Top Ten

August 15, 2016

Algonquin to withdraw from Saudi Arabia campus

Algonquin College has announced that it will transfer responsibility of its Saudi Arabia campus back to one of the country's educational authorities. Algonquin President Cheryl Jansen said that following a year of negotiations with the Saudi-based Colleges of Excellence, Algonquin was unable to reach an agreement that would have met its financial objectives. When the campus project was first announced, the college hoped to generate $4.4M in profits; but financial statements obtained by the Ottawa Business Journal show the campus had a net loss of $1.4M during the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2016. Algonquin’s board has directed senior administrations to take steps to begin the transfer of responsibility. Algonquin | Ottawa Business Journal | Guelph Mercury (CP)

NB task force aims to better equip students for post-grad life

A New Brunswick-wide task force on experiential education is developing a plan to ensure students enrolled in the province’s PSE institutions have opportunities to graduate with the skills and confidence desired in today’s job market. Formed in early May, the task force includes representatives from NB’s four public universities, student population, provincial government, business community, and non-profit sector. During the next six months, the task force will review best practices from across the region and Canada while developing an NB-centered approach. NB

Beware of back-to-school scams, BBB warns students

The Better Business Bureau is urging postsecondary students to keep an eye out for scams as the fall semester approaches. Several of the common scams highlighted include housing rentals, employment opportunities, and online shopping schemes that involve money transfers or forms of up-front payment. Evan Kelly of the BBB says PSE students are highly susceptible to scams, particularly at this time of year. “They're affected with what's called an optimism bias, which makes them feel very vulnerable and basically [makes them] ignore any safety precautions,” says Kelly. CBC

Victoria students scramble for fall housing

“More than ever, we’re seeing a crunch for students trying to find housing off-campus,” says Ben Lukenchuk of the University of Victoria Student Society. With just a 0.6% vacancy rate, the British Columbia city is proving to be especially difficult for students looking to find affordable housing for the fall semester. Lacey Sheardown of the online classifieds site UsedVictoria tells CTV News that students have even begun posting compelling personal stories to convince landlords to take them on as renters. Yet while this tactic might provide a short-term solution for some, experts say that the only true long-term solution lies in the construction of more rental buildings. CTV News

New uSask facility to study effects of disease, climate change on birds

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan will strive to answer questions about the effects of pollution, disease, and climate change on bird populations from within the school’s new Facility for Applied Avian Research. Funding for the facility was part of a $10.4M federal grant to support more than 57 scientists and students at the school. Facility Director Christy Morrissey said that in addition to protecting wildlife, the centre has immediate practical consequences for humans. “Things like crop pollination and pest control. Mosquitoes. These are all things that birds control and do for us without paying them a dollar,” Morrissey said. CBC | Global News

Trent-based Innovation Cluster to expand in downtown Peterborough

The Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster will expand a program called The Cube, a business innovation concept based at Trent University, to the city's downtown this fall. The 10,000-square-foot space will provide entrepreneurs access to services and programs as they move their concepts forward. Since launching in 2013, the program has helped develop 29 registered startups, creating 52 full-time and 28 part-time jobs while raising $1.2M in revenue/capital. Peterborough Examiner

Concordia partners with UN to offer first-of-its-kind MOOC

This fall, Concordia University will team up with the United Nations to offer a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that will explore international societal and environmental issues. “Wicked Programs, Dynamic Solutions: The Ecosystem Approach and Systems Thinking” is an interdisciplinary course available to anyone who registers. A Concordia release states that the university's partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme on a large-scale MOOC is the first of its kind in Canada. Concordia

Reasons to fear the "uberization" of higher ed

“In higher education, we are increasingly facing the distinct possibility of a faceless future, teacherless courses, online everything,” writes David Theo Goldberg for Inside Higher Ed. In an essay outlining the dangers of “uberizing” higher education, Goldberg argues that the modern framing of universities as service providers is causing these institutions to privilege “in-time, on-demand vocational skilling for the task at hand rather than the capacity for deep thinking.” The author details how this basic shift is influencing staff, teachers, and students in different ways, concluding that the trend may continue until human interactions in higher ed are eliminated altogether. Inside Higher Ed

Is struggling Alberta economy leading to high postsecondary enrolment in Lethbridge?

A boost in enrolments at Lethbridge College and Lethbridge University could be due to the sagging Alberta economy, writes Global News.  Lethbridge College Assistant Registrar Alison Grandmont says that the college’s official registration numbers are up 15% from a year ago. uLethbridge is also anticipating a 2% enrolment increase, and university Vice Provost Lesley Brown notes that the difference in growth numbers between the institutions might be due to how quickly students are looking to re-enter the workforce. “The college offers accreditations in two years; at the University it takes four years. That may affect choices,” Brown said. Global News

2017 budget should invest in school-to-workforce transition, says Polytechnics Canada

Canada must invest in reliable data on student labour market outcomes and take an active role in connecting grads with employers, says a 2017 pre-budget submission from Polytechnics Canada. The submission outlines ten key recommendations designed to help Canada’s higher ed system contribute to student fulfillment and economic development during a time of slow fiscal growth. These recommendations include a $50M annual increase in Statistics Canada’s budget to create and disseminate high-quality labour market information, an expansion of the NSERC research talent programs to include more participation by polytechnics and colleges, and the creation of a grant program designed to teach entrepreneurial skills to postsecondary students. Polytechnics Canada | Submission