Top Ten

September 13, 2016

18.3% decline in First Nations students receiving federal support for PSE

The number of First Nations students in Canada receiving federal support for PSE has dropped 18.3% since 1997, according to documents obtained by the federal NDP through Access to Information. CBC reports that the First Nations population in Canada grew by 27% over this same period. The report comes in the wake of criticism directed at the federal government for not including a $50M increase to the Post-secondary Student Support Program in the federal budget that was pledged during the 2015 election campaign. “I'm shocked and saddened to see those numbers. I didn't realize it was that high,” Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde said in an interview with CBC. “This is not acceptable. It's just another missed opportunity to help close the socioeconomic gap that exists.” CBC

YorkU engineering school embraces startup culture, writes Globe and Mail

“Wood floors, primary colours, whiteboards everywhere and not a single lecture hall” are the hallmarks of York University’s Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence, reports the Globe and Mail. The article notes that the centre gives students and faculty the feeling of stepping into a “brash young startup,” and its construction marks part of an ongoing effort by the university to align higher education more closely with the business world. YorkU’s Lassonde School of Engineering Dean Janusz Kozinski notes that officials from other schools in Southwestern Ontario have already visited the centre to learn more about its architectural and institutional benefits. Globe and Mail

uRegina president makes personal appeal in launch of new safe campus campaign

After revealing that her daughter was a victim of sexual assault at a university, University of Regina President Vianne Timmons last week announced a new initiative designed to ensure safety at her institution. The UR Safe project will seek to build on the university’s 2015 adoption of a formal policy to prevent and address sexual assault on campus. During the announcement, Timmons also stated that she believes “very few” sexual assaults are reported and that current statistics on the issue are not reliable. The UR Safe project will reportedly begin on September 19, 2016 with a comprehensive survey to gather evidence on the frequency and nature of sexual violence at the school. CBC

UManitoba students hit with “extortive” copyright infringement letters

Thousands of students at the University of Manitoba have reportedly received “extortive” copyright infringement letters that the school is warning students not to respond to. “It's a tad frustrating when we see some of the messages that have content that really borders on extortion,” commented Joel Guénette, UManitoba's copyright strategy manager. The article explains that the copyright infringement notice system is intended to discourage piracy rather than make money, but adds that some anti-piracy companies have been contacting suspected pirates to ask them to pay a settlement fee. Guénette points out that some students who have paid the settlement fees continue to receive threatening letters. CBC

Algonquin, Nipissing sign agreement to support Indigenous students

Algonquin College and Nipissing University have signed a letter of intent supporting new opportunities for Indigenous students at both schools. An Algonquin release states that the agreement will commit the schools to create new diploma-degree pathways with a focus on students from business, health, public safety and community studies, applied research and innovation, and entrepreneurship. “Algonquin College is committed to offering our many Indigenous students a cutting-edge student experience that will provide them with innovative pathways and opportunities for success,” said Algonquin President Cheryl Jensen. “We are very excited to be working with our partners at Algonquin College to build a better, stronger Ontario and Canada by offering exceptional educational opportunities tailored to the specific needs of Indigenous students,” added Nipissing President Mike DeGagné. Algonquin

Does having a backup plan undermine your tenure-track dreams?

“Should the postdocs and grad students I advise only focus on academe and not have backup career plans?” asks Natalie Lundsteen for Inside Higher Ed. The author cites research suggesting that having a backup plan can rob students of the motivation required to achieve an improbable or difficult goal, yet Lundsteen also argues that it is essential to remain aware of potential obstacles on the road to a goal, and to have plans ready for addressing those obstacles. Ultimately, concludes Lundsteen, “it is foolish for Ph.D.s to be single-minded about a career path.” Inside Higher Ed

McGill stands by decision to offer training on active shooter scenario

McGill University is standing by its decision to train faculty, staff, and students on what to do if an active shooter is on campus, reports CBC. The university has reportedly received both criticism and support for the decision to release a 12-minute video, in collaboration with the University of Alberta, that suggests steps people should take to protect themselves from an armed gunman. The video is reportedly being screened at at a time when Dawson College is marking the tenth anniversary of a shooting that killed one of its students and wounded 19 others. Dawson’s Head of Communications Donna Varrica tells CBC that the college will likely not screen the video, as the school “thought it was important to not create a climate of fear.” CBC

“This is the worst example of rape culture I've ever seen”: UQO investigates unsanctioned campus event

The Université du Québec en Outaouais has launched an investigation into an unsanctioned campus event that rewarded students for performing tasks associated with “promoting a culture that enables sexual assaults,” reports CBC. Criticism of the event first became public when students posted the list of tasks on social media. “I think the response from everybody was they were furious,” said Valerie La France, president of the university’s women’s committee. “This is the worst example of rape culture I've ever seen. It's the most vulgar one, too.” UQO President Denis Harrisson condemned the event as being contrary to the school’s values and code of conduct. Three student leaders at UQO have reportedly stepped down in the wake of the event. CBC | Ottawa Citizen

Bystander effect, initiative fatigue impede efforts to improve student outcomes

A survey of 218 high-ranking administrators in the US has identified how initiative fatigue and the bystander effect impede US colleges when it comes to improving student outcomes. Carl Straumsheim of Inside Higher Ed discusses how policies that make everyone responsible for improving student outcomes can ultimately prevent anyone from taking responsibility for them. The article further identifies a main obstacle in the form of initiative fatigue—the feeling that there are too many pilots and projects being undertaken to properly focus on any specific one. “Higher education is drowning in initiatives right now,” states report contributor Gunnar Counselman. “They’ve recognized that they’re going to have to change, and as a result of that … they’ve put a dozen initiatives in the water.” Inside Higher Ed

Federal, NB governments invest more than $13M in NBCC, CCNB, uMoncton

The provincial and federal governments are investing more than $13M for infrastructure improvements at New Brunswick Community College, Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick, and the Université de Moncton. Provincial releases state that the funds will be devoted specifically to NBCC’s Miramachi campus, CCNB's Shippagan campus, and the Shippagan campus of uMoncton. The Miramachi campus will reportedly receive $2.32M, while the Shippagan-based campuses of CCNB and uMoncton will receive more than $11M for the Irène-Léger pavilion, a space shared by both institutions that will include a communal cafeteria, offices for student services, and new space for classrooms, laboratories, and college offices. NB (Miramachi) | NB (Shippagan) | NBCC