Top Ten

May 1, 2015

Algoma's balanced budget raises tuition, closes residence

Algoma University has become the latest institution to increase tuition fees following board approval of its 2015–16 budget on Wednesday. Domestic students will see a 3% increase, while international students' tuition will increase by 5%. Three senior administrative positions will be lost through attrition, though the university expects to add two full-time faculty positions. The board also voted to close its Windsor Park residence, and will cut some low-enrolment elective courses and some transitional courses for international students. The balanced $30.6 M budget reflects a projected decline in domestic and international enrolment. Sault Star

Colleges Ontario's new strategic plan calls for focus on youth unemployment

Colleges Ontario has issued its new strategic plan for 2015–18, including a call for Ontario to do more to address youth unemployment. The plan, entitled Fuelling Prosperity, suggests that Ontario reform its apprenticeship system to help more people get skills training, encourage more people to enrol in career-focused programs, and strengthen its credit-transfer system to allow students to pursue combinations of university and college education. The document lists Colleges Ontario's five strategic priorities: developing a new generation of leaders, investing in learning and teaching excellence, providing the right education and credentials for tomorrow's workforce, increasing opportunities for access and student success, and providing strong community leadership. Colleges Ontario News ReleaseFuelling Prosperity

MUN faculty association joins divestment push

Professors at Memorial University have joined the growing number of faculty groups across Canada campaigning for divestment. The institution's faculty association passed a motion this week calling on the university to explore the possibility of divesting from companies that deal with oil, gas, and coal. "We know removing our small investments—relatively speaking small investments—from fossil fuels is not going to solve the problem of climate change, but it's an important symbolic and moral message, we feel," said anthropology professor Robin Whitaker. A MUN official told CBC that the institution had not yet received anything from the faculty association that it could comment on. CBC

SFU receives gift in support of Aboriginal entrepreneurship

Simon Fraser University has received $1.3 M from RBC to fund two initiatives that will help prepare Aboriginal students to become leaders in entrepreneurship and innovation. $100,000 of the gift will establish the RBC First Peoples Enterprise Accelerator, which will support early-stage businesses and social ventures. The accelerator will be facilitated by the Beedie School of Business's RADIUS social innovation lab. The gift will also help establish the RBC Award in Aboriginal Business and Leadership, which will provide $30,000 in scholarships each year to encourage Aboriginal students to pursue careers as entrepreneurs. SFU News Release

New report finds no evidence of STEM skills shortage

A new report released by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) has found that supply and demand for STEM skills are balanced at the national level, though there remains room for long-term improvement. An 11-person expert panel found little evidence of a national STEM skills shortage, and also concluded that STEM skills are not a "magic bullet" for innovation and growth. The report emphasizes the importance of strong foundational skills in math and science, and cautions that it is impossible to accurately forecast what skills and knowledge will be required in the future. The US National Science Board (NSB) arrived at similar conclusions in a report released last week. CCA News Release | Full Report | Globe and Mail

Coates, Axworthy debate university enrolment

The National Post has published dueling op-eds in which Lloyd Axworthy and Ken Coates debate how many young people should be attending university. Coates revisits his argument that institutions should be more selective in admitting students, arguing that growing class sizes have led to a decline in quality. Axworthy counters that education is a "fundamental building block in the wellbeing of democracy" and that reducing enrolment as Coates suggests would contribute to inequality. Axworthy quotes Andrew Parkin's recent argument on Academica's Rethinking Higher Ed that education need not be a zero-sum game, and emphasizes the value of a liberal arts education as well as skills-based training for preparing graduates for an uncertain future. National Post (Coates) | National Post (Axworthy)

Students, profs help earthquake-stricken Nepal

The Canadian PSE community is rallying to support Nepal, which was hit by a catastrophic earthquake on Saturday. University of Calgary physician Christine Gibson was in Nepal when the quake struck, and has stayed to provide assistance. At the University of Guelph, professor Manish Raizada is working to roll out sustainable agriculture kits to prevent a possible food shortage. Medical students at Memorial University are moving ahead with a planned trip to Nepal in the summer, and a group of students at Queen’s University is working to raise money to help their families back in Nepal. As of Thursday, the death toll from the earthquake had risen to over 5,500. Kingston Whig-Standard | CBC (1) | CBC (2) | UoGuelph News Release

MBA students increasingly swayed by institution location

Location plays a big role in attracting MBA students, according to a recent article in The Globe and Mail. While Canada itself already offers several advantages to international students, experts say that students are also choosing schools based on where they want to live. In the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) rankings of cities for students, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver all placed in the top 20. “Someone from France or China will say, ‘I want to study in a good university, but I also want to go somewhere that will be exciting for me,’” said Federico Pasin, Director of International Activities at HEC Montréal. Globe and Mail

Brookings rankings use alumni outcomes to measure value added

The Brookings Institution, a US think tank, has developed a new set of college rankings that measure an institution’s “value added.” Using three economic measures of alumni—midcareer earnings, student-loan repayment, and “occupational earnings power”—Brookings tries to determine the portion of alumni success that can be attributed to the institution, rather than giving an institution credit for enrolling well-prepared or wealthy students. “We thought it would be much better to have a value-added system than one that rewards elite colleges for attracting the most-prepared students,” said Jonathan Rothwell, the lead author of the report. The Chronicle of Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed | Full Report

Peer reviewer’s sexist comments cause online firestorm

Scientific journal PLOS ONE has come under fire for a sexist comment reportedly made by one of its anonymous peer reviewers. The paper in question, written by evolutionary geneticist Fiona Ingleby and evolutionary biologist Megan Head, explored gender differences in the transition from PhD student to postdoc. The reviewer rejected the paper, saying in part that “it would probably … be beneficial to find one or two male biologists to work with (or at least obtain internal peer review from, but better yet as active co-authors).” In a statement, PLOS responded that they regret “the tone, spirit, and content of this particular review.” ScienceInsider | Times Higher Education