Top Ten

September 2, 2015

Ontario makes changes to “modernize” OSAP

Ontario has announced that it will make several changes to modernize its Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) for the 2015–16 school year. The changes, announced in the 2015 budget, will include provisions to give students more control over how much financial aid they draw, allow students to decline reporting their vehicles as assets, and help students predict how much they are expected to contribute to the cost of their education by setting a $3 K fixed contribution. The province says that the changes are intended to make the financial assistance program “easier to use, more flexible, and more transparent.” ON

Alberta’s #IBelieveYou campaign raises awareness about sexual assault

The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) has launched a new province-wide awareness and prevention campaign focusing on survivors of sexual assault. The campaign is supported by 23 postsecondary institutions, as well as dozens of community agencies and six government ministries. “The #IBelieveYou campaign is taking a unique and powerful approach to stopping sexual assault by educating first responders—often friends and family—who are crucial in helping survivors feel safe to come forward,” said AASAS CEO Deb Tomlinson. “97% of sexual assaults go unreported. Educating responders is a form of prevention because survivors who get a positive response are much more likely to get help and seek justice.” The campaign will run through September and October. AASAS | MRU | CBC | Medicine Hat News | Campaign Website

MPHEC explores why grade 12 students choose university

In order to understand why 46% of grade 12 students in the Maritimes choose to enrol in university, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) surveyed 2,413 university-bound individuals. 69% of respondents said their primary reason for choosing university was career related, three times higher than the number of respondents who said learning was their primary reason. Students from the most highly educated families were more than twice as likely to say they planned to enrol in university. A majority of the grade 12 respondents expect to attain a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and to earn at least $50,000 annually in their first job after university. The most important reason to choose a particular university was program availability. MPHEC | Infographic

Ryerson president moves to MTCU as it considers new funding formula

Ryerson University President Sheldon Levy has announced that on December 1, 2015 he will become Deputy Minister of Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). The announcement comes as the ministry is wrapping up its consultations with ON’s universities on changes to the funding formula. Levy has said that the formula must evolve “in such a way that it’s right over time.” The current formula, which relies heavily on enrolment, would mean a decline in the budgets of many universities outside of Toronto as demographic shifts mean fewer university-aged individuals going forward. Globe and Mail | Toronto Star | National Post (CP)

Parkland opens new Trades and Technology Centre

Parkland College will welcome students and the general public into its new Trades and Technology Centre in Yorkton this Friday. Parkland President Dwayne Reeve said, “opening to the public is a major accomplishment, but we don’t consider it to be a finish line. … We feel like our work is just beginning as students arrive for the training that will convert them into the skilled workers our region and province need.” Parkland is currently finalizing plans for an official grand opening for the Centre later this year. Parkland

94% of ON university grads employed two years after graduation

New data from a survey of graduates conducted by Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) shows that 94% of respondents had jobs two years after graduation, and nearly 88% had jobs six months after graduation. The average salary two years out was $49,001 and the average salary six months out was $42,301. 89.1% of respondents said that, two years after graduation, they were working in a field related to their program of study. The results are based on 28,448 responses to a survey of 2012 university graduates, as reported by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU). COU | Infographic | Full Report

Canada must eliminate Aboriginal graduation gap, writes federation president

Canada can make a profound contribution to the ongoing process of reconciliation by closing the graduation gap that currently separates Aboriginal students from the rest of Canadians, writes Stephen Toope, President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Toope argues that improving postsecondary graduation rates for Aboriginal students has the power to increase average income for this group from $36 K per year to $55 K per year. Yet despite growing numbers of Aboriginal university graduates, only 8% of Aboriginal adults aged 25 to 64 have a university degree compared to 23% for the rest of the Canadian population. According to these numbers, Toope suggests, Canada can theoretically eliminate the employment gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians solely by eliminating the university graduation gap. Globe and Mail

Queen’s prof suggests different approach to male-female imbalance in STEM

In a world where everyone was equally welcome in every line of work, would every occupation be 50% male and 50% female? For Queen’s economics professor Lorne Carmichael, the answer is no. Carmichael believes that in addition to cultural factors, the economic theory of comparative advantage can help explain why women and men might choose to pursue different fields of study. When we examine why women are underrepresented in the STEM disciplines, Carmichael adds, we discover that the reason is not necessarily their under-performance in high school math—a major predictor of STEM enrolment in university. Rather, the under-representation is just as much due to men’s relative under-performance in everything other than math, at least at the high school level. In this case, Carmichael suggests that current educational policies could do more to boost male high school performance in subjects other than mathematics if it wishes to help address the gender gap in the STEM disciplines. University Affairs

Faculty need more support addressing mental health in the classroom

University and college faculty need more support from their institutions when it comes to addressing student mental health concerns, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. While many institutions now have rapid response teams for extreme events like campus shootings, few offer the day-to-day informational support that faculty members need to address mental health concerns that arise in the classroom. An annual survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors found that the proportion of colleges offering formal or informal faculty training only changed from 58.5% to 59% between 2007 and 2015, despite a significant rise in the number of mental health issues being reported by students. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

The New Yorker explores the real value of higher ed

In the latest issue of The New Yorker, staff writer John Cassidy explores the value of a college education. Throughout American history, going back to the founding of Harvard in 1636, a college education has been seen as “a key to human betterment and prosperity.” Despite increasing costs—American students pay about four times more than peers in other countries—the number of students attending four-year educational institutions is still rising. Yet, Cassidy argues, “many of the claims that are made about higher education don’t stand up to scrutiny.” Families and politicians must be “more realistic about the role that colleges degrees play,” which could even lead to a greater appreciation of the merits of a liberal arts education, which will “enrich your life and provide lessons that extend beyond any individual job.” The New Yorker