Top Ten

March 18, 2016

Laurentian Arts Faculty accused by CAUT of violating academic freedom

An investigation by the Canadian Association of University Teachers has found that senior administrators at Laurentian University's Faculty of Arts routinely violated academic freedom. CAUT Executive Director David Robinson says that the investigation began in January 2015 following numerous complaints by faculty at the university. The investigation's report alleges that Laurentian administrators interfered in collegial governance, made improper or excessive use of disciplinary measures, and failed to maintain a faculty complement. In a written statement, Laurentian said that the report’s findings did not pertain to academic freedom, and that the concerns outlined in it had already been addressed through appropriate channels. CBC | Globe and Mail | CAUT | Report

New research looks to provide PSE applicants with better info about job prospects

High school students in Canada are facing unprecedented pressure to make good decisions when it comes to enrolling in PSE, writes Kate Lunau for Maclean’s, yet Canada has “very little good data on how students perform in the labour market once they graduate.” This is a gap that University of Ottawa Professor Ross Finnie hopes to address by using tax data to see how students from various institution types and programs fare in the labour market after graduation. Finnie and his team at the Education Policy Research Initiative hope that when their study is complete, Canada’s students will have a valuable new resource for making informed decisions about higher education. Maclean’s

NL Adult Basic Education costs rise, enrolment drops after privatization

Tuition and operating costs of Adult Basic Education have spiked in Newfoundland and Labrador since the province privatized the program in 2013, according to CBC. The cost of operating ABE rose from roughly $7.5 M in 2013-14 to $10 M in 2015-16, while student enrolment dropped 30%. ABE was previously offered by the province through College of the North Atlantic, but was transitioned to the private sector in 2013. "In a time when many people will be going back for retraining and upgrading in this difficult economic time, I think this really should be a lesson to the current government that investment in a public college system is incredibly important to Newfoundland and Labrador," said Canadian Federation of Students NL Chairperson Travis Perry. CBC

Would boosting PhD enrolment have desired effects?

It might be hasty to call for more PhD candidates in Canada when we don’t fully understand the benefits of doing so, writes Melonie Fullick for University Affairs. The author admits that Canada must address its tendency to lag behind comparable countries with respect to R&D, but adds that if we are going to enroll more PhDs to address this issue, we first need to see evidence that doing so would produce the necessary economic and social value. “Even if everyone agrees that having more PhDs in the workforce leads to the kinds of beneficial outcomes we’re after,” Fullick concludes, “how do we actually prove it? If there’s a call for more PhDs—and more support for them from non-academic agents—this is a question that needs an answer.” University Affairs

Brock faculty, students demand changes to sexual harassment policies

Faculty and students at Brock University are demanding sweeping changes in response to the handling of a recent sexual assault complaint made against a professor. This Tuesday, a group of roughly 60 people gathered on Brock’s campus to demand that the accused professor resign, that the administrator who handled the complaint resign, and that the university hire a dedicated sexual assault administrator. 76 Brock faculty members have also signed an open letter demanding further institutional changes and more resources for sexual assault survivors. Brock has issued a statement saying that the school will review its policies and processes, and that it already has an inclusive committee in place to develop a new stand-alone policy to address sexual harassment and violence. CBC (Faculty) | CBC (Students) | St Catharines Standard | Brock

Students in accelerated classes retain knowledge as well as those in traditional classes, says HEQCO study

A new study by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario has found that university students enrolled in accelerated courses retain what they have learned just as much as students in traditional, full-term course formats. The study examined 270 first- and fourth-year students at Brock University who were enrolled in either a traditional or accelerated course during the 2013-2014 academic year. The study defined “accelerated” delivery as intensive, full-day coursework that lasts one to two weeks. While students tended to prefer whichever course format they were currently enrolled in, students who preferred accelerated delivery expressed their preference much more strongly than those who preferred the traditional format. HEQCO | Report

What can PSE institutions learn from successful startups?

Canadian PSE institutions can achieve great success by adopting some of the qualities of a successful startup, writes Contact North | Contact Nord. The article goes on to describe seven core attributes that can benefit PSE institutions, including the relentless focus on an institutional goal, constant positivity, and built-in flexibility. The article further encourages living for feedback, and building great products and services for the expected customers. The article then turns to the practical ways that institutions can integrate these qualities into their day-to-day practice. Contact North | Contact Nord

Camosun signs multi-year partnership agreement with India’s Jain University

Camosun College has signed an agreement with India’s Jain University committing the two institutions to a multi-year collaboration. A Camosun release states that the agreement will cover three main areas of co-operation: developing a nation-wide sport skills training program; delivery of Camosun’s diploma programs in Sport Management and Exercise & Wellness at Jain University; and transfer agreements to help students complete degrees, diplomas, and post-degree diplomas in Business and Sport disciplines at Camosun’s Victoria campuses. “Our partnership with Jain University signifies Camosun’s growing reputation for excellent curriculum development and education delivery in sport and business sectors,” said Camosun President Sherri Bell. Camosun

English universities spending millions to help faculty cover housing prices

Skyrocketing housing prices in England’s most expensive cities are forcing universities to spend tens of millions of pounds to help academics afford homes, reports Times Higher Education. According to data obtained through a Freedom of Information request, the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and University College London have invested a total of £21 M over the past five years in loan programs and joint equity schemes. Oxford Geography Professor Danny Dorling, however, says that these efforts might only make the problem worse, claiming that it “increases the inflation in the local housing market … We’re in a housing bubble, we don’t know when there will be a crash.” Times Higher Education

Advice for humanities department chairs in a challenging environment

“While arguments and counterarguments fly back and forth about the value of the humanistic enterprise,” writes Timothy S Huebner for Inside Higher Ed, “department chairs might be left wondering how to preserve and promote their departments in this increasingly challenging environment.” Huebner goes on to give basic advice to help leaders in the humanities navigate the challenges facing these departments today. These points touch on the importance of practicing departmental transparency, offering new programs, and embracing assessment. He further encourages department chairs to be familiar with big data pertaining to their department, to be open to digitization, and to invest their time in marketing. Inside Higher Ed