Top Ten

March 30, 2015

AB budget to reduce public spending on PSE

Alberta's 2015–16 provincial budget will push the province to become less reliant on public spending for PSE. The budget cuts spending on PSE institutions by $55 M. AB will work to reduce program duplication, “preserve high value programs,” and “identify and shed low value programs.” It will also review tuition fees and examine the potential of alternative revenue streams. “Every option is going to be on the table going forward … We are going to go through an engagement process and see what stakeholders think might be the solutions,” said Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education Don Scott. Student aid will increase by $14 M. Scholarships will remain stable, and bursaries will be cut by 25%. The budget also includes a hike in student loan disbursements and provides $1.1 B over 5 years for modernizing PSE institutions. Finance Minister Robin Campbell said that the province must "align itself with the national average in government funding, user pay and revenue generation"; this process could include the removal of the tuition capCalgary Herald | Edmonton Journal

QC tables balanced budget

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitão presented a balanced budget on Thursday, but provincial Treasury Board President Martin Coiteux cautioned that “many great challenges lie ahead for the province.” Education and health were hit the hardest in the budget. The heads of QC's universities issued a statement indicating their disappointment in the budget, noting that the government has now slashed more than $270 M in funding since 2012–13. They suggested that the cuts will mean compromising quality and accessibility. Coiteux addressed student protestorsdirectly: “the effort to return to a balanced budget puts you at the heart of the state’s priorities. The actions the government is taking are especially aimed at your generation.” Parti Québécois finance critic Nicolas Marceau said, “it’s easy, very easy, to present a budget with 0 as the bottom line when they don’t care about the consequences." QC PSE institutions had been preparing for significant cuts. Montreal Gazette CBC | National PostGlobe and Mail | University Leaders' Statement (in French)

SFU partners on research chair for Aboriginal health

Simon Fraser University has partnered with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and St Paul’s Hospital Foundation to establish the First Nations Health Authority Chair in Heart Health. The $1.9 M Chair, to be co-located at FNHA and St Paul’s, will conduct research and provide leadership to guide policies aimed at improving cardiovascular health and limiting chronic diseases among First Nations people. The use of plants and traditional healing methods will be considered, as well as Aboriginal cultural or spiritual practices that may have a positive effect on health. The Chair will work to develop preventative disease databases and increase research infrastructure and capacity in First Nations communities. SFU and St Paul’s will also provide mentoring programs that will help promote respectful and culturally competent research and knowledge translation. A search is currently underway for the inaugural chairholder. SFU News Release | Vancouver Sun

Durham, Trent, UOIT propose new health and community studies facility in Oshawa

Durham College, Trent University, and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology are proposing to create a joint facility in Oshawa, dedicated to health and community studies. The Centre for Integrated Health and Community Studies would offer students a mix of programs from the 3 different institutions, and would improve access to healthcare professionals and innovative technologies for people living in Durham Region and Northumberland County. The facility would also allow the institutions to foster relationships with industry partners in healthcare. “The Centre for Integrated Health and Community Studies is a shining example of the many ways that collaborative healthcare programming at UOIT, Trent University, and Durham College aligns with the health needs of our communities,” said Roger Anderson, Regional Chair of the Durham Region. “I am confident that this Centre will create more opportunities for health professionals and attract more health-care industry partnerships to the Durham Region.” The proposal is being made in response to ON’s call for submissions under the Major Capacity Expansion FrameworkTrentU News Release | Durham News Release | UOIT News Release | Project Website

Surrey Community College downsized to just 3 classes

British Columbia's Surrey Community College, an institution run by the Surrey School District, has been downsized and now offers just 3 courses, reports the Surrey Leader. The college has been operating since 2003, and at one point offered nearly 3 dozen courses for people interested in careers in areas such as graphic design, horticulture, and photography. Surrey College Principal Daniel To said, “we’re really trying to align our work … back to the K-12 students.” To noted that there are now far more institutions offering postsecondary options to Surrey students than there were in 2003. He added that 3 remaining courses—an education assistant (EA) course, an applied behaviour analysis (ABA) support worker course, and a hairdressing course—are postsecondary courses that nevertheless benefit children and teens. The EA course trains students to work as learning assistants in K-12 classrooms, the ABA course prepares students to work with autistic children, and the hairdressing course continues a career education program offered to high school students in the district. Surrey Leader

Scholars-at-risk program comes to Carleton and uOttawa

Carleton University and the University of Ottawa will jointly host a Scholars at Risk (SAR) program beginning this fall. SAR is an international network of PSE institutions that supports scholars whose lives have been put in danger because of their work. 9 other Canadian institutions are already members of the network; however, this is reportedly the first jointly hosted program. Carleton Provost Peter Ricketts emphasized the importance of supporting people “who found themselves in these situations, not because of their degrees, but because of the world they live in.” The joint program is intended to serve the entire Ottawa region, creating what SAR Joint Committee Head Melanie Adrien describes as “a centre of refuge for scholars under threat.” The first hosted scholar will be announced this spring. University Affairs

Social media campaign integral to MoveU's success

A study published in the Journal of American College Health suggests that the University of Toronto’s MoveU campaign has been largely successful at sharing its message with students. The campaign is a peer health initiative that encourages students to make physical activity a core part of their daily lives. The study examined the effectiveness of the initiative’s social media strategy and assessed student awareness of the campaign. Researchers found that 37% of nearly 2,800 uToronto students surveyed were aware of the campaign, with the core target audience of first-year females being more likely to know about it. Respondents indicated that they were most interested in seeing photos from past events, while analytics showed that students responded most to posts that used humour and references to pop culture or that shared quick facts. The survey also revealed that students who were aware of the campaign were more likely to say that they intended to get active. “Social networking sites are a useful tool for health promotion and physical activity promotion, no doubt about it,” said Alicia Luciani, who analyzed the campaign’s social media component. uToronto News Release | Full Study

More business schools collaborating across campus

The Globe and Mail reports on increased emphasis on collaboration between business schools and other academic programs through combined degrees and other initiatives. Combined degrees offer students a broader range of experience and an expanded skill set, and can enhance their job prospects. Western University’s Richard Ivey School of business has teamed with the institution’s engineering program to offer an undergraduate dual degree, and is currently developing dual master’s degrees. At the University of Victoria, the Gustavson School of Business offers joint master's degrees with the faculties of law and engineering, as well as a master’s degree in global business that relies on faculty from language departments teaching Mandarin or French. Gustavson’s Centre for Social and Sustainable Innovation also links researchers in business with those from other faculties. “There is a recognition that nobody has perfect knowledge and understanding. Being able to collaborate allows everyone to benefit,” said Gustavson Dean Saul Klein. Globe and Mail

Future CEOs must have the opportunity to hone soft skills while acquiring hard skills

Training the next generation of CEOs isn’t about developing hard skills, according to Rob Quinn, a partner at a Toronto executive search firm. With his company, Quinn has established a program called CEO for a Day, which matches Canada’s “best and brightest” students with leading executives. When evaluating candidates for the program, Quinn's firm looks for a broad range of soft skills: strong communication abilities, curiosity, critical thinking skills, motivation, self-awareness, and a willingness to collaborate. “With a student, those skills are not going to be as well-developed,” he said. “But that potential, if honed, is going to deliver results—no question about it.” Quinn said that students with natural abilities in these areas must be offered an opportunity to foster their talent. He adds that many leaders work their way up as specialists, but that the most successful are able to develop their soft skills as they build their technical knowledge. Financial Post

Economist reports on global shift toward mixed-model PSE funding

The Economist has published a series of articles as part of a special report on education. The topics covered include institutions’ ambivalent attitude toward technology, the proliferation of rankings, and the global shift toward the privatization of PSE provision and funding. The latter article begins with a reference to the Quebec student strikes of 2012, suggesting that QC students were more strongly influenced by European-style approaches to PSE funding than their counterparts in the rest of Canada. However, the article goes on to argue that the mixed funding model favoured in the United States is spreading throughout the world as governments struggle to balance their budgets. In some countries, institutions and governments have reacted by allowing quality to deteriorate; in others, individuals are being asked to foot a greater share of the bill, whether through higher tuition fees or philanthropy. Private provision is also growing around the world, with mixed results. The article concludes by noting that greater independence from government can lead to further stratification of PSE systems, building toward a more American-style system that is itself facing many challenges. The Economist (Special Report) | The Economist (Privatization)