Top Ten

May 26, 2016

“The quality of our education is eroding”: CFS criticizes uManitoba budget

The Canadian Federation of Students has criticized the University of Manitoba’s latest budget, alleging that it will take away resources necessary for helping students graduate on time. CFS Manitoba Division Chair Michael Barkman states that “course cancellations, less course offerings, program mergers, or full-time tenured faculty who voluntarily retire who are not replaced with new faculty” will mean that students “can't access the courses they need to graduate, and the quality of our education is eroding.” uManitoba has replied that after factoring in faculty and staff salary increases, the university is increasing its spending for the coming year. The school has acknowledged that any cuts to services are “unfortunate and do make it challenging for units, but all efforts have been made to minimize the impact of the cuts.” CBC

UBC receives $27 M for health research

UBC has received $27 M in provincial funding to support its numerous health and life science research projects. The funds will come through the BC Knowledge and Development Fund and support the construction of new laboratories, equipment, and facilities that will enable the university to successfully undertake 40 projects in areas such as cancer treatment, childhood diabetes, and genome sequencing. Helen Burt, UBC associate vice president, research and international, said “UBC is grateful for the provincial government’s support so our talented scientists can make new discoveries in areas like health, life sciences, and science and technology. … This investment in UBC has the potential to bring significant social and economic benefits to all British Columbians.” Vancouver Sun | UBC

Universities Canada releases report examining “our Digital Future”

Universities Canada has released a new report stemming from the insights of 25 Canadian university leaders regarding the trends, opportunities, and challenges involved in using digital technologies to pursue institutional goals. The report is available for download and provides senior leaders’ answers to questions such as: “How can we advance universities’ missions and Canada’s position as a leader in the digital economy? How can Canadian universities provide more personalized education and best prepare students for the digital economy? [and] Given the implications and pace of disruptive technologies, how can universities remain competitive and sustainable?” Universities Canada

Canada must work quickly to address barriers for international students

Canada needs to act fast in order to gain the economic benefits of international students, writes Kareem El-Assal for University Affairs. Some barriers currently in place in Canada may deter prospective international students and steer them in another country’s direction. Obstacles such as slow student visa processing times, inadequate settlement and integration services, and difficulty attaining permanent residency are among issues potentially hindering Canada’s ability to recruit international talent. While the government has implemented a number of strategies to combat these issues, El-Essal says that further immediate action is required to ensure successful recruitment and retention of future skilled workers to Canada. University Affairs

Western researcher receives $9 M grant to help train Rwanda and Burundi health workers

A professor at Western University has been granted nearly $9 M from Global Affairs Canada to help train front-line health care workers in Rwanda and Burundi to treat common causes of infant and maternal mortality. David Chechetto, a professor at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, is director of the program and will lead a team from the university to work with partners in both countries. “Mother and infant mortality is high, and it doesn’t have to be,” said Cechetto, “The high rate is partially due to lack of resources, but also the need for a health care system that is prepared for the realities of childbirth in these countries.” London Free Press | Western

NorQuest opens new bio-tech incubator

A new biotechnology incubator has opened its doors in Drayton Valley, Alberta. The Clean Energy and Technology Centre (CETC) is a joint operation between NorQuest College and the Town of Drayton Valley, designed to attract key businesses and investment to the area while also creating jobs and providing education, training, and resources for residents. “NorQuest College is proud to be a partner in this exciting venture,” says NorQuest President Jodi Abbott, “as a dedicated resident of Drayton Valley, and with a commitment to offer programming that is workforce relevant and innovative, we view this as a great way to support local, provincial, and national energy initiatives.” NorQuest

US college boosts four-year completion rates with “Finish in 4” student pledge

The State University of New York at Buffalo has seen its proportion of undergrads finishing their degrees in four years rise from 35% to 55% in the past decade, reports Inside Higher Ed. The university’s push for higher four-year completion rates has benefited from an academic pledge that it introduced to students in 2012. The Finish in 4 program asks students to sign a document that obliges them to register for classes on time, follow a structured curricular plan, and talk with an academic adviser at least once a semester. The pledge also helps them choose a major and career path, and students must enrol in an approved major by the time they complete 60 credits, which typically marks the halfway point to a bachelor's degree. Inside Higher Ed

Competition can be bad for education, writes Inside Higher Ed contributor

“Competition is great for lots of things,” writes John Warner for Inside Higher Ed, “but there are limits to competition as an animating force, and it is actively destructive when misapplied.” Warner notes one case in which a school in Orange County California issued colour-coded student IDs that reflected students’ standardized test scores, and students with “platinum cards” were given perks such as an express checkout line in the cafeteria. While some top students performed marginally better under the scheme, those coded as “low achievers” were found to be much more likely to “accept their fate” and to be discouraged by the program. Warner concludes that generally speaking, “competition seems terribly ill-suited to education. If it’s a competition, someone needs to win, and yet, we’re saying no child can be left behind.” Inside Higher Ed

How universities are looking to boost study abroad numbers

Although the numbers remain flat for Canadian students studying abroad, “some schools are moving to make study-abroad sexy again—or at least accessible,” writes Tim Johnson for University Affairs. By engaging students, university staff, and prospective employers, Johnson explores the value that study abroad can have for today’s university students and how institutions can communicate this value. “What’s really critical is the level of self-awareness and maturity that studying abroad brings to students,” says RBC Senior Manager of Education Financing Amber Pearson, “having to get groceries or navigate from point A to point B when you don’t speak the language, for example, that gives you a level of confidence that you’d bring to the workplace and brings you a measure of success, no matter what industry you choose.” Academica recently surveyed over 1,400 members of its StudentVu panel to learn more about Canadian students' attitudes toward study abroad. University Affairs

MacEwan promotes sustainability, stewardship with urban bee hives

MacEwan University has installed four beekeeping hives on the roof of one of its buildings in downtown Edmonton, reports CBC. The school joins Edmonton City Hall, architectural firm Manasc Isaac, and the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in the effort to combat the effects of climate change on bee populations and to support these populations in an urban centre. The bees will reportedly be cared for by an on-site certified beekeeper, and the honey produced will be sold through MacEwan’s dining services. “Bees may be small, but they play a big role in human and ecosystem health,” said Kalen Pilkington, director of the university's office of sustainability. CBC