Top Ten

February 19, 2016

UBC receives $2 M for naval architecture and marine engineering programs

The University of British Columbia has announced that it will receive a $2 M investment from Seaspan Shipyards over the next seven years in support of innovative teaching and research in the school's naval architecture and marine engineering programs. A new UBC chair position will also be created in each program. “UBC is western North America’s only academic institution offering graduate programs in naval architecture and marine engineering,” said UBC Interim President Martha Piper. “Seaspan’s investment supports our leadership in these areas and also advances BC’s shipbuilding and marine solutions.” UBC

Students, MPP support creation of French-language university in ON

The push for a French-language university in Ontario has been garnering support from a growing list of higher ed organizations and leadership in recent weeks. Yesterday, the Canadian Federation of Students announced its support of the Franco-Ontarian Students' Association in its advocacy for such an institution. In an interview with CBC, Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas also said that she was pushing the province to create a board of governors to help establish a French-language university institution. Gelinas first introduced a bill for such a university last May. "We have our primary schools, our secondary schools [and] we have our French colleges. It's only the completion of our education system so that we would have a French university," she said. CFS | CBC (Audio)

Dal-based ocean research to receive $1.8 M

Dalhousie University has announced that it will benefit from a $1.8 M investment from Irving Shipbuilding Inc and the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) network. Irving and MEOPAR have partnered on a project to strengthen Canada’s ability to anticipate and respond to marine hazards and emergencies. Irving Shipbuilding President Kevin McCoy said that the investment is part of his company’s efforts to bolster Canada’s marine industry and maritime research. “We see fundamental research done today sustaining the [marine] industry for many years to come,” he said. Chronicle Herald

HEC Montréal’s Pôle medias signs three-year partnership with EY to support study of QC media transformations

HEC Montréal’s Pôle médias research centre has signed a three-year partnership with EY to support the study of transformations affecting the media and entertainment sector in Quebec. The agreement will allow the Pôle médias to use financial support from and a constructive relationship with EY to carry out research, develop teaching tools, and contribute to a clearer understanding of the changes currently facing Quebec’s diverse media environment. “This association lets the HEC Montréal Pôle médias redouble its activities aimed at better understanding these industries, and will also stimulate research into promising avenues,” said Pôle médias Director Sylvain Lafrance. “With this funding for scholarships and research projects, the Pôle médias can focus more on developing an ecosystem of knowledge of these sectors at the School.” HEC Montréal

Amid banking changes, Nigerian students at UPEI struggle to pay tuition

Recent banking changes in Nigeria have made it more difficult to conduct foreign money transfers, creating a problem for Nigerian students studying at the University of Prince Edward Island. While the changes were made to combat corruption, they have had an impact on legitimate transfers as well. Fourth-year student Caleb Ofoegbu, who is from Nigeria, was only able to receive funds for the semester in late January, causing him to enrol a month late, and threatening his ability to graduate at the end of this semester. UPEI’s Manager of Enrolment Zhaohui Wang told CBC the university is doing what it can to help these students, including processing additional paperwork. CBC

Frustrated scientist provides free access to 47 million academic papers

Alexandra Elbakyan, a Russia-based neuroscientist, founded the website Sci-Hub in 2011 to illegally provide free access to academic papers now totaling nearly 47 million. Elbakyan acknowledges that this is illegal, but states on the Sci-Hub website that she is advocating “for cancellation of intellectual property, or copyright laws, for scientific and educational resources.” According to Vox, the main issues with the current academic journal publishing model include limited access to publicly funded research, lack of royalties for researchers, and payment in "prestige." "The UN [Charter] says that a person cannot be excluded from participating in culture and scientific progress. I think that paywalls are doing just that, effectively excluding many people,” Elbakyan said in an interview. Vox (Article) | Vox (Interview)

Conestoga students vote against mandatory bus pass

Students at Conestoga College have voted 59% against a proposal for a mandatory universal transit bus pass for students that would have increased their current fees by $245 per  year. Approximately one-third of Conestoga students voted in the referendum. “When you have 31% of your students come out and be engaged … and then having the vote going the opposite away, I don't think you can be upset or disappointed by the outcomes,” said Conestoga Student Association President Jeff Scherer. One possible explanation for the vote could be the many students that drive to Conestoga, according to Scherer, and “opting out [of the plan] wasn't presented as an option.” CBC | CTV | The Record

“Syllabus commons” could be a new public good

The creation of an open “syllabus commons” could have significant benefits for PSE, according to Joe Karaganis writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Karaganis, who was involved in the creation of the Open Syllabus Explorer—a joint project between Columbia and Stanford Universities—argues that if universities don’t begin the process of collecting syllabus information themselves, publishers or ed tech companies will do it and then sell the results back to them. He outlines a number of benefits to such a system that would “improve the quality of higher education globally.” He concludes: “We have the capacity to create a valuable new public good out of materials that we already own and care deeply about.” Chronicle of Higher Education

US colleges respond to lower rankings with higher tuition, study says

When private colleges in the US experience a sharp drop in their ranking in the US News & World report, they respond by setting higher tuition, according to a new study published in the journal Administrative Science Quarterly. Using panel data from 2005 to 2012, study authors Noah Askin and Matthew S Bothner modeled the effect of ranking increases and decreases on tuition. They argue that these US colleges are using “status-aspirational pricing,” raising their prices, particularly when other institutions in their peer group are more expensive, to persuade prospective students that they are of high value. Inside Higher Ed | Full Study

Broken US federal aid system needs overhaul, says think tank

Maybe the best way to fix the broken US federal financial aid system is not through piece-meal reform, but by “blowing it up.” This is the proposal set forward in a new report, entitled “Starting from Scratch,” by the think tank New America. The report argues for replacing the current system of individual student aid and replacing it with formula grants to states. Under their hypothetical system, states would have to meet a number of criteria to qualify for the grants, including minimum levels of support for postsecondary and matching federal grants. Students in these states would then be able to attend a participating institution, paying only their expected family contribution, with no need for federal loans or tax credits. Chronicle of Higher Education | New America | Full Report