Top Ten

December 9, 2015

uAlberta signs $16 M energy MOU with Mexico

The University of Alberta and the Mexican government have signed an MOU for a $16 M partnership focused on helping Mexico grow its hydrocarbon sector. After 75 years of being state-run, Mexico's oil and gas sector has been opened to private investment, attracting international companies that will require a skilled labour force. Researchers from uAlberta will work with Mexico’s energy ministry on a number of tasks, including identifying research opportunities, increasing student mobility between Canada and Mexico, and working with Mexican institutions to offer high-quality training in the energy sector. uAlberta | CBC (1) | CBC (2)

Okanagan eligible for $1 M for high demand trades

Okanagan College is among the institutions eligible to receive $1 M in funding from the LNG Canada Trades Training Fund to support pre-apprentice and apprentice students in a variety of trades programs. Okanagan offers ten of the 15 “high demand” trades programs prioritized by the fund. “This new Trades Training Fund is exciting news, particularly for employers, but also for our students and potential students looking to pursue an apprenticeship,” said Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores. Okanagan | KelownaNow | OkanaganLife

MUN cancels journal subscriptions to meet library journal budget

Memorial University’s library is reportedly set to cancel its subscription to about 2,500 academic journals in order to deal with a tight budget and increasing costs. Between a weak Canadian dollar and rising subscription costs, the library is not able to stay within its current journal budget. According to MUN Head Librarian Lorraine Busby, the institution does not have the money to increase the library’s funding. Faculty at the institution are in “panic mode” since receiving the list of journals that are being considered for discontinuation, says MUN Political Science Professor Scott Matthews, who sees cancelling the journals as “essentially gutting our ability to fulfill those core missions of teaching and research.” CBC

Universities Canada responds to Maclean’s article on colleges

A recent piece published by Maclean’s arguing that Canadians are increasingly choosing college over university was “short on data and big on tired myths,” according to Paul Davidson, President and CEO of Universities Canada. Davidson goes on to argue that 92% of Canadians believe that investments should be made in colleges, university, and polytechnics, not in choosing between them. He says that between mid-2008 and mid-2015, roughly twice as many new jobs were created for university graduates as for college and trades graduates combined. “Through a growing number of partnerships with colleges and polytechnics, universities are providing students with unlimited pathways to achieve their education and career goals,” he concludes. Universities Canada

ON lieutenant-governor speaks to importance of innovation, quality of life

“Ontario, Canada, and the world face three big challenges around social cohesion, environmental stewardship and economic prosperity, and how we get those to connect,” said Ontario’s lieutenant-governor in a visit to the Waterloo region this Monday. Elizabeth Dowdeswell toured a number of innovation hubs, incubators, and businesses to talk about the themes she believes are important to Ontarians. Among these themes were science and technology, which Dowdeswell argued should be concerned with their impact on people’s quality of life in addition to their focus on knowledge for knowledge’s sake. “I think it is really important to have communities thinking about not only what draws people here, but what sustains them, what keeps them here over time," she said. The Record

CEGEP professors receive 5% raise in tentative agreement

20,000 professors from Quebec’s CEGEPs will receive salary raises of nearly 5% on average in a new tentative agreement reached with the province, reports La Presse. This gain concluded negotiations last Sunday between QC and the Alliance of Professors and College Teachers. La Presse also reports that these negotiations were focused primarily on working conditions and not salaries, but the province offered the salary concession as a means to introduce consistency across pay scales between CEGEP instructors and primary/secondary school teachers. Because the job class for CEGEP instructors was considered a “mixed” category in prior negotiations, it had not before been evaluated with respect to pay equity, which attempts to account for differences in gender between primary/secondary schools teachers and CEGEP professors. La Presse

uCalgary launches campus-wide mental health strategy

The University of Calgary has launched a new, campus-wide mental health strategy, for all students, faculty, and staff. The plan comes in response to growing demand for mental health services. A 2013 survey found that 90% of students had felt overwhelmed, 64% felt lonely, 58% felt overpowering anxiety, and 8% had seriously contemplated suicide. The strategy makes 28 recommendations across three areas and implementation will begin in 2016. “This strategy addresses the holistic needs of our entire campus community,” said Provost Dru Marshall. “It recognizes the importance of support, collaboration, and work-life balance for optimizing mental health and well-being.” CBC | 660 News | Calgary Herald | Metro News | CTV News | uCalgary

TRU reaches new guaranteed employment agreement for BC-certified teachers in China

Thompson Rivers University has signed a new agreement with Maple Leaf Educational Systems (MLES) that will offer guaranteed employment to 20 BC-certified teachers who move to work in China. The agreement will take effect after the teachers have successfully completed TRU’s Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education programs and obtained BC Teacher Certification. “TRU has an excellent reputation in China as does Maple Leaf Schools. This is a partnership that will have long-lasting benefits to us all,” said TRU’s CEO of Global Operations Baihua Chadwick. TRU

Better data may reveal stronger prospects than thought for Canada’s PhDs

The prospects for tenure-track employment facing Canada’s PhD graduates may not be nearly as dire as some might believe, writes Richard Wiggers of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Drawing on a recent report from the Conference Board of Canada, Wiggers argues that the claim that only 18.6% of PhD graduates find tenure-track employment is based on potentially misleading data. Because the data comes from the 2011 national census, it includes all immigrants who are into the country with a PhD as part of the overall group of PhD holders not employed in a tenure-track position. For this reason, Wiggers argues, we need to track PhD graduates through their “online footprint” to gain a more accurate sense of how many new PhD graduates find tenure-track employment in their field. Wiggers concludes by suggesting that the results of such a study might be much more encouraging than the numbers currently circulating on the subject. HEQCO

Just 21% of US parents think PSE is worth the price

According to two recent surveys, just 21% of parents of prospective college students in the US believe that the cost of a four-year degree is worth “the value it delivers.” For high school guidance counselors, the figure was nearly twice as high, as 37% “strongly agreed” that the cost was worth the value. The surveys were conducted in October and are based on results from 539 parents and 235 counselors. The concern, according to the researchers, arises not from a declining value in the PSE degree, but rather the rising cost. “We know from talking to parents and high school counselors that the takeaway isn’t that they don’t believe in the value of a college degree—they’re really concerned about the high sticker price,” said Michael Boothroyd, a representative from a firm conducting one of the surveys. Campus Technology