Top Ten

March 29, 2016

New federal budget marks end of "war on science"

Canada's commitment of $2 B over three years to higher education, research, and innovation marks the end of a longstanding war on science, suggests University World News. The additional $95 M per year given to the research granting councils, starting in 2016-2017, is reportedly the highest amount of new annual funding for discovery research in over a decade. The budget will also reportedly expand the opportunities for students to obtain work experience through co-ops, internships, and other initiatives. Science described the new financial situation as one that finds Canada’s research community “stepping into sunshine” after “spending nearly a decade in the darkness of the former Conservative government’s so called ‘war on science.’” University World News

MB’s economy suffering from lack of investment in PSE

Manitoba will have to bolster its university system if it wishes to participate in the knowledge-based economy of the future, writes author Joanne Seiff for CBC. She is quick to add that doing so does not mean privileging STEM or other “practical” disciplines, but by understanding that “no matter what discipline the student learns, it's learning how to think that matters.” Seiff calls for renewed financial investment in PSE, with the aim of creating spaces where ideas can incubate. After all, she concludes, “it takes education, money, time and space for thinkers to create the big ideas we need going forward.” CBC

McGill24 becomes most successful one-day university fundraiser in Canadian history

McGill University has announced that its recent McGill24 initiative is the most successful one-day fundraiser of its kind in Canadian university history. The school’s first-ever day of giving received nearly $800 K from over 1,600 donations, marking a rate of one donation for every 59 seconds within the 24-hour timeline. Donors reportedly gave to a number of initiatives across the university, including scholarships, entrepreneurship programs, research, and sustainability initiatives. Vice-Principal (University Advancement) Marc Weinstein called the initiative “an unparalleled opportunity to bring our global alumni community together in celebration of all that makes McGill special.” McGill

uWaterloo professor takes on common myths about Canada’s universities

Today’s students are lazy, their instructors rely too heavily on YouTube videos and trendy pop-culture courses, and administrators don’t care either way as long as the tuition fees keep rolling in. These are examples of common higher ed criticisms that University of Waterloo Professor Aimée Morrison works to debunk in an interview with CBC. One of the main reasons for such criticism, she notes, is that the opening of higher ed to traditionally underrepresented or underprivileged groups has required a reevaluation of traditional roles. “Higher education is supposed to be a tool of social mobility,” she concludes, “so that is where we have an ethical obligation to really reach out and teach those students, particularly the ones who are struggling because often they come from less privileged backgrounds.” CBC (Audio)

MRU president clarifies budget concerns for 2016

Mount Royal University President David Docherty has issued a statement to address concerns about budget cuts at the institution. While admitting that communication around the new budget could have been clearer, Docherty emphasizes that a recent request for MRU’s academic faculties to review their budgets was intended to help rationalize proposed budget increases, not cuts. Docherty notes that the university has experienced “increased optimism” in light of Alberta’s commitment to PSE. That said, he adds that MRU is working to account for $7 M in proposed budget increases while maintaining a balanced budget. “Budget planning will continue in good faith, in collaboration with our community and more information will be shared in the coming weeks,” he concludes. CBC | Calgary Herald | MRU

Money coach highlights takeaways for students from 2016 federal budget

Canadian students and their families have a lot to gain from examining the new federal budget, writes money coach Janet Gray for Maclean’s. Among the biggest developments are a 50% increase to the sums provided through Canadian Student Grants, the elimination of tuition and textbook tax credits, and an increase in the earnings threshold for student loan repayment. Gray offers a case study to help illustrate the effects of these changes, noting that from now on, graduates will not need to start repaying student loans unless they make more than $25 K. Maclean’s

Loyalist, CBU sign articulation agreement for Engineering Technology students

Loyalist College and Cape Breton University have signed an articulation agreement that will allow diploma graduates from the Civil, Chemical, and Environmental Engineering Technology program at Loyalist to complete a Bachelor of Engineering Technology in one year. “We are pleased to be able to offer Loyalist College graduates pathways for continued learning,” said CBU Vice-President, International and Aboriginal Affairs Keith Brown. “Community college graduates who choose to study at CBU benefit from our supportive and friendly campus environment and find great success in their chosen careers once they enter the workforce.” Loyalist

Sexual assault at UBC possibly related to campus prowler

A UBC student was attacked and sexually assaulted last Friday in an event that may be related to recent reports of a campus prowler, according to police. UBC issued a campus safety alert on Saturday, and RCMP have added extra resources to investigate the assault and prowler. An RCMP warning advised that the incident may be related to five events reported since March 23rd where a male was observed lurking in the female shower and residential rooms, and fleeing upon detection. UBC Director of Campus Security Barry Eccleton stated that UBC is implementing a number of safety improvements, including 80 emergency call stations with cameras expected to be installed by April. CBC | Vancouver Sun | Globe and Mail | UBC | RCMP

PSE not ready to use “grit” tests to measure teaching effectiveness, says researcher

A pioneering researcher in the connection between “grit” and individual success has said that she feels “queasy” about institutions using her ideas to measure the effectiveness of teachers and schools. Professor Angela Duckworth has spent years studying the correlation between specific types of resilience and people who become successful and estimable. While Duckworth has developed her own tests to determine whether an individual has a high level of “grit,” she is unequivocal in stating that “We’re nowhere near ready—and perhaps never will be—to use feedback on character as a metric for judging the effectiveness of teachers and schools. We shouldn’t be punishing schools for how students perform on these measures.” Inside Higher Ed

Challenge, support both needed to foster higher learning

“I firmly believe that there is a direct correlation between what we expect of our students and what we get,” writes John Gardner for The Chronicle of Higher Education in response to a recent commentary on the need to better challenge students. After correcting an alleged misquotation, Gardner says that while “higher expectations generate greater learning, … higher expectations alone are not sufficient.” He argues that most professionals and institutions generally strive to provide students with adequate challenge and supports. Rather than disagreeing in principle with previous commentary, Gardner suggests that institutions merely differ on the specifics of providing learning support, as “academics represent different belief systems about what constitutes good books, good standards, and good practices.” Chronicle of Higher Education