Top Ten

April 1, 2016

Secret report reveals international student work program creating low-wage employees

A secret federal report reveals that Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Program is creating a low-wage workforce and encouraging low-quality PSE programs, writes Simona Chiose for the Globe and Mail. Under the program, international students with degrees from Canadian PSE institutions can apply to work in the country for up to three years following graduation. But a 35-page federal report, marked “secret” and obtained by the Globe after a nine-month battle with the government, states that the majority of students using the program work in low-skilled service sector jobs with earnings that are less than half of domestic PSE graduates. This report comes to light as Canada has moved to streamline the Express Entry system that allows international students to apply for permanent residency. Globe and Mail

Universities need “a good news story” for humanities, social sciences

“The social sciences and humanities cured cancer” by effectively communicating research about cigarettes and smoking to the public, says McGill University Provost and Vice-Principal, Academic Christopher Manfredi. This statement was first made in a meeting on the need for university administrators and faculty to respond to the “false crisis” of humanities and social sciences with a good news story, rather than with damage control measures. Ross Finnie of the University of Ottawa explains that the issue with the humanities and social sciences is not employability, contrary to public thinking, since many graduates are employed with high earnings within a few years of graduation. The article goes on to summarize many ways that the humanities and social sciences can meet the enrolment and public relations issues facing them. University Affairs

UBC on track to select president by June

The University of British Columbia plans to complete their search for a new president by June, according to UBC Vice-President of External Relations Philip Steenkamp. “It’s down to a long list of 16 candidates, and the search committee will be meeting … to narrow that down to a short list,” says Steenkamp, who adds that “by all reports [UBC is] on track to name a new president by the end of June.” In light of the recent vote of non-confidence, UBC Associate Professor Kalina Christoff says that the board will have to rebuild an atmosphere of trust by doing “a simple analysis … of what went wrong with President Gupta’s hiring and with his resignation.” Globe and Mail

Concordia launches new arts, culture, and technology institute

Concordia has launched its new Milieux Institution for Arts, Culture and Technology. The institute is described as “a crossroads for an international network of researchers, artists, graduate students and collaborators,” that contributes to the enhancement of Montreal’s media arts and technologies. Milieux Interim Co-director Bart Simon explains that the institute’s “main focus is on creative and expert articulations of new technologies for the benefit of everyone through the production of tangible, playable, and accessible research.” The institute will feature open studios and labs that will facilitate ideas and support personnel from a wide variety of domains, and will house over 80 faculty and 100 graduate students from Concordia’s faculties. Concordia

WLU fostering better relations between students and neighbours

In light of complaints about bad behaviour and vandalism in the MacGregor Albert area of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University is working to educate students how to be good community citizens in an effort to foster better relations with neighbours, says Dean of Students Leanne Holland Brown. "We do feel a lot of responsibility to be educating our students about what it means to be part of our community, but I don't think it would be fair to refine 100% of the issues to Laurier students," says Holland Brown, later adding, "that doesn't diminish our responsibility as a university to be educating our students." The article goes on to explore proactive approaches to building relationships between students and the surrounding community. CBC (1) | CBC (2)

Okanagan passes first $100 M budget

Okanagan College’s board of governors has passed the institution’s first $100 M budget. An Okanagan release states that the unprecedented expenditures will create more capacity for both international and domestic students, and focus on providing more financial aid support at each of its four campuses. The budget will shore up this commitment by allocating funds for an additional 3.7 full-time employees in the financial aid and finance departments. “There is an important message in this budget,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, “through collaboration between departments, through dedication, through looking at opportunities Okanagan College has found ways to continue to grow access and support our goal of diversifying the institution.” Okanagan

Conestoga opens doors on $16 M athletics centre

Conestoga College has opened the doors of its new $16 M athletics centre, although construction on the building is not slated to end until later this year. The school is still awaiting the completion of a triple gymnasium, yet has completed work on its 35,000 square-foot fitness centre, three multipurpose rooms, and double gymnasium. Conestoga estimates that the facility has had 13,000 visits since it opened. “The changes reflect the needs of students,” said Conestoga Manager of Athletics and Recreation Matthew Maguire, who added that “there’s definitely a positive buzz on campus.” The Record

MHC Brooks campus to offer free business support to students, community

Medicine Hat College has partnered with two organizations to provide businesses and student entrepreneurs in Brooks, Alberta with free access to a business coordinator. Drawing on the resources of MHC, Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures, and Community Futures Entre-Corp, the coordinator will be based at MHC’s Brooks campus and will offer free coaching and advising, access to innovation support services, and networking to businesses and student entrepreneurs. “The college actively seeks ways to partner with other organizations to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the region,” says MHC Manager of Business Development Tracy Stroud, “we look forward to seeing what innovative ideas come from our students and the impact this role can have on the community.” MHC

Academic skills "highly transferable" to workplace

Academic skills are highly transferable to the workplace, writes Linda White for the Toronto Sun, but students often don’t realize what skills they’ve developed through their education alone. “A lot of students come to our resumé writing workshop and say they don’t have any skills or experience to put on their resumé because they’ve never worked,” says York University Manager of Career Development Dianne Twombly, “but that’s simply not true.” White explains that many students develop the communication, information management, and problem solving skills that have been identified by the Conference Board of Canada as essential skills for the workforce. She encourages students to showcase these skills alongside other experiences on a skills-based resumé. Toronto Sun

GPA “arms race” makes “A” most common grade in US higher ed

The scramble to attract more students has resulted in a “GPA arms race” among American higher ed institutions, writes Catherine Rampell for The Washington Post, and this process has led to more “A" grades being awarded than ever before. According to a recent study from Duke University, 45.3% of all grades issued by US colleges are an “A.” Another 33.6% are “B”s, while only 3.5% are “F”s. Rampell explores a number of potential causes for this grade inflation. But whatever the reasons, she concludes, “without collective action—which means both standing up to students and publicly shaming other schools into adopting higher standards—the arms race will continue.” Washington Post