Top Ten

September 11, 2015

Failure rates on new nursing exam spark concern

Nursing educators across Canada are expressing concern over the new national licensing exam for nurses. The percentage of students passing the exam is reportedly more than ten points lower than the pass rate “for the last number of years” according to the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing. Since January of this year, nursing graduates everywhere except Quebec and Yukon have had to write the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to be licensed. This examination replaced an earlier paper-based exam administered three times a year by the Canadian Nurses Association. University of Calgary Nursing Dean Diane Tapp attributed the lower pass rate to the “questions on the exams … that were not appropriate for Canadian nursing.” Tapp’s concerns echo those of nursing educators who allege that the NCLEX is an “American test,” a claim that Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators has contested. Globe and Mail | CBC (Nova Scotia) | CBC (New Brunswick) | uCalgary

$307 M in deferred maintenance at uRegina

The University of Regina is only able to afford emergency repairs to its “crumbling infrastructure,” according to its 2015–16 operations forecast. At $307 M, the amount of deferred maintenance is nearly three times the national average for universities, according to CBC; uRegina has disputed this, believing the method used generates an inflated figure. uRegina Vice President of Administration Dave Button disputed the comparison to other universities; a spokesperson on his behalf called it a “subjective assessment.” Saskatchewan Deputy Minister of Advanced Education Louise Greenberg is not convinced of the immediate need, saying universities make “their most extreme case to government [using] stronger language” than necessary. CBC (1) | CBC (2)

SFU celebrates its 50th anniversary

On Wednesday, Simon Fraser University celebrated its 50th anniversary. Among those wishing the university well was British Columbia’s Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson, who reflected on how the school was first dubbed “the instant university” when its doors opened only 18 months after construction began in 1963. Since then, the university has earned a place atop Maclean’s magazine’s annual rankings of best comprehensive universities in Canada 11 times over the past 24 years, including this year. In the past 50 years, SFU has graduated more than 130,000 people including BC premiers, Olympic medalists, and artistic visionaries. CBC | | BC | Vancouver Sun

Universities Canada releases federal election policy briefs

Universities Canada has released a series of four policy briefs outlining its positions on issues relevant to the upcoming federal election. On the topic of student mobility, they recommend that the next government initiate “a bold program of support for short-term domestic and international student mobility” to improve graduates’ understanding of domestic and international issues. On labour market issues, they argue for the creation of more paid co-op and internship opportunities. They advocate increased programming funding for Indigenous students and communities as well as more student support and financial assistance. On the issue of research and innovation, they recommend sustained funding for the federal granting councils and enhanced support for early-career researchers and international partnerships. Mobility | Labour Market | Indigenous Education | Research

SSHRC co-leads 12-nation partnership to streamline research funding

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) has announced that it will work to streamline the way researchers secure funding both in Canada and abroad. Along with the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), SSHRC will lead the Trans-Atlantic Platform (T-AP), a consortium of 17 funding agencies from 12 countries that will facilitate international research collaboration by providing greater opportunities for funding from all participating countries to flow internationally. Ted Hewitt, SSHRC President and Chair of the T-AP steering committee, said that only 1–2% of current university research budgets come from international funding and this is a number the T-AP will work to increase through international collaboration and a greater centralization of resources. University Affairs

Green Party proposes tuition-free PSE, elimination of student debt above $10 K

The elimination of university and college tuition fees is at the centre of the new platform released by the Green Party this week. To address the increasing financial burden on Canada’s students, the plan proposes tuition-free PSE across Canada by 2020, beginning with lower-income Canadians. It also proposes to eliminate all existing or future student debt above $10 K, abolish interest on student loans, and boost funding for bursaries. Among its other features, the platform focuses on expanding Canada’s rail and urban transit systems and halving Canada’s use of fossil fuels by 2050. The party’s official costing says that the platform would produce a $1.9 B federal surplus by the end of this year and a $13.1 B surplus by 2019–20. CBC | Globe and Mail | Guelph Mercury (CP)

Durham’s “Experience DC” connects with community, prospective students

Durham College has launched the second year of “Experience DC,” its multi-platform social media marketing campaign. The campaign features 39 team members, including students, alumni, and employees, reaching out to the community, including prospective students, parents, and teachers. “Connecting in a meaningful way with prospective and current students through authentic engagement ensures we support our mission statement—the student experience comes first,” said Communications and Marketing Executive Director Carol Beam. Durham | Experience DC

Millennials more engaged in political activities other than voting

Participation by young Canadians in political activities beyond voting is 11% greater than Canadians older than 30, according to a new study. Youth are more likely to sign a petition, attend a rally, or discuss a political issue online than their older counterparts, writes Ashley Csanady in the National Post. She suggests that political groups are apathetic towards youth, rather than the other way around, failing to reach out or raise awareness. Mainstreet Technologies’s David Valentin argued that a change in perspective is necessary, saying “politicians have been trained to expect young people not to vote … and so young people don’t vote.” National Post

Canadian students measure success in happiness and job satisfaction

“Being happy most of the time” and having a “job or career that I love” are the top two definitions of success for Canadian students, while “owning a large house and expensive car” ranked last, according to a recent survey. On financial topics, six in ten postsecondary students do not have a budget, just three in ten are interested in job hunting, and half of students say they are connected to social media “all the time.” The results are from an online survey of 1,206 secondary and postsecondary students conducted in November and December 2014. D+H | Infographic

The “creeping corporatism” of the US university

“The contemporary American college is slowly becoming as meticulously art-directed and branded as a J Crew catalog,” writes Fredrick deBoer in the New York Times Magazine. In a critique of the “corporate taming of the American college,” deBoer takes aim at what he calls the “pernicious trend” of corporatization. He believes that recent debates about campus politics have misidentified the source of the problems: they come not from student activists, but from corporatism. These activists are not censors, he argues, but rather they are “trapped in a corporate architecture of managing offense.” He concludes that students must lead the way in “creating a new, human—as opposed to corporate—campus politics.” New York Times