Top Ten

August 17, 2015

Trudeau pledges $2.6 B for First Nations education if elected

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has announced that, if elected, his party will invest a total of $2.6 B in First Nations education over the next four years. His plan, which would replace the stalled First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (FNCFNEA), includes immediate annual investments of $515 M in core funding for K–12 education, rising to more than $750 M by end of Trudeau's first mandate; it also includes $500 M over three years for First Nations education infrastructure and $50 M for the federal Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP). Trudeau also promised funds to support the inclusion of Indigenous history in Canadian curriculum and pledged to work with First Nations leaders to support the preservation of Indigenous languages. National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde welcomed the announcement and called on all federal parties to commit to First Nations education and other issues. CBC | APTN News | StarPhoenix | Globe and Mail | AFN

Funding cuts to physician-scientist program surprise research community

Canada’s medical research community is shocked by the recent federal funding cut to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s (CIHR) MD/PhD program. The program provided funding for medical students who train to work as doctors in hospitals as well as researchers in labs. It was established in the 1980s as a way to address a lack of specialists who were easily able to move between hospitals and research areas. “This is a program whose focus is solely providing benefit to Canadian health, and disease treatment and research, through scientific discovery. If we lose even a small element of that, we've lost a great deal of ability to produce that kind of translational knowledge,” said one recent graduate of the program. CIHR has said that funding will continue until 2021 before the cuts come into effect. CBC

Nova Scotia cuts funding for psychology internships

Nova Scotia’s Health and Wellness Department has announced that it will cut funding to an internship program for students in the province undertaking doctoral degrees in psychology, says the Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia. The internship program in question currently provides hands-on clinical training for doctoral psychology students as a mandatory part of their education. According to Association President Heather Power, losing this program could result in a large out-migration of clinical professionals who must seek clinical internships in other provinces. “The significant concern for us,” she added, “is that we already have a shortage of mental health services in Nova Scotia.” Chronicle Herald

UoGuelph taking steps to conserve energy, increase efficiency

The University of Guelph is currently constructing a new $15 M thermal energy storage system that will help the university reduce campus energy and water use. The project is part of UoGuelph’s Green Gryphon Initiative, a sustainability program funded by student fees that aims to save $2.5 M in annual utility costs. The new thermal storage system involves a huge, 22 million-litre water tank in which water is cooled at night when there is less pressure on the local energy grid. The cold water is then cycled through existing cooling systems. The Ontario government will contribute approximately $4 M to the project. Guelph Mercury

SJU takes innovative approach to $47 M campus development project

University of Waterloo affiliate Saint Jerome’s University has taken an unconventional approach to its $47 M campus redevelopment project, reports Plans for the project have been on the table at the university for some time, but the school’s leadership recently decided that it would have to bring all of the stakeholders involved in the project—including builders, designers, and administrators—around a single table to coordinate their activities. This approach runs contrary to standard construction and renovation procedures, said Project Manager Justin Black, who added, “usually, builders and designers don't work together.” The project will include the construction of a new academic centre and two seven-storey residence towers that will expand SJU’s on-campus housing from 300 students to 420.

Students now spending more summers working than relaxing

For students who wish to get a jumpstart on their future careers, summer vacations have become a critical time to gain work experience through summer jobs, internships, or co-op placements. The Globe and Mail explores how today’s employers are looking for work experience to differentiate candidates who may appear similar on paper. Computer algorithms are now often used to predetermine a candidate’s work experience, and those who do not measure up do not get a chance for an interview. Many large organizations are set up so that internships feed directly into entry-level positions to ensure that new hires have work experience and are familiar with company processes and organizational structures. The likelihood of continued employment is often one reason why students are willing to take unpaid internships, reports the Globe. Globe and Mail

Top international students perform cutting-edge research in GTA

Nearly 750 international university students have come to the Greater Toronto Area to partner with Canadian professors to produce cutting-edge research. The students have come as part of Mitacs’s Globalink program, which pays the participating students a set wage to visit Canada for a 12-week summer research period. Over three years, Canada has provided $20 M to attract these students to Canada. The research being undertaken this year includes the creation of robots that can land on asteroids, new marketing channels directed toward Baby Boomers, and solar-powered charging stations for electric cars. Visiting students have come primarily from India, China, Brazil, France, Mexico, and Australia. Toronto Star

Gender bias in student evaluations can affect female profs

Results of a new study from France suggest that students are evaluating professors based on gender stereotypes. The study found that male students tended to rate male professors much more highly in areas such as dimensions of teaching and overall satisfaction, even when there was no basis in teaching effectiveness. “Universities continue to use [student evaluations] in a way that may hurt women (and probably other minorities as well, and men who do not correspond to students’ expectations of gender stereotypes) in their academic careers,” states the author. Earlier studies have found that gender perceptions affect student evaluations and that too much emphasis is often placed on evaluations during personnel decisions. Times Higher Ed

Former education department chair speaks to importance, difficulty of changing students’ lives

It is becoming more difficult and more crucial for professors to change their students’ lives, writes Chronicle of Higher Education contributor Stephen R Herr, former Chair of the education department at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. One the reasons it has become difficult to reach students, he suggests, is the ongoing “routinization” of being a professor and the infantilizing of today’s university students. He adds, “what I see in college today is a model of hand-holding and micromanagement. We tell students which courses to take, which books to read, how they will be assessed, how they should speak to one another, and how to use a plethora of support services should something go wrong.” Herr concludes that the best way for professors to respect their students is to treat them as adults, which often means expecting them to be self-motivated and capable of overcoming discomfort and adversity. Chronicle of Higher Education

IHE contributor sees explosion of online career advice as sign of tightening academic job market

There are more resources than ever available to those entering the academic job market; however, the sheer volume of these materials can be taken as a sign of how challenging this job market has become, writes Marietta Morrissey, former Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Montclair State University. In a commentary for Inside Higher Ed, Morrissey reflects on the ways that PhD students in the 1970s relied almost exclusively on their tenured academic superiors for career advice and support. Today, she sees a nearly infinite number of articles and online resources devoted to helping people find academic work. Yet she concludes that the availability of such information does not excuse tenured professors from their ethical obligation to help recent doctoral graduates navigate the increasingly difficult academic job market. Inside Higher Ed