Top Ten

November 10, 2015

uCalgary calls for independent review of Enbridge donation

The University of Calgary has announced that it will launch an independent review of its Centre for Corporate Sustainability after a recent CBC investigation raised questions about the centre’s relationship with its one-time sponsor, Enbridge Inc. The investigation alleged that the university faced significant internal concerns about Enbridge’s influence over the centre and its impact on academic freedom between 2012 and 2014. uCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon said that she welcomed the review and recused herself from its processes along with uCalgary Board Chairperson Bonnie DuPont. Last week, Cannon also stepped down from a paid position as a director of the Enbridge Income Fund. CBC reports that a university representative has also stated that the coming review will focus only on the Centre for Corporate Sustainability and not on larger questions about corporate donations and academic freedom at the university. CBC | | Calgary Sun | Huffington Post | Calgary Herald

Georgian receives $1.5 M for marine facility, achieves fundraising goal

Georgian College has received $1.5 M from Algoma Central Corporation and Lower Lakes Towing for its new Marine Emergency Duties Training and Research Centre. Algoma Central, the owner and operator of Canada’s largest fleet of dry-bulk carriers, will contribute $1 M and have the Centre named in its honour. “Marine Emergency Duties training is critical to our industry and we are pleased to help make this training available in Ontario, where it has been absent since 2013,” said Algoma Central President Ken Bloch Soerensen. Lower Lakes Towing will contribute the remaining $0.5 M for the project. With these two gifts, Georgian has achieved its $7.5 M fundraising goal to build the new Centre. Georgian | Owen Sound Sun Times | Bayshore Broadcasting |

uLethbridge, Lethbridge College collaborate on agricultural programming

The University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College have signed an MOU that will enhance collaboration between the two institutions for the delivery of agriculture programming. The agreement includes a commitment to the development of the Centre for Agricultural Research and Agribusiness Innovation (CARAI) and the implementation of the Cor Van Raay Southern Alberta Agribusiness Program. It will also formalize several other initiatives that bring together partners from across the region. “We are eager to further the relationship we have with Lethbridge College and our area partners as we look to enhance research and academic programming in agriculture and agribusiness,” said uLethbridge President Mike Mahon. uLethbridge | Global News

MacEwan students vote for fee hike to fund new building

MacEwan University students have voted 77% in favour of a measure to increase student fees by $35 per term to pay for a new $40 M Students’ Association building in downtown Edmonton. The fee increase will not begin until construction of the building is complete. “We have commitment from our students,” said Students’ Association President Brittany Pitruniak. “They want this space and they want it so much, they’re willing to pay extra. We don't take that for granted.” Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson praised the plan, saying he’s hopeful that it will benefit the university, the students, and the community as a whole. The board of governors still needs to approve the plan, but the university hopes to break ground in the spring, with a scheduled opening date in 2018. Edmonton Journal | Global News | CTV News | Edmonton Sun

Ontario PSE institutions conclude mission to China

A delegation of representatives from Ontario PSE institutions has concluded its mission to China. The Council of Ontario Universities reports that numerous significant partnership agreements were signed by ON universities and their Chinese counterparts during the mission. OCADU, for example, reports that it has signed an MOU with Nanjing University to enhance collaboration on research, conferences, and other academic initiatives. Seneca College reports that its President, David Agnew, has also signed a number of MOUs with organizations such as the Jinling Institute of Technology and the Suzhou Industrial Park Institute of Vocational Technology. COU | OCADU | Seneca

Queen’s elects not to divest from fossil fuels

The Investment Committee of the Queen’s Board of Trustees has chosen not to divest the university’s endowment and investment funds from fossil fuels. The committee made its decision after reviewing a report from the Principal’s Advisory Committee on Divestment: Fossil Fuels, which the university undertook in February 2015 in response to a request from a Queen's student group. The report did not dispute that climate change was a critical issue, yet it found that the case for divestment on the basis of “social injury” had not been made. The advisory committee also concluded that divestment was not an effective tool in mitigating the risks of climate change. “Queen’s is an academic institution whose core activities are teaching and research. The university’s endowment funds exist solely to further these activities and the university has an obligation to seek the best possible return on these investments in order to advance its academic mission,” said Don Raymond, Chair of the Investment Committee. Queen’s

Good grades have lost importance for university admissions

When it comes to university admissions, “the days of selecting students based solely on their grades have gone the way of cursive writing,” writes Douglas Quan for the Calgary Herald. Nowadays, he adds, a trend toward “holistic” admission practices has completely transformed the way that admission to PSE institutions is determined. Instead of relying entirely on a high school transcript, admissions officers will now ask students abstract face-to-face questions such as, “Fast forward 30 years. What would the title of your autobiography be?” Some critics have noted that this form of evaluation might give an unfair advantage to students who are “well-off financially, well-connected and naturally gregarious.” Yet proponents of the method have claimed that it in fact increases institutions’ opportunities to identify talent in students that might not be recognized by traditional academic grading. Calgary Herald

Categorization skews youth unemployment numbers

Youth unemployment numbers are misrepresented by the inclusion of 15-year-olds in Statistics Canada’s category for ‘youth’, argues Philip Cross. The youth labour force reportedly has an unemployment rate of 13.5%, but Cross argues that this rate is largely increased by the unemployment of 15 to 19 year-old teenagers. Teenagers have a very different relationship with the labour market than 20 to 24 year-olds attempting to start their careers, and Cross recommends that StatCan stop recording workforce figures for 15 year-olds to rectify this issue. According to Maclean’s, this misrepresentation has “serious implications for the forthcoming Liberal plan, which involves a permanent $384-million-per-year Youth Employment Strategy … among other expensive innovations.” Maclean’s | MLI | StatsCan

New study questions connection between teaching quality and institutional prestige

A new study, presented last week at the Association for the Study of Higher Education, questions whether courses taught at more "prestigious" colleges and universities are of higher quality than those taught at others. The study draws on direct observation of nearly 600 courses at nine different institutions (three high prestige, two medium prestige, four low prestige). While the researchers were cautious about reading too much into a preliminary study, they found that high prestige institutions only outperformed lower prestige institutions on one measure of quality: the “cognitive complexity of the course work.” On two other measures there was no difference, and on the final two measures, lower prestige institutions actually outperformed high prestige ones. Inside Higher Ed

Open-access publishing comes with costs

Open-access publishing companies shoulder more costs than supporters of the idea may anticipate, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. Like traditional academic publishing, open-access often saves money through the volunteer efforts of peer reviewers and contributing authors, or through the online production and dissemination of materials. However, “the digital environment doesn’t get rid of the labor cost,” says Martin Eve, one of the directors of the Open Library of the Humanities. In order to run on a sustainable model that aims to cover the journal’s costs, open-access journals often need to be funded by grants, donations, or article-processing fees. Chronicle of Higher Education