Top Ten

April 15, 2015

Students stage "study-in" to protest NS budget

Students from several Nova Scotia PSE institutions occupied Finance Minister Diana Whalen's office on Monday to protest the province's new budget. The protesters said that the budget will exacerbate the student debt crisis, limit access, and compel many students to leave the province. Whalen met with students for close to 45 minutes before she left for the day. "I invited them into my office and spent more than half an hour talking to them about their issues. I think that was a lot of access and a lot of opportunity for them to air their issues," she said. Chronicle-Herald | CBC

$2.7 M gift to SFU opens observatory to the public

Simon Fraser University is opening the Trottier Observatory and Science Courtyard to the public, thanks to a $2.7 M gift from the Trottier Family Foundation. The observatory houses a 0.7-metre diameter reflector telescope that can be programmed remotely; BC schools will get the chance to submit proposals to run the telescope. The observatory is part of the Trottier Studio for Innovative Science Education, which offers free science programming for youth in order to foster early interest in science and astronomy. The official opening will be celebrated with a public “Starry Nights” party on April 17. Vancouver Sun | SFU News

Guelph community group speaks out against planned private student housing

Members of the McElderry Community Group went before Guelph city councillors Monday night to voice their opposition to zoning changes that would allow the construction of purpose-built, private student housing on the site of what is now a church. HIP Developments Inc has entered into a conditional agreement to purchase the church, provided they can obtain the required zoning change. The firm plans to build an 81-unit building that would house 324 students. The community group is concerned that student housing will prompt families to leave the neighbourhood; they also said that the church is an important community gathering space. Guelph Mercury

uCalgary students ask for more support for religious diversity

The University of Calgary's Faith and Spirituality Centre is preparing a report on what the campus can do to better support religious students. The report will make recommendations on funding and policy changes, reflecting concerns raised during the university's recent Religious Diversity Week. Students attending Religious Diversity Week discussed matters including the availability of designated prayer spaces, funding to create inter-religious positions on campus, and food options for halal and kosher diets. "Regardless of whether there are 200 religious students on campus or 2,000, the university benefits from listening to different perspectives. Bridging the secular society with those who are religious is critical if we hope to open up the conversation," said Adriana Tilissi, coordinator of the Centre. Calgary Herald

MPHEC report shows that Maritime students favour university

92% of grade 12 students in the Maritimes said they planned to attend PSE in the next 5 years, and almost half of those students planned to attend university, according to a new report by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC). The report is based on a survey of more than 5,000 grade 12 Maritime students from 175 high schools. The students cited “preparing for future career” and “acquiring skills” as the top motivations for attending university. Half of the students who planned to attend a university expected to borrow money to pay for it. The study also found that the higher the percentage of education costs that students expected their parents to pay, the less those students knew about the cost of education. MPHEC News Release | Full Report

Peer assessment helps foster sense of community in large courses

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has published a report that examines the impact of peer and self assessment on students' sense of community in large classes. Researchers examined the experiences of students in a 1,600-seat introductory psychology course. Students had the option of attending lectures in person or viewing them online; all assessments save the final exam were web-based. Students were found to have a much higher sense of community after completing peer assessment activities. A second experiment confirmed that students' sense of community was enhanced by peer assessment activities, and also found that the extent of the enhancement was reduced when students completed a self assessment before the peer assessment. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

Top scientists withdraw from committee over lack of female nominees

2 of Canada’s top female scientists have withdrawn from the selection committee of the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame in protest of the lack of female candidates nominated. This is the second year in a row that no women were nominated for induction. Judy Illes, a professor of neurology at UBC, and Catherine Anderson, from UBC’s faculty of medicine, said they stepped down to get the museum to increase efforts to solicit nominations from a more diverse and broader group. Jennifer Flanagan, CEO of youth outreach organization Actua, said that the lack of female nominees is reflective of public awareness and that the situation was an opportunity to raise the profile of female scientists and establish role models for youth. CBC | Globe and Mail

Business grads entering workforce with global mindset

According to a recent KPMG survey of over 300 business students from 27 different countries, students today enter the workforce with an increasingly “global mindset.” 89% of students said that they were prepared to relocate regularly for the right job, and 78% expected to work in 3 to 4 different countries during their careers. Still, concern remains about global instability. 46% of students said that they believe economic instability will make it harder to find a job, and 60% said that they were worried about another financial crisis. “This generation understands that the global economic outlook remains challenging,” said Rachel Campbell, Global Head of People for KPMG, “and is looking globally for the right career opportunities to match their ambition and abilities.” Infographic | KPMG News Release

Researchers say faculty members in STEM prefer hiring female applicants

Research conducted by Cornell University's Wendy M Williams and Stephen Ceci has found that both male and female faculty members preferred hiring female applicants over male applicants with identical qualifications. Williams and Ceci previously published research suggesting that women's life choices—whether voluntary or not—were a more likely contributor to women's under-representation in STEM fields than gender discrimination. The new study has been met with a mixed reaction; some have criticized in particular Williams and Ceci's conclusion that it is an "auspicious" time to be a woman in STEM. Joan C Williams, a researcher also studying women in the sciences, said that "this effect in hiring isn't really the problem with gender bias in STEM." The Chronicle of Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed

One-quarter of US part-time faculty on public assistance

According to a recent analysis of census data conducted by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education, 25% of part-time faculty in the US and their families—more than 100,000 people—receive some type of public assistance, including food stamps, Medicaid, and income assistance. According to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), more than half of faculty in the US now hold part-time appointments. “We’re seeing a second-class status of professors emerging," says Carol Zabin, the Berkeley Center’s Director of Research. The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario has launched a survey to gather data on non-full-time/contract faculty in Ontario. Slate | NBC News | Full Report