Top Ten

January 29, 2016

Humber receives $5 M for scholarships, tech centre

Humber College has received a $5 M donation from The Barrett Family Foundation that will go toward scholarships and the building of a Technology and Innovation Centre. The donation, which the college will receive over three years, will be divided into $1 M for an Access to Education and Skills Training fund and $4 M to begin the creation of the new tech centre. “Working with Humber is a natural fit. Our organizations have many shared values and we’re both committed to providing students with an education that will lead to meaningful jobs,” said Robert Barrett, President of Polytainers Inc and co-founder of the foundation. Humber (Release) | Humber (Video)

Carleton board of governors ratifies new code of conduct

Carleton University’s Board of Governors has ratified a new code of conduct for its members. A statement released on Tuesday from Board Chair Anthony Tattersfield states that the new code “reaffirms the importance of open Board Meetings, brings greater transparency to how the Board operates and clarifies what is expected of Governors in Board communications.” Critics of the originally proposed code of conduct described it as a "gag order" intended to make the board's decision making processes more opaque. According to the university, the code requires all board members to “act in the best interest of the university,” which requires individual members not to “reopen and criticize Board decisions after they have been taken or to criticize, question the integrity of, or intimidate fellow Governors and university officials.” Carleton | CFS

ON colleges urge province to invest $30 M in applied research

Ontario colleges are urging the province to make a $30 M investment into market-driven applied research to promote industry clusters throughout the province. ON colleges reportedly work with over 750 companies each year to pursue market-driven research activities and over 80 organizations on projects addressing provincial socioeconomic priorities. These partnerships yield many benefits, such as higher sales and new job creation for the businesses, and valuable experiential learning opportunities for college students. "Ontario must strengthen its commitment to innovation," said Colleges Ontario President Linda Franklin. "Investments in applied research projects at colleges will develop real-world innovations for greater numbers of businesses." Colleges Ontario | Northumberland View | Nugget | Barrie Today

UBC documents show “friction” between board and former president

A series of unredacted UBC documents demonstrate a “low level of trust” in former President Arvind Gupta in the months leading up to his sudden departure, writes CBC. Earlier this week, UBC released files under a freedom of information request, yet a series of unredacted messages accidentally appeared in a PDF of these documents. The additional correspondence shows former UBC Board Chair John Montalbano expressing deep concern over Gupta’s leadership, addressing the president directly in saying, “there is general consensus that your actions and reactions to the Board's concerns, advice and inquiries suggest you possess an indifference or intolerance of the Board at best—or worse, an intended disregard of its authority." Gupta has responded to UBC’s released documents by calling them a “one-sided representation” of what occurred in the months leading up to his resignation. CBC (Documents released) | CBC (Gupta response) | Vancouver Sun  | Globe and Mail | UBC

University libraries face challenges due to lower loonie

Academic journal subscriptions are typically priced in US dollars, and most libraries pay for much of their collection in that currency. As a result, they are struggling with the recently diminished value of the Canadian dollar. “The drop in the loonie has definitely decreased our purchasing power,” UBC’s Associate University Librarian for Collections Management Jo Anne Newyear-Ramirez told the Canadian Press. UBC, for instance, was forced to cancel about $1.2 M in journal subscriptions in the 2013-14 fiscal year. Several other universities, including Western University, the University of Ottawa, and the University of Toronto have reported similar challenges. Metro (CP)

Maritime university enrolment down 1.8%

Overall enrolment in Maritime universities has decreased by 1.8%, according to the latest enrolment figures from the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. Over the last ten years, there has been a 6.1% decline in enrolment. In all three provinces, the most prominent losses were in the number of local students. New Brunswick experienced the largest one-year decline, at 5.2%, with decreases in local, Maritime, Canadian, and international students. Nova Scotia saw a 0.4% one-year total decline, but also experienced a 7.0% increase in international enrolment. PEI was the only province to show an increase, at 1.4%, driven by an 18.5% increase in international students. Local enrolment at PEI schools declined by 5.5%. CBC | Sackville Tribune-Post | MPHEC | Full Report

Plummeting dollar draws more cross-border applicants to uWindsor

The falling value of the loonie is attracting a growing number of American students to the University of Windsor, writes CBC. According to current figures, the school’s overall number of US-based undergraduate applicants has increased 51% since last year, and university officials are crediting the shift to the increasingly attractive price. “Students [from the United States] get really excited when they realize they'll be paying much lower costs. Their dollar goes further here," explained uWindsor Vice-President for North American recruiting Lionel Walsh. “It's always interesting to see them look at our sign and go, 'Oh, Canada, cool.' … Then you see the wheels begin to turn and then they start thinking about numbers." Undergraduate tuition at uWindsor is roughly $12 K US for American students, compared to the $15 K they would pay on average in the US. CBC

uOttawa men’s hockey players sue school following sexual assault allegations

A group of hockey players from the University of Ottawa are suing the university for allegedly damaging their reputations with “murky and salacious” accusations. The suit comes in response to the school’s decision to suspend the entire men’s hockey program in March 2014 after allegations of sexual assault were made against some of the team’s members. While two players from the team are currently facing sexual assault charges, uOttawa issued a statement of defense earlier this week alleging that at least three players engaged in sex with the plaintiff while “other team members ‘in various states of undress’ and drunkenness heard it, watched or sometimes took part,” according to CBC. Toronto Star | CBC (uOttawa allegations)

Timmins will not host new English-language university

Ontario has declined a bid to have a new English-language university established in Timmins, according to the Timmins Press. There were roughly 10 proposals submitted for a new university, according to Timmins Economic Development Corporation Chairman Fred Gibbons; five made the short-list, and Timmins was not among them. “We were trying to make a statement to the provincial government that while we didn’t meet their particular threshold [to be short-listed], there was still an un-met need in Northeastern Ontario and so we wanted to go on record,” said Gibbons. Timmins Press

Can Amazon destroy traditional higher ed?

Pundits have said for years that that online learning will overtake traditional higher education, writes Alexander Holt for Vox, yet few have offered specific details about how this will happen. Holt addresses this perceived gap through a fictional speech that he attributes to Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos in the year 2030. In the imaginary speech, Bezos reflects on the success Amazon has had by offering competency-based education that helps people train for in-demand jobs at a fraction of the prices they would have paid at traditional universities. As Holt admits, the speech is entirely fictional. Yet it may one day turn out to be an accurate prediction of what is to come. Cape Breton University President David Wheeler recently wrote an essay for the Academica Forum outlining specific ways in which technology might significantly disrupt the higher ed landscape. Vox

Tuition fees not the cause of inequality

Getting rid of tuition fees is not the way to deal with inequality, writes Martin Robbins of The Guardian. “The evidence shows that if you want to invest ten billion [pounds] reducing inequality, the university system is about the worst place you can possibly put it.” Robbins writes that despite the belief that high tuition fees favour the rich, “students are more likely to apply for university, poorer students are more likely to apply for university, and the inequality gap—while still a problem—has closed.” Instead, Robbins argues that inequality between children sets in between 7-11 and 14-16 years of age, and thus recommends putting money into the secondary school system instead of the postsecondary system. The Guardian