Top Ten

December 11, 2015

Union files unfair labour practice complaint against uToronto

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3902 (CUPE 3902), the union representing teaching assistants, sessionals, and postdocs at the University of Toronto, has filed an unfair labour practice complaint against the university. The complaint, filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board, accuses uToronto of “bargaining in bad faith.” The union alleges that they were provided incorrect information concerning the Graduate Student Bursary Fund. “[uToronto] lied about our members' funding levels, then allowed us to negotiate the end to a 4-week strike based on incorrect data they supplied. They bargained in bad faith at a tense time when honesty mattered more than ever,” said CUPE 3902 Chair Ryan Culpepper. uToronto has not yet responded to requests to comment. CUPE 3902 | The Varsity

ON report calls for student-centred revisions to university funding model

Ontario should gear its university funding model more toward the quality of students’ experience and less toward the quantity of students enroled at a school, according to a new provincial report released today. Former ON Deputy Education Minister Suzanne Herbert led a five-month consultation with the province’s university stakeholders to develop recommendations for updating ON’s 50 year-old university funding formula. The resulting report, named “Focus on Outcomes, Centre on Students,” suggests that the province will use performance-based funding strategies to encourage institutions to become more teaching-focused. “The whole exercise is based on students and how we can increase the quality of their learning experience, so we see these recommendations as a good roadmap for designing a new funding formula,” said Reza Moridi, ON’s current Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. Toronto Star | Globe and Mail

Number of international students in Canada triples over past 20 years

Over the past two decades, the number of international students admitted annually to Canada has nearly tripled, according to a new study by Statistics Canada. Entitled “International students who become permanent residents in Canada,” the report examines the number and characteristics of international students as well as their transition to permanent residence. For the earliest cohort studied (1990 to 1994), a plurality were enrolled in primary or secondary school; for the most recent cohort (2010 to 2013), a plurality were enrolled in non-university postsecondary. The report suggests that students from countries with “lower levels of economic development and less favourable social and political environments” were more likely to seek permanent residence in Canada. StatCan | Full Report

Indigenous content should be mandatory across all Canadian universities

“Every university in Canada should mandate Indigenous content,” writes University of Winnipeg President Annette Trimbee and uWinnipeg Vice-President of Indigenous Affairs Wab Kinew. The article notes that uWinnipeg and Lakehead University have already instituted mandatory Indigenous content, but calls upon all of Canada’s other universities to do the same. The article’s authors insist that any institute proposing to deliver higher learning must fulfill the ethical demands of living and working within Canada. They argue that, “whether or not you have Indigenous blood, if you live in this country, at least a part of your identity is Indigenous. It is time that every Canadian recognizes that – first, because it is the truth; and second, because denying Canada’s Indigenous character is partly responsible for the continued inequities faced by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people.” Globe and Mail

Should Canada’s cities be funding universities?

Mississauga’s city councillors are beginning to question whether it is the city’s responsibility to inject funding into the University of Toronto Mississauga, writes a contributor for the Brampton Guardian. The author goes on to suggest that this line of questioning raises the even broader issue of whether Canadian municipalities in general should be counted on to fund universities. In the case of Mississauga, one city councillor was quoted saying that funding UTM is “a misuse of taxpayers money.” Mayor Bonnie Crombie, however, argued that it is smart for the city to fund such a significant generator of economic activity, adding, “we need this for the higher value jobs it’s providing and the economic spinoff it’s creating.” Brampton Guardian

Canada’s global competitiveness possibly hindered by study permit delay

According to a recent study by CBIE, lengthy study permit processing times pose a concern for Canada’s global competitiveness by limiting both the effectiveness of the federal International Education Strategy and the effectiveness of PSE recruitment efforts across the country. Nigeria was particularly noted as a site needing improvement, as there was an 18-month average processing time in Nigeria, one of Canada’s biggest source markets, while Chile had an average wait of 9 days. “We’re probably one of the most difficult countries for Nigerian students to study in, but they’re the fastest growing group of students who are coming to Canada,” said CBIE research manager Janine Knight-Grofe. Pie News | CBIE (Subscription Required)

Fleming, Rice Lake Plains partner to provide hands-on learning

Fleming College has signed an MOU with the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative (RLPJI) committing to develop internships, field placements, and student projects. The Rice Lake Plains are Canada’s easternmost prairie landscape and are known for their oak savanna and historical prairie habitats. Through the agreement, Fleming will promote employment opportunities and assist with outreach and educational events.  “Fleming College’s membership on the RLPJI will put us ‘at the table’ with key representatives of the existing partners that will lead to additional applied learning opportunities for our students,” said Fleming’s Dean of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences Linda Skilton. Fleming

Northern Lakes announces partnership to enhance wastewater training

Northern Lakes College has announced that it will partner with ATAP Infrastructure Management Ltd to develop a wastewater training program to help address a critical demand for wastewater professionals in Alberta. Northern Lakes President Ann Everatt has said that the initiative will create “a premiere training program, providing practical job readiness training.” The program will delivered in a live online format to allow students to undertake the training while working and living in their home communities. Students will also have the opportunity to tour a treatment plant, conduct water tests, and assist with the day-to-day activities of professionals working in water stewardship. Northern Lakes

US Supreme Court hears oral arguments in affirmative action case

On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin, which seeks to challenge race-conscious admissions at American postsecondary institutions. The case first reached the court in 2013, but was sent back to a lower court for further review; earlier this year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear it for a second time. Several of the justices voiced disappointment at the lack of additional information more than two years ago. The questions revolved largely around UT Austin’s particular admissions scheme, in which 75% of applicants are drawn from the top 10% of students in their high school and the other 25% are admitted using a process that considers race as one of many factors. The court is expected to issue a final ruling on the case by next summer. Chronicle of Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed | Oral Arguments (Transcript)

Can philosophy survive in a world demanding immediate, practical results?

It is no secret that the increasing emphasis on applied research and employability has caused some to criticize philosophy programs, writes Simon Blackburn for Times Higher Education. Yet he reminds readers that there remains “some distinction between obtaining results and interpreting them.” While engineers and technologists will often produce valuable and practical results, he argues, the world still needs a class of trained experts to study what these results might mean in a broader philosophical context. Times Higher Education