Top Ten

June 4, 2015

NU to fund feasibility study for arctic university

Nunavut has announced that it will fund a feasibility study to explore the possible creation of an arctic university. A recent report recommended the creation of a university, independent of government and Inuit organizations, in Iqaluit. The proposed institution would be accessible to all but would primarily serve Inuit students, offering mandatory classes in traditional Inuit knowledge and language. The school would also grant Elders the same status and salary as full professors. The report suggested that the new university would initially offer courses in Inuit studies, fine arts, linguistics, and political science, as well as Indigenous governance, education, health, natural science, and law. Globe and Mail

UBC to pilot micro units in new student residence

UBC has announced a pilot project that will see 43 "micro unit" apartments built in a new student residence building. Each 145-square-foot unit will include a bathroom, kitchen, study area, and sleeping space and will rent for less than $700 per month. Students would sleep on beds that pull out of the wall. UBC Managing Director of Student Housing and Hospitality Services Andrew Parr said, "this is one way we're contemplating to address affordability. We're going to test the waters with students." UBC's board of governors will vote on Tuesday whether or not to grant final approval to the project. UBC News Release | Vancouver Sun

CCA announces revised funding structure

The Canada Council of the Arts has released the details of its new funding model, which will take effect in 2017. The new model will replace the existing 147 discipline-based programs with six national, non-disciplinary programs, each with specific objectives. The new programs include Explore and Create; Engage and Sustain; Creating, Knowing and Sharing Aboriginal Arts; Renewing Artistic Practice; Art Across Canada; and Arts Abroad. CCA says that the new approach responds to a number of issues and trends, such as a need for better flexibility, evolving artistic practices, alternative organizational models, and technological change. Ottawa Citizen | CCA Announcement

Cape Breton mayor suggests moving NSCC's Marconi Campus to downtown facility

Nova Scotia Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Geoff McLellan has confirmed that Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke recently contacted him about the possibility of building a new home for programming offered at Nova Scotia Community College's Marconi campus. Clarke has proposed a new downtown waterfront complex that would also include a new library and provincial government offices. So far, the discussions are in a preliminary stage; MacLellan noted that "we haven't [yet] spoken to any of the potential participants that would be part of this facility," including NSCC. A feasibility study is still months away. However, proponents are optimistic about the positive impact such a facility would have. Cape Breton Post

HEQCO offers insights on teaching in northern, remote, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has released a new report sharing the perspectives of recent bachelor of education graduates who taught in northern, remote, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities. The report emphasizes the importance of "understanding the unique social dynamics of northern communities," and suggests that new teachers involve themselves in the community. Graduates also reported that their success was often affected by the legacy of residential schools and mistrust in the education system. They recommend establishing strong relationships with the parents and grandparents of students. Graduates also encouraged other teachers to be prepared to implement creative teaching and assessment methods to address gaps in student abilities. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

CFS sounds alarm over private student debt levels

A new analysis of Statistics Canada data conducted by the Canadian Federation of Students indicates a troubling increase in privately held debt among PSE graduates. According to the CFS, private debt for bachelor's degree graduates increased by 53% between 2000 and 2010, while public debt increased by just 5.2% over the same period. Private debt for PhD graduates increased by 113.6% between 2000 and 2010, while debt for those who owed to public sources increased by an average of 6.5%. The CFS says that "as tuition fees and other upfront costs continue to rise ... and more people continue to hit the public loan borrowing limits, it makes sense that people will increasingly turn to private sources in order to make ends meet." CFS News Release | Full Report

PhDs need better preparation for non-academic careers

According to Conference Board of Canada data, less than 20% of PhD graduates find careers as tenure-track professors. However, this may not mean that universities are producing too many PhD graduates. Conference Board researcher Daniel Munro says that "if the purpose of a PhD is to train people for academia, then we produce way too many. By contrast, if you think the purpose of a PhD is to produce advanced researchers, then ... maybe we produce just the right amount." Munro suggests that the problem is not the number of PhDs, but that many PhDs are not well-prepared for careers outside of academia. Moreover, misconceptions held by many employers may make them reluctant to hire PhDs. National Post

More institutions exploring restorative justice for conduct violations

An article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education examines how a growing number of PSE institutions are implementing restorative justice processes to address violations of campus policies. The article details the use of restorative justice at Dalhousie University, noting that the approach drew widespread attention from both advocates and critics. Since first appearing at a small number of campuses a decade ago, restorative justice has been adopted by more than 70 colleges and universities, according to practitioner and researcher David R Karp. It has been used for offenses ranging from abuse of academic accommodations to sexual harassment. However, practitioners say that it does not fit with every infraction. It requires involvement of the victim, and that the offender admit guilt. The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Wisconsin joint finance committee votes to eliminate tenure from state statute

Faculty members in the University of Wisconsin system are angry after the state legislature's joint finance committee voted to eliminate tenure from state statute, to limit the faculty role in shared governance, and to make it easier for the system to eliminate staff and faculty. The finance committee said the measures will allow the state to deal with a significant budget cut; however, PROFS, a Madison-based faculty advocacy group, said that if passed by the full legislature the measures would "inflict lasting damage on a highly successful institution" by making it difficult to attract and retain top faculty. Inside Higher Ed says that the clout of the finance committee makes it likely that the state legislature will approve its recommendations; however, the fate of tenure would be up to the system's board of regents. Inside Higher Ed

Postscript: June 9, 2015

The Board of Regents for the University of Wisconsin system has voted to adopt a tenure policy to replace the one that could be removed from the state statute. However, they decided against formally opposing the changes proposed by state legislators. According to Inside Higher Ed, faculty members have expressed their disappointment with the board’s decision, as "board policy will always be second to state law." Separately, in an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the two top executives of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges have warned Wisconsin against weakening tenure and shared governance. Inside Higher Ed | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Postscript: July 15, 2015

Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin, has signed into law a bill removing provisions on tenure and shared governance from state law. The proposal was opposed by administrators and faculty alike, and received criticism across the country. Walker has said, however, that governing boards can implement important features as system policy. Inside Higher Ed

Internet leads to digital divide in young people's political knowledge

Two researchers from Université de Montréal have reported a significant decline in political knowledge among 18–25-year-olds in most established democracies. Henry Milner and Eric Guntermann, who presented their findings at the recent Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Ottawa, say that the Internet has changed the way students access political information. Young people who are not interested in politics can more easily avoid the subject, while those who are interested can immerse themselves. The result is a deep digital divide. Milner said that political knowledge tended to be greater in countries that had begun to address the issue by adapting civic education techniques for the Internet generation. Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences News Release