Top Ten

November 18, 2015

HEQCO releases two new reports on PSE access challenges for under-represented groups

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario has released two new studies investigating the challenges faced when universities and colleges work to improve PSE access for under-represented groups. The first report, titled “The Recruitment of Under-represented Groups to Ontario Colleges: A Survey of Current Practices,” looked at student recruitment efforts from 12 ON colleges to find that asking students to self-identify as members of under-represented groups created major difficulties for schools to understand what proportion of their students came from these groups. The second study shifted the question to universities and found that although universities engaged in many outreach efforts directed toward under-represented groups, “there was little evidence of formal evaluations of the effects of these activities.”  HEQCO | Report (Colleges) | Report (Universities)

Former MUN prof ordered to pay CBC’s legal fees in libel suit

Former Memorial University professor Ranjit Chandra has been ordered to pay $1.6 M to CBC to cover their legal fees in a libel lawsuit. Chandra had alleged that CBC’s 2006 documentary, which reported that his published research was fraudulent, was libellous, and sought $137 M in damages. In July, an Ontario jury dismissed the claim against CBC, deciding that the report was true. In the decision, the judge said that Chandra “played a high stakes game … in the end, he failed abjectly.” CBC

StFX union head calls $1.2 M payout to former president “egregious”

Former St Francis Xavier University President Sean Riley, who retired in 2014, was reportedly allowed to collect more than $1.2 M for unused administrative leave, according to CBC. The media organization found the details in Riley’s final contract, from January 2011, which they obtained via a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request. StFX Association of University Teachers President Brad Long has called the contract “egregious,” saying that the comparison between administrative leave and sabbatical payouts is a “fallacy.” Such contracts in Nova Scotia have come under fire within the past year. CBC

uAlberta to build Maskwa House of Learning

The University of Alberta has formally submitted its proposal for a $30 M centre for Aboriginal students as part of the institution’s commitment to reconciliation, said uAlberta President David Turpin during his installation speech on Monday. uAlberta reportedly has the country’s only Faculty of Native Studies, which Turpin referenced as a “strong foundation from which to move forward.” The Maskwa House of Learning will be built “in the spirit of working in partnership to answer the legacy of residential schools,” and it has the support of the Grand Chiefs of Treaties Six and Eight. Once completed, it will provide a home space for Indigenous students where they will be able to access necessary supports. Edmonton Journal | Speech

Algonquin’s use of part-time faculty does not violate collective agreement

An arbitrator has dismissed a claim made by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) that Algonquin College’s use of part-time teachers in continuing education violates the school's collective agreement. The union alleged that a clause in the agreement required the college to give preference to full-time faculty in hiring decisions. The college argued successfully that the clause only refers to sessional and partial-load instructors, not part-time instructors. Arbitrator Norm Jesin found no evidence that the use of part-time faculty “resulted in the erosion of the bargaining unit.” Algonquin declined to comment on the case and OPSEU did not respond prior to the Ottawa Citizen’s print deadline. Ottawa Citizen | Full Ruling

Halifax university leaders offer advice on choosing PSE institutions

Choosing the right PSE institution is the first major decision in many young people’s lives, writes the Chronicle Herald, and it can be daunting process. The article draws on the advice of Adam Robertson, Associate Registrar and Director of Recruitment at Dalhousie University, and Kyle Steele, Manager of Student Recruitment at Mount Saint Vincent University. Robertson and Steele suggest that prospective PSE students should base their decisions on several core factors, including an institution’s specific program offerings, location, cost, and ability to fulfill the student’s academic and social goals. Further, both Robertson and Steele recommend that students visit an institution before choosing to enrol whenever possible. Chronicle Herald

uAlberta President calls for AB universities to lead new era in Canadian PSE

“Universities are among the most enduring institutions in society because they are educators, generators of new ideas, and engines of social, cultural and economic prosperity,” writes University of Alberta President David Turpin for the Edmonton Journal. But perhaps just as importantly, he adds, universities demand critical inquiry and “hold us all to account.” Turpin goes on to trace the University of Alberta’s history as an institution of the public good, arguing that one of the reasons Canada’s universities enjoy so much trust among Canadians is their “freedom to undertake curiosity-driven research, research that may have no immediate utility, but from which we know all major social, scientific and technical innovations flow.” The editorial concludes with a call on Alberta’s public and private sectors to collaborate to “provide leadership in research, teaching, service, community engagement and international partnership. Let us, together, play a leadership role in building a better Canada.” Edmonton Journal

YorkU partners with ON to conduct innovative student research

York University has announced that it will partner with Ontario’s Ministry of Education to conduct a feasibility study for data collection. The study will explore the possibility of gathering additional province-wide data to increase the understanding of ON’s student populations and school communities. The study will review current data collection requirements, identify points for the ministry and school boards to consider, and examine rationale and risks. “We are thrilled to collaborate with the Ministry in gaining valuable insight into aspects of education that are very consistent with our commitment to equity and social justice,” said YorkU Education Dean Ron Owston. YorkU

American universities benefit from mistakes, messiness

American universities do not remain the best in the world despite their messiness and seeming anarchy, writes former Senior Vice President of Tufts University, Sol Gittleman. Rather, he argues that these universities remain the best precisely because they are so fractured and diverse. In a piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Gittleman argues that the common belief that American universities have declined from a “golden age” of higher education is nothing more than a myth. By revisiting major eras of American’s PSE history, Gittleman attempts to show how US universities have always thrived because of their messiness and internal conflict. He concludes that one of the reasons these universities will remain so great is that no institution would ever intentionally reproduce the failures that got US schools where they are. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

The ‘Fragile College Student’ is a myth

Recent articles have falsely described students as “shuffling zombies” who are “poised to collapse emotionally at the slightest provocation,” argues New York writer Jesse Singal, yet “when you put [these issues] in context and look for real evidence that kids are getting more fragile – there’s a lot less here than meets the eye.” Singal argues that these types of articles must offer substantive evidence rather than hard-to-quantify cultural observations to sufficiently support their claims. Singal adds that finding such evidence “is hard to do, because such evidence doesn’t really exist." Victor Schwartz of the Jed Foundation explains that these derogatory articles do not take into consideration how health and counselling centers’ roles have changed over time. “It looks like there are more and more sicker students," he said, "but the metrics aren’t necessarily there to support [this].” New York