Top Ten

April 15, 2016

NB offers free tuition to students from low-income families

NB has announced that it will offer free tuition to university students from low-income families starting in the 2016-17 academic year. Under the new program, students from families earning less than $60 K per year will be eligible for a provincial bursary covering whatever part of their tuition is not already covered by existing federal grants. NB’s Post-Secondary Education Minister Francine Landry said that she hopes the program will encourage more students to pursue their university studies within the province. "We have significant demographic challenges that will continue to affect enrolment at our universities and colleges," she added, "this program will incentivise New Brunswickers to study here at home, thus helping our publicly funded universities and colleges." CBC | NBSA

Canada to prepare science, engineering grads for jobs with $24 M investment

Canada has announced that it will invest $24 M to help young researchers in science and engineering make a successful transition from training to employment. The funds will come from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada through its Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) initiative, and will be used to drive projects that emphasize professional skills development, collaborative and integrative research environments, and placements with potential employers. "This investment will give some of this country's best and brightest natural sciences and engineering graduate students and postdoctoral fellows a strong foundation of life skills, with an emphasis on team-building, communications, and successful scientific collaborations," said Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan. Canada

Engagement Labs ranks best Canadian postsecondary institutions on social media

Engagement Labs has released the rankings of the top performing Canadian colleges and universities on social media. The top three schools on Facebook were UBC, Université de Montréal, and the University of Victoria. On Twitter, the top three schools were Brock University, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, and Seneca College. On Instagram, the top three schools were Queen’s University, Western University, and York University. “Student life has quickly adopted social media, thereby offering higher education institutions with an ideal avenue for two-way, real time communication with prospective and current students," said Engagement Labs CEO Bryan Segal, who explained that this new dynamic creates promotion, recruitment, and engagement opportunities for postsecondary schools. Engagement Labs

McMaster students take to Facebook to warn of campus sexual assault

A McMaster University release states that the school's security division received several complaints of gender-based violence and a complaint of sexual assault during McMaster's recent Light up the Night event. Several posts by alleged students on a Facebook page titled “Spotted at Mac” report instances of a group of men that behaved in a sexually aggressive manner toward women at the event. Several users have posted descriptions or photos of the men in an effort to warn other students about them. McMaster states that it has notified the city police and is working with them to investigate the allegations. CHCH | Hamilton Spectator | McMaster | Facebook ("Spotted at Mac")

uAlberta president says he envies “national perspective” of UK higher ed

University of Alberta President David Turpin tells Times Higher Education that he envies the UK’s postsecondary system and its “national perspective” compared to Canada’s provincially run system. Turpin adds that Canada’s inability to present a unified postsecondary image to the world puts it at a competitive disadvantage for attracting top international undergraduates. He also points to the difficulty of “integrat[ing] the post-secondary education system for international students, which is a provincial responsibility, with the federal immigration policy.” Turning to the schools themselves, Turpin concludes with a discussion of how the hiring of fresh, full-time faculty will become crucial if Canadian PSE wants to attract the best students moving forward. Times Higher Education

TRU faculty holding confidence vote on administration

The faculty at Thompson Rivers University will be holding a vote on their confidence in their school's administration. TRU Faculty Association President Tom Friedman has listed a number of complaints brought to TRUFA by TRU faculty, stating the faculty feel “that TRU senior administrators [have] demonstrated a lack of leadership, a lack of respect for faculty opinions, a failure to address key issues at bargaining, and a 'management by crisis' attitude toward academic decisions and planning.” TRU Vice-president Advancement Christopher Seguin disagreed with Friedman’s description of a “managerial” administration, and explained that after contract talks were settled, a committee with equal representation from faculty and administration was struck to address key issues. Cast-a-net | TRU Omega | Kamloops This Week

Ed tech must honour, respond to faculty skepticism, says McGraw-Hill president

The wave of innovation in education technology has a history of “over-promising and under-delivering,” says David Levin, president and chief executive of McGraw-Hill Education. Levin notes that this history has rightfully led to much apprehension about the possibility that “people will invest in blind alleys.” For this reason, Levin argues that one of ed tech’s top priorities should be assuring faculty that new services are both reliable and worthwhile from a pedagogical standpoint. He also adds that the current model of textbook pricing is unsustainably expensive, and will require a greater move toward less costly options. Times Higher Education

PEI to include international students in mentorship program

PEI has announced that it will expand its mentorship program for recent graduates to include applications from international students, giving them better access to the PEI workforce. Skills PEI contributes up to 50% of wage costs for the first year of employment for postsecondary graduates who are enrolled in the mentorship program. "Hopefully they join the companies, help the company grow, and they will stay here on Prince Edward Island," said Richard Brown, PEI's Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning, "the company grows, the economy grows, it's good for Prince Edward Island." CBC

“Can a blog be a university?” asks economics author

Today’s online learning environment is constantly confronting people with the question, “What’s a university and what is not?" says economics blogger Tyler Cowen. In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Cowen recounts how he and a colleague created “Marginal Revolution University,” a collection of free online courses that seeks to be the “next logical step” following the rise of online lectures, course videos, and MOOCs. The self-anointed university has no campus and offers no degrees, yet Cowen questions whether these criteria will continue to be relevant in the future of higher learning. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Students finding new ways to avoid textbook costs

Students are getting increasingly creative in the era of the $400 textbook, writes Sri Ravipati of Campus Technology, as a large majority are obtaining at least part of their learning materials illegally. A study by researcher Laura Czerniewicz highlights the fact that, while many students were unfamiliar with what constituted illegally obtained materials or where they would find free learning materials, they were more concerned with their ability to graduate than the consequences of illegal downloading. Czerniewicz explains that students’ views on piracy and access to resources raise “critical issues for new models of publishing, for digital literacies and for open scholarship,” and the article concludes by stating that the findings encourage the more widespread use of open educational resources. Campus Technology