Top Ten

September 9, 2015

Conservatives promise to double grants for low- and middle-income families

The Conservative Party of Canada has said that, if elected, it will double federal grants targeted at low- and middle-income families saving for postsecondary education. The increase will come in the form of an increased federal contribution to Canada Education Savings Grants, the supplemental grant that lower income families can apply for once they have taken out a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Depending on the family’s income level, the increase will mean an additional contribution between $100 and $200 per year. The increase will reportedly cost the federal government $45 M annually. CBC | Toronto Star | National Post (CP)

WLU names business school after Waterloo tech entrepreneur

Wilfrid Laurier University has announced that it will name its School of Business and Economics after Mike Lazaridis, co-founder of Waterloo-based tech giant Research In Motion. A new $103 M campus building set to open next year will house the school and WLU’s math department. Lazaridis recently pledged $20 M for a new tech-focused management institute at WLU’s business school that will also bear his name. Ontario has pledged an additional $15 M for the project. Lazaridis has long since established himself as a driving force in the effort to position Waterloo as a centre of technological innovation, donating more than $300 M over the past 15 years to establish two internationally recognized research centres in the city: the independent Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo. WLU | Globe and Mail

SMU signs MOU with Beijing university to offer “China 101”

Saint Mary’s University has signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s Beijing Normal University to offer a brief training course, dubbed “China 101,” to Nova Scotia business owners. The course will send these business owners to China for one to two weeks to learn the core competencies required to transact business in a Chinese context. The course may cover topics such as the legal framework of doing business in China and the logistics of getting a product into the Chinese market. Participants who complete the course will be offered a certificate establishing the core competencies they have learned. CBC reports, however, that the cost and content of the course have not yet been determined. CBC | Chronicle Herald | SMU

ECUAD receives $2.1 M for new design innovation centre

The Emily Carr University of Art + Design has announced that it will introduce the Emily Carr Centre for Design Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CDIE) by fall 2016. The new centre will be located in the Wood Innovation and Design Centre (WIDC) in Prince George, BC, and has received $2.1 M in funding from the province to pay for start-up, consultation, and initial program-delivery costs. The programs, currently being developed in partnership with the engineering department of the University of Northern British Columbia, will focus on the wood design industry and aim to benefit BC’s forest products sector. BC | My Prince George Now | ECUAD

Canadian education system ranks well, but fails Aboriginal students

Canada has one of the best education systems in the world, says a new report, but the benefits of this system are not being fully experienced by Aboriginal students. The report, by Academica Forum contributor Andrew Parkin, found that Canada was one of only three countries in the world to place in the top ten for performance, equity, and efficiency in education. However, the report also found a widening gap between Canada’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. Though educational achievement is increasing for both groups, Aboriginal students have progressed at a much slower pace. In 1996, 12 percentage points separated Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians aged 25 to 54 with a university degree. By 2011, the gap had increased to 17 percentage points. Globe and Mail | Full Report

Management researchers and practitioners could benefit from increased exchange

Business management researchers and practitioners would benefit from increased communication, says University of the Fraser Valley Associate Professor Fiona McQuarrie. She suggests that business managers, who often use outdated models, would benefit from a better understanding of management research. Likewise, researchers could help build this understanding by making their work more accessible and approachable to the general population. McQuarrie suggests engagement through social and traditional media, both of which can create a stronger point of contact between researchers and practitioners. Globe and Mail

Universities, students explore new ways to save money as textbook prices increase

Brock University is adopting a “dynamic pricing” scheme for textbooks that compares prices to online retailers and makes daily price adjustment recommendations. In some cases, it has resulted in reductions of $1 or $2, while in other cases this number has been $40 or $50. “We’re OK with making less money on a book because we fully understand that we’re going to sell more books because there’ll be no motivation to buy it on an online retailer," said Brock Campus Store Director Dan Lewis. In an unrelated story, Claire Brownell writes in the Financial Post on new business models also designed to save students money on textbooks, focusing on Brad Dolan’s CourseBox Inc., which owns BookMob and CBC | National Post

uWindsor president argues for the importance of the liberal arts

Despite the apparent need for justification, a degree in the liberal arts proves to be just as valuable as a STEM degree. According to University of Windsor President Alan Wildeman, the liberal arts degree encourages creative thinking, delivers a wage comparable to that of STEM graduates, and ultimately makes for a “citizenry that encourages respect for human rights, and encourages artistic creation and appreciation of the arts.” Previous discussions of a liberal arts education’s long term value, and its value in the technological sector, support Wildeman’s claims about the necessity of the liberal arts degree. Globe and Mail | uWindsor

Divestment could lead to significant losses, says industry-financed study

A new study, published by the Social Science Research Network, has estimated the effect of divestment on endowments at five large universities in the US. Using mutual funds as a proxy, since universities do not disclose the security-by-security composition of their portfolios, the study projected significant losses. In the case of Harvard University, the institution with the largest endowment, the losses from divestment could exceed $100 M per year. Controversially, the study relies on performance data from oil, coal, and gas from the last 20 years; opponents argue that these industries may face significant challenges in the future, given changing regulation and consumption patterns. The study was commissioned and financed by the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Inside Higher Ed | Full Study

The number and power of fraternities in the US and Canada

There are many more university fraternities and sororities in the US than in Canada, writes the Canadian Press. One of the main reasons for this is the difference in drinking age between the two countries. While many first-year and almost all second-year students can legally drink in Canada, the higher legal age in most American states has led fraternities to become “a sanctuary for insobriety in a way Canadian kids might not appreciate.” The article goes on to provide figures showing just how significant a force fraternities and sororities exert in US culture, with 18 presidents, 31% of Supreme Court justices, and a disproportionate number of Fortune 500 CEOs being alumni of these organizations. Yet there is also a dark side to these clubs, the article adds, with more than 60 reported deaths having been linked to fraternity accidents since 2005. Ottawa Citizen (CP)