Top Ten

May 25, 2016

New PSE hires turning away due to housing prices in Toronto, Vancouver

Universities in Toronto and Vancouver are struggling to attract new hires due to the housing costs associated with their cities, writes Simona Chiose for the Globe and Mail. Last year, UBC reportedly had 18 new hires turn down job offers due to the cost of living in the city, and the housing question factored into at least another 70 appointments. Institutions like the University of Toronto are now looking to persuade their provincial governments to pass legislation that will allow PSE institutions to offer long-term home ownership to professors at a reduced cost while guaranteeing that faculty will not sell these homes to anyone but the school. “We want to make sure that we are competitive with other premiere institutions that have instituted various home ownership programs … and to ensure that affordable housing options remain available to faculty for generations,” said Christine Burke, the director of campus and facilities planning at the University of Toronto. Globe and Mail

University application forms change for ON transgender students

Ontario university applicants will be able to check “another gender identity” on common application forms beginning in the fall of 2017. Led by the University of Waterloo, this change comes after a transgender student raised concerns about the limiting binary options on current application forms. “We certainly agreed with the student that it was a problem,” said University of Waterloo Registrar Ray Darling, “it’s 2016, and we need to acknowledge that students should be valued for who they are.” The new application forms will also adhere to the 2012 Ontario Human Rights Commission policy against gender discrimination that says, “everyone has the right to define their own gender identity. Trans people should be recognized and treated as the gender they live in, whether or not they have undergone surgery, or their identity documents are up-to-date.” The Record | uWaterloo

NB private colleges weighing legal action against province

The New Brunswick Association of Private Colleges and Universities has retained the services of a lawyer and may take legal action against NB over the exclusion of private institutions from the new Tuition Access Bursary. NB announced in April 2016 that the new program would fully cover the tuition of students from families earning less than $60 K per year. Yet the program does not currently apply to students attending private institutions. NB Green Party leader David Coon has reportedly supported the Association’s claims, noting that any individual who qualifies for student loans should also qualify for provincial bursaries. Global News

Online education has officially reached the mainstream, says US expert

Although the hype around MOOCs has died down and “almost no one is arguing that those free online courses will upend the traditional university,” there is much evidence to suggest that online learning has become mainstream in US higher ed, writes Phil Hill. The author cites one survey showing that the proportion of US students taking at least one online course rose from 9% to 26% over the past 12 years. Further, the proportion of instructors teaching at least one online course has hovered around 30% over this same period. What these numbers tell us, concludes Hill, is that online education has moved “beyond the innovators and early adopters” and well into the mainstream. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Canadian institutions should consider giving professors full ownership over their research, writes Globe contributor

Policies that force professors to share the rights to their research with their academic institutions might be stifling innovation in Canada, writes Barrie McKenna for the Globe and Mail. McKenna cites a recent study by the US National Bureau of Economic Research, which found that Norway’s shift away from “professor’s privilege” and toward a model that shared ownership of research with institutions effectively halved the country’s numbers for new patents and startups. McKenna notes that these findings are particularly relevant for Canada, “where universities generally don’t do commercialization well compared with their peers in the rest of the world.” McKenna says that if Canada wants to boost the commercialization of its university-based research, it should strongly consider moving toward a model in which professors retain sole ownership and control over their discoveries. Globe and Mail (Subscription Required)

Grades, gender, age predict success for college-university transfers

Strong grades are a primary predictor of success for students transferring between college and university, according to a new study from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. The study examined more than 14,000 students who transferred between Seneca College and York University from 2000 to 2012, and also found that students who were younger and/or female were more likely to graduate after moving from a college into a university. Younger students were also more likely to complete their education more quickly in a university-to-college pathway, although gender was not as significant a factor in this case. HEQCO | Report

The liberal arts need saving, but from what?

The question of “saving” the liberal arts is well-known to many, writes Colleen Flaherty for Inside Higher Ed, but the question of what exactly it needs saving from is often more vague. Flaherty recounts some of the major insights that were shared at a recent conference on this subject at the University of Chicago. Among the perceived threats against the liberal arts were declining attention spans in a world of instant gratification, a growing dislike for media or content that is difficult to understand at first glance, and the growing institutional desire to reduce the effectiveness or outcomes of programs to simple metrics. Inside Higher Ed

Canadian university leaders visit the Netherlands

Senior representatives from 14 universities across Canada are visiting the Netherlands this week to discuss partnership opportunities between the two countries and best practices in research and innovation in higher education. As part of a follow-up to a 2015 visit from Dutch university leaders to Canada, representatives will share ideas on topics such as green research, smart cities, nanotechnology, climate change, and water technology. President of Universities Canada Paul Davidson notes, “International research collaboration and university-private sector partnerships—like the ones being forged or renewed during this mission—are vital in today’s knowledge-based economies.” Universities Canada

SK needs to boost PSE funding sooner rather than later, says uSask Interim Provost

Saskatchewan should not wait for an economic recovery before increasing its postsecondary funding, according to University of Saskatchewan Interim Provost and Vice President Academic Ernie Barber. Last year, uSask reportedly held back $20 M of its spending to help the province balance its budget, before the institution had another $9.8 M cut from its annual grant. Barber maintains that the university is still in “good financial shape” due to its savings, yet he notes that the current situation cannot be sustained indefinitely. “Even though we’re financially strong, you can only keep reducing funding to an institution like ours for so long before you run out of savings, before you run out of the capacity to be able to respond to financial difficulties,” said Barber. StarPhoenix

McMaster, Mohawk libraries lend bikes along with books

University library collections are growing in nontraditional ways. Students at McMaster University and Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON can now borrow bicycles for free from their libraries as part of a non-profit bike-sharing program, Start the Cycle. The program was started in 2014 by PhD candidate Charles Burke, who at the time was studying transportation geography at McMaster. A growing trend on campuses across Canada, bike share programs exist at the University of Calgary and Carleton University for paying customers. McMaster librarian Lynne Serviss sees the program as mutually beneficial, as it promotes physical activity, free transportation for students, and an institution’s library facilities: “I think it provides an opportunity for us to showcase other things that we do, other than just circulate books. We have a service and infrastructure that circulates a variety of things, so it’s important for us to be part of that community.” University Affairs