Top Ten

April 9, 2015

Capilano faculty launch strike action

Capilano University cancelled all classes on Wednesday after receiving notice that the Capilano Faculty Association (CFA) intended to launch full-scale strike action. A bargaining update from the union said that "we are very disappointed in the results of mediation; we were hoping for a different result ... Faculty work will not be performed until the strike is settled." In a press release, Capilano said that it is developing contingency measures to enable students to complete their courses and programs as close to their original schedule as possible. The university also indicated that it expects exams to proceed as planned. The Province | Global News | Capilano News Release | CFA Bargaining Update

Postscript: June 29, 2015

Capilano University and the Capilano University Faculty Association have ratified a five-year agreement reached under BC’s Economic Stability Mandate. This agreement ends the strike action begun in April; a tentative agreement was reached at the end of May. The Economic Stability Mandate applies to all public-sector employees in the province, and provides for the possibility of sharing in economic benefits if GDP growth exceeds forecasts. BC News Release

Divest Dal protests Shell donation

Students at Dalhousie University are protesting a $600,000 donation made to the institution from Shell Canada. Members of Divest Dal say that the donation, which includes $100,000 for training students in oil and gas exploration and development, makes the school "beholden to industry." Divest Dal organizer Emma Halupka said, "this demonstrates that our school's relationship with the fossil fuel industry is problematically close ... What we should be doing is divesting and leaving the oil in the ground." Students raised a flag that depicted the Shell logo intertwined with the Dal crest. Last year, Dal's board of governors voted 15-5 to accept a recommendation that the university not divest its holdings of companies with substantial carbon assets. CBC | Dal News Release

uManitoba opens Active Living Centre

The University of Manitoba on Tuesday celebrated the official opening of its new Active Living Centre. The 10,700-square-metre facility features an indoor track, cardio machines, free weights, and a 12-metre climbing wall. It will serve as a training facility for 400 uManitoba Bison athletes as well as students, staff, and members of the public. Bisons football coach Brian Dobie said, "for every student that walks onto this campus, this is a game changer ... There is no university in this nation that has what we have." The $53.9 M Centre was supported by contributions from the federal and provincial governments, the City of Winnipeg, and uManitoba. Winnipeg Free Press

CICan signs agreement for second phase of Canadian Immigrant Integration Program

Colleges and Institutes Canada has signed a 2-year agreement with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to move forward with a second phase of the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP). As part of the initiative, CICan will collaborate with the International Organization for Migration to expand pre-arrival services and to ensure consistent curricula and materials worldwide; CICan will also work with the Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne (ACUFC) to provide access to pre-arrival services for French-speaking immigrants coming to francophone-minority communities. CICan News Release

Grad students dissatisfied with career prep

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has released its report on the 2013 Canadian Graduate and Professional Student Survey. HEQCO found that graduate students are dissatisfied with the career preparation provided by their programs. Results varied across disciplines; students in STEM fields and health sciences programs reported being more satisfied than those in the social sciences and humanities. HEQCO also found that just 45% of graduate students said they had used on-campus career services, and less than 70% of those described their experience with career services as positive. Rethinking Higher Ed contributor Catherine Maybrey has written on the importance of career resources for graduate students. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

Researchers examine the legacy of the Rae Report

Fanshawe College's faculty union has released a specially commissioned report that looks back at the impact of former Ontario Premier Bob Rae's 2005 recommendations for the province's PSE system. Authors Mary Catharine Lennon, Michael L Skolnik, and Rethinking Higher Ed contributor Glen A Jones note that the overall structure of ON's PSE system has changed little in the 10 years since the report, though college applications and enrolments have increased significantly. Multi-year Action Plans and Multi-year Accountability Agreements were introduced as a result of the Rae Report; the former has evolved into a data-collection tool while the latter has been replaced by ON's strategic mandate agreements (SMAs). Rae also recommended a new funding framework to address under-funding while improving quality. The province did contribute additional money; however, today, ON is once again last in Canada in its level of funding. Nevertheless, graduation rates and graduate and student satisfaction rates have improved. Full Report

OUSA releases policy paper on supporting LGBTQ+ students

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance has published a new policy paper on LGBTQ+ students. Institutions are urged to increase available financial supports for LGBTQ+ students; create full-time administrative positions to liaise with and support student groups; and offer space on campus for LGBTQ+ students, including gender-neutral bathrooms and designated living spaces. OUSA further recommends that institutions implement preferred name policies and adopt inclusive language, and draft policies that promote the inclusion of gender non-conforming and intersex students in athletics. The paper also says that campus health practitioners should be trained to better understand and meet the needs of LGBTQ+ students. OUSA Blog | Policy Brief | Full Report 

Queen's launches tool to assess equity and diversity

Deans and department heads at Queen's University now have access to an online tool designed to help improve equity and diversity on campus. The Diversity and Equity Assessment and Planning Tool (DEAP) allows faculties and departments to conduct self-audits in order to better understand the demographic profile of their staff, faculty, and students; assess progress toward equity and diversity goals; identify and reflect on areas that need improvement; and develop action plans and timelines for improvement. Users complete a self-assessment survey based on 12 indicators of inclusion; they then receive a report card that can be used for planning, setting goals, and charting progress. Queen's News Release

BCIT students use simulation technology to enhance lifesaving skills

An article in the Vancouver Sun looks at how students at the British Columbia Institute of Technology are using innovative simulations to enhance their skills. Rob Kruger oversees simulation and innovation in critical care at BCIT. He and his team have developed interactive scenarios using apps and advanced teaching props, including synthetic dolls that blink, bleed, and even curse at nursing students. Simulation software is also used to train students learning from a distance. Prenatal nursing professor Nancy Hewer uses an iPad app to teach students as far away as Germany. According to Kruger, "simulation gives students experiences that they can draw upon, so when they go out and see a real patient they can fall back on some of those experiences." Vancouver Sun

Boston College uses design thinking to redesign curriculum

Boston College is turning to "design thinking"—a interdisciplinary problem-solving method initially conceived as an approach to developing gadgets or products—to help revamp its core curriculum. In spite of initial resistance on the part of administrators and faculty, a firm hired by the college moved forward with interviews with students and faculty and held regular town-hall meetings to receive and share feedback. Eventually, the institution was able to break a decades-old logjam in their curriculum revision efforts. In September, faculty will begin teaching and team-teaching new core courses, delivered from interdisciplinary perspectives. "It is an experiment and it might fail, but it's worth trying because the very process of trying is putting people into conversation. That's very, very healthy," said one professor. The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)