Top Ten

May 16, 2016

AB receives more than 500 applications for PSE board positions

36 positions on the boards of Alberta higher ed institutions have received more than 500 applicants, reports Metro, and these numbers are expected to grow as more positions are posted. Earlier this year, the Alberta government announced that all board members whose appointments are up for renewal must reapply through an open process. In an interview with Metro, Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt said that the move to open applications is part of the province’s efforts to diversify its PSE boards. “We’ve got vacancies all across the province and we’re doing public postings, which is something that hasn’t been done in the past, and we’re looking at diversity as one of the criteria,” said Schmidt. Metro

UNBC pride centre receiving funding after “six-year battle”

After a “six-year battle” for support, students from the University of Northern British Columbia have successfully secured funding for the Northern Pride Centre. “When we realized they were in such a funding crunch and weren't able to deliver any services, that's when we started talking about whether we could do something in terms of one-time funding,” said Interim VP of Administration and Finance Barb Daigle. Vandenberg commented that recent changes in administration at the institution impacted the decision to move forward. The centre will reportedly receive one-time funding of $10 K per year over two years, which Vandenberg states will be used to hire a coordinator with consistent hours, create a known safe space, and have a person trained in LGBTQ issues to support students in need. Prince George Citizen

uManitoba receives $30 M gift toward health sciences

The University of Manitoba has received its largest philanthropic gift in the institution’s history from Ernest and Evelyn Rady through the Rady Family Foundation, and has renamed what is now the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and the Max Rady College of Medicine in honour of donor Ernest Rady’s father, an alumnus of the university. “This money will be used to support students and scholarships so that students have a better experience as they study here,” said U of M VP External John Kearsey, “it will be used to drive discovery through research. It will help us create new places and spaces as well so our faculty and students and staff can learn and work and thrive in this environment.” Winnipeg Free Press | CBC

YorkU raises $100 M through 40-year market offering

York University has raised $100 M from investors through a 40-year market offering, which came only one week after two rating agencies reportedly downgraded the university’s long-term issuer credit and senior unsecured debt. The downgrades did not appear to significantly impact the deal’s progress through the markets, reports the Financial Times, which is likely due in part to the 40-year length of the arrangement. “There is a certain class of investor that demonstrates an appetite for that long-duration product,” noted one market participant in the offering. Financial Post

Is academic risk-taking only available to tenured profs?

“I wonder if the current system and climate in higher education prohibits anyone but the comfortably tenured from being allowed to fail while daring greatly in their scholarly work,” writes Rachel Toor for the Chronicle of Higher Education. The author argues that today’s graduate students and non-tenured professors feel that they must “contort themselves to seem like a good fit for each of the hundreds of positions for which they’re applying,” and this effort often involves being told by mentors “to be careful to make sure their work doesn’t stray too far afield of what’s conventionally accepted.” While this strategy might be practical for the individual, Toor adds, it can produce an entire cohort of scholars who are trained to avoid risky, and often highly rewarding work. Chronicle of Higher Education

ON invests $4 M to attract students to northern Ontario colleges

Ontario is set to spend $4 M on a marketing program that aims to attract students to northern Ontario colleges. Study North will employ five recruiters who will reportedly attend 62 high school events next year to promote college programs in the north, as well as the region’s lifestyle and accessibility benefits. CBC reports that many colleges in southern Ontario have a large number of wait-listed programs, and Study North’s team will work to generate leads from wait-listed students who might instead be interested in studying at a northern college. CBC

Business students zeroing in on choice of academic focus

Today’s business school candidates are becoming more focused in their preferred type of business degree and career path, writes Jennifer Lewington for the Globe and Mail. Lewington reports that after the 2008 recession, business students across the world were shown to take more time weighing options before choosing a program and career path. But a recent study from the Graduate Management Admission Council shows that in 2015, prospective students only considered 2.8 program types compared to 3.1 a year earlier. “The new applicant pool seems to be more focused on the outcomes they are seeking,” says Gregg Schoenfeld, director of management education research for GMAC, “as jobs are becoming more plentiful, maybe people are becoming more focused.” Globe and Mail

U of T startups to find home at JLABS innovation space

The MaRS West Tower has officially become home to JLABS @ Toronto, a new research centre designed to support innovation in bio/pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer, and digital health products. At the centre’s official opening last week, it was announced that the space will host 22 startups, at least eight of which have ties to the University of Toronto and its affiliated hospitals. JLABS will reportedly work with these startups to help commercialize their research. “They’ll give us the right exposure to the business side and they’ll help us carve out a clear path to market,” said researcher Jinzi Zheng, “we’re scientists, we don’t have that expertise.” UofT

Celebrating the academic benefits of study abroad

“In the rush and tumble of [study abroad] stories, I often overlook the academic experience,” writes Amy Jung for the Canadian Bureau for International Education. Jung suggests that while study abroad experiences offer many opportunities to make friends and pursue personal growth, the academic benefits of the experience deserve just as much attention. Among these benefits, she writes, is the new perspective gained by studying in other countries and cultures, participating in assignments and class discussions with an interdisciplinary focus, and improving language skills. CBIE

Devices in the classroom can hurt academic performance, says new US study

A new study published by MIT’s School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative shows that students who use electronic devices in class score lower on standardized tests than those who do not. The study found that the students using devices in class scored 18% of a standard deviation lower than students banned from using devices, a gap that Inside Higher Ed argues can “tip a score from pass to fail.” The study’s authors admit that the results may not be representative of all PSE institutions, as West Point is “obviously not the picture of an average college.” Yet they add that due to the culture of high achievement at the school, “there are many reasons to believe that permitting computers in traditional lecture-style classrooms could have even more harmful effects than those found in this study.” Inside Higher Ed | Report