Top Ten

July 15, 2015

CBU Students' Union ordered to pay $295,000, remain in student federation

An Ontario Superior Court justice has ordered the Cape Breton University Students’ Union (CBUSU) to pay $295,000 in damages and six years of unpaid dues to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), along with CFS’s legal fees. The two organizations had been engaged in a lawsuit since 2008, when the CBUSU voted 92% to decertify from the CFS. The judge said that he ruled against the union because the petition in question was initiated by a voting member of the union executive when it should only have come from an individual union member. CBUSU President Brandon Ellis said the decision will place a significant strain on the union, adding, “we have about a half a million dollar budget. So I’d be lying if I said that bankruptcy isn’t an option.” CBC | Chronicle Herald | Cape Breton Post

uToronto adopts teaching stream professorial ranks

The University of Toronto has announced that, effective July 1, it will replace the titles of lecturer and senior lecturer with four new titles: assistant professor (conditional), teaching stream; assistant professor, teaching stream; associate professor, teaching stream; and professor, teaching stream. The new titles reflect the university’s emphasis on teaching and learning, according to Provost Cheryl Regehr, and will affect more than 300 faculty members. “This designation honours our talented teaching stream faculty and all that they do to significantly enhance our students’ experience and education,” said Regehr. The release notes that the titles will also help uToronto faculty recruitment, as other universities introduce teaching stream titles. uToronto

CUSC releases 2015 results of Survey of Graduating Students

The Canadian University Survey Consortium (CUSC) has released the results of its 2015 Survey of Graduating Students. The survey is based on results from over 18,000 graduates from 36 universities. Overall, the majority of students (59%) said that their experience “met their expectations,” with a further 23% saying it “exceeded their expectations”; just 18% said that their university experience “fell short” of their expectations. Almost nine in ten students were satisfied with their decision to attend university, and 88% of students would recommend their university to others. In terms of life-skills development, universities contributed most to the ability to interact with people from backgrounds different than their own (64%). Full Report

Ministers announce plan for labour statistics council, but critics want more details

Federal and provincial labour ministers announced this week that they plan to create a Labour Market Information Council. The purpose of the council will be to generate essential data on Canada’s labour market. But critics are expressing frustration over the fact that no funding or start date has been announced for the project. The concept of such a council has been discussed since 2009, when Canada commissioned a report on how to improve labour market information. This report suggested that such a council would cost roughly $49.4 M per year, with $41 M going to Statistics Canada. Globe and Mail | Canada

UoGuelph responsible investing committee releases final report

The University of Guelph’s Working Group on Responsible Investing has released its final report. The product of a six-month consultation process, the report offers numerous recommendations “to align the institution’s investment policy … with its strategic directions and institutional values.” The report makes seven recommendations, including the adoption of a statement emphasizing responsible investing and the evaluation of investments on environmental and social risk factors beyond fiscal performance. The report will go to the board of governors’ finance committee, which will advise the board on any changes to its policies. Guelph Mercury | UoGuelph | Final Report

Trent/Fleming School of Nursing sets priorities for next five years

The Trent/Fleming School of Nursing plans to shift its focus in the coming five years, according to the program’s new plan. The new priorities come in response to the many pressures currently affecting nursing education, such as clinical placement shortages, the need for ready-to-practice nurses, and changes in the entry-to-practice exams and registration for international nurses. One of the biggest changes in the policy is a new, significant focus on mental health. Trent | Peterborough Examiner

NOSM’s Dietetic Internship Program accredited by national body

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine has announced that its Northern Ontario Dietetic Internship Program has received full accreditation status from the Dietitians of Canada until 2022. This decision reportedly makes the program the first post-degree internship in Canada to be assessed using the new Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice Accreditation Standards. Since the internship program first accepted students in 2007, it has trained 99 dietetic interns in more than 35 northern communities. “Our students are receiving a high quality education that results in the graduates of our program providing high quality dietetic service to their patients and clients,” said NOSM Deputy Dean David Marsh. NOSM

New study deems plagiarism detection software ineffective

A recent study suggests that plagiarism detection software such as Turnitin and SafeAssign can miss as much as 40% of plagiarized materials even when these materials draw upon “commonly cited works.” However, Inside Higher Ed reports that the results—which were drawn from six test essays in 2007 and 2015—do not offer a “a comprehensive overview of Turnitin’s strengths and weaknesses.” Rather, the results will likely contribute to ongoing debates about the merits of using software to assess student writing. According to IHE, the studies also noted that the search engine Google “trounced” Turnitin and SafeAssign in its ability to detect plagiarized material. Inside Higher Ed | 2007 Study | 2015 Study

New “microaggressions” policies spark debate over free speech

More and more universities in the United States are adopting explicit policies around “microaggressions,” or words and actions that “denigrate or exclude [some people] as members of some group or class.” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the University of California, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point include discussions of microaggressions as part of their faculty-training efforts. What makes these policies different from existing harassment policies is that they acknowledge the often subtle and subconscious ways that people can undermine others based on exclusion from a group or class. Some free speech advocates, however, are criticizing the administrative trend, with one Stanford professor referring to it as “micro-totalitarianism.” Chronicle of Higher Education (Faculty, Subscription Required) | Chronicle of Higher Education (Comment)

Publicly engaged scholarship seen as “sacrificing” academic career

Times Higher Education reports that, according to a survey of 40 UK academics known for public engagement, academics who dedicate significant amounts of their time to public engagement are “virtually sacrificing [their] academic career.” The small survey found a persistent belief that publicly engaged scholarship was illegitimate or even “parasitic” in comparison to traditional academic research. One manager said of publicly engaged scholarship, “it is when eyes begin to roll—especially at a [vice-chancellor] level.” In a follow-up article, University of Michigan professor Andrew Maynard argues that even though similar attitudes persist in the US context, “there is a vibrant community of academics who do engage—and engage effectively” in public scholarship. Times Higher Education (Original) | Times Higher Education (Response) | Full Study