Top Ten

September 2, 2016

Federal government highlights enhanced student grant program for new academic year

The federal government has kicked off the academic year by announcing new increases to its student grant program, reports The Record. Earlier this week, Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan announced that in the coming school year, Canada Student Grant amounts have increased by 50%; from $2,000 to $3,000 per year for full-time students from low-income families; from $800 to $1,200 per year for students from middle-income families; and from $1,200 to $1,800 per year for part-time students from low-income families. Duncan also announced that as of November 1, 2016, those accessing the Repayment Assistance Plan will not be required to make any repayment until they are earning at least $25K per year. The Record | Guelph Mercury | Globe and Mail | Canada

uWinnipeg Students’ Association seeking reserved gym hours for women, LGBT, nonbinary community members

The University of Winnipeg Students' Association is requesting that one of the university’s gyms create designated hours for women, members of the LGBT community, and people who identify their gender as non-binary. The UWSA’s LGBT Director Jacq Pelland says that a recent survey showed that many students “felt very uncomfortable accessing the gym services and they either went very infrequently or just not at all. … [They reported] unwanted staring, comments, flirting [and] approaches.”Pelland acknowledges the importance of taking action against the individuals who are specifically responsible for reported harassment, but adds that harassment has persisted in spite of these efforts, and that reserved gym hours are a key way to allow certain members of the uWinnipeg community to feel safe going to the gym. CBC

Canadian Forces convene board of inquiry following RMC student deaths

Canada’s armed forces have announced that they are investigating a recent string of deaths that have involved students or recent graduates of the Royal Military College, reports the Globe and Mail. Four men connected to RMC have reportedly died since April, and RMC spokesperson Jennifer Fidler says that a board of inquiry has been convened to investigate three of the men who were all students at the RMC’s school in Kingston, Ontario. “A (board of inquiry) is an administrative process,” adds Fidler. “It is not a judicial process. It does not seek to fix blame, but to find the facts and make recommendations to the CAF to prevent a recurrence.” The Globe reports that little is known about the nature of the deaths at this time. Toronto Star | Globe and Mail (Subscription Required)

Seneca receives $27.3M investment towards CITE facility

Seneca College has received a combined $27.3M investment from the federal and Ontario governments to train young Canadians for well-paying middle-class jobs. The funding will specifically support Seneca’s Centre for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship, which a college release states will focus on helping small and medium-sized enterprises build their innovation capacity by providing access to labs, equipment, and research expertise. CITE will also reportedly provide specialized training, business incubation, and applied research and commercialization programs. The release states that Seneca will also be contributing over $57M for a total investment of nearly $85M. Canada | The Record

“We still have a long way to go,” says uRegina president of gender parity, diversity in leadership roles

Current statistics on gender and diversity in university leadership show a troubling pattern, according to a recent op-ed by University of Regina President Vianne Timmons. The author reflects on the optimism she felt at seeing women moving into leadership roles in the mid-1990s, but notes that “soon, men moved back into these roles, and few of them were ever occupied by women again.” Timmons cites statistics demonstrating that the number of women serving as university presidents in Canada remains around 20%—the same as it was two decades ago. Timmons concludes with a discussion of the often-negative reactions that are directed against calls for greater gender parity or diversity in leadership positions, adding that “it is time to look at our practices and collective mindset and recognize that we still have a long way to go.” Universities Canada

McMaster receives $5M to support innovation in teaching and learning

McMaster University has received a significant boost to its teaching and learning initiatives in the form of a $5M alumni gift. A McMaster release states that the school plans to rename the McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning as the Paul R MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching in recognition of donor and alumnus Paul MacPherson. The gift will specifically be used to support teaching fellowships, a chair in Indigenous Studies, and a bursary program all bearing MacPherson’s name. “We want our students to have the best possible education,” says McMaster President Patrick Deane. “Paul has been an incredible partner in that journey. His commitment to teaching at McMaster inspires us to reach ever higher and our students are the ones to benefit.” McMaster

Art and design schools offer unique approach to entrepreneurship, business incubation

“Art schools now are seen not only as fonts of ideas but as business incubators,” writes Guy Dixon of the Globe and Mail. The author highlights a product recently developed in OCAD University’s Imagination Catalyst centre before discussing how entrepreneurship is integrally involved in art schools and their students’ experiences. “They work in these almost laboratory settings where they are just generating things, ideas and cross-pollinating and pumping out experiments,” comments NSCAD instructor Kelly Markovich, adding that “there’s a little bit more respect for the arts. And we’re starting to see, ‘Okay, these are the people who are going to help us innovate in other directions.’” Globe and Mail (Subscription Required)

Western president explores the many values of international education

“The intrinsic value of developing a broad world view through international education is self-evident,” writes Western University President Amit Chakma. The author highlights a number of strides the federal government has made to boost the role of international education in Canada, which include rebranding the country as an education destination, improving the Express Entry program, and renewing the country's commitment to study abroad. Chakma also takes time to remind readers that in addition to the country's ambitious targets, “what’s more important to consider is the philosophy behind the idea, along with the merits of pursuing such a policy more aggressively to better support the development of our future global citizens.” Chakma concludes with a discussion of the barriers currently faced by students looking to pursue study abroad and how institutions and governments might better address them. Universities Canada

UPEI receives funding for new equipment

The University of Prince Edward Island has reportedly received $800K from the federal government for the purchase of new equipment. $650K of which will reportedly go to the Atlantic Veterinary College, while the remaining funds will go towards UPEI's Chemistry Department and the Marine Natural Products Lab. The Atlantic Veterinary College will be purchasing and installing new equipment, including state-of-the-art equine and virology technology. The Chemistry Department will be purchasing specialized equipment to assist in chemistry analysis, while the funding for the Marine Natural Products Lab will be put towards new fermentation equipment that will allow for more in-depth investigations in the lab and increased collaboration opportunities. CBC | The Guardian

Hidden jokes in syllabi foster conversation about improving student engagement

A number of US professors have begun testing student engagement with course materials by inserting hidden jokes and tasks into the middle of course syllabi, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. Aside from these jokes, many professors are also using the beginning of classes to rethink the use of syllabi altogether. Professor Joseph Howley notes that a syllabus should be a “road map” for a course, and that professors should keep in mind that it is the first point of contact they have with their students. The article highlights specific strategies for improving syllabi to improve student engagement and learning throughout a semester. Chronicle of Higher Education