Top Ten

December 18, 2015

SSHRC announces $266 M in grants for 2015–16

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has announced funding of more than $266 M for 2015–16 to support research and research training in the humanities and social sciences. The funding comes in the form of 820 new grants and some 2,500 new scholarships and fellowships. The largest funding comes in the form of Partnership Grants, which range from $2 M to $2.5 M over 5–7 years. The largest grant, for a project on big data surveillance, went to principal investigator David Lyon at Queen’s University and 15 other co-applicants and collaborators. Also included in the announcement are Partnership Development Grants, Insight Grants, and Insight Development Grants, as well as master’s, doctoral, and postdoctoral funding. SSHRC (release and full results)

uToronto committee recommends partial divestment

A University of Toronto advisory committee, created by President Meric Gertler, has recommended that the institution divest from fossil fuel companies that “blatantly disregard” efforts to combat climate change. The committee singled out ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and Peabody Energy (the world’s largest coal producer) as “clear examples” of companies that uToronto should sell its shares in. The process of reviewing the recommendation is already underway. “I will conduct due diligence as appropriate, and I will respond to the report sometime in the new year,” said Gertler. “In the meantime, I hope and expect that the report will draw attention and close study across our broad community.” Financial Post | Globe and Mail | Toronto Star | Hamilton Spectator (CP) | uToronto | Full Report

Independent reviewer to examine UBC’s response to sexual assault complaints

UBC has hired Paula Butler, a Vancouver labour and employment lawyer, to examine the institution’s response to concerns of sexual harassment and sexual assault raised by some students last month. A summary of the report from the investigation will be publicly released in February, according to Sara-Jane Finlay, UBC’s Associate Vice President, Equity and Inclusion. “We had recognized that this had been an incredibly complex case. We wanted to have someone independent come in and look at the policy and process, and ensure that it served us in the best way possible,” said Finlay. Globe and Mail | CBC (CP) | UBC

uWindsor to demolish residences in need of extensive renovations

The University of Windsor has announced that it will permanently close and demolish Clark Residence after conducting a feasibility study on the status of the building. Clark Buildings I and II, built in the 1980s, will be demolished due to “the age of the buildings, the extensive nature of renovations needed, and the shifting demographics of students seeking residence accommodation,” according to uWindsor. Clark Residence, closed earlier this year, originally accommodated about 150 residents, and the school claims that there is adequate space to meet resident needs for next fall. As with Electa Hall, which was also closed earlier this year, the land space for Clark Residence will be reportedly be retained as a green space for future needs. uWindsor | CBC | Windsor Star

OUSA releases policy papers on financial assistance, learning environment, teaching and assessment

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) has released three policy papers over the last few days. In the first paper, titled “Reforming Ontario’s Student Financial Assistance System,” the organization examines ways to increase the accuracy and flexibility of government aid. In the second paper, titled “Promoting Success in the Broader Learning Environment,” the authors explore ways to support student success with extra-curricular programming. Finally, in “Teaching and Assessment,” the authors make a number of recommendations concerning the reimagining of student assessment and the prioritization of teaching excellence. OUSA (financial assistance) | OUSA (learning environment) | OUSA (teaching and assessment)

Carleton, SLC establish transfer pathways

Carleton University and St Lawrence College have established new student transfer pathways between their institutions. Recipients of two-year diplomas and three-year advanced diplomas at SLC will be eligible to receive up to five and seven credits respectively in a Carleton Bachelor of Arts Program. (Five credits represent one year of full-time study.) Fast-track pathways for Carleton graduates to access SLC programs are also being identified. "This model of strong collaboration is built on mutual understanding and appreciation for a shared commitment to quality and service to our students and the community," said Carleton President Roseann O’Reilly Runte. SLC President Glenn Vollebregt added, "this agreement will provide our students with additional opportunities to assist them in achieving their career aspirations." Carleton

Trent partners with energy firm for $15.5 M for campus upgrades, renewal

Trent University has announced that it has selected Ameresco Canada for a $15.5 M project to renew and upgrade campus infrastructure for the purpose of enhancing comfort, saving energy, and reducing Trent’s carbon footprint. The project includes upgrades to 26 buildings, and is expected to save the institution more than $1.5 M in energy costs annually over nine years. Trent Vice President, Finance and Administration Steven Pillar said, “this project will yield immediate cost-savings for Trent University, but more importantly, it will result in an over-achievement of our energy reduction targets set in our five-year Energy Conservation Plan and a simple payback of nine years.” Bob McCullough, President of Ameresco Canada, added, “students, faculty and staff will not only benefit from the campus improvements, the community will also benefit from lower greenhouse gas emissions.” Trent | Amaresco

OCAS releases apply-to-college mobile app

The Ontario College Application Service has launched a mobile app that will allow users to access the complete apply-to-college experience through a mobile device. According to OCAS, the app allows users to create an account, explore and save favourite college programs from across the province, request transcripts from other educational institutions, pay for and submit applications, and monitor their offers of admission. “We really listened to what our applicants were saying,” said OCAS Director of Service Delivery Paul Wemyss. “We believe our app delivers the best college application experience in a format that’s easy to use.” OCAS

UK first in international student satisfaction, but Canada growing faster

The United Kingdom ranks first in international undergraduate student satisfaction, ahead of Canada, the US, Australia, and New Zealand, according to new research from the UK Higher Education International Unit at Universities UK. However, Canada and the US outstripped the UK in terms of market share growth: Canada has seen 70% enrolment growth since 2007–08, compared to 46% for the UK. This translates into a 20% market share increase for Canada, compared to 3.1% for the UK, 7.6% for the US, and negative figures for Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. “Rising competition from the ‘sleeping giant’ of the international sector, the US, is proving significant, as is the offer from Canadian universities,” said the report. “The significant fall experienced in recent years in Australian international undergraduate enrolments illustrates the potential fragility of this market.” Chronicle of Higher Education | International Unit | Full Report

Most international grad students in US enrolled in master’s programs

The Council of Graduate Schools has released its report on enrolment in US graduate programs and for the first time has broken out the data by degree level. The data show that the vast majority (77%) of first-time international graduate students were enrolled in master’s and certificate programs, but proportions varied by country of origin. First time Indian and Saudi Arabian students were most likely to be enrolled in master’s programs, but first time South Korean students were most likely to pursue doctoral study. Nearly eight of ten international graduate applications in Fall 2015 came from either China or India. Engineering remains the most popular field again this year, but computer science and mathematics are quickly catching up. Chronicle of Higher Education | Times Higher Education | Full Report