Top Ten

December 17, 2015

UBC researchers reach $140 M licensing agreement for cancer drug

A new potential treatment for drug-resistant prostate cancer developed by researchers at UBC has been licensed by the Roche pharmaceutical company for more than $140 M, making the deal the most lucrative of its kind in UBC history. Researchers Paul Rennie and Artem Cherkasov of the Vancouver Prostate Centre developed the drug to help treat cancers that mutate and render conventional treatments ineffective. The terms of the new agreement will pay UBC and VCHRI an up-front payment of up to $140 M in US dollars. Yet Brad Wheeler, Technology Transfer Manager at the University-Industry Liaison Office, added that, "as much as that sounds—and it is a lot—the real money is in the royalties, which could exceed $140 million by quite a bit." UBC | Vancouver Sun

Colleges and universities fall short in sexual assault prevention and response, says government document

Canada’s colleges and universities lack a coordinated focus on sexual violence prevention and response, according to a briefing note prepared by Status of Women Canada for then-minister Kellie Leitch last March, obtained by Metro under the Access to Information Act. “More could be done, particularly to encourage bystander intervention and involvement,” it adds. The note also observes a lack of comparable national data, and suggests that the government may need to examine an approach like America’s Clery Act, which compels institutions to release data about campus crime. The new federal government said it would not comment on the previous government’s commitments, but that the new minister “will work with experts and advocates to develop a federal gender violence strategy and action plan.” Metro

Queen’s makes $10.7 M investment in sustainability

Queen’s University has announced a $10.7 M contract with international energy services company Honeywell to enhance the sustainability of its operations. The contract is part of the institution’s Energy Matters project, designed to reduce both its carbon footprint and energy bills. “Climate change is a significant global issue and Queen’s is committed to doing its part to improve our environment through its operations,” said Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf. The cost of the project will be funded by future savings, with full payback expected after 12 years. Queen’s

YorkU enhances BEd in Technological Education

The Faculty of Education at York University will be developing an enhanced Bachelor of Education in Technological Education program with the aid of a $444 K grant over two years from Ontario's Technological Teacher Education Collaborative Initiatives Fund. YorkU will prioritize the use of this fund in online courses, part-time offerings, provision of greater access for Aboriginal students, instruction in the French language, and development of courses based on geographical need. Dean of the Faculty of Education Ron Owston said that “the grant will allow us to address key issues such as meeting the demand for quality teachers and developing innovating ways to educate future technological education teachers." New program pathways developed through the initiative are set to be introduced in the 2017-2018 academic year. YorkU | Inside Toronto

Camosun, BC partner to provide job-related language training

Camosun College has announced that it will partner with BC to provide English language training to new immigrants to Victoria who are looking for work in high-demand jobs. These job categories will cover the construction, engineering, and health sectors, among others. Camosun will use new funding from BC to enrol three cohorts of students in English for Career and Professional Integration, English for Construction and Engineering, and English for Health Careers. “Camosun is very pleased to receive this important funding and we look forward to working with the Ministry and our community partners on future project-based language training initiatives that support refugees and other immigrants in our community,” said Camosun’s VP Student Experience Joan Yates. Camosun

Canadian law schools investigate best way to implement TRC recommendations

In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s statement that all law students must learn more about Aboriginal peoples’ interactions with the justice system, law schools have been examining the many ways that this statement and ensuing recommendations could be implemented. The Peter Allard School at UBC and the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University have both established a mandatory course in Aboriginal law and intercultural training. Whether such a course is mandatory or optional, Aboriginal resource lawyer Merle Alexander explains that there is a practical aspect to being able to meet the growing demand for lawyers who are able to practice treaty law. “If students knew that taking Aboriginal law courses would be key to them getting a job," he said, "they would take the course.” Globe and Mail

Striking UQAM teaching assistants reach tentative deal with province

Quebec has announced that it has reached a tentative agreement with striking student employees at the Université du Québec à Montréal. The group of nearly 3,000 teaching assistants and researchers represented by the union SÉTUE has been on strike since December 7th, and the union still needs to approve the agreement before it can come into effect. The striking employees have been without a contract since the end of 2013, according to CBC. CBC

SFU signs climate action pledge

Simon Fraser University has signed the Paris Pledge for Action, joining governments and institutions from around the world in its support for a new global agreement aimed at limiting temperature rise to less than two degrees Celcius. “This pledge is further evidence of SFU’s commitment to promoting a safe and stable climate,” said SFU President Andrew Petter. “Consistent with our new energy utilization policy, SFU will continue to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by making the goal of being powered entirely by renewable energy an institutional priority.” SFU | Paris Pledge

American PSE enrolment declines for fourth straight year

American postsecondary enrolment has declined by 1.7%, the fourth straight annual decline, and an increase over the 1.3% decline last year, according to the latest data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The decline was driven particularly by decreases at four-year for-profit institutions (13.7% decrease) and two-year public institutions (2.4% decrease). The only sector to see a slight increase was four-year public institutions, at 0.4%. Declines for students older than 24 were much higher than for those 24 and under, particularly at two-year public institutions. The characteristics of the students and institutions seeing the largest declines suggest that they are driven by a slowly improving job market, according to Inside Higher Ed. Inside Higher Ed | Chronicle of Higher Education | Full Report

TIME examines Koch brothers’ influence over US colleges

A pair of private foundations led by the billionaire Koch brothers contributed more than $23 M to US college and universities in 2014, reports TIME. Further, the high education-centred Charles Koch Foundation finished the 2014 fiscal year with $528 M in its accounts. With this level of financial power comes a certain level of control over the cultures of PSE institutions, adds the article's author, who argues that “almost all of the higher education programs the Koch foundations fund cleave to the brothers’ philosophy of promoting free markets and laissez-faire capitalism in the United States.” Perhaps the most disquieting aspects of this influence are “control over curriculum, and more recently, obtaining personal information about students.” TIME