Top Ten

January 28, 2016

UBC law scholar wins bid for rights hearing after being denied tenure

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed the no-evidence motion put forward by UBC in the case of former UBC professor Lorna June McCue. According to the National Post, McCue was denied tenure and did not have her contract renewed by UBC in 2012, partially due to a failure to submit any peer-reviewed research during her term of employment. According to the Vancouver Sun, McCue claims that peer-reviewed research is contrary to Indigenous oral traditions, and that UBC’s research standard has thus discriminated against her “race, colour, ancestry, … and sex.” UBC lawyers have argued that “nothing about Indigeneity ... prevents an Indigenous person from having the capability of meeting the university’s requirements.” With the dismissal of the no-evidence motion, the BC Human Rights Tribunal will now move to a full hearing of McCue's case. Vancouver Sun | National Post | Ubyssey | Inside Higher Ed

Laurentian, Boréal, La Cité create joint BBA pathway

Laurentian University, Collège Boréal, and the La Cité collégiale have signed a joint agreement allowing graduates of the colleges’ two-year business administration programs to earn a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from Laurentian with only two additional years of study. A press release from Boréal notes that this level of multi-institutional recognition is “unprecedented” in the Francophone community. The participating institutions believe that the unique benefits of both college and university education will give graduates of the new joint program an added advantage in a competitive labour market. Laurentian | Boréal | La Cité

University must not put a price on academic and artistic freedom

While Paul Bronfman has every right to demand that York University either remove a poster he deems anti-Semitic or face a withdrawal of his support, Danielle S McLaughlin of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association questions whether he should. “Academic and artistic freedom are at the very heart of university existence,” she continues. “Without the ability to explore and express ideas that are troubling and even transgressive, universities would become mills that deliver pre-approved doses of information in community sanctioned packets.” Huffington Post

Understanding goals and strategies in postsecondary planning

“In any policy initiative, it is important to distinguish between goals and strategies,” writes HEQCO President Harvey P Weingarten. “Goals are … the outcomes you are seeking. Strategies are processes and actions that can be employed to achieve these desired outcomes.” Weingarten discusses how past confusion between goals and strategies, and how the lack of clear goals and well-established strategies for attaining them create serious barriers in the development of Ontario’s public postsecondary system. For the Ontario postsecondary system, he recommends developing useful strategies to pursue three goals in particular: more equitable access and success for all students, higher quality outcomes in both student and researcher success, and greater financial sustainability of the system and its institutions. HEQCO

uMoncton calls on NB government to increase university funding

“It must be recognized that the Université de Moncton is currently receiving inadequate funding from the provincial government,” uMoncton President Raymond Théberge told CBC. As a result, the university is calling on New Brunswick to increase funding for the province’s universities in next week’s budget. According to Théberge, the funding formula hasn’t changed since 1979, and the university receives about 70% of its budget from the province. Without an increase in funding from the province, and a lifting of the tuition freeze, the school claims that NB’s universities will be in “a precarious financial situation.” CBC | uMoncton

UFV signs MOU with Chinese university

The University of the Fraser Valley has signed an MOU with China’s Binzhou University, which will begin the process of creating exchanges between staff, students, and faculty at the two institutions. Two initial areas for collaboration are a visiting student agreement and an agreement allowing Binzhou’s students to take UFV’s post-degree certificate programs in their final year of study. “Students with international training and experience will have a great advantage in our increasingly interconnected world. Students of both partners, and our faculty and staff, will benefit from this partnership,” said UFV President Mark Evered. UFV

PhDs are an “investment that pays off” for ON, says COU

“I have a PhD… in the Humanities… and I’m employed,” writes Michael Snowdon of the Council of Ontario Universities. Though he had initially planned to become a professor, he works today as a Senior Policy and Data Analyst, using “the skills and experiences learned and polished” in his PhD every day. Snowdon says that the most interesting finding of recent studies by HEQCO and the Conference Board of Canada is that more than half of PhDs work outside academia. “The bottom line is that today’s knowledge economy is driven by innovation—and innovation is quite literally at the core of what PhD holders have demonstrated by conceiving, designing, executing, managing, evaluating, circulating, and communicating the high-calibre, novel research that earned them their degree,” Snowdon concludes. COU

Can PSE create “robot-proof” graduates?

Many experts from the world’s most advanced economies predict that automation will make as much as 47% of existing jobs obsolete, writes Joseph E Aoun for the Chronicle of Higher Education. If this is anywhere near the truth, he adds, then postsecondary institutions will need to think more carefully about what kinds of graduates they produce. If so-called “hard skills” will become something performed by machines and algorithms in the coming decades, does this mean that colleges and universities should reorient their focus toward soft skills and creativity? Aoun concludes that creativity may have to become the number one priority for PSE moving forward, as he states, “for all of their dazzling power, machines are incapable of plucking inspiration from the subconscious, forming a new theory of physics after seeing an apple fall to the ground, or seizing a window of opportunity to start a business.” Chronicle of Higher Education

Top 1% of US institutions gain far more from college giving

While the growth of US college endowments slowed last year, charitable contributions rose to a record level of $40.3 B, according to the Council for Aid to Education. However, according to Doug Lederman writing for Inside Higher Ed, less than 1% of the 3,900 measured institutions accounted for more than 25% of the overall contributions ($10.4 B). Further, the top 2% accounted for more than 50% of the overall funds. Lederman admits that “the wealth gap in higher education is not a new story,” but he speculates that governments might start setting quotas for what institutions do with this money if the gap continues to widen. Inside Higher Ed