Top Ten

April 27, 2015

Ontario budget invests in Youth Job Strategy, makes changes to OSAP

Ontario revealed its 2015 budget on Thursday. The budget includes a renewal of the Youth Jobs Strategy with an investment of $250 M over two years, including $5 M for the Postsecondary Fund for Aboriginal Learners and $13.8 M for new on-campus accelerators. The budget also introduces changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), indexing maximum aid levels and the debt cap to inflation, launching a new loan "rehabilitation" program that will allow borrowers who defaulted on their loans to bring them back into good standing, and eliminating the requirement that students report their vehicles as assets for assessment purposes. Ontario Budget | Globe and Mail | Toronto Star | National Post

Faculty, students concerned about implications of new NS legislation

Student and faculty groups warn that Nova Scotia’s new accountability legislation could strip university unions of their right to collective bargaining under some circumstances. They say that the new legislation’s “revitalization plan process” allows universities to suspend the right of unionized staff to strike, file a grievance, or sign a collective agreement while the process—which could take as long as 18 months—is underway. Catrina Brown, President of the Dalhousie Faculty Association, has called the possibility “extremely controlling” and Jonathan Williams, Executive Director of Students Nova Scotia, expressed concern that the student voice would be absent from the decision-making process. The Chronicle Herald | CAUT Release | CFS-NS Release | Students NS Release

Lethbridge College approves balanced budget, with tuition increase

Lethbridge College’s board of governors last week approved a balanced budget for the 2015–16 fiscal year. The $86 M budget includes a tuition increase of 2.2%. The college’s Campus Alberta grant was decreased by 1.4%, to $41.2 M, and its Infrastructure Maintenance grant was increased by $494,000, to $1.18 M. “This budget will ensure that Lethbridge College continues to develop and deliver relevant, high-quality programming that meets our region’s social and economic needs,” said board chair Randy Jespersen. Lethbridge News Release

WLU, Brock receive funding to support expansion of management training

Wilfrid Laurier University has received a donation of $20 M from entrepreneur Mike Lazaridis to help establish the Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises. Ontario will also contribute $15 M to the project. "We're good at turning out startups. But what is missing is the talent to take them to that next level," said Micheál Kelly, Dean of WLU's School of Business and Economics. Brock University, meanwhile, received $10 M from ON to help expand and renovate its Goodman School of Business. ON's contribution to each project was announced on Thursday as part of the provincial budget. WLU News Release | CBC | The Record | Brock News Release

Students push for more inclusion of Indigenous perspectives at McGill University

Some students are encouraging McGill University to do more to acknowledge local Indigenous history and culture. Indigenous peoples are not well represented across students, staff, and faculty, said McGill’s Aboriginal Outreach Administrator Kakwirano:ron Cook, who works to recruit Aboriginal students to the school. Cook said that McGill could make the institution more welcoming to Aboriginal students and faculty, and one way to do that is through better recognition of the Iroquois lands on which McGill is located. Claire Stewart-Kanigan, VP Student Affairs for McGill’s students’ society, agreed that the university could do more to include Indigenous perspectives on campus. McGill launched an Indigenous Studies minor last year within the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. This story also appeared in Academica's Indigenous Top TenAPTN News | CBC

Douglas College opens high-tech workshop for students

Douglas College has opened its new Maker Lab, a high-tech workshop that allows students to experiment with design ideas and modelling. The Lab is equipped with 3D printers, circuitry, and hand tools that allow students to fabricate models and prototypes of their designs. Students can also use the space for meetings and collaboration. “While our Maker Lab initiative is still in an early stage of development, it has already become a hub for students looking to engage with emerging technologies. Not only can they come here to tinker with such technology, but they can also explore its place in society and culture,” said David N Wright, Coordinator, Research and Innovation at Douglas. Douglas News

CAUT releases review of trends in university finances

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has released the latest issue of Education Review, providing an analysis of university finances in Canada from 2000/01 to 2012/13. According to CAUT's report, enrolment has increased significantly, up 55% over this period, and the proportion of international students has doubled to 10% of total university students. However, growth in permanent full-time faculty has not kept pace, increasing by 32% while part-time and temporary academic staff grew by 69% and 49%, respectively. The overall share of revenue provided by tuition has increased from 18.9% to 24.1%, while government funding has decreased from 59.3% to 52.1%. The share of expenditures allocated to academic rank salaries has declined from 21.3% to 20.4%. Full Report

Uneven playing field inhibits commercialization of life sciences research

An article in the Globe and Mail looks at the challenges facing life sciences companies in Canada. According to the article, Toronto has become a hub for life sciences innovation; however, the discoveries being made by researchers at institutions like the University of Toronto have not translated into successful commercial endeavours at the same rate as in other countries. According to the article, part of the problem is that, in contrast to other industries in Canada, biotech firms cannot offer flow-through shares, which would reduce the net cost of investment. The article suggests that allowing life sciences startups to use flow-through share financing would help stimulate growth in the sector. Globe and Mail

Study provides evidence for the value of peer review

A study published last week in Science supports the peer-review process as an effective means of predicting the future quality of proposed research. For the study, researchers examined more than 130,000 research projects financed by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) between 1980 and 2008. According to their analysis, a drop of one standard deviation point in NIH peer-review scores corresponded with 15% fewer citations, 7% fewer publications, 19% fewer "high impact" publications, and 14% fewer associated patents. "There are insights in peer review that we can't capture with quantitative information," said study co-author Danielle Li, a professor of business administration at Harvard. The Chronicle of Higher Education | Full Study

Berkeley study examines mental health of graduate students

A survey conducted by the Graduate Assembly at the University of California, Berkeley has revealed a high level of depression among the institution's graduate students. Of the 790 students who responded to the survey, 47% of PhD students and 37% of master's students scored high enough on an assessment scale to be considered depressed. The rate of apparent depression was highest among students in the arts and humanities, reaching 64%. The study identified sleep, overall health, and academic engagement as the top predictors of depression among respondents. The overall top 10 predictors for how graduate students viewed their lives also included career prospects, living conditions, financial confidence, academic progress and preparation, and adviser relationship. Inside Higher Ed | Full Report