Top Ten

April 6, 2016

BrandonU students forced to sign contract limiting their ability to speak of sexual assault

Victims of sexual assault at Brandon University are reportedly being asked to sign a contract that prohibits them from speaking about their assault to anyone other than counsellors, according to CBC and the Brandon Sun. The contract was first brought to light by the student-run website, We Believe Survivors. The BrandonU contract reportedly threatens victims with expulsion or suspension if they breach the agreement. In a news release, BrandonU admitted that its use of a Student Behavioural Contract was "inappropriate" for cases of sexual assault, and added that it is "reviewing the use of Student Behavioural Contracts under any circumstance and will no longer be using them in the case of sexual assault, sexual violence or sexual harassment." CBC | Brandon Sun

Addressing the realities of precarious work in the academy

The problems associated with precarious academic work are well known, writes Professor Ross Bullen, but a recent conference hosted by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations reveals little consensus or confidence about proposed solutions. The conference, titled “Confronting Precarious Academic Work,” explored how the increasing use of part-time instructors has impacted all facets of PSE. While there is no clear solution to the issue, Bullen notes that the conference featured a number of exciting proposals and debates, which included discussions on how basic income equality and greater solidarity between full- and part-time faculty could change the landscape of PSE teaching. ACCUTE

uLethbridge launches "first of its kind" counselling program

The University of Lethbridge has launched a support service program that its organizers are reportedly calling a Canadian first. The program, called 7 Cups of Tea, is an online and app-based program that allows students to exchange texts with trained active listeners. “It’s kind of an on-demand service. They can access it 24-7, whenever they want,” says uLethbridge Counselling Services manager Mark Slomp. The service's listeners include registered psychologists and mental health professionals, as well as trained student volunteers. The text-based program is designed to best meet the needs and habits of the younger generation, which is made up of many avid texters. “We have to meet them where they are at,” says Slomp, “we have to intersect our services with how they are accessing services and support.” Lethbridge Herald

Embedding accessibility in the four phases of course design

Whether or not an institution prioritizes accessibility today, says Jason Khurdan of Rutgers University, “eventually they will because it is becoming an issue that is more apparent in society as a whole.” In order to make traditional and online courses more accessible, Khurdan has outlined a four-phase process to embedding accessibility into course creation. His recommendations include meeting with campus experts, publishing reading lists early enough for students to find alternate formats, and ensuring that online materials are produced in the most accessible manner. Campus Technology

New grads can make it in this economy, says career management expert

Despite a lackluster economic outlook, Canadian higher ed grads can still find success on the job market, says  Calgary-based talent and career management consultant Richard Bucher. He encourages recent graduates to overcome the belief that employers won’t think they know anything when they come out of school, and recommends that these graduates look for jobs outside their home province if it means building experience in their chosen field. He also suggests that graduates use their existing networks to create a “personal board of directors.” This board would be made up of older, professionally established advisors who can offer mentoring and "introduce you to people, potentially build opportunities for you, and provide you guidance about the roles you should be looking at, the relationships that you should be building, the kind of experience that you should be acquiring as you grow into your career." CBC

Western Canadian task force calls for anonymous sexual assault reporting on campuses

A task force based in Western Canada is drafting new guidelines for how PSE institutions should respond to sexual violence, and among its recommendations is a system that allows for the anonymous reporting of sexual assaults. The Western Canada Sexual Assault Initiative will publish an additional nine recommendations later this spring when it issues its full report to the BC government, which is in the process of drafting provincial rules governing the reporting of sexual violence at PSE campuses. Yesterday, the University of Toronto also released a new action plan to respond to and prevent sexual violence. Globe and Mail | uToronto

uToronto and RBC announce ONRamp initiative for entrepreneurs

The University of Toronto and RBC have announced a major new initiative called ONRamp to support Canadian innovation and entrepreneurship. ONRamp will be housed within the Banting and Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and will provide a new collaborative workspace for students, entrepreneurs, and startup companies to develop their commercial ideas. A $3 M commitment from RBC will be used to create fellowships, prizes, and a speaker series. Building on uToronto's current offerings of over 60 entrepreneurial courses and programs, and a network of nine campus-linked accelerators, ONRamp will further support startups’ growth in Canada. uToronto | RBC

Seneca, Jazz enhance agreement with flight instructor pathway, student scholarships

Seneca College’s School of Aviation and Jazz Aviation have enhanced an agreement that was renewed last December to introduce a flight instructor pathway and two scholarships for student pilots enrolled in Seneca’s Bachelor of Aviation Technology program. "We are delighted to further strengthen our successful relationship with Jazz through the addition of a flight instructor pathway and new scholarship opportunities," Lynne McMullen, Seneca School of Aviation Director of Business Development, "this collaboration empowers future pilots by providing both hands-on training and professional experience, which prepares them to enter a rewarding career in aviation." Jazz

Nearly half of US students will accept barring media from campus events, survey says

Almost half of US college students agree that it is appropriate to limit the news media’s access to campus events in certain circumstances, according to a new Gallup survey. Many respondents felt that news media should be turned away in situations when protesters want to be left alone (48%), when they believe a reporter will be biased (49%), and when they want to frame the story themselves via social media (44%). Students were also much more likely to say they were “highly confident” about their protection under the First Amendment than the general adult population, with the greatest differences being found in views on freedom of speech (73% of students were highly confident compared to 56% of adults), freedom of the press (81% to 64%), and freedom to petition the government (76% to 58%). Chronicle of Higher Education | Report

Online education to become catalyst for disruption in higher ed

A new study from MIT says that a blend of new learning science and online education is shifting a postsecondary teaching paradigm that is “ripe for disruption.” Drawing on the most recent research in learning science, the report finds that online learning technologies offer a significant threat to the status quo of PSE teaching. Yet it notes that the speed of this disruption will depend on other changes to the existing economic and political priorities of higher ed, such as the ongoing shift toward competency-based training and employer-supported credentialing. The report goes on to outline four developments that need to occur before online learning can fully achieve its disruptive potential. Inside Higher Ed | Report