Top Ten

October 16, 2015

UBC did not protect and support academic freedom, says fact-finding process

UBC has released the results of the fact-finding process into whether UBC Board Chair John Montalbano infringed upon Professor Jennifer Berdahl’s academic freedom. The process, conducted by Lynn Smith, found that “UBC failed in its obligation to protect and support Dr. Berdahl’s academic freedom.” The process further found that neither Montalbano himself, nor any individual in the Sauder School of Business, infringed upon any provision of the Collective Agreement. UBC has said it accepts the findings of the report and will take several actions in response, which include hiring a specialist to work to safeguard academic freedom and educating faculty, staff, and governors about the nature of academic freedom. UBC | Full Report

Postscript: Mon, Oct 19, 2015

UBC Board Chair John Montalbano stepped down from his position in the wake of a fact-finding process that revealed that UBC did not “protect and support” academic freedom. “My presence might serve as a distraction from the important work facing UBC in the months ahead,” said Montalbano. CTV News | CBC | Globe and Mail | Chronicle of Higher Education

Annual rankings of Canada’s top 50 research universities show shrinking research income

Research Infosource has released its annual ranking of Canada’s top 50 research universities. While the top five remain the same as last year, the order has changed. The University of Toronto again ranked number one, followed by the Université de Montréal, UBC, McGill University, and the University of Alberta. The University of Waterloo was the top-ranked school without a medical school, followed by the University of Guelph and Simon Fraser University. Research Infosource also noted that for the first time in 14 years, university research income failed to grow this year, declining instead by 1.6%. According to the organization, this was driven by declines in nearly all key funding sources, including the federal government (-2.6%), provincial governments (-6.7%), and corporations (-2.3%). Research Infosource | Full Rankings

Trent receives $1 M donation toward new student centre

Trent University has received $1 M towards the final phase of its $50 M fundraising campaign Unleash the Potential. The donation comes from alumnus Stephen Stohn, a lawyer and executive producer of Degrassi. The campaign has reached 85% of its target, with $10.5 M coming from students themselves; the remainder will be raised through philanthropic gifts. “It is an honour to be able to contribute to an institution that reflects the elements of the Trent experience that have meant so much to my life, and could mean so much to the lives of Trent students in the future,” said Stohn. Trent

OCADU joins $3 M creative incubator project

OCAD University has announced its participation in a $3 M public art project that will create a hub for innovation, collaboration, and artistic expression in Toronto’s Daniels Waterfront. The project will be known as City of the Arts and will aim to create an entire neighbourhood directed at incubating creative and artistic expression. OCADU plans to establish an academic space within this neighbourhood, where two-thirds of the project’s funds will be used to create and install public art. The remaining third will help fund the broader East Bayfront Public Art Master Plan managed by Waterfront Toronto as part of the City of Toronto's Public Art Program. OCADU President Sara Diamond said, "our collaboration with Daniels Waterfront - City of the Arts … provides tremendous synergies for our students, faculty, industry, and not-for-profit collaborators through learning, creation, and research, and provides an injection of youthful energy and imagination to the project." OCADU

uCalgary reveals new program at GRI-Beijing site

The University of Calgary unveiled the Energy Industry Training Program (China) at its GRI-Beijing site this week. The program is expected to help China develop new energy technologies and processes that have a reduced environmental impact. Alberta Minister of Energy Marg McCuaig-Boyd said, “this training program will offer local professionals, as well as academics and students the opportunity to enhance their working knowledge and research in this field, while also providing enormous research opportunities for both countries.” uCalgary

Loyalist and Strathcona Energy Group partner to host incubator, certificate program

Loyalist College has announced that it will partner with Strathcona Energy Group (SEG) to host the college’s Entrepreneurial Studies—Business Launch program in SEG’s new headquarters. The partnership will also support the launch of an eight-month Ontario College Graduate Certificate program to support entrepreneurship. Students will have the opportunity to use this space and its resources as an incubator for startup businesses while working directly alongside established international companies. “For our Entrepreneurial Studies students, the open-concept studio in Strathcona Energy Group’s headquarters is the ideal space in which to develop and grow their scalable business model with guidance and support from Loyalist faculty and the College’s network of expert advisors,” said Loyalist President Maureen Piercy. Loyalist

Big Data Consortium outlines strategies to close talent gap in Canada

Canada is having difficulty recruiting, training, and retaining professionals in big data and analytics, according to a new report released by the Big Data Consortium, a group consisting of Ryerson University, Concordia University, Dalhousie University, and Simon Fraser University, as well as private and government partners. According to the report, reportedly the first of its kind in Canada, there is a talent gap of between 10,500 and 19,000 professionals for high level data positions. This is in addition to a shortage of 150,000 professionals for business analyst-type positions. The white paper outlines six strategies to help close this gap going forward. Ryerson | White Paper

Quebec universities should set their own tuition rates, says new documentary

Quebec could learn valuable lessons from the mixture of zero-tuition and high-tuition PSE institutions in France, according to a recent documentary by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI). The film highlights the productive competition that can arise when schools like France’s Grandes Écoles are permitted to set their own tuition rates in ways that Quebec universities are currently unable to do. This ability to modify tuition fees, the documentary concludes, has succeeded in making access to higher education more egalitarian by driving down tuition in most cases and leading to the creation of extensive bursaries in others. At least three deans from major French institutions boast in the film that, “historically, no one has ever been refused [from their institutions] for financial reasons.” MEI

Late retirements placing increased strain on US universities

Many tenured US academics do not plan to retire before 70 placing significant strain on university budgets, according to the Hechinger Report. The publication goes on to argue that the mounting challenge of late retirement leaves universities facing increasing financial constraints combined with a growing set of fixed costs. The article cites a recent study that found 60% of tenured faculty in the US planned to work past 70, with a full 15% planning to work past 80. Major factors behind this trend are commitment to one’s work and the impact that the financial crisis of 2007–08 had on the savings of workers over 55. The article adds that this trend ultimately hurts universities’ ability to respond to changing enrolment patterns and prevents younger PhDs from entering the academic workforce. Hechinger Report

Assigned seats could reduce exam cheating

A new study has found that randomly assigned seats are the most immediate way to prevent college students from cheating. Steven Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) and Ming-Jen Lin found that at least 10% of students cheated on their midterms when permitted to sit where they like. The authors said, “when seating positions were randomly assigned and monitoring was increased for the final exam, almost all evidence of cheating disappears.” CBS News | Chronicle of Higher Education