Top Ten

July 27, 2015

Sheridan breaks ground on new Brampton skilled trades facility

Sheridan College has begun work on a new, $47.5 M facility dedicated to the skilled trades at its Davis Campus in Brampton, Ontario. The building, designed by George Friedman Architect, will be three storeys and 130,000 square feet and is scheduled to open to students in September 2017. Students currently enrolled at the stand-alone Skills Training Centre in Oakville will be relocated, integrating them into campus life. “The new space will open up opportunities for collaboration, movement between credentials, and sharing of equipment and resources that will benefit students in both the trades and our engineering programs,” said Iain McNab, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science and Technology. Sheridan

Canada invests over $2 M for Camosun advanced manufacturing, uVic aerospace centre

The Canadian government has made two significant postsecondary funding announcements in Victoria. Camosun College will receive $1.6 M to create a testing integration lab to support the manufacturing sector. The lab will provide hands-on experience for students and give industry access to the latest manufacturing technologies. Camosun will also develop a Career Hub to encourage both student recruitment and interactions with local employers. The University of Victoria’s Centre for Aerospace Research (CfAR) will receive $527 K for equipment and laboratory upgrades for the design, development, commercialization, and certification of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. uVic | Camosun | Canada

SFU partners with online course provider

Simon Fraser University has partnered with the online education company Kadenze to offer SFU students access to online courses that might not be otherwise available through the university. The system will allow students to receive SFU academic credit for courses they take with recognized international institutions through the online portal. The program allows students to browse course offerings for free, then charges varying membership prices for services such as feedback on assignments or taking full-credit courses. Kadenze said that the cost of full courses starts at $300. 24 Hours Vancouver | Kadenze

John Abbott College prioritizes student building renovations in response to budget cuts

Officials at John Abbott College are shifting their priorities for infrastructure renovations in the wake of a $1.5 M budget cut from the Quebec government, reports the West Island Chronicle. The institution has historically run a budget surplus of $2 M and has often earmarked some of the money for renovations. But according to officials, the drop from this number to approximately $500 K in future budgets means that the CÉGEP will postpone the renovation of some buildings while prioritizing its plans to renovate student spaces. West Island Chronicle

uCalgary introduces program to train, retain rural teachers

The University of Calgary has launched a program designed to train Albertans living in rural areas to become teachers. The 20 inaugural Community-Based Bachelor of Education students have already begun their studies, in which they will spend two weeks on campus each summer and preform the rest of their coursework and practicums in their hometowns. While the program will help provide teacher training to those who might otherwise face access barriers, it will also work to address the chronic issue of high teacher turnover in rural schools. CBC

US should learn from Canada’s international PSE recruitment success

When it comes to the recruitment of international university students, the US will need to follow Canada’s example if it wants to address the changes facing higher education today, writes Forbes contributor Allison Williams. She adds that in both countries, declining enrolment levels, erosion in government funding, and shifts in student demand are putting increased pressure on institutions to adapt. Williams applauds Canada’s comprehensive national strategy for international student recruitment and adds that the US, though it has lagged behind, will have to develop a similar unified approach if it wishes to keep up with the changing world of higher education. Forbes

Panel of recognized scholars calls for “immediate” change in STEM teaching

Nine academics representing the Association of American Universities and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement have called for a new set of teaching practices, programs, and policies they believe are essential for improving the quality of STEM education. In a commentary in the journal Nature, the scholars call for new systems to evaluate and reward excellent teaching at three levels: the individual faculty member, the department or college, and university administration. They conclude that “institutions, colleges and departments must expect and enable their faculty members to be scholarly about teaching. And they must assess, recognize and reward those who are.” Nature | Campus Technology

Lack of proper oversight makes universities all but fictional, says policy director

Universities essentially do not exist, writes New America Education Policy Director Kevin Carey in the New York Times. Or to clarify, universities are not the unified, quality-controlled institutions that are represented in their marketing materials and student admissions messaging. To explore this point, Carey reflects on the numerous scandals in which American universities have been caught delivering courses that do not exist, instead offering student transcript credentials in exchange for money or for participation on school athletic teams. Rather than an exception to a general rule, this lack of academic oversight is common among the many fragmented departments of today’s universities, concludes Carey. New York Times

Professors should think twice about calls for peer teaching evaluation

Recent criticisms of the effectiveness of student teaching evaluations have caused some to recommend peer faculty evaluation as a more accurate method of assessing university teaching performance. However, psychology professors Jonathan M Golding and Philipp J Kraemer suggest that the problem lies not with who is doing the evaluating, but with the nature of the evaluation itself. For them, the notion of such assessment “violates a sense of professionalism and academic freedom.” They agree that university professors should be held accountable for their in-class performance; yet in a university, “teaching and research depend on the assumption that professors do not require top-down management of their work.” Inside Higher Ed

Texas eyes economic development in its efforts to attract top researchers

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Texas has spent $250 M to lure more than 80 top cancer researchers to the state. Some of the salaries offered include $10 M for a professor of pediatrics and $7.5 M for a dean of cancer biology and genetics. The spending is part of an effort to position Texas as a world leader in the study of cancer, which the state hopes will create jobs and bolster the economy. At a time when universities are facing increased financial constraints, Texas’s strategy has drawn a number of responses ranging from the envious to the strongly critical. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)