Top Ten

May 3, 2016

Carleton president responds to dissent on consultation process for new sexual violence policy

“It is our shared responsibility to foster dialogue in a safe environment where all feel free to participate,” wrote Carleton University President Roseann Runte in a recent email to stakeholders involved in the development of the university’s new sexual violence policy. Runte’s message, which came in the wake of reported dissent on the new policy's development, acknowledged that “conversations about important issues may be sensitive, difficult and passionate.” Yet Carleton Graduate Student Association President Michael Bueckert argued that Runte’s statement “seems to suggest that the problem was that meetings became emotional” and that it does not specifically address stakeholders' concerns. Runte concluded by stating that she and the university “are sincerely committed to achieving a Sexual Assault Policy that is reflective of our values, respectful of all parties, draws on best practices, and expresses goals which contribute to making a better campus and world.” Ottawa Citizen

Canadians should look to America when it comes to alumni loyalty, writes Concordia alumnus

“Americans seem to love being part of a group and spare no opportunity to mention it,” writes Concordia University alumnus Hardeep Grewal for the Globe and Mail, adding that “by contrast, Canadians are quite adept at resisting any kind of sectarian affinity for where they received their education.” Grewal says that he would like to see a deeper culture of loyalty to one’s alma mater in Canada, which might begin with more generous alumni donations. Having recently given $1 M to Concordia, Grewal concludes that “as austerity measures threaten to constrict growth at universities across Canada, now seems as good a time as any for Canadians to stop liking their universities and start loving them.” Globe and Mail

Does raising MBA tuition increase demand?

McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management has seen a significant increase in applications to its MBA program since increasing the program’s tuition from $22 K to more than $79 K in 2010, writes Jonathan Moules for the Financial Times. The reason, he explains, is because prospective students will often judge the value of a program by its cost. This phenomenon is happening in other parts of the world as well, notes Moules, who highlights how many elite business schools are raising prices and increasing their scholarship offerings in an effort to attract the world’s top students. Financial Times

UCalgary kicks off $1.3 B fundraising campaign, receives support for building upgrades

The University of Calgary has launched a new fundraising campaign with an unprecedented goal of $1.3 B. Titled Energize: The Campaign for Eyes High, the initiative is reportedly already more than halfway to its target. “Five years ago, we began quietly asking alumni and friends to support our journey to create an environment where students can be successful, healthy and confident,” said UCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon at an event last Friday celebrating the school's 50-year anniversary. AB Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt visited UCalgary’s campus on the same day to announce $17 M in funding to redevelop and upgrade UCalgary's MacKimmie Block and Tower buildings. UCalgary (Campaign) | Calgary Herald (AB Funding) | CBC (AB Funding)

Facebook may encourage better student engagement in MOOCs

According to a new study, MOOC students who use the course’s Facebook groups were more engaged than those who used the built-in course message boards and forums. According to research leader Saijing Zheng, this finding highlights a possible way to encourage engagement in MOOCs, as 90% of students who enroll in a course reportedly leave after only two weeks. Facebook’s interface was also found to include better discussion features and organization than most MOOCs. “Social media may provide another communication channel for the students,” Zheng said, “current MOOC platforms do not include collaborative features for students to work together or good conversation channels… [for] students and teachers.” Campus Technology 

UBC partnership receives $2 M to research environmental causes of child asthma

“Childhood asthma is increasing in Canada and around the world, but we’re still learning what causes asthma and why it develops in some children and not others,” according to UBC Professor Stuart Turvey, principal investigator on a new research project examining the impact of social and physical environments on the development of childhood asthma. The research will be conducted through a collaboration between UBC, BC Children’s Hospital, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, and the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study. Funding for the research will come from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Genome British Columbia.Turvey believes that “this research will help us learn about the changes that we can make to a child’s environment to reduce their susceptibility to the disease.” UBC

Algoma balanced budget includes layoffs, increased tuition

The balanced budget approved by the Algoma University Board of Governors will result in increased funding for areas such as scholarships and student medical and counselling services, but will also result in “a decrease in the size of the employee base at the University” and a 3% tuition increase for both domestic and international students. “Our mandate throughout the budgeting process was to put students first,” said Algoma President Craig Chamberlin, “we are confident that the actions taken to achieve a balanced budget will have a minimal impact on the student experience at Algoma University.” SooToday | Algoma

The next big investment: student housing

With “enrolment … booming across Canada, and post-secondary institutions …scrambling to keep up,” student housing may prove to be the next big investment opportunity, writes Wayne Karl in the Huffington Post. The author discusses how both big-time developers and new investors are investigating student housing, and touches on the key qualities of a successful student property as well as the pros and cons of this investment. The notion that students make for bad tenants is a myth, says condo specialist realtor Andrew la Fleur, “in fact, they often make for better tenants because mom and dad pay the bills every month and they generally take instruction very well compared to regular tenants.” Huffington Post

Laurentian developing mobile research lab, workplace simulator with new funding

Laurentian University’s Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health will be launching two new initiatives—creating a mobile lab and a workplace simulator—with $1.2 M in new funding. The mobile lab will allow researchers to go directly to the workers, communities, and job sites that are commonly excluded from occupational research. The workplace simulator will be able to replicate northern Ontario workplaces through the use of robotic motion platforms, an environmental chamber, and a virtual reality eye-tracker. “With these investments, along with the funds dedicated to supporting and expanding our research capacity, we will be able to address critical issues in health and safety in Ontario workplaces,” said CROSH Research Chair Tammy Eger. Laurentian

Open courses must understand motives of informal learners, says expert

Any successful open course design has to start with a clear understanding of students’ motives, according to Curt Bonk of Indiana University, who adds that three key areas for fostering positive open course experiences are community building, peer support, and sharing. He notes that in the future, the majority of human learning will be informal and self-directed, and yet current conversations about the future of higher ed continue to focus on formal learning. This is why Bonk has begun collecting stories from students who have been positively impacted by open learning experiences, stating that “these are the stories we need to start emphasizing.” Campus Technology