Top Ten

June 1, 2016

It’s time to question the idea of the degree-holding barista, writes uManitoba president

“It troubles me when the value of a university education is diminished, or, as is sometimes the case in public discourse, denigrated,” writes University of Manitoba President David Barnard for CBC. Barnard admits that while a university education might not be for everybody, it can “enhance the life, professional and personal, civic and social, of anybody who is open to its enlightenments and enchantments.” There are many stories about baristas with undergraduate degrees in the media, Barnard notes, and while such graduates might exist, Barnard argues that “the way we tell these stories can be misleading, and our failure to question them incisively is ultimately damaging, because these stories don't really tell us much at all about the value of a university degree.” CBC

TRU pays $9 M for new McGill Road residences

Thompson Rivers University has purchased the McGill Road residences for $9 M, reports Kamloops This Week. These residences were previously leased by TRU from the Sanesh family, who recently approached TRU’s Vice President of Finance Matt Milovick to discuss the sale of the properties. The accommodations were built in 1988, and Milovick has explained that the buildings have “years of life left in them.” Milovick added that the residences may be torn down in the future, however, to make way for TRU’s university village plan. Kamloops This Week

Authoritarian culture is to blame for poor responses to sexual assault, says former BrandonU dean

A culture of “poorly informed paternalism” is to blame for the poor handling of sexual assault complaints on campus, writes former Brandon University Dean of Science Andrew Egan. Referring to BrandonU’s recent controversy involving the use of an alleged “gag order” on a student reporting a sexual assault, Egan disputes what he sees as the institution’s attempt to characterize the event as an isolated mistake. “In the end,” Egan notes, “fewer mistakes would be made if a more inclusive, less authoritarian administrative culture were encouraged on campus.” Winnipeg Free Press

UQAR to manage new Maritime Quebec Network

L’Université de Québec à Rimouski will manage the new Maritime Quebec Network set up by the Quebec government as a part of QC’s maritime strategy, reports ICI Radio Canada. The network will reportedly be a place for sharing and initiating research produced by stakeholders in a variety of sectors affected by maritime issues. UQAR is the natural choice for managing this network, according to Jean D’Amour, QC Minister for Maritime Affairs, as the network intends to research key elements of maritime development in Quebec. The network will be fully operational in the fall with a budget of $3.3 M over 3 years. ICI Radio Canada

Business-PSE partnerships are critical for Canada’s prosperity, says Conference Board CEO

Partnerships between PSE and business are essential for making Canada a more competitive and prosperous country, according to Conference Board of Canada CEO Daniel Muzyka. A recent Conference Board study shows that such partnerships provide businesses with greater access to world-class expertise and resources, which boosts their capacity for innovation and fosters economic growth. NSERC Vice-President of Research Partnerships Bettina Hamelin adds that these partnerships often include local communities and address a host of challenges ranging from food security to quantum technology. “The list is long,” she adds, “and the challenges may be local, provincial, national or global.” The article concludes by discussing specific examples of PSE-business partnerships and how industry, higher education, and local communities have benefitted from them. Globe and Mail

Professor questions the quality assurance process for Ontario’s universities

The current use of a key quality assurance process in Ontario PSE is “at odds” with the goals of being publicly accountable and ensuring rigorous quality assurance in the academic programs at Ontario universities, writes Trinity College Professor Donald Wiebe. Citing a case involving the Toronto School of Theology at the University of Toronto, Wiebe argues that “once an Ontario university’s Institutional Quality Assurance Process (IQAP) has been approved, it can be administered as the university sees fit,” which can render the process ineffective as a tool of provincial oversight. For this and other reasons, Wiebe concludes that “it is clear that modifications need to be made to the quality assurance processes for Ontario university programs.” Academic Matters

More than a million US college students drink every day, says new study

Roughly 1.4 million college students will drink alcohol on any given day, according to new data from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and more than 900 K students will get stoned. The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham notes that this behaviour “isn’t necessarily a problem … [as] most college drinkers and drug users graduate on to their next phase of life without suffering any adverse consequences from all those nights at the bar.” Yet alcohol and drug use are closely associated with higher dropout rates, and data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that college-age drinking was a contributing factor in 690,000 assaults, 97,000 sexual assaults, and 150,000 alcohol-related health problems. National Post

UCalgary still recovering from weekend malware attack

The University of Calgary has stated that a malware attack was responsible for a disruption to its IT systems last weekend. Global News reports that issues with the network began on Saturday, at which point the school warned students and staff not to use UCalgary-issued computers. While the school’s secure wireless network and email are safe again for general use, the university reportedly told Global that it would take until Thursday to get everything back to normal. “We understand the significant impact these systems issues are having across the campus community,” said UCalgary VP Finance and Services Linda Dalgetty. “Teams have been working throughout the weekend to try to resolve this challenging situation as quickly as possible.” Global News

Education must be a pillar of economic strategy, says SFU president

It is time for a “fundamental rethink” of British Columbia’s PSE system, says Simon Fraser University President Andrew Petter. In a recent speech, Petter expressed his desire to see BC become the “education province” of Canada, which he argues can only happen if the province treats education as a core component of its economic strategy. Petter reinforced his call for a greater emphasis on PSE in BC by citing a recent Conference Board of Canada study, starting that “today, over 95,000 B.C. residents are not employed because they have not obtained a level of education adequate to meet current employers' needs.' And while some of this educational shortfall is in trades and applied skills, the largest gap, it turns out, is in bachelor- and graduate-level education.” Straight

Human values determine which teaching is excellent, not algorithms, writes THE contributor

Great teaching has to be seen, heard, felt and experienced in order to achieve validation as ‘great,’” writes Claire Taylor for Times Higher Education, which is why it is dangerous to think that algorithms and big data analytics can assess a teacher’s value. Taylor admits that data can provide key evidence when making decisions, but cautions against relying too much on data when it comes to assessing something like “excellence,” which is ultimately a subjective, human value. “In other words,” Taylor adds, “what one individual experiences as great or excellent may be another’s worst nightmare.” Times Higher Education