Top Ten

April 23, 2015

Canada's budget focuses on alignment between PSE, labour market need

Canada unveiled its new federal budget on Tuesday. The budget's highlights include $1.33 B over 6 years, beginning in 2017–18, for the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI); $105 M over 5 years, beginning in 2015–16, for CANARIE; an additional $46 M per year, beginning in 2016–17, of targeted funding for Canada's granting councils; $119.2 M over 2 years, beginning in 2015–16, for the National Research Council's industry-partnered research and development activities; a one-time investment of $65 M for business and industry associations to work with PSE institutions to align curricula with employer needs; and $56.4 M over 4 years, beginning in 2016–17, to Mitacs for graduate-level industrial research and development internships. The budget will also reduce the expected parental contribution and remove the penalty for in-study student income for the Canada Student Loans assessment process. Furthermore, the budget provides for the expanded adoption of the Blue Seal Certification program and the creation of a one-stop national labour market information portal. Budget 2015 | Globe and Mail

PSE's reaction to budget largely positive

Reactions to Canada's budget from the PSE sector were mainly positive, with some exceptions. Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) applauded federal investment in research infrastructure and in programs designed to foster close relationships between business and industry associations and PSE partners. Polytechnics Canada, meanwhile, welcomed the expanded adoption of the Blue Seal Certification program and Canada's investment in a one-stop national labour market information portal. Universities Canada (formerly the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada) said that Canada's $1.33 M investment in research infrastructure will yield significant benefits for Canadian researchers. Jonathan Champagne, Executive Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) said that his organization was "extremely pleased" with the budget's commitments to student aid. However, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) said that by making loans more accessible, the budget will lead to greater student debt. CICan News Release | Polytechnics Canada News Release | UnivCan News Release | CASA News Release | CFS News Release

AUCC rebrands as Universities Canada

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) has rebranded itself as Universities Canada. Along with the new name comes a new look: Universities Canada will be represented by an "iconic diamond image that symbolizes convergence and destination—a town square, a traffic intersection, a university quad." The diamond is turned on its side, a feature that is meant to suggest dynamism, growth, and evolution. Universties Canada President Paul Davidson said, "our new identity truly reflects the innovative, focused, and dynamic nature of our organization, our work, and our people. We are articulating more clearly who we are and what we stand for.” Universities Canada News Release

Lack of articling positions for law students continues to be a problem

As members vote for the new board of directors at the Law Society of Upper Canada, debates continue around the lack of articling positions for new law graduates. The new “benchers” will decide whether to continue the pilot Law Practice Program (LPP), which was designed to provide an alternate pathway to practising that does not require articling. Students in the LPP stream complete a work placement instead of articling; however, critics say that the LPP may be attracting students who are already facing barriers to a law degree. In addition, approximately one-third of LPP students are reportedly not fairly compensated for their work. Also on the docket for the new benchers will be the larger issue of whether to continue expanding law education in Canada in light of the lack of articling positions. Globe and Mail

French teachers in BC in high demand

A new report released by Canadian Parents for French suggests that BC is experiencing a shortage of both French immersion teachers and those who teach French as a subject in English schools. Almost 9% of the total school population is in French immersion, and many more are turned away due to lack of open spots. The report found that only one-fifth of needed immersion teachers are graduating from BC PSE institutions; these new teachers are in high demand and are often offered positions before graduating. Lack of space and a lack of qualified teachers are cited as main reasons why school districts cannot expand French immersion programs. The report suggests that young teachers willing to take the time to strengthen their French-language skills will have a wealth of opportunities available to them. Vancouver Sun 

McMaster names downtown building for David Braley

McMaster University has announced that its new downtown health sciences building will be named for prominent local businessman David Braley. "David Braley is a master builder for our city, with an intense belief in the opportunities for both Hamilton and McMaster," said McMaster President Patrick Deane. The 192,000-square-foot, 6-storey building will provide a home for Hamilton Public Health Services, several academic divisions associated with the Michael G DeGroote School of Medicine, and programs for continuing health sciences education, faculty development, education research, and the Foundation for Medical Practice Education. Braley contributed $10 M toward the development of the new centre, a portion of his $50 M gift to McMaster in 2007. McMaster News

PSE institutions make list of Canada’s greenest employers

The 2015 list of Canada’s Greenest Employers has been released, with 8 PSE institutions appearing this year. Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Mohawk College, Red River College, the University of Alberta, UBC, the University of Northern British Columbia, the University of Toronto, and York University were selected for their initiatives to reduce waste and environmental footprints. Organizations are judged on criteria such as uniqueness of programs and initiatives, success in reducing environmental impact, the degree to which employees are involved in and contribute to initiatives, and the extent of the connection between environmental efforts and the organization’s brand. Globe and Mail | List of Winners

Women in STEM suffer "death by a thousand cuts"

Women are forced out of STEM because they are discouraged by many small, sexist moments, according to Maclean’s. In the words of Ellen Pao, former CEO of Reddit, it’s “death by a thousand cuts.” Not only is there a pipeline problem—just 12% of Canada’s 280,000 engineers are women—there is a problem with recognition, the magazine reports. Earlier this month, 2 of Canada’s top female scientists resigned from the selection committee of the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame in protest of the lack of female candidates nominated. Women are also less likely to serve in leadership roles: only 12% of full professors in STEM are female and women are more likely to be contract facultyor assistant professors. Maclean’s

Survey shows participation in online courses growing

A study released this week by the Instructional Technology Council (ITC) shows that participation in distance education increased at US community colleges even as overall enrolment at 2-year institutions declined. Community college technology leaders responding to an ITC survey reported a 4.7% increase in student enrolment in online programs between 2013–14. This represents a slower rate of growth than the previous year, in which enrolment in online programs increased by 5.2%. The report also found that retention in online programs sits at 8% lower than the retention rate of 77% for face-to-face courses. Other issues facing online instruction noted in the report include a lack of first-time student preparedness and a lack of computer and Internet access for under-represented student populations. Inside Higher Ed | Full Report

US colleges look for new ways to use data to fuel student success

US colleges already use predictive analytics to help identify struggling students; the question now is how to use analytics to help students succeed. SuccessNavigator, a new program developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), has now been rolled out across 150 US college campuses, reaching approximately 25,000 students. At the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Brenda Benson, Dean of Counseling and Retention at Santa Monica College, described how she used this program to help one such potentially struggling student. Ross E Markle, a Senior Research and Assessment Adviser at ETS, said, “we’re really good at building predictive models. The challenge is, what do we do once we know that a student is unlikely to succeed.” The Chronicle of Higher Education