Top Ten

April 24, 2015

NS introduces university accountability legislation

Nova Scotia has introduced legislation that it says will require greater accountability and cost control from the province's PSE sector. The new University Accountability and Sustainability Act calls for more standard financial reporting from universities, as well as requiring institutions to set outcomes and measure progress. The legislation also offers universities the option to restructure as a tool of last resort should they face dire financial trouble. This "revitalization" process would involve a panel of outside advisers appointed by the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. NS has also tabled amendments to the Private Career Colleges Regulation Act that will streamline the approval process for programs already approved by a regulatory or professional body, implement performance standards to ensure accountability, and add new enforcement tools to allow government to deal with minor violations of regulations. Finally, NS introduced legislation that will allow university pension plans to be transferred to the NS Public Service Superannuation Plan. CBC | Cape Breton Post | NS News Release (Accountability) | NS News Release (Private Colleges) | NS News Release (Pensions)

TWU awarded $70,000 in legal costs from NS Barristers’ Society

The Nova Scotia Supreme Court has ordered the NS Barristers’ Society to pay $70,000 in legal costs to Trinity Western University. The Supreme Court ruled in January that the Barristers’ Society could not deny accreditation to graduates of TWU’s proposed law program. TWU was asking for $120,000 in legal fee reimbursement. The NS Barristers’ Society plans to appeal the January verdict, citing a mandate to protect the public and to promote equality in the administration of justice. CBC

Brescia announces new nonprofit management degree

Brescia University College has created a new undergraduate degree in nonprofit management, reportedly the first of its kind in Canada. The 4-year program, beginning in fall 2015, will offer classes in leadership, community development, and nonprofit and general management. Students will participate in field studies, simulations, and live case studies, and will have the opportunity to apply to the Management and Organization Studies paid internship program, which provides 8–16 months of paid work experience. “The new nonprofit module perfectly aligns with Brescia’s mission of being a student-centred community that educates women to think critically and to participate actively in society,” said Academic Dean Donna Rogers. Brescia News Release

MRU students receive refund after missing classes for jury duty

2 students at Mount Royal University will receive a refund of their tuition after serving as jurors in a trial that lasted 5 weeks. The long duration of the trial forced Jynelle Marshall and Courtney Croteau to drop classes in which they had fallen behind. However, they initiated their request after the final add-drop date of March 20, the same day the jury returned with a verdict in the trial. Croteau said, "I was told there was jail time and a large fine for trying to avoid [jury duty], but I thought I could manage it with school." Ultimately, MRU provided the students with a refund. MRU Provost Kathryn Shailer said, "in this unique situation, we have reached a unique resolution with our students." CBC

Dal library launches texting complaint system

The Killam Library at Dalhousie University has launched a text message-based complaint system to allow students to alert library staff of noisy people in real time. The SHH Text campaign allows users to send a text message complaint to a communal library phone; the library staff can then address the situation immediately. Currently, students making unnecessary noise are given a warning, but in future the library plans to introduce a “drop card” system that will serve as a more official, physical warning. The SHH Text campaign hasn’t yet seen any complaints, but staff suggest the real test of the program will be in the fall. CBC

Survey finds employers feel PSE is not preparing graduates for required roles has released the results of a survey of more than 400 Canadian employers. According to survey results, 62% of companies plan to hire recent PSE graduates this year. However, just 19% said that they believe PSE institutions are adequately preparing students to fill the roles needed by their organizations. When asked about where PSE institutions are falling short, 62% of employers said there is too much emphasis on book learning and not enough on real-world learning, and 38% said there is a need for more workers with a blend of technical and soft skills. When asked about the skills most lacking in recent graduates, 51% of respondents said interpersonal skills, 45% said problem-solving, 41% said teamwork, and 40% said oral communication. News Release

Canadian Business ranks Canada's top jobs for 2015

Canadian Business has released its list of Canada's best jobs for 2015. Topping this year's list are mining and forestry manager, oil and gas drilling supervisor, and air traffic controller. Statistician and actuary was ranked fourth, with engineering manager fifth. The rankings are based on Statistics Canada data for employment growth, median compensation, change in median compensation, and projected demand. The magazine also reports that the age of "big data" has made statistics jobs some of the hottest in North America. Analyzing the volume and variety of data being collected by organizations today requires a particular set of skills that are now being taught in specialized programs at several PSE institutions across Canada.  Canadian Business (Rankings) | Canadian Business (Big Data)

Arizona State University, edX to offer full freshman year via MOOCs

Arizona State University has joined with MOOC provider edX to create the Global Freshman Academy, which will allow students from across the world to fulfill the first-year general-education requirements of an ASU degree. The first course, in astronomy, rolls out this August; ASU anticipates that by the fall of 2016, it will offer a full range of freshman courses. The courses are free, but students may opt to pay additional fees in order to receive college credit. “What this does is it really opens up new pathways for all students, no matter where they are in the world,” said edX CEO Anant Agarwal. The Chronicle of Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed | ASU News Release | Global Freshman Academy

US legislators take active interest in faculty teaching roles

A bill introduced in the North Carolina state senate would require all professors in the University of North Carolina system to teach at least 8 courses per year. Faculty members have expressed their objections, saying that such a heavy load would make it “impossible” to focus on their research and service responsibilities. Rebecca Schuman, education columnist for Slate, has argued that NC’s bill would lead to job loss and a decline in educational quality. In Iowa, another bill, defeated in subcommittee several weeks ago, would have automatically terminated the employment of professors scoring below a cutoff on their student evaluations, as well as exposed the next five lowest scoring professors to a termination vote by students. The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required) | Slate | NC Bill | Inside Higher Ed | AAUP Academe Blog | IA Bill


North Carolina lawmakers have backed off on a controversial bill that would have mandated that public university professors teach at least eight courses per year. The bill had been widely criticized by many in the PSE community, who pointed out that such a teaching load would limit faculty members' ability to conduct research. NC's Senate Education Committee has referred the bill for further study. The Chronicle of Higher Education

Geese wreak havoc at uWaterloo

An aggressive goose has been wreaking havoc outside the University of Waterloo's Hagey Hall building. Students on a uWaterloo subreddit shared stories of various run-ins with the goose, with many reporting that they had been hissed at or charged at. Geese were also reportedly responsible for intimidating a wild turkey that had taken up residence in the Hagey Hall courtyard. "[The turkey] was terrified of the 2 geese," said Colin Walker, a uWaterloo employee. "They were stalking her. They thought they were guarding their eggs." The turkey's attempts to escape the geese were repeatedly thwarted until eventually it sought to escape by smashing through a third-floor window. Unfortunately, the turkey sustained serious injuries and had to be euthanized. CBC (Goose) | CBC (Turkey)