Top Ten

November 16, 2015

Selkirk receives $18.9 M for new trades training facilities

BC has announced that it will invest $18.9 M in new trades training facilities at the Silver King Campus of Selkirk College. The investment is part of BC’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and will be used to fund the renewal, replacement, and demolition of existing buildings at the Silver King Campus. “Ensuring trades students have access to the best training available in modern facilities such as the new Silver King trades facilities will help students get the right skills they need,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “As part of BC’s blueprint, we have a plan that is aligning education and training with occupations that are in demand.” Selkirk | NationTalk

Rate of “overqualified” workers worsens for university grads, improves for college grads

As much as 40% of Canada’s recent university graduates are overqualified for their jobs, according to the federal Parliamentary Budget Officer's Labour Market Assessment 2015. The report noted that the number of recent university graduates maintaining jobs that matched their level of education had dropped from 62% in 1991 to 55% in 2014. College graduates, on the other hand, were found to be in an improved position. The overqualification rate for college graduates dropped from 37% in 2006 to 34% in 2014. The proportion of recent college grads who held positions that matched their education level reached 50% in 2014, an improvement from 45% in 1998. The parliamentary budget office has warned of the costs associated with rising rates of overqualification, stating, “these workers may face lower levels of job satisfaction and attachment, which could increase turnover rates for employers.” Globe and Mail (CP) | Report

Colleges and universities need external forces to discourage anti-free speech activism

Canada needs external authorities to assess the issues that inspire on-campus activism and inhibit free speech, writes Robyn Urback of the National Post. “When your friends, your professors, your student newspapers are all telling you you’re right, it’s hard not to see why trying to get someone fired for what they said is a good thing,” she explains, highlighting how postsecondary institutions can act as groupthink incubators. She adds that “the reasons why these students are so vehemently upset does matter, but they do not excuse silencing dissenting views on campus—full stop.” The article concludes that external forces may occasionally need to intervene in on-campus issues to ‘pop’ the self-confirming bubbles that form in postsecondary communities. National Post

uAlberta, UVic join $4.5 M research project assessing influence of Western Canada’s energy sector

A new six-year, $4.5 M research project will closely examine Western Canada’s oil, gas, and coal industries for their political ties and their international connections. The project, titled "Mapping the Power of the Carbon-Extractive Corporate Resource Sector," will be conducted by three research partners: the University of Alberta Parkland Institute, the University of Victoria, and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The partnership will focus on mapping the way that the industry is organized, analyzing the sector’s influence on social services like the government, producing case studies on flashpoint issues, and the developing a publicly accessible, open-source corporate database. UVic | uAlberta | Edmonton Journal | Parkland Institute

CNA, MUN students rally for affordable tuition

Students from the College of the North Atlantic and Memorial University held rallies for affordable postsecondary education last week. Brittany Lennox, executive director of student life with the MUN Students’ Union, said that “affordable education is key to a strong economy in Newfoundland and Labrador.” The MUN rally was led by representatives from the Memorial University Students’ Union and the provincial chapter of the Canadian Federation. Fifteen similar events were held across Newfoundland and Labrador to maintain the tuition freeze that was introduced in 1999 and to reestablish funding to postsecondary funding. “We’re lobbying government … to keep the commitment to our tuition freeze and also to restore funding back to our college,” said CNA Student Body President, Hugh Smith. CBC | Compass

MB Liberals want to turn provincial portion of student loans into grants

The Manitoba Liberals have reported that they would turn the provincial portion of Canada Student Loans into non-repayable grants if elected in the provincial election. Leader Rana Bokhari stated that prospective students should not be deterred from further education by the possibility of high debts, adding that “Manitoba students are paying too much for debt when they graduate from school.” In order to have their loans converted into grants, students would need to maintain passing grades and stay in a school until they graduated. The program would help more young people in MB and would reportedly not require students to remain in the province to qualify for the grant. Winnipeg Free Press | CBC

CBU anticipates $500 K per year from wind turbines

Cape Breton University has begun the construction of wind turbines near its Sydney campus with the aim of producing both power and profit for the university, reports CBC. CBU’s Director of Facilities Management Donnie MacIsaac stated that the university has borrowed $17 M so far to build the turbines and predicts that the turbines will generate “$400,000 or $500,000 a year in positive cash flow to the university." Funds from the turbine project will be committed to a trust and then spent at the discretion of CBU. CBC

Trent President donates $50 K to philosophy fund named for his triplet brothers

Trent University President Leo Groarke has announced that he will contribute $50 K of personal money to create the Louis and Paul Groarke Philosophy Endowment in the names of his two brothers. The Groarke triplets are all professors of philosophy. The $50 K contribution is part of Trent’s $50 M fundraising campaign and will be used specifically to fund philosophy endowments at the university. “I was very fortunate to study philosophy,” said Groarke. “It makes you an independent thinker—ready to think outside the box, see different points of view, and weigh the evidence on all  sides. I wanted to pay something back to a discipline that gave me the skills and knowledge that gave me  a career as a professor and an administrator.” Trent | MyKawartha 

Students across US march over debt, free public college

Students from more than 110 colleges across the US held demonstrations on Thursday to protest rising student loan debt and to demand tuition-free public colleges. The protests also demanded at $15 minimum wage for campus workers. Dubbed by the press as the Million Student March, the demonstrations featured a number of protesters who called not only for tuition-free college, but debt-free college. According to the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the total volume of outstanding US student loan debt has more than doubled to $1.2 T, compared to less than $600 B in 2006. A group of demonstrators at Northeastern University were reported carrying signs that read “Degrees are not receipts” and “Is this a school or a corporation?” Globe and Mail | Washington Post | The Guardian

Defining a “win” difficult in struggles for campus equity

While it is important to encourage diversity and equity on college campuses, it is very difficult for anyone to say what constitutes a definitive “win,” writes Eric Hoover for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Hoover highlights the recent resignation of two top administrators at the University of Missouri over charges that they were ineffectual about concerns of racism on campus. Yet while their ousting might provide some comfort to protesters, Hoover writes that “symbolic gains are not the same as systemic ones.” Changing the overall atmosphere of equity on a campus or in any environment is a long-term struggle, he concludes, and one of the most difficult challenges of this change lies in the fact that there are no tangible metrics for success, nor any people in a position to take direct responsibility for these metrics. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)