Top Ten

September 16, 2016

Canada needs better ways to measure PSE institutions' performance, say Globe contributors

Current debates around higher education do not offer “much evidence about how Canada’s postsecondary institutions are doing,” write Ken Coates and Douglas Auld for the Globe and Mail. The authors acknowledge that institutions and governments devote a lot of resources to evaluate the activities of PSE institutions, but add that these efforts “do not always measure the right things, and they can create perverse incentives for administrators.” Coates and Auld explore some of the areas where policies around PSE assessment have created such incentives and how they might be improved to benefit higher ed as a whole. Globe and Mail

MTA receives $10.25M investment for environmental research complex, infrastructure upgrades

Mount Allison University has received a combined $10.25M from the federal and New Brunswick governments to pursue a number of key infrastructure upgrades. A federal release notes that among the upgrades will be the creation of a new world-class environmental innovation and research complex. The university will also use the funds to renovate two of its aging facilities and upgrade its athletic field. “Mount Allison has a proud tradition of offering students a high‑quality, hands‑on educational and research experience, and investments like these help make that possible,” said MTA President Robert Campbell. Canada

Universities and the duty of care toward scholars, students detained abroad

“The question of how exactly administrators and academics should respond in the event that one of their own is detained abroad is a vexing issue,” writes Carl Meyer for University Affairs. The author highlights the current cases of Concordia University Professor Homa Hoodfar and University of Toronto undergraduate student Tahmid Khan, who have been detained by Iranian and Bangladeshi authorities, respectively. The author explores the duty of care owed by universities to academics detained abroad, as well as current discussions around how schools might better respond to such situations. University Affairs

Overqualified workers often lacking in basic literacy, numeracy skills: StatCan

While many of Canada’s workers are overqualified for their jobs, many of these same individuals lack basic reading, writing, and numeracy skills, according to a new report from Statistics Canada. The Globe and Mail reports that the study examined the relationship between overqualified workers and basic skills in literacy and numeracy. The study found that university graduates working in jobs that only required a high school diploma had both low literacy skills and trouble working with numbers. “It suggests that the numeracy and literacy skills make a difference,” says the study’s co-author Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté. “That is a massive finding.” Globe and Mail

Fleming to occupy new space for applied research at innovation incubator

Fleming College is set to boost its innovation and applied research capacity thanks to a new agreement with the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster’s new VentureNorth incubator project. The two groups have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see Fleming occupy 1,000 square feet for an Applied Project space to be used by business and technology students. “We know the actual nature of work is changing—with innovation, entrepreneurism and synergies amongst technology and business being keys for the future success of our students and our communities,” stated Maxine Mann, dean of Fleming's School of Business and the School of Trades and Technology. “This space recognizes this change and allows our students to gain the skills needed for this cultural shift.” Peterborough Examiner

It might be time to get rid of recommendation letters, says IHE contributor

“If we are seeking to have an unbiased system of student and employee selection, unencumbered by nepotism and personal favors, we should consider alternatives to the recommendation letter,” writes Marney White for Inside Higher Ed. Apart from the sheer labour intensiveness of writing recommendation letters for dozens of students every year, White questions whether recommendation letters can fairly and equitably convey an applicant’s merit in ways that do not appear on a CV. Ultimately, the author concludes that when it comes to recommendation letters, “either skip it altogether in favor of a phone call or perhaps only request letters from those applicants who are truly in the running.” Inside Higher Education

Students, employers want mix of university, college education

For many students, choosing a joint college/university program is preferable to having to pick one institution type, reports Toronto Star. The article states that at least 45 joint college/university programs are currently offered in Ontario, excluding those that confer a degree, but no diploma. “Students, employers and graduate schools want graduates who have applied skills as well as those traditional, university-level, critical-thinking skills that actually prepare a foundation for them in the future,” commented University of Guelph-Humber Vice Provost and CAO John Walsh. The article highlights the experiences of a number of students who are either currently enrolled in or recently graduated from various joint programs. Toronto Star

Canada looks to foster diversity by reinstating federal survey of university researchers

Canada has announced that it will reinstate a crucial national survey directed toward faculty members and researchers at the country’s universities. A federal release states that reinstating the University and College Academic Staff System survey will provide accurate and up-to-date information on the makeup of Canada’s university researchers. “Once we understand the face and composition of Canada's research community, then our government can begin the real work of collaborating with universities to help them recruit faculty that reflect Canada's diversity,” said Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan. Canada | CAUT

Boréal campus signs partnership to increase customized training opportunities

Collège Boréal’s Temiscaming campus has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Service de formation aux entreprises du Témiscamingue to offer joint training to businesses and individuals on both sides of the Ontario-Quebec border. A Boréal release states that the agreement will allow the two organizations to enhance their recruiting strategies by increasing the number of customized training opportunities they can offer. “Collège Boréal is proud to establish a partnership with this sister institution. Working in collaboration represents an innovative way to increase access to training and take full advantage of the many resources we both have to better serve our respective clients,” said Boréal President Daniel Giroux. Boréal

UWaterloo President joining global leaders for UN’s HeForShe University IMPACT Parity Report

University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur will be joining institutional leaders from nine other global universities at the United Nations General Assembly in revealing their institutions’ progress on gender parity. The HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 brings together 30 male heads of state, university leaders, and CEOs of global corporations to accelerate the achievement of the UN Women’s vision for a gender-equal world. The release states that Hamdullahpur will be reporting on UWaterloo’s commitments to gender equality, which include boosting female student participation in STEM outreach experiences and academic careers, enhancing female faculty representation, and attracting and advancing female leaders into senior academic and administrative university positions. UWaterloo