Top Ten

May 4, 2016

Experiential learning is the key to more agile grads, writes RBC CEO

Changing technology, demographics, and social values have disrupted higher ed, writes RBC CEO Dave McKay for the Globe and Mail, and this forces us to ask whether we are truly training our postsecondary graduates to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. The author argues that it is no longer good enough to rely on “structured, linear processes” for education when what we require are more opportunities to foster professional agility and versatility through work-integrated learning (WIL). McKay notes that experiential learning and WIL have surged in popularity in engineering, business, and medical curricula since the beginning of the 21st century, and warns that liberal arts programs may be left behind if they do not also embrace these opportunities. Globe and Mail | Universities Canada (WIL)

BC creates 754 new seats for in-demand trades training

British Columbia has announced that it will add an additional 754 seats for critical trades training at 10 of the province’s postsecondary institutions. The announcement follows the two-year anniversary of the launch of the BC Skills for Jobs Blueprint, which aims to “re-engineer the education system by aligning education and training with in-demand jobs in BC.” A BC release states that nearly one million job openings are expected to appear in the province by 2024, and 42% of these will require college education or apprenticeship training. “Targeting funding for education and training programs that support our growing, diverse, and strong economy will result in prosperity for families, communities, and the province,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. BC

Bishop’s hoping for QC support with $41 M renovation costs

Bishop’s University will renovate six student residences over the next few years, a necessary project that will cost $41 M in total, but is “struggling to find the funds because (residence buildings are) not funded by the government,” says Bishop’s Vice President Finances and Administration France Gervais. According to Gervais, the university will be taking out a loan to cover the renovations and anticipates paying $1.5 M in interest rates over the next 25 years. Quebec’s university funding formula reportedly does not cover residences, and fees allegedly cannot be hiked under the province’s Régie du Batîment rules. Gervais says that Bishop’s is currently negotiating with QC to increase funding, arguing that the institution is “not receiving close to what the smallest universities in Université du Québec are receiving.” CBC

Princeton professor fuels online debate by posting “Failure CV”

A Princeton academic’s recent decision to publish a CV chronicling his professional failures has received mixed responses from the online community, reports Times Higher Education. Professor Johannes Haushofer writes that he published his “Failure CV” in an effort to “balance the record” of his successful academic career, noting that other academics who might not have experienced the same success “are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots and selection committees and referees have bad days.” Some have praised Haushofer’s effort for demonstrating how failure is an essential part of eventual success, while others have criticized it for conveying “the false message that one needs only try and try and success will follow.” Times Higher Education | "Failure CV"

NorQuest completing new Singhmar Centre for Learning, renovations with restored funding

Alberta's government has restored $16 M in funding to NorQuest College, and NorQuest will reportedly use this funding along with $45 M in previously allocated funds to complete its new Singhmar Centre for Learning and to renovate its South Learning Centre, the main building of the college’s Edmonton Downtown campus. The college says that it will be getting a larger library, a learning centre for Aboriginal students, and 49 updated classrooms and labs. “For over 50 years, NorQuest has been a place where people go to reach their full potential,” says NorQuest President Jodi Abbott, “we are now empowered to do even more: for students, for Edmonton, for Alberta.” NationTalk | Edmonton Journal | NorQuest

Degree-focused career lists omit the qualities of a good job candidate

Despite the fact that many career counselling offices at postsecondary institutions host a poster with a list of careers that a given major can lead to, Liz Koblyk recommends getting rid of the list because “most logical career options will likely depend more on you and your environment—your skills, your life circumstances, the labour market where you’re willing to work, your values, your motivations and interests—than on your degree.” Koblyk argues that career lists focus on a very narrow part of job candidacy—content and key skills related to the degree—and fail to account for other aspects. Instead, those who are successful in their roles are often successful because of their personalities, motivation, and a skill set developed in or outside of higher ed. University Affairs

UQTR partnering with Gabon to improve health care training

The Université de Québec à Trois-Rivières and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and National Solidarity of Gabon have signed an agreement of cooperation to improve health care training in Gabon. The first project, worth $1.8 M, will see UQTR improve the quality of training offered in health and social services in Gabon by “train(ing) trainers in the fields of nursing, medical biology, midwifery, psychoeducation, paramedics teachings and Educational Sciences.” This agreement will allow students, professors, and experts from UQTR to immerse themselves in the Gabon culture, will improve recruitment of international students, and will create more opportunities for applied research projects. UQTR

Precarious academic employment is “a special kind of torture,” writes THE contributor

“Twelve years of uncertainty and instability has taken its toll,” writes Siobhan O'Dwyer, senior lecturer in ageing and family care at the University of Exeter Medical School. O'Dwyer notes her good fortune in eventually landing a tenure-track job, but argues that she still cannot feel secure because her entire professional life has been defined by “not knowing what would happen.” The author adds that her experience is not unique, but is in fact typical for academia, which can lead to a long-term condition that she compares to being “like academic PTSD.” Despite these challenges, however, O'Dwyer ends on a hopeful note, suggesting that “it’s not all doom and gloom” in academia, and that she will do her best to move forward to “a place of relative certainty” while continuing to speak on the difficulties of precarious academic work. Times Higher Education

Outgoing CBU student union president criticizes cuts to newspaper, increases to student fees

The outgoing president of the Cape Breton University Student Union has criticized the incoming executive’s budget strategy for allegedly raising student fees and cutting funding for the school’s student newspaper. Brandon Ellis, who served as president of the union from 2014 until last Friday, said that the decision to raise student fees comes at a time when students at CBU are already being forced to reckon with impending tuition increases. Further, he argues that the cutting of funds to the Caper Time student newspaper will damage its ability to hold the union accountable. Incoming SU President Roy Karam replied that the fee increase is necessary to make up for the costs associated with the SU’s legal battles with the Canadian Federation of Students, along with declining enrolment and inflation. Cape Breton Post

“Don’t feed the trolls”: an academic's advice on being a public intellectual

The internet has given academics a great opportunity to communicate their work to an increasingly broader audience, writes English Professor Megan Condis for the Chronicle of Education. But as academics wade into the waters of the online world, she notes that “there are dangers lurking in those virtual waters—dangers that we all need to keep in mind when we respond to our Facebook friends and Twitter followers.” The two greatest challenges of taking this plunge, the author argues, are deciding whether to respond to rude critics who have clearly misinterpreted your work, and hedging against the possibility that online comments will be taken out of context and later used against you. Chronicle of Higher Education

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