Top Ten

April 12, 2016

Funding model prioritizes “mass universities” over “human scale” ones, says Bishop’s principal

Bishop’s University Principal Michael Goldbloom believes that his school's existence is a “miracle” within the current structure of university financing. While he emphasizes that he is not interested in critiquing the current system, Goldbloom calls attention to the system’s inadvertent encouragement of what he calls "mass universities." Funding for universities is currently based on the number of students at the institution, with more funding allotted for graduate students than for undergraduates, he explains, but Bishop’s prioritizes a small cohort with a focus on undergraduate education, putting it at an alleged disadvantage. La Presse

Decline in university phys-ed programs should cause concern, say experts

A shrinking number of universities are offering physical education degrees, reports the Toronto Star, and this trend could have significant implications for the health of all Canadians. The article cites a recent editorial by Physical and Health Education Canada stating that only 42% of Canada's elementary schools currently have a phys-end teacher, and most of these teachers are part-time employees. The article highlights the recent decision by Queen's University to suspend its phys-ed program and to not accept phys-ed as a "teachable" in its faculty of education as further evidence of the decline in phys-ed teacher training, which comes at a time when childhood activity levels are dropping and obesity rates are rising. Toronto Star | The Record

How ON turns struggling students into college success stories

Ontario is among the best provinces in Canada for college attainment levels, writes Liz Martin for the Conference Board of Canada, and much of this success stems from the province’s many programs that target students at risk for dropping out of high school. Martin specifically explores the key ways in which ON’s School Within a College program gives students the opportunity to work toward their college or apprenticeship credential while completing their secondary diploma in a college setting. She concludes with a brief description of key findings that other jurisdictions and institutions can apply to their own student retention strategies. Conference Board

Failed university presidencies share pattern of poor support, communication

Within the last decade, there “has been an alarming increase in the failure rates of Canadian university presidents,” writes Ross Paul, former president of Laurentian University and the University of Windsor. Over 25% of Canadian university presidents in the past decade have reportedly failed to complete their first term, and Paul highlights the similarities that appear between several high profile examples of such situations. He explains that many “presidential failures” have certain common characteristics, such as a lack of transitional support from the board for the new president, communication difficulties between the president and board members, and confusion about the role of the board. University World News

YorkU opens Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence

York University has officially opened the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence. The centre, which has no lecture halls, will house many of YorkU’s engineering programs, as well as the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology program. The centre aims to improve the learning experience for students of the Lassonde School of Engineering by fostering creativity and emphasizing a hands-on approach to learning. “We want our students to think ‘outside the book’ by making things, testing prototypes, solving problems together and learning by doing,” says Janusz Kozinski, Dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering, “that’s the kind of creative training that will prepare them to solve the world’s complex challenges and to lead Canada’s economic future.” YorkU | ON

New MUN facility to boost rural contribution to innovation

Memorial University plans to create a $25 M facility that will foster connections between municipalities, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and community enterprises to support rural contributions to innovation, trade, and export, according to a MUN news release. The new Battery Facility will benefit from a $4.5 M contribution from the federal government, which was announced on Friday by Canada’s Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote. MUN President Gary Kachanoski said that the funding, “will help Memorial continue to fulfill its special obligation to the people of this province, providing an accessible space, both physically and technologically, for public engagement and innovation.” CBC | Canada

How do extracurriculars impact student outcomes?

Two new US studies raise questions about the positive outcomes often attributed to specific student experiences, writes Peter Schmidt for The Chronicle of Higher Education. One study suggests that while involvement in certain activities—e.g. volunteer work—might positively impact student outcomes, existing research does not properly account for the fact that the students predisposed to such experiences might be more likely to succeed academically regardless of whether they follow through with an experience. Another study found that existing research does not sufficiently consider how a positive influence can become a negative one when too much time is spent on it. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

A history of student loans, from St Frideswide’s Chest to today

With rising student loan numbers constantly in the news, Jenny Adams explores the history of the student loan from the Middle Ages onward. While scholars were originally treated no differently from other borrowers, the first documented student loan system, named St Frideswide’s Chest, was launched in 1240 by the bishop of Lincoln. This loan system required the borrower to deposit an object of value, typically a book, in a literal chest as collateral on their loan. Adams follows the rise, fall, and change of the student loan system over history, and discusses some of the benefits and drawbacks of the historical models compared to today’s loan system. University World News

The great higher ed brands of the future will relinquish control, says expert

Today’s students do not want the polished version of a university’s image and are not interested in a "cookie-cutter response to their questions," writes Max du Bois for Times Higher Education, adding that “if universities continue using traditional means of marketing themselves, they risk becoming faceless or—worse still—irrelevant." For du Bois, institutions still have not embraced the fact that their brand is no longer something they can control and dictate to the public, but rather something that is “co-created” in league with students whose "ambitions, wisdom, and passions [will help] define what the brand is about." Times Higher Education