Top Ten

September 22, 2015

Maclean’s profiles Ottawa’s alleged "War on Data”

At a time when other leading nations are producing more accurate and accessible data, Canada is moving in the opposite direction, writes Maclean’s. The article argues that Canada’s decisions to defund, redact, and destroy national records and statistics are beginning to result in what one University of Alberta professor calls a “national amnesia.” Yet the article adds that a sustained public reaction against this trend has been lacking, as “stories about government data and historical records being deleted, burned—even tossed into Dumpsters—have become so common in recent years that many Canadians may feel inured to them.” Maclean’s

Cost of education should be bigger campaign issue, writes Toronto Star contributor

Today’s university graduates will have to work more than three times as many hours to pay off their tuition as students did 30 years ago, writes Toronto Star contributor Jennifer Wells. She adds that today, rising expenses have come to leave students with one of two options for making it through university: 1) come from a well-to-do family, or 2) graduate with a crushing amount of debt. Wells concludes that “neither [of these options] reflects well on the country,” and she asks all Canadians to question why the cost of university has not presented itself as a major issue in this year’s federal election. Toronto Star

Rethinking the “hypersensitive” student

Campus community members from around North America seem to fall into one of two camps whenever a controversial issue comes up, writes Globe and Mail contributor Sarah Niedoba. On one side are free-speech advocates who are frustrated with the apparent coddling of “oversensitive” students through trigger warnings and similar approaches to potentially offensive content. On the other side are those who argue for their right to choose what content they will or will not be exposed to based on their personal beliefs and preferences. Yet if given a choice between these two groups, Niedoba adds, she would choose neither. She suggests that the biggest problem facing these groups is that they lack respect for one another’s views and are not prepared or willing to engage in thoughtful, open-minded dialogue. Globe and Mail

OCUFA weighs in on “precarious work” at Ontario universities

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has issued a series of recommendations to deal with the “rise of precarious work” at universities in Ontario, estimating that the number of contract faculty has nearly doubled since 2000. “Faculty see how this shift toward insecure, low-paid jobs is leaving some academic workers with an unfair burden, and impacting the quality of research and student learning on our campuses,” said OCUFA President Judy Bates. The recommendations include calls for adjustments to employment standards and contract definitions, changes to bargaining units, and modernization of labour law. OCUFA | Full Recommendation

Concordia Edmonton introduces Institute of Christian Studies and Society

Concordia University of Edmonton has introduced a new academic institute to its department of philosophy and religious studies: the Concordia Institute of Christian Studies and Society. Institute Director Steven Muir describes the centre as a place to connect Christianity researchers with fellow scholars, students, and the general public. The institute aims to “facilitate discussion of the types of Christianity, the stances Christians take on social issues, the roles Christians play in society, and the relationships between Christianity and other world views.” Edmonton Journal

Only 31% of CEGEP students obtain their diplomas on time

Only 31% of students attending Québec’s CEGEPs end up obtaining their diplomas in the recommended two-to-three years, reports the Journal de Montréal. However, experts have been quick to point out that this trend does not necessarily mean that students have become any less diligent; rather, many students have extended their completion times by taking on more paid work to fund their educations. Aegis Royer, Professor of Special Education at Laval University, said that the numbers were “very troubling” and added that it should be reasonable to expect 75% or more of CEGEP students to complete their programs within the prescribed timeframes. Journal de Montréal

Research partnerships with colleges essential for small businesses

Colleges Ontario has called on the provincial government to increase its support for applied research partnerships between colleges and businesses. Citing a recent Conference Board of Canada report, Colleges Ontario President Linda Franklin noted that “partnerships with colleges often provide the best opportunity [for small- to medium-sized enterprises] to conduct research that helps businesses become more effective and create new jobs.” These partnerships are essential for such enterprises (which make up over 90% of Ontario’s businesses) as they allow these businesses to meet the increasing innovation and production demands put upon them by global competition. Franklin concludes by urging “all parties to commit new resources to innovation and economic growth.” Huffington Post | Colleges Ontario

One in four US college women report nonconsensual sexual contact

The Association of American Universities (AAU) has released the aggregate results of an extensive survey on campus-based sexual assault and misconduct. More than one in ten students (11.7%) reported nonconsensual sexual contact by force or incapacitation since enroling at their institution; this figure jumped to nearly one in four (23.1%) for women. The data are roughly consistent with previous surveys on this topic. Asked about the responsiveness of their institutions, 63.3% believed that a report of sexual assault or misconduct would be taken seriously and 56% said it was “very” or “extremely” likely that the safety of those reporting would be protected. AAU | Metro | Huffington Post | Washington Post

US students going abroad for more affordable college

As the annual costs of attending college in the US continue to rise, American students are turning to cheaper, comparable schools abroad for postsecondary education. According to Allan Goodman, President of the Institute of International Education, “many [European] degree programs have courses taught in English, many of them have very robust scholarships or are tuition-free, and the subjects are very relevant to the world in which we live.” The UK was the most popular destination for US students studying abroad, while Canada was the second most popular, garnering 20% of the PSE market share among Americans studying abroad in 2011–2012. However, the article warns about the possible drawbacks of studying abroad, as students might encounter unappealing teaching styles and fail to make the valuable career contacts available at US schools. Wall Street Journal