Top Ten

July 9, 2015

Canada gives $2 M to TRU for oil and gas engineering program

The Canadian government will give just over $2 M to Thompson Rivers University to help establish an engineering program to support skills training in oil and gas production and processing facilities. This two-year program will train BC’s workforce in the control and measurement systems used in the production of various commodities. TRU President Alan Shaver said, “this investment recognizes [our] ability to mobilize to meet the changing needs of the nation’s economy. Our new training and education programs will lead to more instrumentation engineering technologists which are needed in many industrial sectors.” Canada News Release | TRU News

uToronto investigation finds anti-vaccine course flawed, but not unbalanced

Earlier this week, the University of Toronto publicly released its report on a health studies course, in which students were assigned material stating that vaccines are toxic and cause serious health problems. According to the Globe and Mail, the university is standing by the course, saying in the report that the immunization content  “had not been unbalanced” and that “in context, [it] would enable critical analysis and inquiry.” The report goes on to say that the course “could be strengthened by greater engagement of academic colleagues.” The course, taught in the past by homeopath Beth Landau-Halpern, will not be offered in the summer or fall semesters, according to Director of Media Relations Althea Blackburn-Evans. Globe and Mail | Toronto Star | Full Report

RRC receives $1.75 M for construction research, training centre

Red River College will receive a Technology Access Centres Grant of $1.75 M to build the Centre for Building Envelope Performance. With this centre, RRC will collaborate with the local construction industry to support innovation in building envelope design and construction while conducting applied research and providing specialized education and training in the construction field. Funds for the project will come from the College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program, which is managed by NSERC in collaboration with CIHR and SSHRC. Canada News Release | Winnipeg Free Press

Research funding key to cutting carbon footprint, says uCalgary president

In an article in the Globe and Mail, University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon writes that government funding of university research is “crucial to transforming Canada’s energy sector and achieving the Group of Seven’s new commitment to deeply cut emissions and decarbonize the global economy by 2100.” Cannon adds that this funding is especially important for a new generation of researchers, who must tackle the environmental challenges of the future. For Cannon, Canada must build on its already impressive track record of funding R&D; as she notes, “in 2012, universities performed almost 40% of research and development activities in Canada, significantly more than in any other [OECD] country.” Globe and Mail

HEQCO releases report on interpretation of learning outcomes

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has released a report on the challenges arising as learning outcomes begin to replace credit hours as the preferred unit of measurement for postsecondary learning. These challenges come primarily from the diverse language and adjudication models that different institutions use to describe and measure learning outcomes. The report finds that this diversity can affect the extent to which outcomes can be assessed and interpreted. As part of this study, HEQCO convened a consortium of six institutions: Durham College, Humber College, George Brown College, Queen’s University, the University of Guelph, and the University of Toronto. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

uWindsor set to launch Co-op, Careers, and Employment Centre

The University of Windsor plans to open a new Student Co-op, Careers, and Employment Centre by the end of this year. The centre will be located on the first floor of the existing Joyce Entrepreneurship Centre and will prepare students to compete in the job market once they complete their degrees. uWindsor President Alan Wildeman said, “there’s a greater interest and focus in Ontario on a university education resulting in a job. We want our graduates to find the work they want.” Windsor Star

On open access, uRegina press publisher suggests caution, experimentation

In an article for University Affairs, Bruce Walsh, the publisher of the University of Regina Press, advocates a middle ground on open access (OA). The “multinational grip” on publishing has led to ever-higher prices, he says, and means that publicly-funded research is not always freely available. However, he argues that academic presses can still add value, helping prevent monographs from languishing online like so many self-published books in the past. As such, uRegina Press is making some initial experiments in this direction, buoyed by Athabasca University Press’s observation that open access actually leads to more sales, not less. Earlier this year, uRegina Press released Free Knowledge: Confronting the Commodification of Human Discovery for free on their website. University Affairs

Chinese students eager to attend universities in US, Canada

A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education follows the story of Chinese student Abby Wu and her efforts to enrol in a North American university. The article notes that Wu’s story is becoming common in China, with more than 275,000 Chinese students set to start classes on American campuses this fall. In many respects, these choices on the part of Chinese parents are “a political maneuver, a personal sacrifice, a bet on greater opportunity abroad,” since according to one interviewed Chinese parent, “in China, a lot of the good opportunity is not open to just the normal family [without political connections].” The article later mentions that like Wu, many Chinese students may elect to attend university in Canada for its lower tuition rates. The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Small handful of universities responsible for much of soaring US grad student debt

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that according to recent numbers from the US Department of Education (DOE), just 20 institutions account for nearly one-fifth of all graduate loans issued by the DOE. This trend comes at a time when loans for graduate education comprise $35 B of the $100 B disbursed by the DOE in 2014. In addition, the share of graduate debt coming from the 20 institutions listed outstrips their share of enrolment. Private for-profit institutions like the University of Phoenix figured prominently in the institutions listed, but so did non-profit institutions like Georgetown University, George Washington University, NYU, Columbia, and USC. The Chronicle of Higher Education

Financial health of US colleges stabilizing, says credit rating agency

Moody’s, the US credit rating agency, has analyzed the financial health of the US higher education sector, finding that its overall health has stabilized. For public colleges, the report finds that state funding has increased for the first time in ten years and debt levels have increased more slowly than in the past. For private colleges, revenue growth has exceeded expense growth for the first time in four years, and solid investment returns combined with philanthropic giving have helped their bottom lines. Nevertheless, 20% of institutions continue to face revenue growth challenges. Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education | Moody’s Release