Top Ten

March 1, 2016

ON commits $20 M to applied research at colleges

Ontario announced in its budget last week that it will commit $20 M to applied research in the province’s colleges. The funds will be invested over three years and will focus on supporting competitiveness and job creation in key industry sectors. Funded projects will be geared toward the commercialization of research, producing “breakthrough products and services for sale at home and abroad.” Other measures in the budget included the creation of the Ontario Student Grant program, more funding for Aboriginal education, and a commitment to further consultation on college funding as ON’s college sector approaches its 50th anniversary in 2017. NationTalk

UBC’s next president “needs to have it all,” writes Vancouver Sun

As UBC enters its 100th year, it has never felt a stronger need for a great president, writes Tracy Sherlock for the Vancouver Sun. Sherlock goes on to detail the various challenges that UBC has faced in the last year and argues that the school is currently operating “in a power vacuum. It has an interim president, interim provost, new board chair, new vice-president of external relations and a chancellor who has been there less than two years.” The article comes after UBC recently released the selection criteria it will use to find its next president. Sherlock ends by claiming that finding a candidate who meets all of UBC’s requirements is “a tall order in a field that is not brimming with qualified candidates.” Vancouver Sun

Selkirk College Opens New Applied Research & Innovation Centre

Selkirk College has opened its new Applied Research and Innovation Centre. The centre is located in the former Professional Aviation Building at the West Kootenay Regional Airport near Selkirk’s Castlegar Campus, and will house students from Selkirk’s Geographic Information Systems programs as well as the Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre and the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute. “Applied research allows for unique learning opportunities for our students,” said Rhys Andrews, Selkirk Dean for Applied Research and Innovation. “This move allows us to start thinking about expanding and further enhancing our ability to meet the needs of our communities, opportunities for faculty research, experiential learning, and providing a wonderful learning setting for our GIS students.” Selkirk

Other provinces to keep close watch over ON’s new tuition grant program

Higher education representatives from across Canada say that they will closely watch whether Ontario’s new free tuition program for students from low-income families is successful before deciding whether to implement it in other provinces, reports the Canadian Press. “We will be watching to see what impact Ontario’s plan has on accessibility for low income students looking to further their education,” said an official from Alberta’s NDP government, adding that it is still too soon to say whether AB would consider adopting the same approach. Representatives from both Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan also said they wanted to see whether the program fulfilled its goals before deciding whether to emulate it. Global News (CP)

Controversial BDS motion at McGill overturned in ratification vote

The student-led motion to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement at McGill University has been overturned in a ratification vote. After winning a student vote last week, the controversial motion failed to pass an online ratification process when 57% of students voted against it. McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier said in an official statement that the university administration opposed the motion, which sought to pursue various actions to protest Israel. Fortier noted that the motion "proposes actions that are contrary to the principles of academic freedom, equity, inclusiveness and the exchange of views and ideas in responsible, open discourse. These are the core principles of McGill University.” This is reportedly the third time in the past 18 months that a BDS movement has failed to gain ratification at McGill. CTV News | Montreal Gazette | McGill

uWindsor president confident despite absence from new manufacturing consortium

University of Windsor President Alan Wildeman says he’s not concerned about his school not being included in a recent $35 M manufacturing consortium to be funded by the new Ontario budget, reports CBC. In a recent interview, Wildeman pointed to uWindsor’s Cross Border Institute and its impact on the auto sector as just one of the reasons the school will continue to play a key role in Canadian manufacturing, regardless of whether it is included in any particular project. However, Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce President Matt Marchand argues that lobbying efforts could still get uWindsor into the new manufacturing consortium. "We need to be aggressive," he said. "They've made what I would describe as some initial decision. It's the first reading of the budget, [and] there are lots of opportunities" to change their minds.


uToronto receives $15 M for new Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship

The University of Toronto has received a $15 M investment by the Ontario government for its new Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship as part of the province’s goal of strengthening the Innovation SuperCorridor in Ontario. “We are pleased at this recognition of the University of Toronto's excellence and contribution to the economy through innovation, entrepreneurship, and work-integrated learning,” said uToronto President Meric Gertler. The centre is designed to enhance ON’s private sector, modernize the manufacturing sector, accelerate entrepreneurship activity, and produce highly qualified graduates in fields of study related to provincial and national economic success. The centre is also funded by $26 M raised by the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, and $1 M raised by undergraduate students of the uToronto Engineering Society. uToronto (1) | uToronto (2)

Chronicle releases second annual report on top trends in higher ed

Words like "beware," "productivity," "reactive," "scrutiny," and "survive" are just some of the terms that are most commonly used to describe today’s trends in higher education, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s second annual Trends Report. The special edition takes an in-depth look at the top ten trends affecting higher education over the past year, which include trigger warnings, concerns about the handling of campus sexual-assault cases, academic research scandals, and growing doubts about the value of a university degree. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Queen’s in process of taking over alcohol-related discipline

Queen’s University has begun the process of assuming disciplinary responsibility for alcohol-related offenses, according to The Kingston Whig-Standard. In the past, these responsibilities have fallen on student associations, but the university's move to take control of them comes in response to the recommendations made in a letter by regional coroner Roger Skinner after two alcohol-related student deaths in 2010. At the time, York University Secretary and General Counsel Harriet Lewis stated that Queen’s had been in a difficult legal position for several years and that this tenuous position held a number of serious risks for the university. The Whig

Collaborative experience has become a must-have for grad students

“Graduate students need to seek out opportunities for collaboration at every stage of their graduate career,” writes James M Van Wyck for Inside Higher Ed. The author notes that collaborative skills are appearing more frequently in job ads targeted toward grad students, and it is no longer good enough for individuals to have “a few items tacked onto [their] résumé as [they] near the finish line. What you need is a pattern of collaborative work.” Yet many grad students go through their programs of study without ever engaging in a single collaboration with someone outside their narrow field of expertise. Van Wyck concludes that the academic isolation of grad students based on outdated models of specialization will undoubtedly have to change as more of these students seek out opportunities other than full-time professorships. Inside Higher Ed