Top Ten

January 20, 2016

Queen’s changing medical education to value skill competency over placement time

As of July 2017, Queen’s University will require all incoming medical residents to start their training in a competency-based training system, rather than a time-based one. The change stems from the recommendations made by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, which suggested transitioning to a system where residents progress through their education by demonstrating competency in their field. The new system will include increased feedback for residents through smaller tests and skill evaluations. “We can’t assume the residents are learning by osmosis,” explains Richard Reznick, Dean of the Queen's Faculty of Health Sciences and Director of the School of Medicine. “We have to be much more explicit in making sure they are meeting competencies.” Queen's | Globe and Mail

CBU could lay off up to 20 faculty members

In an effort to trim some $5 M from its $50 M budget, Cape Breton University could cut as many as 20 faculty members, according to the Chronicle Herald and Cape Breton Post. CBU President David Wheeler informed CBU Faculty Association President Scott Stewart on Monday that he would be invoking the "layoff clause" in the collective agreement, which will have a committee look for voluntary staff cost reductions before any final decision on layoffs is made. Concerns about layoffs were spurred late last year when CBU first announced it was looking to reduce its operating budget. “We are continuing to say that we believe that with goodwill, it is possible to imagine making these savings in our staff costs through voluntary mechanisms,” said Wheeler. Chronicle Herald | Cape Breton Post

SFU launches first of its kind PTSD program for first responders

Simon Fraser University is launching a First Responders Trauma Prevention and Recovery certificate program, reportedly the first of its kind in Canada. The program is aimed at preventing the deaths of first responders by suicide—in 2015, 39 Canadian first responders died by suicide. The program, taught by current and retired first responders and other professionals, will teach the skills and knowledge needed to deal with the effects of trauma before, during, and after an incident. “I am very proud that SFU has been able to respond … to the needs of these brave men and women,” said SFU Director of Career and Professional Programs Larry White. SFU | CKNW News | Metro

Can a three-year competency-based degree reopen the doors to PSE?

There is “no shortage of innovative work on advancing the quality of higher education,” writes Robert H Seidman for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. “But what good is higher quality to someone who is priced out of college [in the US]?” he asks. Many thinkers have worked to address the problems created by the rising cost of PSE, both for those accessing it and those delivering it, but Seidman believes that a crucial innovation might lie in converting some four-year degree programs into three-year programs. He claims that this can be done without diminishing educational scope or quality by using a competency-based curricula in which “seat time is decoupled from credit hours and non-seat time educational experiences are fully integrated into the curriculum.” He argues that this sort of shift can cut the price of education for both students and schools by 25%, thus giving new opportunities to many who have been priced out of PSE in recent decades. HEQCO

Debate surrounds visiting speakers for Islamic Awareness Week at uAlberta

A MacEwan University professor has expressed concern over a group of Islamic scholars invited to speak at the University of Alberta’s Islamic Awareness Week. In an interview with CBC, Junaid Jehangir alleged that the visiting scholars hold extremist and homophobic views, adding that one of the speakers has referred to “homosexual people” as "filthy, disgusting things" in a video posted to YouTube. Yet uAlberta Muslim Students' Association President Ayesha Sohail defended the choice of speakers, claiming that Jehangir had taken the YouTube video out of context. "[The speaker] is not expressing his own opinion,” she said. “He is giving an example of somebody saying things like that. He is actually arguing against that. He's saying 'we don't say things like that, but rather we should express our beliefs in a calm and collected manner, in a peaceful way.'" CBC | Edmonton Journal | Huffington Post

Lack of information helped undermine BC’s free-market PSE experiment

BC’s 2015 Private Training Act has brought postsecondary education “firmly back within the control of government,” writes Robert F Clift for Academic Matters, but it took 25 years of failed experiments in free-market education for the province to take such action. Clift goes on to chronicle several examples of what he views as “market failures” associated with the rise of private PSE institutions within BC. While he does not reject outright the concept of self-regulating markets, he argues that these markets are destined to fail when publics are not provided with the information they need to make good choices about enrolling in PSE. When governments do not force private sector educators to publish reliable data about their students’ outcomes, Clift argues that the market creates an “asymmetry between vendor and consumer” that will end any hopes of providing students with the education they need. Academic Matters

Demand for ON universities remains high amidst demographic challenges

Even though the number of university-aged people in Ontario is decreasing, the number of applications for Ontario’s universities has remained steady, according to the Council of Ontario Universities. Some 88,000 secondary students filed more than 404,700 applications to Ontario’s 20 publicly funded universities for 2016, marking a decline of only 0.1% from last year. “University applications are stable in the face of a declining population of young people because they are fulfilling people’s hopes and dreams, and setting them up for success in their lives and careers,” said COU President David Lindsay. COU

UFV, COTR sign transfer agreement for Criminal and Social Justice, Criminology programs

Students who complete the Criminal and Social Justice certificate at College of the Rockies will now have the opportunity to transfer their credits directly into the Criminology Diploma or Bachelor of Arts in Criminology at the University of the Fraser Valley. COTR Dean of Business and University Studies Darrell Bethune said the agreement "is a terrific opportunity for students to begin their education at College of the Rockies, with small class sizes and more personal instruction, before moving on to university.” UFV Vice Provost Peter Geller added, "the University of the Fraser Valley is very pleased to work with our educational partners in British Columbia, and specifically the College of the Rockies, to offer students opportunities to further their studies at university.” COTR


US higher ed has become an “engine of inequality”

As a university degree increasingly becomes the ticket to economic security in the US, the gap between those who do and do not get to enjoy this advantage is growing wider, writes the Chronicle of Higher Education. The article kicks off a series of upcoming pieces devoted to investigating if and how PSE can be made to remedy inequality instead of making it worse. It notes that between 1970 and 2014, the share of bachelor’s degrees awarded to students from the lowest income quartile decreased from 12% to 10%. The problem has become so dire in some cases that the article asks whether it can be fixed at all. But in the words of one commentator, the long-term consequences of doing nothing in this regard “are too awful to contemplate." Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Questioning what your university does to promote racial equality

While race relations in PSE have received widespread attention in the US over the previous year, they receive “little attention, either in the media or the sector itself” in the UK, writes Nicola Rollock for The Guardian. Rollock cites recent statistics showing that nearly three quarters of white UK students achieve a “good” PSE degree, while this is true for fewer than 50% of their black peers. What is perhaps more distressing about this statistic, however, is that it holds true even when these groups of students enter PSE with the same qualifications. Rollock suggests that in a world where university rankings hold increasing importance, universities “may attempt to bring the race equality charter [and its core values] into this competitive market economy.” The Guardian