Top Ten

December 1, 2015

uCalgary, Concordia, uQuébec featured in QS’s “Top 50 under 50”

QS has released its “Top 50 under 50” for 2015, a ranking of the world’s top 50 universities under 50 years old. This year, the University of Calgary was named the top institution in both Canada and North America. “This international recognition demonstrates that the University of Calgary is now positioned among the best young institutions in the world,” said uCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon. Concordia University and the Université du Québec were also listed in the 61-70 ranking range. QS | uCalgary

CAUT criticizes Carleton over alleged board “gag order”

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has condemned Carleton University’s board of governors for a new policy that will reportedly ban board members from commenting publicly on the meetings they attend, a policy that applies until the end of a board member’s lifetime. The CAUT calls this policy a violation of institutional transparency and has threatened to blacklist the university if the policy remains in place. In this case, blacklisting would see the CAUT issue a public recommendation that academics refuse to take jobs or attend conferences at Carleton. Carleton has responded that it has undertaken the new policy out of “confidentiality obligations,” adding that “fulsome candid discussion and debate by Board members is to be conducted at meetings, not retrospectively following a meeting in an online or public forum.” Ottawa Citizen

Brock receives $2.5 M for bursary program

Brock University has received a $2.5 M donation from the Joyce Foundation to establish the new Joyce Foundation Bursary, the largest single bursary fund in the school’s history. The funds will be used to cover the full costs of tuition for multiple students each academic year. “This is one of the most significant gift announcements in the history of our school,” said Brock University President Jack Lightstone. “This generous donation from The Joyce Foundation will open the door to postsecondary education for an untold number of students in the years to come.” Brock

uWaterloo receives $4.25 M from Intact for climate adaptation centre

The University of Waterloo has announced that it will create the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation (ICCA) in partnership with the Intact Financial Corporation. Funded by a $4.25 M donation from Intact, the centre will be based at uWaterloo’s Faculty of Environment and will be led by Professor Blair Feltmate. Two of its programs will work on reducing the impact of severe precipitation on Canadian communities and identifying extreme weather vulnerabilities of various Canadian industries, respectively. “Addressing the effects of climate change and extreme weather is a pressing challenge for everyone. This unique national partnership applies Waterloo’s research excellence in a way that serves communities across the country,” said uWaterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur. uWaterloo

Canadian PSE enrolment up 1.2%, now topping 2 million, says StatCan

According to Statistics Canada, enrolments in public postsecondary institutions rose 1.2% for the 2013/14 academic year, bringing the total to more than 2 million. International enrolment rose even more quickly, up 2.5% over the previous year, and now accounts for nearly 10% of total enrolments. Enrolment rose the most in Ontario, followed by Quebec and British Columbia. Roughly 60% of enrolments were at the bachelor’s level or above. 56.3% of all students were women, but this proportion was only 45.6% for international students. Enrolment rose fastest in the category of architecture, engineering, and related technologies. StatCan | Hamilton Spectator (CP)

UoGuelph study finds graduates with disabilities have more difficult finding employment, face wage gap

Canadian university graduates with disabilities have both a greater difficulty finding employment than their peers and face a wage gap, according to a new study. “There’s a gap of approximately $4,000 between graduates with and without disabilities, and that’s just two years after graduation,” said University of Guelph Professor of Sociology and Anthropology David Walters, one of the study’s authors. He later added that “the even bigger challenge is in finding full-time employment. The unemployment rate for graduates with a disability is twice as high as for those without one.” Liberal arts, business, and engineering graduates with self-disclosed disabilities had a greater difficulty in finding employment than those in the sciences and health care. Guelph Mercury | UoGuelph

OUSA representatives ask for changes in funding, WIL opportunities from ON universities

Student leaders representing over 140,000 professional and undergraduate students are traveling to Queen’s Park to meet with MPPs and key decision makers. These Ontario University Student Association (OUSA) representatives will lobby for “key changes and updates to the university funding formula, targeted investments in work-integrated learning opportunities, and an overhaul of educational tax credits.” OUSA President Spencer Nestico-Semianiw explains that these are the “core mechanisms in our universities are still built for the world of a half-century ago,” adding that “we need to have a university system better adapted to the present if we want students to be ready for their futures.” OUSA

Education should confront students with “real world” discomfort

“The RW [real world] can be a heartless place,” writes Holland College’s Rick MacLean for the PEI Guardian, “people want what they want, when they want it. They don’t much care about your personal problems.” MacLean responds to what he sees as an hypersensitivity in present-day PSE students and argues that while it is important for students to fight for a better world, “trying to create a little bubble where no one’s feelings ever get hurt … [is] not education." MacLean concludes that students must learn to thrive in environments that are often harsh and upsetting if they wish to survive after graduation. After all, he writes, “education is supposed to challenge people’s assumptions, about themselves and their world. And that can be uncomfortable.” The Guardian (PEI)

Can student evaluations be improved?

As the semester wraps up and the season of student evaluations of teaching begins, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports on work performed by the IDEA Center, a 40-year-old nonprofit that strives to improve learning in higher education. The center says that it has developed a tool, now used by many US institutions, that it believes can overcome two of the main critiques of student evaluations: poor questions and misused results. The center also argues that student evaluations should form just one part of evaluating teaching, alongside peer observation and self-reflection. Last year, Academica partnered with several Ontario colleges to develop a more effective student evaluation tool. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

PSE performance metrics may have unintended consequences

“The desire to measure attainment, progress and calculate ‘added value’ is becoming increasingly pervasive” in higher education, writes an anonymous contributor to The Guardian. On a basic level, these metrics may be valuable for introducing much-needed transparency and accountability into teaching and administrative decision-making. Yet the author argues that there may be unintended consequences from reducing everything to metrics, which begs the question: “will endless measuring turn them into better, more engaged, students, or simply more cynical ones?” The author concludes that some of the most important aspects of higher learning are the ones that are most difficult to measure; therefore, we should spend just as much time celebrating what cannot be measured as we do searching for new performance indicators. The Guardian (UK)