granted an injunction on the exam results, allowing the students to practice massage therapy until the dispute is resolved in the courts. The single student who passed the exam was advised by the lawyer representing the students to not comment on the exam’s difficulty or content. CBC

HEQCO report evaluates Canadian PSE performance

A new report published by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has found that the amount of money postsecondary systems have matters less than how they spend it. HEQCO's Canadian Postsecondary Performance: Impact 2015 report used 34 indicators to measure provincial postsecondary system outcomes across 3 dimensions: access, value to students, and value to society. Outcomes were then considered in relation to operating cost-per-student to produce an overall performance score. The report found that provinces vary in their strengths, but that in every province there is a positive link between PSE and labour market success, individual earnings, citizen engagement, and economic contributions. "Some things are more important to some provinces than to others. We want [the report] to be used as a tool for the development of effective policies that are tailored to a jurisdiction and that are focused on achievement and outcomes," said HEQCO President Harvey Weingarten. Bonnie M Patterson, President of the Council of Ontario Universities, commented that "it's a positive report about our performance as a university sector. But if [the government] wants us to improve, there is a point where elasticity runs out, you gain your efficiencies, and you make your trade-offs ... At some point you can't get a change in indicators unless you are making some investments." HEQCO Summary | Full Report | Globe and Mail

Restorative justice expert commends Dal's approach to dentistry scandal

Dalhousie University has received praise from Brenda Morrison, Director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at Simon Fraser University, for its use of restorative justice when addressing the recent scandal involving a misogynistic Facebook group operated by some male dentistry students. Morrison said that she is "in awe of the level of commitment, courage, compassion, and time that Dalhousie has been willing to give this process ... Everybody there is under pressure to do the conventional thing and just push the problem and the people out the door, which bypasses any opportunity to learn and grow from this." Morrison said that while there is a significant body of research supporting the use of restorative justice at the grade-school level in the US, Dal is leading the Canadian university sector in this area. But not everyone agrees. Jacqueline Warwick, professor of gender and women's studies at Dal, said that the process doesn't adequately address different levels of culpability, and that the school should have launched a formal investigation prior to the restorative justice process. "Without a proper investigation we can't know what an appropriate penalty is for all of the players," she said. CBC

uToronto, McGill, UBC among top 100 in THE's World Reputation Rankings

Times Higher Education has released its annual World Reputation Rankings. The University of Toronto was the top Canadian university ranked, moving up from 20th to 16th spot. McGill University and UBC also appear in the top 100, but dropped slightly compared to last year's positioning. McGill is ranked 35th in this year's rankings and UBC 37th; the institutions tied for 33rd last year. The rankings are based on responses to THE's Academic Reputation Survey, which was completed by roughly 10,000 scholars from around the world. "U of T scholars and students are doing brilliant work, every day in every discipline. As a result, when it comes time for their peers to rank the world's top universities, the University of Toronto is placed very high on the list," said uToronto President Meric Gertler. Harvard University took top spot on the list, followed by the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. THE | uToronto News Release | UBC News Release | Full Rankings

triOS recognized with Best Managed Companies award

triOS College has been recognized with an award as one of Canada's Best Managed Companies. This is the fifth consecutive year triOS has received the honour, which recognizes Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $10 M. Recipients are evaluated based on how they address business challenges including new technologies, globalization, brand management, designing information systems, and recruitment and hiring. "Being named as a best managed company for a fifth year in a row validates that we are reaching our goal of improving lives by sharing our knowledge and passion for excellence," said triOS CEO Frank Gerencser. triOS News Release | Full List of Winners

Acadia campaign tells students, “don’t f*** it up”

The student union at Acadia University has launched a video campaign with a blunt message to students: “don’t f*** it up.” The campaign was launched in the lead up to the annual Cheaton Cup hockey game between 2 Acadia residences, which in the past has gotten rowdy and forced the police to get involved. “It is a very active and enthusiastic weekend. You can definitely tell that spirits are high and students are very passionate about this event,” said Callie Lathem, President of the Acadia Students' Union. “We are speaking [the students’] language in a sense, and we want to make sure that they have the mechanisms to hold their peers accountable as well.” Even Acadia President Ray Ivany is featured in the campaign. The slogan and a similar video were first introduced last year, resulting in fewer incidents being reported; organizers are hoping the decrease continues, or the event could be in jeopardy. CTV News | YouTube