Top Ten

February 26, 2016

ON to provide free tuition to students from low-income families

Ontario announced yesterday that it will offer free college and university tuition to the vast majority of students from households earning less than $50 K per year. Simona Chiose of the Globe and Mail writes that the new changes made to student aid in ON’s provincial budget represent “the most radical shift in decades in how the province delivers loans and grants to postsecondary students.” Finance Minister Charles Sousa told reporters that the cost of the new program would be “roughly the same” as current student aid programming, claiming that it will unite a complicated system of loan and grants programs under the banner of the Ontario Student Grant (OSG). Globe and Mail | National Post | Torontoist | Huffington Post

uAlberta receives $2.3 M for ice core research

The University of Alberta has received a $2.3 M grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and will be using the funds to house Canada’s ice core collection at the institution and turn it into an accessible scientific resource. “By their nature, the ice cores are a diminishing resource—they are used up as they are analyzed, and the ice caps from which they were retrieved are now changing and shrinking rapidly,” said uAlberta Glaciologist Martin Sharp, who described the situation as “a unique, one-off opportunity to save and maintain this collection.” The grant will be used to facilitate the construction of a new facility for ice cores containing two walk-in freezers and an analytical laboratory, and to fund some of its operational costs. uAlberta | Edmonton Journal

UNBC senate passes non-confidence motion on board chair

Senators at the University of Northern British Columbia have passed a motion of non-confidence on UNBC Board Chair Ryan Matheson. CBC reports that the vote was provoked specifically by the board’s decision to appoint former federal cabinet minister James Moore as the school’s chancellor. Matheson has stated in the past that the board will not reconsider Moore’s appointment, despite criticism from the senate. "There hasn't been a strong admission, or entertainment by the board chair that he could be wrong," said senate member David Clarkson. "Based on that if he's unwilling to admit the possibility of mistake, is he competent to lead the university?" A motion to replace Matheson was also reportedly introduced at the senate meeting, but was withdrawn. CBC | Over The Edge

Canada overhauls international education campaign

This week, Canada unveiled its new EduCanada branding campaign to represent the country’s global education strategy. The brand was first presented at the annual AIEA conference in Montreal, and features a new logo along with the tagline, “A world of possibilities.” The branding will reportedly appear on all printed education materials from the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, as well as all Canadian universities that operate on an international scale. The new brand comes at the same time as Global Affairs Canada has produced a video promoting the country as one of the world’s top study abroad destinations. Increasing the global influence of Canada’s higher education sector was one of the main goals cited in the 2012 Global Affairs of the federal International Education strategy, which sought to double the number of international students in Canada to 450,000 by 2022.

Dal agriculture students protest proposed tuition increase

More than 100 students at Dalhousie University's Agricultural Campus in Truro marched in protest this week prior to a scheduled budget consultation with the school. CBC reports that Dal plans to implement a tuition hike of as much as 18.9% for its agriculture students, which would come on top of a 3% increase already planned for all Dal students. Dal Provost Carolyn Watters led the ensuing budget consultation and expressed appreciation for the students’ professionalism. The proposed tuition increase is scheduled to go before the school’s board of governors in April. CBC

uCalgary launches new Institutional Sustainability Strategy

The University of Calgary has launched a new Institutional Sustainability Strategy that will reportedly mark the first time that such a strategy incorporates an academic framework to advance education and sustainability research. “The most progressive organizations today are not afraid to address sustainability challenges, from finding solutions to extreme poverty to climate change,” said uCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon. The institution also announced the launch of a new interdisciplinary sustainability certificate, which will be focused on solving complex social and environmental challenges faced by local and global communities. "Sustainability right now is such a hot topic,” commented a uCalgary student, “to have some background knowledge and do a capstone project and work across disciplines with every other year of study would set you apart." uCalgary | Metro

Paying PSE employees for overtime may have massive impact on US higher ed

New changes to overtime compensation laws could have a major impact on colleges across the US, writes Inside Higher Ed. Last summer, the Obama administration proposed new rules that would raise the salary threshold for overtime compensation from roughly $24 K to $50 K, meaning that any salaried employees making under $50 K would have to be compensated for all overtime hours logged. Experts have said that this change could be untenable for a PSE system that relies heavily on individuals making under $50 K and working more than 40 hours a week for no additional pay. “There is general agreement that the salary threshold is long overdue for a change, but the transition—such a huge transition—to $50,440 is a major concern,” said Andy Brantley, president of the College & University Professional Association for Human Resources. “Every area of campus would be impacted.” Inside Higher Ed

Fleming signs international transfer agreement with UK college

Fleming College has signed an agreement with Hartpury College in Gloucester, England that will give students in its School of Health and Wellness the opportunity to complete a degree in the UK with only one additional year of study. The partnership builds on a similar agreement signed last month that allows graduates of Fleming’s Recreation and Leisure Services diploma program to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Studies at Hartpury. “An international study experience can be life-changing and enriching,” said Carol Kelsey, Dean of the School of Health and Wellness at Fleming. “This agreement provides enhanced options for our students in the Recreation and Leisure Services and Fitness and Health Promotion programs to further their studies and complete a degree.” Fleming

What takes precedence: tenure or institutional reputation?

Looking back on this year’s Mount St Mary’s University controversies, Laura McKenna of The Atlantic comments on how these were seen “as part of an increasing inclination among administrators at colleges around the country to dismiss faculty members, even those with tenure, who are perceived to be damaging the reputation of a college.” University decision making, in the words of FIRE Vice President of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley, has become about minimizing risk. The prevalence of US professors having their tenure reportedly overridden for the sake of an institution’s reputation, according to McKenna, contradicts the fact that “the university is … a place where people search for truth and air provocative ideas,” which is why the institutions offer tenure in the first place. The Atlantic

Student protestors set fire to South African university

Dissenting students set fire to buildings at a South African university this week after protests turned violent. The protests were largely centered around North-West university’s high tuition, a need for increased student housing, and the demand for elimination of statues and artwork that, to some students, represent South Africa’s racist past. The violence reportedly began after the inauguration of a new student council was interrupted by a group of protesters led by a suspended Campus Student Representative Council president. "No amount of anger should drive students to burn their own university and deny themselves and others education," said South African President Jacob Zuma. North-West University has reportedly been shut down indefinitely. Globe and Mail | North-West University | The Guardian | Castanet | ABC News