Top Ten

April 8, 2016

How Canadian universities are moving to “Indigenize” the academy

Many Canadian universities are undertaking a process called “Indigenization” in an effort to bring Indigenous peoples and their cultures into PSE strategy, governance, academics, research, and recruitment, writes Moira MacDonald for University Affairs. The author explores the ways that many Canadian institutions are using Indigenization to transform their curriculum, pedagogy, and processes. She also discusses the criticism that has arisen around this process and how it might inform Indigenization efforts moving forward. The article concludes with a series of examples from dozens of Canadian institutions that illustrate the many forms Indigenization can take. University Affairs

uCalgary, Concordia, UQAM, uRegina place in Times Higher Education 150 Under 50 Rankings

The Times Higher Education has released its 150 Under 50 Rankings for 2016, and four Canadian institutions have been placed in the top 150. The University of Calgary placed 18th in the rankings, making it the highest ranked Canadian university. Concordia University, Université de Québec à Montréal, and the University of Regina all placed in the 101-150 range of rankings. These rankings evaluate the top 150 universities across the world that are less than 50 years old, using the same performance indicators as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings with a reduced weighting for reputation. Times Higher Education | Report

GTA university students spend too much time commuting, says new study

A new study has found that students attending university in the Greater Toronto Area spend too much time travelling to and from classes each day. In a survey of over 15,000 students from OCAD University, Ryerson University, York University, and the University of Toronto, it was found that 33% of respondents spent at least two hours per day commuting to and from their campuses. The average one-way travel time was 40 minutes, and commuting distance was found to play a role in course enrolment decisions. The survey was undertaken by StudentMoveTO, a collaboration between Toronto’s four universities to address student transportation needs. uToronto | Report

StFX Board Chair gives $1 M for student entrepreneurship

Saint Francis Xavier University’s Board of Governors Chair Mark Wallace has donated $1 M to support student entrepreneurship at the university. The funds will be distributed via the Xaverian Fund for Scholarships and Bursaries, which is aiming to raise $50 M over the next five years. “Mark is a leader in every sense of the word,” says StFX President Kent MacDonald, “with the announcement of this gift, he is making a further commitment to share the StFX academic and learning experience with deserving students for generations to come.” A StFX press release states that the Xaverian Fund will be designed to help deserving students “regardless of financial background.” StFX

AB institutions “trading competition for collaboration”

Students achieve the greatest success when they can choose the institution and pathway that works best for them, write University of Lethbridge President Mike Mahon and SAIT Polytechnic President David Ross. To this end, the authors highlight how Alberta’s PSE institutions are “trading competition for collaboration” in order to offer students more opportunities to learn and build the skills they need to make an impact in the world. One of the most significant areas of cross-institutional collaboration is experiential learning, of which the authors offer several examples. Mahon and Ross conclude that they are “confident that in the future, this kind of collaboration in post-secondary education will be the norm across the country, helping to shape a vibrant and diversified economy for the benefit of all Canadians.” Lethbridge Herald

uToronto’s Rotman School of Management to use major donation for innovative ideas fund

The University of Toronto has matched a $30 M donation from recently deceased businessman Joseph Rotman to provide a total of $60 M in new funding for its Rotman School of Management. The university announced that it will use $45 M to create a Rotman Catalyst Fund to finance innovative new ideas. Rotman Dean Tiff Macklem explained that this fund “is not to support the core funding of the school. It is to fund bold new initiatives with a competition for ideas and the cream rising to the top.” The remaining $15 M will be put towards other priorities such as student scholarships, new faculty positions, and infrastructure investments. Globe and Mail

Are too many instructors “overplanners” when it comes to structuring class time?

Instructors can sometimes be “overplanners” when it comes to structuring a class, writes Lecturer David Gooblar for Chronicle Vitae, yet this approach can often hinder creativity by making a class too predictable. Gooblar recounts his own experience of “extensive planning and overstuffed class periods,” and admits that there is a downside to mapping out too much of a class, even if the plan is designed to incorporate as many ways of learning as possible. The author concludes, “I’d like the classroom to be a space where I’m fully present, where I’m not just executing a plan, but I’m there with the students, responding to the ideas in play, working with them as they figure things out.” Chronicle Vitae

Neediest students lose out in “Darwinian” world of performance-based funding

Evidence continues to show that performance-based funding leads to a decline in enrolment numbers for low-income PSE students, writes Mark Kantrowitz for the Chronicle of Higher Education. In many cases, the author notes, schools will lower their enrolment of low-income students in an effort to boost achievement metrics. But even if this problem were to disappear, Kantrowitz notes, “getting low-income, minority, and at-risk students to graduate requires more support of all types, financial, academic, and social. This doesn’t come cheaply: It takes more money to get these students to the finish line.” Chronicle of Higher Education

Social entrepreneurs to benefit from new YorkU accelerator

York University has announced that budding social entrepreneurs in the York Region will have a new way to build their social ventures into viable companies. The Social Venture Pipeline will be a four-and-a-half month accelerated learning program followed by a three-month incubator designed to take participants’ socially conscious business ventures to market. “Entrepreneurs who are accepted into the Social Venture Pipeline program will benefit from research expertise and mentorship, as well as opportunities to learn more about social issues important to York Region,” said YorkU Vice-President Research and Innovation Robert Haché. The initiative will be run through the communityBUILD, an ongoing collaboration between York University, Seneca College, ventureLAB, United Way Toronto, and the York Region. YorkU

Do US students attend PSE to network more than learn?

Why are more US students competing for spots in elite colleges when they can access thousands of college-level courses for free online? The answer, argues Andrew Yang in Forbes, is that these students are more interested in building face-to-face networks with other intelligent, enterprising people than they are in what they learn. This desire to network goes beyond professional ambition, Yang adds, for today’s top institutions “don’t confer lessons. They confer a brand, a network, a credential, friends, a personal life, a residential experience, a set of opportunities and a sense of self. In short, an identity.” It is for reasons like these, he concludes, that low-cost online learning will not threaten enrolments at America’s elite schools anytime soon. Forbes