Top Ten

May 8, 2015

Police investigating possible fraud at UBC

Vancouver police are looking into a possible case of fraud perpetrated against UBC that may have cost the institution more than $400,000, the Globe and Mail reports. Two years ago, the university reportedly fired a medical researcher for improperly claiming expenses multiple times from UBC, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, and the BC Cancer Agency. The researcher also reportedly made expense claims that were vague, inadequate, or "unjustified." UBC's Dean of Medicine Gavin Stuart said that the institution is weighing its options to recoup the money. "UBC takes any and all cases of financial impropriety very seriously. We have zero tolerance for it," Stuart said. Globe and Mail

$97 M in federal funds for jobless youth, literacy went unspent

According to an internal report obtained by CBC, the federal government in 2013–14 spent $97 M less on programs through Employment and Social Development Canada than it promised in its budget. These lapsed funds were earmarked for programs targeting youth unemployment, illiterate adults, people with disabilities, and immigrants. It is the largest such lapse in the five years following the 2008 recession. A department spokesperson said that it is normal for there to be lapsed funds, usually due to delays in large infrastructure projects or defense procurements. The NDP critic for employment and social development Jinny Sims said that lapses are a “scheme to redirect money” towards the deficit and income-splitting programs.CBC

MB introduces new legislation to improve training and skills development

Manitoba has introduced legislation that would provide new certifications in various occupations. The proposed Certified Occupations Act would enable enhanced training for occupations such as truck driving and information technology. The legislation was developed in consultation with industry stakeholders, and any future training programs will be developed in partnership with accredited training providers and the applicable sector. The new system would be separate from the apprenticeship system and would feature a competency-based training model requiring both classroom and on-the-job training. MB News Release

BC provides funding to support students with disabilities

British Columbia will provide $1.2 M in funding to PSE institutions to support training for students with disabilities. The funding will be allocated to 20 institutions to develop training and resources for programs that align with the province's Skills for Jobs Blueprint. Among the recipients will be Langara College, for its Centre for Accessible Post-Secondary Education Resources (CAPER-BC), and the British Columbia Institute of Technology, for the Post-Secondary Communication Access Service (PCAS), which supports students with visual impairment or hearing loss. These facilities support public PSE institutions throughout the province. Additionally, BC will provide $9 M over three years for the Technology@Work program, which provides assistive technologies. BC News Release

ON contributes $1.5 M to Indspire in support of Indigenous education

Ontario has committed $1.5 M to Indspire to support access to PSE for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students. The funding will support the Building Brighter Futures: Bursaries, Scholarships and Awards program, providing support for up to 400 scholarships and awards. Funds will also be used to encourage more Aboriginal students to enter teaching and other education-related programs. ON is providing the funding through the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities; the province committed $5 M for the Postsecondary Fund for Aboriginal Learners in this year’s budget. A recent report showed that Aboriginal students who received an Indspire award have a 93% graduation rate and an 84% employment rate. ON News Release | Indspire News

Okanagan offers "avant-garde" liberal arts program

This fall, Okanagan College will begin offering a new, multidisciplinary liberal arts program for students interested in understanding the connections between key subject areas. The Arts Experience (ArtsX) program was inspired by non-traditional learning approaches at institutions including Quest University and Penticton's En'owkin Centre. It offers students a collaborative learning environment, multi-disciplinary courses, alternative grading, and beyond-the-classroom education experiences. “We wanted to provide students with a non-traditional learning experience that encourages the pursuit of deeper questions, understanding connections, and exploration of creative and bold ideas,” said ArtsX instructor Sharon Josephson. Okanagan News Release

Polytechnique Montréal, uMontréal team with HEC Montréal to expand EDUlib

Polytechnique Montréal and Université de Montréal will team with HEC Montréal to expand the catalogue of free courses available through the EDUlib online platform. The institutions will collaborate to develop and distribute courses on health, educational studies, sciences, engineering, management, and other subjects. In addition, it was announced that EDUlib courses will be migrated to the Open edX platform. EDUlib was launched in 2012 by HEC Montréal to provide a range of high quality French-language university courses to the greatest number of people. HEC Montréal News Release

Blue elephant campaign fights stigma associated with mental illness

Small blue elephants have been popping up around Mount Allison University recently as part of a campaign to combat the stigma around mental illness. The initiative was originally launched by the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, which has provided the elephants to institutions across the country. At MTA, students who join the campaign also receive a booklet about on-campus and community resources. Student mental health is a significant concern: a recent poll found that 53% of Canadians aged 18–33 are at a high risk of mental health issues. 15% of all Canadians who responded to the poll reported feeling depressed to the point of hopelessness several times within the past year. Global News (MTA) | Global News(Poll)

Proposed humanities PhD reform "seriously flawed"

An op-ed published in University Affairs takes aim at proposed reforms for humanities PhD programs. University of Ottawa professor Paul Forster's piece responds to a 2013 white paper that recommends a series of revisions to the standard thesis-based humanities PhD. Forster says that broadening the role of humanities education is a positive move, but takes issue with what he characterizes as the "questionable assumptions" and "unsubstantiated conclusions" of the white paper, particularly its reluctance to address PhD enrolment numbers, its treatment of PhD attrition rates, and its perspective on the job market for PhDs. One of the co-authors of the original white paper, Paul Yachnin, offers a rebuttal to Forster in the comments section. University Affairs

India's outbound student growth rate surpasses China's

A new study from an Indian firm has found that the growth rate of the number of students from India attending university in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand has surpassed that of China. The number of Chinese students attending universities in the five countries grew by 8% between 2013 and 2014, while the number of Indian students grew by over 10%. However, the total number of Chinese students attending school abroad is more than double that of India. The report also notes that Indian students' interest in Canada has grown, possibly because of negative attitudes toward Australia. Much of the growth in Canada has been driven by community colleges. University World News