Top Ten

October 22, 2015

Universities Canada, CICan, CAUT, U15 welcome new government

Representatives across Canada’s PSE community have delivered messages of welcome and congratulations to Canada’s new Liberal government. Universities Canada has said that it looks forward to working with Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau “to advance dialogue and action on higher education, research and innovation.” Members of the Canadian Association of University Teachers have also expressed their congratulations, although they urge the incoming government to act quickly on promises made during the campaign, especially as these promises relate to PSE. Among the priorities listed by the CAUT are the restoration of the mandatory long-form census, the “unmuzzling” of Canadian scientists, and the improvement of the Canada Student Grants and Canada Student Loans Program. Colleges and Institutes Canada has said that it hopes the new government will support “innovative training and applied research that make Canada’s colleges and institutes some of the strongest in the world.” Universities Canada | CAUT | CICan | U15

MUN, Nunatsiavut government announce $7.4 M partnership

Memorial University has announced that it will partner with the Nunatsiavut government on a $7.4 M, five-year project. The project’s goal is to combine academic research with traditional knowledge to preserve and promote the Labrador Inuit culture and language. Funding for the work will come from a $1.6 M contribution from the Nunatsiavut government, $1.4 M from Memorial University, a combined $2.1 M from 20 other organizations, and $2.3 M from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The project, titled Tradition and Transition Among the Labrador Inuit, will be led by Tom Gordon, Professor Emeritus at MUN’s School of Music. Telegram | MUN

uWindsor researchers receive $1.9 M for Great Lakes study

Researchers at the University of Windsor have received $1.9 M US as part of a $10 M grant for the American-based Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Monitoring Program. uWindsor is the only Canadian PSE institution to be involved in the project. The research is part of the larger $400 M Great Lakes Restorative Initiative launched five years ago in the US, which has helped create a massive database on the wetlands in the Great Lakes’ basin. Researchers at uWindsor will contribute data that will help take “the pulse of the Great Lakes’ wetlands,” according to uWindsor biology professor Jan Ciborowski, who added that one of the project’s primary goals is to protect and restore the Great Lakes’ shoreline. Windsor Star

BC provides $4 M for First Nations LNG training

The BC government has announced that it will provide $4 M to help First Nations people prepare for jobs in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector. $2.1 M over three years will go to the Nisga’a Lisims Path to Employment program, which covers foundational trades skills. $1.6 M over three years goes to an environmental stewardship technician training program for up to 13 First Nations on the central and north coast and Haida Gwaii. $300 K will support the creation of the Gitanyow First Nation Employment and Training Institute to provide a range of skills training programs. The funds will come from BC’s Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund. BC | Terrace Standard | CJFW

Canadian PSE must encourage experiential learning, failure

Canada’s future success will depend heavily on how well we encourage students to develop innovation skills, say members of a Globe and Mail panel. One of the best ways to do this, they add, is to provide students with the ability to try new things and to risk failure through experiential learning. Ryerson University President Sheldon Levy highlights the University of Waterloo as a strong example of a school with an effective co-op education program. “Our strategies, policies and resources have got to put young people more in the centre of the innovation agenda rather than being peripheral to it,” Levy adds. “Therefore our education systems have got to start looking at innovation as a core competency.” Globe and Mail

NSCADU, AGNS face potential win-win in addressing budget issues

In the interest of addressing budgetary constraints and opening up new avenues for collaboration, NSCAD University and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) should consider sharing both programming and physical space, writes former Cape Breton University President H John Harker. He adds that while both institutions face potential budget and space constraints, it is still important for NS to support its arts community. That is why Harker argues that having the institutions move into shared space could potentially make for a win-win situation by addressing budgetary issues while opening up exciting new possibilities for collaboration. Harker admits that some of these collaborations might be more difficult to implement than speak about, but he offers some preliminary thoughts on the possibility of a shared auditorium and food services between the institutions. He also finds benefit in providing AGNS with a stable audience of young and creative students from NSCADU. Chronicle Herald

It takes time, research to find the right college or university

Writing in the Calgary Herald, Erika Stark has outlined tactics that can help prospective students choose the best postsecondary school for them. The article recommends that students begin considering postsecondary options as early as grade 10 and 11, find programs that reflect their personal interests and passions, and develop a support system of friends and family. The article recommends that students work hard throughout their high school career to ensure they get high enough grades and all the necessary prerequisites to successfully apply to the program and institution of their choice. The piece further recommends that students take a tour of institutions’ campuses and get to know the institution. Calgary Herald

Aspiring science academics must confront, overcome tough reality

Anyone who aspires to become a tenured researcher in the sciences needs to seriously consider the economic and political factors that currently constrain opportunities in this area, writes Harvard Medical Professor Jonathan Thon. Biomedical researchers in the US, for example, now receive their first faculty appointment at an average age of 38 (for PhDs) or 37 (for MDs), and the situation has no doubt gotten worse since the recession of 2008. Thon insists that funding for more postdoctoral fellowships is imperative to provide researchers with the skills and experiences necessary to seek out tenure-stream positions. Navigating the extremely competitive job market for scientific research requires hope, he concludes, but also a sober sense of the challenges facing aspiring researchers. University Affairs

Extensive US study shows PSE teaches critical-thinking skills

A new meta-analysis, published in the Review of Educational Research, has surveyed 71 research reports published in the last half-century, finding that critical-thinking skills do improve in university. According to the paper, the difference after four years is the equivalent of moving from the 50th percentile to the 72nd for an individual student. The study found no differences between various majors and it was unclear when the greatest gains are experienced over the four-year period. Students in programs with coursework that focused specifically on critical-thinking skills did not see greater gains than students in other programs. Chronicle of Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed | Full Study

Most students feel college only partially prepared them for careers, study says

A new study of nearly 8,000 current and former students in 14 countries has revealed that less than a tenth of students feel fully prepared by their PSE for their career. However, about two thirds said that they felt prepared to some degree by their institution. The survey noted that while about a tenth of college students felt that college was fully preparing them for their careers, half of that number felt the same after entering the work force. “Beyond the liberal arts, higher education is being asked to ensure students have mastered competencies that lead to careers in their fields,” explained Jared Stein. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that students must also develop the skills and habits for self-directed, lifelong learning.” Inside Higher Ed | Instructure