Top Ten

September 18, 2015

Save Our VCC group asks BC for better funding

A group at Vancouver Community College has launched a campaign to protect the school from government cuts, reports the Vancouver Sun. According to representatives from Save Our VCC, the group’s mission is to petition BC to make the college a funding priority. Recent concerns over the school’s funding arose this summer when VCC’s faculty association blamed cuts to adult education and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs for a decline in VCC enrolment. Representatives from Save Our VCC have also voiced concerns that the province plans on shutting down the school’s campus in downtown Vancouver. However, VCC President Peter Nunoda informed the college community in July that there were no plans to close the downtown campus, highlighting $1 M in upcoming capital projects that will include upgrades and a planned learning commons for the downtown campus. Vancouver Sun

UBC Farm receives $2 M from founders of Nature’s Path Foods

The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm has received a $2 M donation from Arran and Ratana Stephens, co-founders of Nature’s Path Foods, North America’s largest organic breakfast and snack food company. UBC Farm is one of the last working farms within Vancouver’s city limits and is home to a laboratory used by thousands, including UBC students who study and conduct research on the farm. The Stephens’ gift will help fund infrastructure essential for agriculture research and operations as the farm expands its programs and makes its transition to a certified organic farm. UBC

Union expresses concern over alleged plan to outsource uWindsor janitorial work

Representatives of Windsor’s CUPE Local 1001 have claimed that starting Monday, the University of Windsor will outsource janitorial duties at six of its campus buildings. uWindsor Director of Public Affairs and Communications John Coleman replied that no current employees will lose their jobs as a result of the decision, adding, “the (janitors) are going to be involved in other areas of campus. … It's going back to the budget and the demand for custodial services. The university is looking towards enhancing services for all students and staff.” However, CUPE Local 1001 President Jeff Martin told reporters that the move is likely part of a long-term strategy to cut jobs through attrition. CBC | Windsor Star

uCalgary opens two residence halls for undergrads and grads

On Wednesday, the University of Calgary officially opened two new residence buildings, Aurora Hall and Crowsnest Hall. Aurora Hall is for upper-year undergraduate students and consists of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments, for a total of 268 beds. Crowsnest Hall houses graduate students in one- and two-bedroom apartments, with a total of 390 beds, including full kitchens and private bathrooms. uCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon called this an “important milestone,” saying the new buildings supported the university’s strategic plan “by improving graduate student housing [and] providing more alternatives for international students.” uCalgary | Metro

Gender salary gap persists despite strong postgraduate employment, wages

A new study from Statistics Canada has found that there was no substantial drop in the earnings and employment rates of young postsecondary graduates between 2005 and 2012, a period that included the recession of 2008–09. Overall, average annual wages and salaries of young male bachelor’s degree graduates rose 5%, from $65,388 in 2005 to $68,563 in 2012. The earnings for young male college graduates rose 7% during the same period, from $52,076 to $55,753. While the earnings of young female bachelor’s degree graduates increased by 4% more than those of their male counterparts, from $46,543 to $50,506, they still reflected an earnings gap of more than $18 K per year. The study found that its outcomes were consistent even when it examined graduates from specific fields of study. StatCan

uToronto, UBC among the world’s most innovative universities

The University of Toronto and UBC have made a new list of the 100 most innovate universities compiled by Reuters. uToronto came in 38th place and UBC came in 67th place. Reuters used a proprietary methodology that relied on 10 different metrics, including academic research and patent filings. While half of the top 100 were outside the US, the top three institutions were all American, as follows: Stanford, MIT, and Harvard. Reuters | Times Higher Education

Students and parents differ in their views on PSE, jobs

A recent poll has revealed the differences between parents and students in their perception of why students attend PSE. Students were significantly more likely than their parents to report that one of their motivations in attending PSE was to satisfy their parents. In terms of career, parents were more likely than students to believe that finding a meaningful and fulfilling job would make their children happy. While attending PSE “to maximize the chances of having a career that [they] will be happy with” was the most influential factor for both groups, parents were significantly more likely to cite this reason than students. Ipsos | RBC

Reverse culture shock common in international exchanges, but not often discussed

Writing in University Affairs, Concordia University student Pierre-Alexandre Bolduc recounts how his return to Montreal after two semesters abroad was “as much of an experience and adaptation as going abroad.” Reverse culture shock is a common, but unexpected and under-discussed sensation of “re-culturing” one’s self to a place, according to Concordia Psychology Lecturer Dorothea Bye. She believes that exchange students need to “talk to people who have gone through the same things as they did,” and Concordia International is considering offering resources specifically to returning exchange students. Concordia sends between 350 and 400 students on international exchange every year. University Affairs

MOOC students learn best by doing, according to a new study

Students enrolled in a MOOC performed six times better when they engaged in interactive learning activities, according to a new study. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University collaborated with the Georgia Institute of Technology to offer a MOOC called “Introduction to Psychology as a Science.” While a majority of students enrolled only in the MOOC itself, roughly one-third also enrolled in a version that combined the standard MOOC content with interactive materials produced by Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI). Students who took advantage of the interactive materials were also more likely to persist in the course through the final exam. Campus Technology | Chronicle of Higher Education | Full Study

Academia’s part-time labour situation is inexcusable, writes Atlantic contributor

Despite the budget constraints facing many universities in America, there is no excuse for how these universities treat their part-time faculty members, writes a contributor for The Atlantic. The article locates academia’s movement toward part-time instructors within a broader context by highlighting its parallels with other industries that have reclassified employees as contractors to avoid paying benefits and stable wages. Overall, the article admits that universities are facing increasing pressure to cut costs; yet it points out that part-time instructors are shouldering a disproportionate amount of these cuts, especially in light of the fact that the number of university administrative positions in the US increased tenfold compared to tenured academic jobs between 1993 and 2009, while compensation for these positions also increased by 50%. The Atlantic