Top Ten

July 28, 2015

Feds announce recipients of Post-Secondary Partnerships funding

The federal government has announced the recipients of 2015­­–16 funding through the Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP). 73 projects at various institutions have been selected to receive funding; PSPP provides funds for institutions to design and deliver courses and programs tailored for First Nations and Inuit students. The government has committed $14.76 M for the chosen projects, which include a wide range of topics from big data analysis to education to nursing. Some institutions will receive funding for multiple projects, such as Six Nations Polytechnic, which is getting $1.4 M in total. Other recipients include First Nations Technical Institute, which will receive $74,250 for a community diabetes support program; Nunavut Arctic College, which will get $750 K for an early childhood education program; and Lethbridge College, which will receive $380 K for its new community health promotion program. Canada (Six Nations) | Canada (FNTI) | Arctic College | Full list of projects

Growing number of Alberta students relying on food banks

Alberta postsecondary students are relying on food banks at an increasing rate, following on the trends that have recently been reported in neighbouring BC. The Campus Foodbank at the University of Alberta saw its usage nearly double last month. Meanwhile, MacEwan University’s food bank saw the number of food hampers it distributed leap from 310 to 457 since the 2013–14 academic year. The University of Lethbridge’s number of distributed hampers rose from 222 to 275 in the same period. Food Banks Canada reports that the percentage of students relying on food banks is highest in Quebec, followed by Ontario and Alberta. Edmonton Journal

uWindsor closes student residence over mould concerns

The University of Windsor has reportedly closed one of its Clark Residences buildings after numerous complaints of mould; the closure affects 150 students. An environmental assessment of another group of Clark townhouses has also been ordered. uWindsor’s Director of Public Affairs John Coleman said that no former residents have reported any medical issues. He added that at this point, it is unclear when the residence will reopen or where the students will be housed in the interim, but that “every student will be accommodated in other housing.” Windsor Star | CTV News

New McMaster program encourages Indigenous students to pursue grad studies

McMaster University has launched a new summer program designed to encourage Indigenous students to consider graduate studies. The Indigenous Undergraduate Summer Research Scholars (IUSRS) program is a collaboration between McMaster’s Indigenous Studies Program and the School of Graduate Studies; the program runs for six weeks, with students participating in workshops and research activities that allow them to see what life as a grad student is like. Students have been paired with faculty supervisors and peer mentors, and have access to Elders-in-residence during the program. Students will also participate in activities within the local communities—both Hamilton and Six Nations of the Grand River. Acting VP Research Allison Sekuler said she proposed the program not only to provide a “transformational experience” for Indigenous students, but also to “broaden the understanding of Indigenous research within the Academy.” McMaster | Globe and Mail | Radio Canada | Program Info

Concordia to review asbestos report following backlash

Concordia University is reviewing a report it commissioned on the public relations lessons to be learned from Quebec’s asbestos industry. The review comes in response to scientists and human-rights advisers who accused the initial report of being filled with bias and inaccuracies. The initial report was written by John Molson School of Business lecturer John Aylen, who included an analysis of Quebec’s cancellation of a $58 M loan to the asbestos-producing Jeffrey Mine. According to the Montreal Gazette, the report did not disclose that Aylen had repeatedly spoken and written in favour of the asbestos industry while working as a paid spokesperson for Baljit Chadha, the lead proponent of the Jeffrey Mine expansion. Kathleen Ruff, a senior adviser with the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute, said, “it’s so shocking that a university would be putting forward work of such unacceptable calibre and such incredible bias. The report clearly fails to declare a conflict of interest.” Montreal Gazette

Student debt increases likelihood of staying single, study says

A recent study at the University of North Carolina has found a correlation between student debt and marriage rates. The study surveyed hundreds of students who completed an MBA and found that every $10 K of student debt decreased their odds of getting married by 3% to 4%. The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) estimates that the average debt of someone studying in Canada is about $27 K after completing all levels of education, although the number can vary dramatically from province to province. CBC

University world-ranking a top priority, say European students

A recent survey of students from across Europe has found that 62% of those interviewed believe that a university’s world ranking will help them find employment after graduating. The study was carried out by QS World University Rankings (QS-WUR) and it surveyed a group of 519 students, most of whom were postgraduates. When the students were asked to create their own means for ranking universities, 33% placed more emphasis on postgraduate employability compared to only 20% who focused on quality of teaching. The report also found that only a small number of students had taken the time to research the methodologies behind university ranking systems. The Independent | Full Report

Ed tech investment continues to climb

New data released in a recent white paper show that investors are still flocking to invest in new educational technologies. The trend defies many fears that the ed tech boom has peaked, with $2.51 B invested in the first half of 2015 alone compared to the $2.42 B invested in all of 2014. Five years ago, investments topped out at $600 M. The organization conducting the study called the results from the first six months of 2015 “astonishing” and “unprecedented.” Inside Higher Ed | White Paper

Business dean calls for adaptive MBA programs

MBA programs must capitalize on innovative educational technologies and rethink their traditional student bodies if they wish to keep pace with the changing demands of the international business world, writes Judy Bullock, University Dean of Business at American InterContinental University. For Bullock, a major part of this new shift will be for MBA programs to use part-time and online learning models to open their offerings to a broader range of students. These efforts will help MBA programs get past the paradigm in which they are reserved for “the elite, accessible only to those of a certain academic or professional pedigree who could dedicate themselves to a traditional, full-time program.” To this end, MBA programs need to “recognize the different learning styles, needs, and experiences” of those who can bring value to the business community. University Business

Shrinking for-profit sector leads to declines in US colleges, enrolments

Declining for-profit college enrolment in the US has led to a decrease in the number of these institutions currently in operation, reports Inside Higher Ed. Citing new data from the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), IHE adds that the number of for-profit colleges accessing federal financial aid programs dropped from 3,527 in the 2012–13 academic year to 3,436 in 2014–15, a decline of 2.6%. This trend appeared at the same time as private non-profit colleges experienced a marginal increase in numbers between 2012–13 and 2014–15. IHE reports that this trend is not surprising, considering the variety of financial and regulatory forces that have impacted the for-profit education sector in recent years. The data also show that overall PSE enrolment has dropped by 4.2% over two years, with undergraduate enrolment dropping by 4.8% and graduate enrolment decreasing by 1.6%. Inside Higher Ed