Top Ten

May 11, 2015

CAUT threatens to sanction NS institutions that invoke Bill 100

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has warned that any Nova Scotia university that attempts to use some powers granted by the controversial Bill 100 will face sanctions. "In the event you seek to use the powers in the legislation that take away the right to strike and grant government unprecedented powers to direct and determine research and instructional priorities, CAUT will immediately proceed with censure," said Executive Director David Robinson in a letter to NS's university presidents. Robinson said that censure could negatively affect an institution's reputation, donations, and finances. Delegates to CAUT's recent annual meeting voted unanimously to condemn Bill 100 "as an unacceptable violation of constitutional rights, university autonomy, and academic freedom." CAUT News Release (Censure) | CAUT News Release (Vote) | ChronicleHerald

uManitoba receives $13 M for collaborative research

Three research teams at the University of Manitoba have received more than $13 M from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Manitoba Hydro. The funded projects focus on provincial waterways, including the study of river ice, the effects of climate change and hydro-electric activity, and the protection of endangered marine life. “We are excited to embark upon this new partnership with Manitoba Hydro to find solutions to very difficult challenges affecting our aquatic and hydrological environments,” said Digvir S Jayas, uManitoba VP Research and International. “I congratulate the research teams on their success in obtaining these competitive funds.” uManitoba News

uOttawa launches $400 M fundraising campaign

The University of Ottawa on Saturday launched the largest fundraising campaign in the institution's history. "Defy the Conventional: The Campaign for uOttawa" aims to raise $400 M for the institution. It will focus around four areas of action: crafting a stronger Canada, focused on contributing to public discourse and training future leaders; making a better life for all Canadians, focused on medical education and neuroscience research; harnessing the potential of the next generation, focused on scholarships, bursaries, internships, and startup support; and transforming the campus, focused on making uOttawa a better place to learn, live, and work. uOttawa News Release

Study on Canadian inequality marred by lack of data

A study that sought to find the hardest places to live in Canada was seriously compromised by a lack of data. The study, conducted by the University of Toronto's Mowat Centre, sought to replicate a US study that measured on a county-by-county basis factors including life expectancy, jobless rates, disability and obesity rates, and level of education. The Mowat Centre researchers wanted to start a dialogue about inequality, but shifted their focus to the lack of evidence needed for that conversation. The researchers lacked adequate data for areas including large sections of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Labrador. They have called for the reinstatement and expansion of the long-form census, and for more sharing of data between government departments. Globe and Mail

NB pilot program aims to retain international student entrepreneurs

New Brunswick has launched a three-year pilot project that will help international students hoping to start businesses in the province. Through the initiative, graduates of the University of New Brunswick's J Herbert Smith Centre for Technology and Entrepreneurship will receive help applying for permanent residency in Canada. Applicants to the program must invest a minimum of $10,000 in a new business, have an active management role in the company, and commit to not selling their business for at least three years after attaining permanent residency status. It is hoped that the project will help NB attract and retain international student entrepreneurs. NB News Release

Survey shows effects of policy changes on demographics of prospective immigrants

A new study from World Education Services has revealed some demographic effects of changes to Canada's immigration policies. The results of a survey completed by approximately 3,200 prospective immigrants show that 95% of respondents were between the ages of 25 and 44, up from 84% before 2013. 59% of respondents said that their highest level of education was a bachelor's degree, up from 34% in 2012, when Canada introduced  the mandatory educational credential assessment process. 42% had a master's degree, up from 18%. The number of prospective immigrants with a PhD dropped from 5% in 2012 to 3%. 47% of respondents said they intended to settle in Ontario, 22% said Alberta, 12% said British Columbia, and 4% said Nova Scotia. Toronto Star

Canada must use its education advantage to compete in the global economy

An op-ed published in the Globe and Mail argues that Canada's lack of investment in research and development is putting the economy at risk. Scott Barlow says that many factors that have sustained the economy over the past decade or more, including the domestic auto sector and a commodity boom, will not remain viable for long. Barlow says that Canada is capable of producing top talent—he cites Y Combinator CEO Sam Altman's recent praise for the University of Waterloo—but argues that long-term prosperity will require that the country use its "education advantage" to develop goods and services that other countries can't produce. Globe and Mail (Subscription Required)

UBC student defends punctuation-free dissertation

A PhD student at UBC has successfully defended his dissertation, a 149-page document that is written without punctuation or capitalization. Patrick Stewart is a 61-year-old architect from the Nisga’a First Nation. His Interdisciplinary Studies dissertation, entitled “Indigenous Architecture through Indigenous Knowledge,” is designed to “make a point” about Aboriginal culture, colonialism, and “the blind acceptance of English language conventions in academia.” Stewart’s first draft was written entirely in Nisga’a, but it failed to receive approval from a senior UBC professor so Stewart translated it into English. To satisfy the many critics and scholars who “couldn’t handle” the writing style, Stewart added in a short abstract, written in standard, punctuated English, at the beginning of each chapter. National Post | Inside Higher Ed

OECD considering expansion of AHELO assessment initiative

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is weighing whether to proceed with a project to measure university teaching quality. The OECD completed a feasibility study for its Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO) project in 2012, and has asked member nations if they would be interested in participating in a larger "main study." OECD's Director of Education and Skills Andreas Schleicher said that while the OECD itself won't produce a ranking from the results, introducing outcomes into its assessment would create "a more level playing field that is less influenced simply by past reputation and those kind of things." However, skeptics say that the diversity of courses offered at institutions could make the program unfeasible. Inside Higher Ed (Times Higher Education)

US institutions embrace yield marketing to convince students to enrol

An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at how US institutions are intensifying their efforts to convince admitted students to enrol. The article says that what was once a relaxed process of checking in with students and hosting open houses has transformed with the advent of "yield marketing." At Wesleyan University, staff maintain daily contact with students and their parents with email, postcards, and phone calls, all focused on bringing students to campus for "Slice of College Life" overnight events. While parents attend a cocktail reception with the university president, students play games designed to convince them that the institution is a good fit. This year, Wesleyan spent $116,000 on yield marketing, not including staff costs and routine expenses. The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)