Top Ten

May 22, 2015

10 students arrested under suspicion of planning to join terrorist groups

10 students were arrested at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport on Friday under suspicion of “wanting to leave the country to join jihadist groups,” according to RCMP. The students’ passports were confiscated and they were subsequently released without charge as an investigation continues. Four of the students arrested were from Montreal CEGEP Collége Maisonneuve; so far, 11 Maisonneuve students have allegedly left Canada to join terror groups or have been arrested under suspicion of planning to join terror groups. Experts say that the number of arrests in Quebec may be indicative of increased vigilance in the province. Some have also suggested that the arrests point to the need for further education and support for preventative measures against radicalization. National Post | The Record (CP)

Concordia taking steps against rape culture

The Montreal Gazette this week has published a series of articles looking at rape culture on campus. In one piece, students at Concordia University share their accounts of dealing with sexual assault and harassment. Many of the students said that they felt the process of making a complaint was complex, or that they were uncomfortable with having to recount traumatizing experiences. A second piece examines what Concordia is doing to fight rape culture on campus. Concordia President Alan Shepard says that a review of Concordia's policies was launched in December, before the case of a young woman who took her case to the Quebec Human Rights Commission came to public attention. Shepard says that there are steps institutions can take to reduce occurrences of sexual violence on campus. Montreal Gazette (1) | Montreal Gazette (2) 

Northern Lakes passes balanced budget but makes cuts

Alberta's Northern Lakes College has approved a balanced budget, but not without some cuts and restructuring. Two low-enrolment programs have been suspended, and two campuses have been closed. A number of departments have also been restructured, and several staff positions were eliminated. The budget allows the college to invest in new programming and enhance service delivery. It will also provide for the creation of new positions that will support the college's sustainability and provide opportunities for staff to transition to vacant positions. Board chair Daniel Vandermeulen said, "we have focused on becoming more efficient and more effective through this process and we have a broad goal of ensuring that Northern Lakes College remains a financially sustainable institution." Northern Lakes News Release   

STU raises tuition and fees in 2015–16 budget

New Brunswick’s St Thomas University has released a balanced budget for 2015–16 that includes tuition and fee increases for domestic and international students. Domestic students will pay an extra $363 in tuition next year and will also pay $100 more for technology and facility fees. International students will pay an additional $193 in tuition and will also have to pay a new health plan fee of $630. STU President Dawn Russell pointed out that tuition for many programs remains the lowest in the Maritimes and below the provincial average. The budget continues a “restrained approach” to spending and staffing, and also includes increased use of certain internal endowments to cover approved expenditures. STU News Release

MB Minister says uManitoba cuts should target admin, not student services

Manitoba's Advanced Learning Minister James Allum on Wednesday urged the University of Manitoba to make cuts to administration rather than student services and programs as it trims $14.4 M from its budget. Allum told the Winnipeg Free Press that "we expect the efficiencies that the University of Manitoba is looking for to come from administration and vacancy management in order to minimize the impacts on services to students. Our position is that efficiencies should come from administration and not from the services that students count on." He further cautioned uManitoba against relying on higher tuition fees to offset cuts, and emphasized the importance of keeping university affordable; however, he said he accepted the university's decision to increase the surcharge on tuition fees paid by international students. Winnipeg Free Press

NSERC announces CREATE recipients

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has announced the recipients of $28 M in funding under the Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) initiative, which supports job-related training for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. CREATE emphasizes four priority areas: environmental science and technologies; manufacturing; information and communications technologies; and natural resources and energy. NSERC President B Mario Pinto said, "CREATE students master the skills needed for both discovery research as well as innovation. The program is designed to provide them with a strong foundation of life skills, with an emphasis on team-building and communications as well as interdisciplinary research excellence." NSERC News Release | List of Recipients

SMU releases task force report on Aboriginal education

Saint Mary’s University has released the President’s Task Force Report on Aboriginal Students, the result of a task force established last year to examine and improve the supports available to Aboriginal students and to help indigenize the academy. The report contains 17 recommendations, such as establishing a university Elder, including local Aboriginal peoples and communities in key ceremonies, and creating a university chair in Indigenous studies. Two suggestions in the report have already been implemented by SMU: funding has been approved to hire a full-time Aboriginal student advisor, and nominations have begun for the creation of an Aboriginal Advisory Council, which will guide SMU in the implementation of the other recommendations in the report. SMU News | Full Report

uSask President reflects on the past year

One year after the President of the University of Saskatchewan was fired and the Provost resigned in the wake of a controversy around academic freedom, interim President Gordon Barnhart says things on campus are calm. "We've assessed: was our reputation hurt? And I think for the first little while it was," Barnhart said. He went on to note that people seem to have moved on and that donors and alumni have been largely supportive of the university in the last year. Donations to uSask were higher in 2014 than the previous year, indicating to Barnhart that uSask’s reputation is rebounding from the “bump in the road.” StarPhoenix

NAFSA publishes International Education Professional Competencies

US-based organization NAFSA: Association of International Educators this week released the International Education Professional Competencies, a list that defines the knowledge, skills, and abilities expected of international education professionals. The competencies include skills identified as being fundamental to all international education professionals, regardless of specialization. They are organized into four key practice areas: comprehensive internationalization, education abroad, international enrolment management, and international student and scholar services. The list also includes skills necessary to collaborate across international education domains. The Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE), sister association to NAFSA, welcomed the release, noting that while developed from a US perspective, the competencies are applicable in other contexts. NAFSA News Release | CBIE News Release

Elsevier criticized for new sharing and hosting policy for journal articles

Publishing firm Elsevier has come under fire recently for a sharing and hosting policy it adopted last month. Elsevier says that its new policy makes sharing "simple and seamless" while "being consistent with access and usage rights associated with journal articles." However, on Wednesday, 23 open-access advocacy groups from Canada, Australia, Brazil, China, the UK, and the US issued a joint statement saying that the policy "represents a significant obstacle to the dissemination and use of research knowledge, and creates unnecessary barriers for Elsevier-published authors in complying with funders' open-access policies." The organizations cite a 48-month embargo period for some journals and say that licensing requirements inhibit the re-use value of articles. Inside Higher Ed | Elsevier Blog | Joint Statement