Top Ten

July 8, 2015

uToronto wins arbitration case against TA union

An arbitrator has sided with the University of Toronto, saying that they are not required to guarantee a minimum amount of funding to graduate student teaching assistants, something for which CUPE 3902 had argued. In March, after a month-long strike, uToronto and the union had agreed to binding arbitration to resolve their remaining areas of dispute. Union members will instead be eligible to apply to two new bursary funds. “We are very committed to graduate-student funding and are engaged in conversations across the university,” said uToronto Provost Cheryl Regehr. Despite the loss, CUPE 3902 Chair Ryan Culpepper spoke positively about the outcome, saying, “historic gains were made. We are very proud of the agreement.” Globe and Mail | Toronto Star

ON’s credit downgrade could lead to education cuts

Ontario’s funding for education could be negatively impacted by Standard & Poor’s recent decision to downgrade the province’s long-term credit rating. The rating agency cites a “very high debt burden” and “very weak budgetary performance” as reasons for the downgrade from double-A-negative to A-plus. Ontario still plans to spend $130 B over the next ten years, yet most of this spending will focus on transit and other infrastructure. PC Finance Critic Vic Fedeli said that Ontario’s borrowing costs will rise as a result of the downgrade and that the new interest incurred on the province’s debt will “eat into the budget.” Fedeli added, “it takes money away from services we enjoy,” citing education as a service that could be affected. Globe and Mail

International permit wait times creating “competitive disadvantage”

According to the Edmonton Journal, Alberta’s international students are facing wait times of up to three months and are consequently being kept from presenting their research at conferences around the world. These students currently cannot leave the country without renewing their Canadian permits and visas unless they risk significant delays upon re-entering the country. These delays can affect their standing in university programs where many have studied for several years. Marcella Cassiano, a third-year PhD student in sociology at the University of Alberta, said, “International graduate students are highly mobile people. We cannot afford to be grounded in Canada for five months waiting for document renewal and miss the opportunity to present our research in international conferences.” Edmonton Journal

uSask creates bursary for students leaving child welfare system

The University of Saskatchewan has announced the creation of a new bursary for students who were in the child welfare system. The Saskatchewan Youth From Care bursary will fully cover the costs for up to five students per year, including tuition, books, housing, meals, and a laptop. The bursary is the brainchild of former uSask Students’ Union president and Rethinking Higher Ed contributor Max FineDay, and stems from his commitment to bringing diverse voices into higher ed. “These are unique voices, folks who have unique experiences who can do a lot of good and contribute to our society and our university,” he said. CBC | uSask News

CCAE announces winners of annual Prix d’Excellence

The Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE) has announced the winners of its annual Prix d’Excellence, which recognizes Canada’s postsecondary institutions for excellence across 24 categories, including marketing, development, and student recruitment.  This year, uAlberta led the group with seven awards, followed by uCalgary and MUN with five awards each. uToronto, uSask, UBC, and Trent each received four nods, with uWaterloo, UoGuelph, Sheridan, Queen's, McMaster, and McGill each garnering three. 15 other PSE institutions across Canada received one or two awards. CCAE Results

Carleton president advocates the “right” funding model for Ontario

Carleton University President Roseann O’Reilly Runte writes in the Ottawa Citizen that “the ability to pursue one’s education makes Ontario and Canada special and offers hope and motivation to all. Thus, funding for accessibility must continue.” To this end, she offers suggestions for how Ontario might build upon the Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMAs) it approved for each university last year, setting measurable goals and accountabilities for universities while emphasizing collaboration. Rather than “destabilize the system at a time when resources are not abundant,” Ontario should introduce new funding for an “incentive program” that might require universities to find matching funds from the private sector in order to access new government money. Under this model, Runte says, “the province would double its investment” in higher education. Ottawa Citizen

RRC’s new president advocates visibility, outreach

Red River College has announced the appointment of Paul Vogt, a Rhodes scholar and University of Manitoba graduate, as its new president, for a five-year term beginning on August 17th. Hoping to put the tumultuous term of his predecessor behind him, Vogt is charting a new course. “It is necessary for the president to be out [at events],” he said, “visibility is very important for the president of this institution.” He says that he will reach out to graduates and industry leaders. Vogt also emphasized the college’s continuing commitment to Aboriginal education. “The college has done an excellent job of educating Aboriginal students—the estimate is 17% of our student body,” he said. Winnipeg Free Press

Russian parliament seeks ban on foreign foundations, scientists

The Russian Council of the Federation has submitted a bill to the Russian State Duma that would ban certain foreign scientists and organizations from operating in the country. The bill describes these scientists and organizations as threats to national security and places the Soros Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Democratic Institute among the targeted groups. According to Eugene Vorotnikov of University World News, critics of the bill say it “will result in a massive outflow of Western scientists and scientific foundations from Russia.” University World News

One-third of US students transfer institutions within six years of starting college

The US National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has released a report on transfer and mobility for 3.6 million students entering college in the fall of 2008. According to the report, over one-third (37.2%) of these students transferred to a different institution within six years. This poses a significant problem in states with performance-based funding, as these transfer students may not be included in the funding calculations. Given the volume of transfers, it is no longer tenable to simply advise students not to transfer, said Afet Dundar, one the report’s authors; instead, “we need to figure out how to make those transfers hurdle-free,” she said. Chronicle of Higher Education | Full Report

Survey suggests that MOOCs are “supplement” to traditional education

A new report from Duke University shows that MOOCs played a “supplementary role” for students enrolled in 13 of the school’s massive open online courses. A team of researchers analyzed a series of pre-course surveys administered to students who signed up for a MOOC Duke offered in the fall of 2014. They specifically looked at 9,000 responses from three groups of “underserved” learners, which consisted of those below the age of 18 and above 65, as well as those with limited access to higher education. 30% of younger respondents said that they took a MOOC while taking a regular course on the same topic, while 45% of learners over 65 said they signed up for fun and enjoyment. Lead researcher Lorrie Schmid said, “the theme that was most pronounced was that Coursera classes were supplementing or enhancing their education that they were getting from other either K–12 or higher education formal courses.” Inside Higher Ed | Campus Technology | Full Report