Top Ten

August 21, 2015

CAUT, faculty association ask UBC board chair to step aside

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) released a statement Wednesday asking UBC board of governors Chair John Montalbano to step aside while the university investigates allegations that he infringed on a professor’s academic freedom. Montalbano has denied the allegations and announced that he plans to remain in his role as chair. The Globe and Mail reports that UBC’s faculty association has also written a letter to interim Provost Angela Redish asking for Montalbano’s immediate resignation. The resignation calls come in the wake of the sudden departure of former President Arvind Gupta, who left his role less than a year into his first term. Globe and Mail | National Post | 680 News (CP) | | Global News (Montalbano Interview)

NB premier considers abolishing student loans, looking into NL model

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant has said that his government will consider all educational models that might help ease the burden of student loans, adding that he is open to studying the non-repayable grant system adopted in Newfoundland and Labrador. “We'll look at any program that will help us ensure that postsecondary education is accessible, affordable, and high quality,” said Gallant. The Canadian Federation of Students has praised Newfoundland and Labrador’s new system and has called for its implementation across all Canadian provinces. CTV News

New SFU-BCIT program deemed “medical school for the environment”

Simon Fraser University and the British Columbia Institute of Technology have partnered to offer a joint Master’s of Science in Ecological Restoration. BCIT reports that the venture will create Canada’s first master’s-level program in restoring ecosystems that have been degraded and damaged by human influences such as urban sprawl, industrial expansion, contamination, and the introduction of invasive species. BCIT program Director Doug Ransome said, “restoration scientists and practitioners are ecosystem physicians, and this joint graduate program is the new medical school for the environment.” BCIT

Lakeland College set to open new Energy Centre

Lakeland College reports that it is set to become the only postsecondary institution in western Canada to host an integrated power plant featuring a once-through steam generator (OTSG) for heavy oil training. While the 2,500 square-foot Energy Centre will officially open this month, Lakeland’s second-year heavy oil power engineering (HOPE) students from last year’s cohort had the chance to use the lab before graduating in the spring of 2015. Some of these graduates will return to serve as tour guides at the centre’s official opening on August 26. Lakeland

Universities need a new model of governance, says Public Policy Forum VP

The slew of sudden departures of university presidents should make us ask tough questions about the governance models at Canadian universities, writes Public Policy Forum Vice-President Julie Cafley. In her research, Cafley finds that many of the departing presidents expressed concerns over a similar set of governance problems, which included discord with boards of governors, a lack of communication, a misunderstanding of the academic enterprise, and issues related to hiring and transition. She concludes that Canadian policymakers and higher education leaders “need to do a better job learning from leadership failures and building our universities to compete on the global stage.” Globe and Mail

St Clair launches new “Career Coach” online resource

St Clair College has launched an online resource designed to help people understand the link between education programs and specific careers. Known as Career Coach, the program helps users understand particular career paths by providing information on wages, employment opportunities, and required levels of education. It also shows users if a particular career area has grown or diminished over the past four years. Director of Marketing and Student Recruitment Ann Hetherington said, “the first question people ask us when they are exploring what program they are interested in is about the job market and career outcomes. This tool gives them a quick and easy way to get that information.”

New study claims “genetic predisposition” linked to higher levels of education

Genetics have a notable effect on the education level a person will attain, says a new study published in AERA Open, a journal of the American Educational Research Association.While the study acknowledges that social factors such as having a parent who earned a college degree may have a larger effect on a person’s decision to pursue higher education, genetics can still play a significant role. Five researchers from colleges throughout the US looked at more than 1,500 siblings in a database known as the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. They studied these siblings according to certain genetic markers and assigned them “polygenic scores,” which reportedly showed strong predictive power over the levels of education the individuals attained. Inside Higher Ed

Basic technologies can reduce cost of student recruitment, retention

The strategic use of some basic technologies can go a long way to improving university retention rates among undergraduates, writes eCampusNews. In doing so, these technologies can stabilize tuition revenues and reduce the cost of student recruitment. Some of the most notable technologies in this regard are: early warning systems that analyze student data, portals that let students track all aspects of their college experience, and e-portfolios that make courses relevant for students and prepare them for the job market. The article adds that using technology to reduce students’ feelings of isolation both inside and outside the classroom is a crucial endeavour for any university. eCampusNews

Beloit releases student mindset list for class of 2019

Beloit College has released its annual “mind-set list” to help faculty and administrators understand what a new class of freshmen have and have not experienced. The new list profiles the class of 2019, which will be made up primarily of people born in 1997. This means that these students were not alive at the same time as Princess Diana, Notorious BIG, or Mother Teresa. Some of the most notable characteristics of this group include treating Wi-Fi Internet as a given, thinking of email as the most formal mode of communication available, and having never known a time at which hybrid vehicles were not mass produced. Beloit | Inside Higher Ed

Game-based app aims to make students more engaged in campus life

Ball State University has begun to collect data from a campus achievement-based app that it released in beta form in 2013. What is so interesting about the app, reports Campus Technology, is that it uses game-based principles to encourage students to take advantage of activities outside the classroom. Ball State executives say that the purpose of the app is to improve retention and outcomes for Pell Grant students. While Ball State has yet to draw any conclusions from the incoming data, Director of Emerging Technologies and Media Development Jonathan Blake Huer said, “the early results are promising.” Campus Technology