Top Ten

June 25, 2015

SFU teaching support staff withhold final grades in labour dispute

The Vancouver Sun reports that members of the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) at Simon Fraser University are refusing to provide final marks to students when the summer term ends in August. The union—which represents 1,500 teaching assistants, tutor markers, and sessional lecturers—filed a strike notice in March, after 92% of its members voted in favour of strike action. The union has filed a grievance against the university after its members were ordered to provide marks. “This is an act of coercion. The university is instructing our members to break a strike,” said TSSU Spokesman George Temple. Vancouver Sun

Postscript: June 26, 2015

Simon Fraser University has responded to the decision by the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) to withhold final marks. According to the release, the decision results from a failure to meet “certain unilateral conditions” set by the union, which SFU believes to be inconsistent with the Labour Code. Prior to June 17, the university gathered interim grades in anticipation of impending labour action. According to the release, the union has instructed its members to continue to review papers, but to continue withholding grades. SFU Labour Update

uWinnipeg starts construction on downtown student housing complex

The University of Winnipeg has begun construction on uWinnipeg Commons, a 14-storey apartment complex in downtown Winnipeg that will provide housing for students, families, and individuals. A portion of the units in the mixed-use complex will have rents based on the tenant’s income, with a provincial subsidy making up the difference. “We know that high quality, affordable housing connected to campus is important to our students, especially those who are also parents juggling family life and studies,” said uWinnipeg President Annette Trimbee. “The students and families who live here will enrich the neighbourhood and provide an economic boost for local businesses," said MB Premier Greg Selinger. uWinnipeg News | Winnipeg Free Press | Metro News

NB raises cap on student debt forgiveness program

New Brunswick has raised the ceiling on its Timely Completion Benefit (TCB) program, a change that will add $6,000 to some students’ debts. Previously, students who completed their programs within a specific timeframe could apply to have any loans over $26,000 forgiven by the province; this threshold has been raised to $32,000. Noting that postsecondary students in NB already face “tremendous challenges,” Lindsay Handren, Executive Director of the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA), said, “the decision to increase the debt cap for the Timely Completion Benefit will place added strain on hundreds of those individuals.” According to the NBSA, NB students graduating with debt already owe more than students from any other province. CBC | NBSA Release

ON, Canada provide $3.8 M funding for Georgian's Marine Emergency Duties Centre

Ontario has announced that it will match the federal government in providing over $1.9 M, for a total of $3.8 M, to Georgian College for its new Marine Emergency Duties Training and Research Centre, at the Owen Sound campus. Georgian President MaryLynn West-Moynes said, “With this announcement, Georgian and this entire region will become the marine training centre of excellence for Ontario. … This is good news for students, working mariners, the marine industry, and the local economy—it is a very smart investment.” ON Release | Georgian News

MB launches new PSE strategy, creates online transfer portal

Manitoba has launched a new provincial postsecondary education strategy, to more effectively meet student needs and respond to labour market demands. “We are working with universities and colleges in a culture of collaboration to make advanced education opportunities more accessible, and ensure that education as a whole is more responsive to the needs of our communities,” said Premier Greg Selinger. As part of this initiative, the province will launch a new online credit transfer portal that will show students their existing credits and whether they apply to courses offered by one of seven institutions. MB Release | Winnipeg Free Press | Global News

Supply of nurses decreases for first time in 20 years

According to a new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), for the first time in 20 years more nurses have left the profession than entered it. While growth of the regulated nursing workforce has remained stable, the actual number of nurses eligible to work dropped 0.3%; registered nurses (RNs) specifically dropped 1.0%, offsetting gains by licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs). “It will be important to monitor this trend and to understand what factors are affecting the supply of nurses going forward,” said Andrea Porter-Chapman, CIHI’s manager of Health Workforce Information. Globe and Mail | CBC | Toronto Star | CIHI Release

uOttawa and Library and Archives Canada announce new shared resource collaboration

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the University of Ottawa have announced that they plan over the next five years to collaborate on research and outreach initiatives while sharing their expertise, knowledge, and technology. This arrangement is reportedly the first of its kind between LAC and a Canadian university. Said LAC representative Guy Berthiaume, “the innovation and the skill level at the Library and the University’s School of Information Studies are well known across the country. I’m convinced this new partnership will position both our institutions at the cutting edge in library and archival sciences.” uOttawa Release

UoGuelph launches new, mobile-friendly homepage

The University of Guelph has launched a new homepage, aimed at increasing user- and smartphone-friendliness. The page is designed to fit better on a mobile device, reducing the need to zoom and scroll. “[The new layout] gives us more flexibility in what content we display on the homepage, and allows us to better display stories, audio and video,” said Stuart Robertson, web manager in Communications and Public Affairs. The homepage uses dropdown menus to organize the content into several sections; on a smartphone, the site's responsive design condenses these into a single menu. UoGuelph News

Lakehead, Queen’s sign mining engineering MOU

Lakehead and Queen’s University have signed an MOU declaring the schools’ commitment to work together to provide more opportunities for students in mining engineering. The specific areas of collaboration include opportunities for students to take online courses and potential residency programs in mining engineering. Kimberly Woodhouse, Dean of Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, said, “by working together to create new and innovative pathways to education in this field, we will increase our capacity to meet the growing demand for highly skilled workers in the mining industry, a key driver of economic development in Ontario.” The partnership could take effect as soon as winter 2016. CBC | Lakehead Release

Survey finds Americans value skills over degrees

According to a recent US poll, Americans both old and young no longer believe that you need a college degree to be successful. Instead, respondents indicated that technological competence, interpersonal skills, and networking connections matter more to them than credentials. The poll divided respondents into a younger cohort that identified themselves as just getting started in career life and an older cohort that identified themselves as being established in their careers. Only 55% of the younger cohort and 53% of the older felt that a university education was “very important” to a good career. The Atlantic