Top Ten

June 22, 2016

Student group demands access to information on McGill military research

A student group at McGill University is demanding access to documents relating to military research performed at the university, reports CBC. Demilitarize McGill has reportedly filed a request under Quebec’s access to information legislation seeking access to emails exchanged between the Computational Fluid Dynamics Lab at McGill’s mechanical engineering department and four companies with ties to the defence industry. Group member Cadence O'Neal told CBC that the student group wants access to the emails to determine what kind of technology McGill is helping develop and its potential uses in the future. Internal staff emails obtained by CBC have also revealed that some professors consider the group’s claims groundless and defamatory. CBC (Request for Information) | CBC (Critique)

30% jump in applications is a “welcome nightmare,” says UPEI

The University of Prince Edward Island reports that it has seen a 30% jump in applications. UPEI Vice-President Academics and Research Robert Gilmour explains that this figure is due to a 100% increase in international applications, a 6% increase in Canadian applications, and a 3% increase in PEI applications. “We're aware of the demographics, and aware of just the financial realities of the university,” he said. “So there's been a renewed emphasis and focus on recruitment—particularly international recruitment.” When asked about how the school plans to accommodate all of the new students, Gilmour replied, “it's a very welcome nightmare.” CBC

Indigenous education gap costs SK more than $1B per year, says report

The education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Saskatchewan costs the province more than $1B every year, according to a new report. The report also indicates that the gap in educational achievement remains the most significant barrier to raising Indigenous participation in the SK economy. “Making sure that we’re moving the needle in terms of the education, and closing that education gap, will ultimately affect employment (in Saskatchewan),” said Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority President Alex Fallon. University of Saskatchewan economist Eric Howe explained that closing the Indigenous education gap could bring up to $90B in economic benefits to SK over the lifespan of its current population. StarPhoenix

Student federations ask QC to put $80M toward student loans, grants

Two Quebec student federations are asking the province to put $80M in new funding “into the students’ pockets,” reports La Presse. Quebec reportedly plans to opt out of the $300M student assistance plan that federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced in the most recent federal budget, a move that will see the province receive financial compensation to fund its own assistance program. The move will likely give the province an unconditional amount of $80M from Ottawa to dispense at its discretion. The Student Union of Quebec and the College Student Federation of Quebec have since argued that the funds should be used solely for the purpose of improving the province’s student loan and grant programs. La Presse

Professors face mounting threats from students, says UCalgary prof

“We tend to think that university campuses are among the safest places on Earth. But students are as competitive, and can be as violent, as anyone else,” writes Peter Bowal, a professor of business law at the University of Calgary. The author reflects on a student’s recent killing of his former professor and mentor at the University of California, and sees it as part of a trend of escalating student threats toward professors. Bowal argues that this trend comes in large part from “the fact that universities are now opening their doors to anyone who wants a degree [, which] means that more and more students who may not be well-suited to a traditional academic environment are being welcomed.” The more this happens, Bowal concludes, the more accommodations professors have to make for their students and the more extreme students may become in their demands. National Post

uSudbury sued by former prof over retirement agreement

Former Indigenous Studies professor Roger Spielmann is reportedly suing the University of Sudbury for $5M and the reinstatement of full professorship status, reports the Sudbury Star. Spielmann argues that that uSudbury approached him in 2012 while he was in a “fragile mental state” and “vulnerable economic circumstances,” to offer Spielmann an early retirement package that included short-term disability benefits. According to the professor, he was “manipulated into signing an early retirement agreement that was ‘economically beneficial to the University of Sudbury’ and ‘detrimental’ to him.” Spielmann claims that he was not offered supports that would have enabled him to return to work, and states that the union rep had a conflict of interest and did not notify him of right to obtain individual legal advice or counsel. According to the Sudbury Star, the allegations in the suit have not yet been proven in a court of law. Sudbury Star

Moving between universities “increases research output and impact”

A recent study into the effects of research mobility on productivity and impact has found that researchers who have worked in multiple institutions typically publish more research and are more frequently cited. According to Times Higher Education, the academics who benefit the most from having several university affiliations are those in mechanical engineering, arts and humanities, oncology, and infectious diseases. The study also found that not all disciplines benefited from mobility between countries, but co-author Gali Halevi noted that those that did were more global in nature: “Arts and humanities, for example, is related to culture and literature, so if you travel that usually enriches your experience. Some areas like engineering—not so much.” Times Higher Ed

Will Higher Ed be hurt or helped by a Microsoft-owned LinkedIn?

“The planned acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft could either sound the death knell for colleges and universities [...] or it could help schools raise their retention and graduation rates, thereby ensuring their long-term success,” writes Dian Schaffhauser for Campus Technology. Schaffhauser discusses the changing employment atmosphere that surrounds the LinkedIn-Microsoft deal, including a movement away from degree requirements on job descriptions, and the increased popularity of unbundled programs and courses for filling job knowledge gaps. Schaffhauser explores a number of expert opinions on the ways that this partnership could have dire consequences for inflexible institutions, and the positive effects it could have on institutional partnerships. Campus Technology

Dal accelerated nursing program caps number of non-NS students

Dalhousie University’s nursing program will now require 90% of students accepted into its accelerated program to be from Nova Scotia, reports CBC. Dal Spokesperson Laura Hynes Jenkins explains that the program is designed for students with previous university education and certain prerequisites who can enter the nursing program with advanced standing. The change has reportedly come in response to a nursing education review initiated by the province to address challenges with nursing services in Nova Scotia. CBC

YorkU unveils Inuit sculpture for National Aboriginal Day

York University unveiled a “monumental sculpture” of an Inuit soccer player to mark National Aboriginal Day yesterday afternoon. The sculpture was carved out of a 26-tonne boulder and was funded by the $3.5M SSHRC-supported Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage project. According to Anna Hudson, a professor in YorkU’s the Department of Visual Art and Art History, the Inuit Cultural Heritage project aims to recover, preserve, document, facilitate, and disseminate Inuit traditional knowledge and creativity. YorkU