Top Ten

September 12, 2016

Growing number of Canadian PSE students report being in distress

The number of students feeling distressed or reporting having serious mental health crises has risen in the past three years, according to a national survey. The study of nearly 44,000 students notes that the increase in stress and anxiety coincides with a decrease in time spent exercising and sleeping, a trend that Janine Robb, Executive Director of the Health & Wellness Centre at the University of Toronto, says is difficult for students to avoid: “It’s all interconnected, bad sleep means less capacity to manage your emotions, means more anxiety. … It’s counterintuitive to them when they feel they should be studying and doing an all-nighter.” Rachelle McGrath of Mount Royal University’s Wellness Services adds that the statistical increases may also stem from schools’ efforts to create environments where students can safely discuss their concerns. CBC | Globe and Mail

UAlberta to undergo $132M worth of renovation and construction projects

The University of Alberta will be embarking on a $132M series of projects to update and improve 10 research facilities over the next two years, with the aid of $82.5M infrastructure funding from the federal and AB governments. The funding will go largely towards commercialization of spaces and the enhanced environmental sustainability of postsecondary infrastructure. $25M of the project budget will go towards the creation of new lab space in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Research Facility, as well as the creation of critical innovation, commercialization, and incubation spaces. The institution will also undergo a lab renewal project at Campus Saint-Jean to help address a growing need for bilingual health professionals. UAlberta | Canada | CBC

Dal boosts student support with online orientation experience

Dalhousie University has opened the 2016 academic year by offering an online orientation program in addition to its traditional face-to-face offerings. A Dal release states that the new initiative is the product of a collaboration between Student Affairs, the Dalhousie Student Union, and the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention. The online experience is divided into five modules focused on different aspects of student life: academic readiness, community & citizenship, consent & sexualized violence, alcohol safety, and health & wellness. “We want students to start thinking about these topics and their transition before they come to campus, and we want them to have the tools they need to be successful when they get here,” says Anne Forrestall, senior assistant vice-provost, student affairs at Dal. “Each also addresses a priority area for us as an institution.” Dal

Canada invests $163M in social sciences, humanities research

Canada has invested $163M in nearly 1,150 social sciences and humanities research projects through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The announcement of the funds was made by Canadian Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan at York University last Friday. A federal release states that the projects funded by SSHRC will examine a number of issues, including employment, an aging population, and immigration. The release also states that the research will have particular significance for “Canada’s newest citizens and migrants who are often faced with cultural, political, social and economic challenges.” Canada

Trent, Centennial partner for new pathways, collaborations

Trent University and Centennial College have embarked on a new partnership to create new postsecondary pathways for students from both schools. Last week, the institutions signed an MOU committing them to data sharing, the development of joint diploma/degree programs, and new student pathways with a focus on business and social sciences programming. Trent President Leo Groarke commented that the new agreement will “be highly beneficial for students at both institutions and … allow students to combine the best of college and university education.” Centennial President Ann Buller added that, “working together, we are able to provide students with a more fulsome educational experience that gives them the practical experience, critical thinking skills and knowledge that today’s employers demand.” Trent | Centennial

Academic advising “a form of activism,” writes IHE contributor

“Undergraduate advisement is a chore that few academics want,” writes Wendy Christensen for Inside Higher Ed, but this type of support is necessary if higher education is going to serve all students—especially those on the margins. The author reflects on how her role as an advisor taught her that the majority of her students work full time and have families to support, especially when they are first-generation students. Christensen cites research demonstrating that meaningful connections with professors improves students’ educational experience and boosts retention rates. The author concludes that advising is so powerful that it can even be “a form of activism to challenge existing class-based disparities in higher education.” Inside Higher Ed

First cohort of NB students benefits from low-income PSE bursary

New Brunswick’s free tuition plan for students from low-income families has taken effect for its first cohort of students, and many have already benefitted, reports CBC. When NB first introduced the program, it estimated that roughly 23% of the student population would benefit from the new granting system. Yet NB’s Post-Secondary Education, Training, and Labour Minister Donald Arseneault notes that 35% of students who have applied for financial aid thus far have qualified. Arseneault adds that while the program requires further improvement, it is good that the government was able to enact it quickly. “If we're going to grow our economy, we have to have a skilled and qualified workforce,” he said. “In order to do that, we need to look at our population and make sure they have access to post-secondary education at an affordable rate.” CBC

HEC, Concordia join partners on developing social innovation hub

HEC Montréal and Concordia University, along with 6 other partners, have announced the creation of Maison de l’innovation sociale (Social Innovation Centre) in Montréal to provide a place for “creating new ideas for the public good.” The centre reportedly aims to offer an environment for “mobilizing resources, co-ordinating efforts and sharing local, national, and international expertise.” Concordia and HEC will reportedly play a major role in the centre’s work to advance knowledge and provide training.  While the idea is not unique, Concordia VP of Advancement and External Relations Bram Freedman explains that Montréal's centre will be different: “Rather than a more traditional co-working space, its goal will be to serve as a meeting place for entrepreneurs, students and other citizens, with a view to creating new ideas for the public good.” Concordia | HEC

UoGuelph receives $76.6M for “Food From Thought”

The University of Guelph says that it is set to spark a “digital revolution” in food and agriculture with the support of $76.6M from the federal government. The new funds will be used to support UoGuelph’s “Food from Thought” research project, which will use high-tech information systems to produce enough food to support the world’s growing population in an ecologically sustainable way. The funding also marks the largest federal research investment in the university’s history. “This will position Canada as a leader in sustainable food production,” said UoGuelph President Franco Vaccarino. “Our faculty, staff and students will have opportunities to participate in innovative discovery and to play a role in tackling one of the world’s greatest challenges: how to sustainably feed our growing population.” UoGuelph

"Not one student will be affected,” says Brock president of Cukier decision

Brock University’s recent parting of ways with presidential appointee Wendy Cukier will have no impact on students, according to Acting President Brian Hutchings. Since the news of Cukier’s departure earlier this month, Brock’s board of trustees has reportedly struck a a new committee with representation from faculty members, staff, and board members to begin searching for a new president. Hutchings has added that he “hasn’t thrown [his] hat into the ring” for becoming Brock’s new full-time president, and adds that “they haven’t sought nominations yet, and I have not even considered whether or not I’d be the permanent resident because right now … I’m stepping in as a good teammate, with the will of the board.” St Catharines Standard