Top Ten

September 10, 2015

AB tuition freeze takes effect

Following through on an election promise, the Alberta government has frozen postsecondary tuition and compulsory fees for two years starting this week. The government has also promised to review the overall postsecondary funding model. The total commitment of $133 M for 2015–16 includes reversing a 1.4% cut to postsecondary, a 2% increase to base funding, and a cancelling of market modifiers. “We really care about making education affordable and accessible for all Albertans and we’re committed to developing our postsecondary institutions,” said Innovation and Advanced Education Minister Lori Sigurdson. CTV News | Global News | Metro | AB

ON gives $19.4 M to secure uToronto biotech incubator partnership

Ontario has announced that it has spent $19.4 M to successfully attract a Johnson & Johnson biotech incubator lab to the province. The newest branch of JLABS will occupy a floor of a University of Toronto-owned portion of the MaRS west tower in Toronto. Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid said that Johnson & Johnson will match and add to the province’s investment. The new incubator will also provide high quality research facilities for biotech startups. uToronto President Meric Gertler said that partnering with Johnson & Johnson is a vital part of the “vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem” the university has established in Toronto and beyond. MaRS | Toronto Star | ON

StatCan, CCPA report on increasing university tuition

Statistics Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) have both released separate reports on university tuition. StatCan reports that this year, tuition for full-time undergraduate students rose by 3.2%, outpacing inflation. Tuition fees were lowest in Newfoundland and Labrador ($2,660) and Quebec ($2,799) and highest in Ontario ($7,868), Saskatchewan ($6,885), and Nova Scotia ($6,817). The CCPA report examines tuition from 1993–94 to 2015–16, noting that over this time, average tuition fees have tripled. “Directly as a result of declining public investment in university operating revenue, tuition fees across the board—almost without exception—continue to increase, ” said CCPA Education Director Erika Shaker. StatCan | CBC | CCPA | Toronto Star

$4 M for renovations at uRegina's Darke Hall

At the University of Regina, a $1 M anonymous donation and an allocation of $3 M by the board of governors will together fund a $4 M upgrade and repair project for Darke Hall. “Our vision for renewal of the College Avenue Campus is ambitious—to transform the campus into a vibrant, modern facility while restoring its historically significant architectural heritage for the use and enjoyment of students and visitors for the century,” said uRegina President Vianne Timmons. The anonymous donation will fund accessibility structures with the remaining funding going to the repair of the building’s exterior. CBCuRegina

$3.7 M for Aboriginal PSE in BC

British Columbia has invested a total of $3.7 M for Aboriginal programs, activities, and services at 11 public postsecondary institutions across the province. The funding “builds on existing programs and activities that will give Aboriginal learners a strong sense of belonging,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. The new money will be implemented according to Aboriginal Service Plans developed by the institutions in partnership with Aboriginal communities, institutes, and organizations. Programs funded through these plans include Elders-in-residence, cultural learning, and program delivery in Aboriginal communities. The province’s long-term goal is to increase the number of credentials awarded to Aboriginal learners 75% by 2020. BC | Plan Guidelines

PSE reaches out to help Syrian refugees

The University of Alberta has created a new award to provide support for students affected by the conflict in Syria. The President’s Award for Refugees and Displaced Persons will cover tuition and living costs for up to 10 undergraduate or graduate Syrian students starting in January 2016. uAlberta President David Turpin said that the award could be adapted for students from other countries in the future should the need arise. Separately, at Memorial University, Professor Patricia Dold is leading an effort to sponsor a Syrian refugee family to come to Newfoundland and Labrador. uAlberta | CBC

MB increases math requirements for new teachers

Less than a year after announcing an increase in funding to its public education budget, Manitoba has announced that it will attempt to remedy the province’s low mathematics scores by improving teacher training. Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum announced that students’ mathematics foundation will be improved by strengthening teacher training in math. The certification for MB teachers will now require six credit-hours in mathematics. The University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba have both begun developing courses to meet this new provincial requirement. MBuWinnipeg

YorkU hosts Canada’s largest consent education event

This Tuesday, York University hosted Canada’s largest consent education event as part of its Orientation Day programming for incoming students. University leaders welcomed more than 6,500 new students before these students attended a presentation on consent and expectations. Speaker Mike Domitrz of the Date Safe Project spoke on the importance of respect, consent, and healthy dating as part of a larger event titled “You Had Me at Consent.” The Orientation Day activities ended with a variety of music and dance performances from student organizations, cheers led by the York Orientation Directors Association, and remarks from representatives from the York Federation of Students and York Lions Varsity Athletics. YorkU

PhD programs must rethink their emphasis on training future tenure-track professors

As the likelihood of obtaining a tenure-track job falls below the 20% mark for graduating PhDs in Canada, universities must do more to train these graduates for non-academic or “alt ac” jobs, writes University Affairs contributor Suzanne Bowness. Enrolment in Canadian PhD programs has risen by 450% since 1970 while the number of tenure track jobs has either remained flat or contracted, she reports, yet university departments still focus their PhD programming heavily on the training of future tenure-track professors. Bowness attributes this approach to institutional biases and the inability to adapt to changing career patterns. While she admits that some Canadian universities have taken important steps to address this problem, she concludes that university departments will eventually have to adapt their programming to account for the fact that four out of five of their graduates will not become tenure-track professors. Academica Forum contributor Catherine Maybrey has also endorsed the need for broader PhD career preparation. University Affairs

US News releases 2016 US college and university rankings

US News & World Report has released its annual rankings of US colleges and universities for 2016 in four separate categories. In the National University category, Princeton University was named number one, followed by Harvard and Yale. For the National Liberal Arts Colleges, Williams College was named number one, followed by Amherst College and Swarthmore College. In the category of Regional Colleges, the US Coast Guard Academy (CT) ranked first in the North, Taylor University (IN) ranked first in the Midwest, Carroll College (MI) ranked first in the West, and High Point University (NC) ranked first in the South. For Regional Universities, Villanova University (PA) came out on top in the North, Creighton University (NE) came first in the Midwest, Trinity University (TX) came first in the West, and Elon University (NC) and Rollins College (FL) tied for first in the South. US News