Top Ten

February 5, 2016

ON invests $36 M over two years for skilled trades

Ontario has announced that it will invest $36 M over the next two years to assist students training to become skilled tradespeople. The funding will go to increase access to training, equipment, and facilities needed to ensure that graduates are job-ready. $23 M will go to the Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund for 47 new capital projects at colleges and other training organizations. $13 M will go to the Pre-Apprenticeship Training program to support 84 pre-apprenticeship programs, helping more than 1,500 people who come primarily from groups traditionally underrepresented in the skilled trades, including women and Aboriginal people.


UBC rejects divestment proposal, proposes $10 M sustainability fund

The University of British Columbia has reportedly proposed a $10 M sustainability fund instead of divesting from fossil fuel companies, despite last year’s majority vote by both UBC students and faculty in favour of fossil fuel divestment. The decision was frustrating, said UBCC350 Co-ordinator and UBC student Alex Hemingway, “what we’ve seen at UBC is two decisive referendum votes from faculty and staff in favour of divestment that the committee has chosen to ignore.” UBC Vice-president of External Relations and Communications Philip Steenkamp released a statement saying that the finance committee had concluded that divestment may not have its desired impact on climate change or corporate behaviour, and “would not be consistent with the board's fiduciary obligation to endowment donors.” The board of governors will reportedly vote on the proposal on February 15th.

CBC | The Globe and Mail | Times Colonist | Vancouver Sun

uSask opens new Aboriginal student centre

The University of Saskatchewan has officially opened the new Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre. The building was designed by architect Douglas Cardinal as a home for 2,200 Aboriginal students on campus and was built in consultation with Elders from the surrounding communities. “[This] is a centre for Aboriginal students but also a centre for non-Aboriginal students to meet and be part of Aboriginal ceremonies. That bringing together of traditions is of fundamental importance to the building,” said uSask President Peter Stoicheff. He added that the centre is part of the momentum “building across Canada to help fundamentally alter and improve the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.”

CTV | Saskatoon StarPhoenix | Global | Globe & Mail | CBC | uSask

Maclean’s profiles “heads of the 2015” class in university teaching

“Get out your catalogues and try to nab a course with one of the best university teachers in the country,” writes Vanessa Milne for Maclean’s. The author looks ahead to the June 2016 Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education conference, where some of the country’s top thinkers in education and pedagogy will gather to make new connections. The article then offers nine brief profiles of some of the greatest university instructors in all of Canada, who come from disciplines ranging from Creative Arts to Soil Science.


SaskPolytech signs MOU with New Zealand-based polytechnic

Saskatchewan Polytechnic has signed a MOU with Otago Polytechnic, based in Dunedin, New Zealand, to move toward future student, employee, and academic information exchanges. The agreement stipulates that the two institutions will share expertise and resources to “enhance programs and create cross-cultural awareness.” Continuing its tradition of collaboration and partnership, said SaskPolytech President Larry Rosia, “we are building an international relationship with Otago Polytechnic. We look forward to future academic exchanges and international opportunities.”


Students “mixed,” faculty “extremely disappointed” about new NB budget

The New Brunswick Student Alliance has stated that it has felt a “mixed” reaction toward New Brunswick’s budget for 2016-17. The budget contains a freeze on operating grants to universities for the second year in a row, yet caps tuition increases for NB students at 2%. No cap was imposed on tuition for out-of-province or international students. However, NBSA Executive Director Lindsay Handren noted that students had anticipated much deeper PSE cuts, saying, “Knowing that significant reductions to university operating grants had been considered, we’re pleased to see government not making those cuts.” In a separate response, the Federation of New Brunswick Faculty Associations has said it is “extremely disappointed” with the “foolish” budget, with President Jean Sauvageau stating that, “Freezing the government’s contribution to universities is not a plan; it will not help close the university education gap which sees New Brunswick at the bottom of the national ranking.”

NBSA | FNBFA | NB (Budget)

Laurentian enters mining training agreement with Ivory Coast

Laurentian University’s Goodman School of Mines has signed a Memorandum of Collaboration with two institutions in the Ivory Coast, the Groupement des professionnels des mines de Côte d’Ivoire (GPMCI) and the Institut National Polytechnique Félix HOUPHOUÊT-BOIGNY. Under the terms of the agreement, Laurentian will assist the Ivory Coast with the implementation of relevant training programs and the offering of tailored French-language programs. “The signing of this agreement in Ivory Coast … is a testament to our teams’ commitment to offer students our bilingual mining engineering program,” said Laurentian President Dominic Giroux.


Students protest student debt, call on government for changes

A group of about 350 people gathered to protest student debt at the legislature in downtown Victoria. “Students are graduating with debt and they’re not able to get into jobs where they can pay that debt back,” said University of Victoria Students’ Society Chair Brontë Renwick-Shields, who later added that British Columbia should freeze tuition fees and increase funding for education. According to Victoria News, organizers want politicians to put student issues into their platforms for the 2017 provincial election; on a federal level, they are calling on the government for a publicly funded postsecondary education act. Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson released a statement stating that postsecondary education is affordable “for students, families and taxpayers” in BC.

Times Colonist | Victoria News

UK academics and professional and support staff inhabit “parallel universes”

Academics and professional/support staff in UK universities inhabit “two parallel universes that have little point of contact,” according to Times Higher Education’s University Workplace Survey 2016. Taking place over several months in 2015, the survey collected and analyzed the views of nearly 2,900 higher education staff from nearly 150 institutions on a range of employment issues. The survey’s chief findings included: most university staff found their jobs rewarding, while most academics felt overworked, exploited, and ignored by management; nearly half of academics were worried about metrics-based performance measures; the majority of staff were happy with pay; and the majority of academics thought that their institutions had “compromised undergraduate entry standards as competition for students ha[d] increased.” 49% of the survey’s respondents identified as academics and 51% identified as professional/support staff.

Times Higher Education | Report

How will institutions cope with students renting out dorm rooms on Airbnb?

Many US colleges prohibit students from renting out their dorm rooms in their housing contracts, yet this strategy has not prevented an explosion in these rooms appearing for rent on sites like Airbnb, writes the Chronicle of Higher Education. The article goes on to cite examples of colleges increasing fines and other penalties in response to this trend, yet it also notes that some US students have begun creating online petitions to support those being penalized. One petition defends such action by citing the rising cost of university housing, stating that the student in question, “saw an opportunity to help travelers be able to afford to stay in the downtown Boston area, and earn himself some money to help offset the expense of attending the college.”

Chronicle of Higher Education