Top Ten

September 22, 2016

Undergrads in Maritimes take an average of 4.8 years to graduate, says MPHEC

University students in the Maritimes take on average 4.8 years to complete an undergraduate degree, according to new research by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. The research found that one of the main reasons students do not complete their degree in four years is a change of school or field of study, as only 16% of students affected by this factor finish in four years. The study found, however, that even for students who remain in the same school and program, only 64% finish in four years. New Brunswick Student Alliance Executive Director Robert Burroughs argues that these findings should result in a change in the province’s timely completion benefit. “Why have a timely completion benefit for four years if we know the average is five years … To reduce student debt, why would you not add that additional year on to the timely completion,” said Burroughs. CBC | MPHEC | NBSA

uManitoba receives $2M gift supporting Taché Arts Project

The University of Manitoba has received a $2M gift from philanthropists Gail Asper and Michael Paterson that will be used to support the performing arts community through the Taché Arts Project. In honour of the gift, uManitoba has named the theatre facilities within Taché Hall the Gail Asper Performing Arts Hall. “It is our hope that this facility will encourage students to embark on their own journey of self-discovery, and help enrich the arts and theatre community here on campus and throughout the province for years to come,” commented Asper. uManitoba

“Zero correlation” between teaching quality and ratings on student evaluations, says study

A new study has provided further evidence that “student evaluations of teaching are unreliable due to various kinds of biases against instructors,” writes Colleen Flaherty for Inside Higher Ed, yet institutions continue to consult these evaluations when making career-shaping decisions. Flaherty points to a number of studies suggesting that student evaluations of teaching have little to no connection with the amount of learning achieved, and cites new research showing that even “past analyses linking student achievement to high student teaching evaluation ratings are flawed, a mere ‘artifact of small sample sized studies and publication bias.’” Inside Higher Ed

Lakehead reportedly creates Canada’s first chair in Truth and Reconciliation

Lakehead University will seek to advance the cause of reconciliation through the creation of what it says is the first chair for truth and reconciliation in Canada. The university has named its former vice-provost of Aboriginal initiatives, Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, to the position. At a recent ceremony, Wesley-Esquimaux accepted the position by stating that “it’s time to lay down our anger and distrust and create the kind of relationship we can all be proud of.” In addition to advocating for healing in the Lakehead community and beyond, the role will see Wesley-Esquimaux serve as an ambassador for truth and reconciliation issues at the local, provincial, and national level. CBC | Lakehead

TRU to build new $30M trades centre

Thompson Rivers University will be building a new $30M Industrial Training and Technology Centre thanks to joint federal-provincial investment and gifts from donors. TRU states that the centre will be able to offer an additional 550 seats in a number of existing programs, as well as in a new power engineering diploma, a new HVAC/refrigeration technician program, and an industrial process technician and instrumentation engineering diploma. “The new centre will co-locate trades and science programs together to provide unique benefits supporting TRU’s contribution of relevant and applicable research to various industry sectors in Canada and provide rewarding careers for our students,” said TRU President Alan Shaver. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy in the fall of 2018. TRU | BC

QC Minister of Higher Education pledges that $80M federal transfer will go “into the pockets of students”

Quebec Minister of Higher Education Hélène David has stated that an $80M funding transfer from the federal government will go directly “into the pockets of students,” reports La Presse. Questions about the funds’ destiny arose earlier this month when student leaders began demanding an explanation regarding what the province planned to do with the $80M due to be freed up by the elimination of federal tax credits for textbooks and education in January 2017. David has said that the funds will go into QC’s education financial assistance program, although La Presse reports that the province has yet to release details on how the funds will specifically be apportioned. La Presse

Fanshawe opens Canadian Centre for Product Validation

Fanshawe College has officially opened the Canadian Centre for Product Validation, a facility that Fanshawe says is one of the only centres of its kind in Canada. Constructed for a budget of $16.2M, the 25,000-square-foot centre is home to a wide array of validation technologies and equipment that will allow the school to perform not only product validation, but also marketing and benchmarking studies, the creation of proprietary test protocols, and the analysis of critical interfaces within a product. “By helping companies ramp up their productivity, the Centre will support government efforts to stimulate the economy and bring much-needed prosperity to our region and country,” said Fanshawe President Peter Devlin. Fanshawe

uWaterloo professor receives $3M in industry funding to create greener battery

A University of Waterloo professor has received $3M from Vancouver’s Newtech Power Inc to co-develop a greener, cheaper, and more efficient battery. Zhongwei Chen, Canada Research Chair in Advanced Materials for Clean Energy and a professor in uWaterloo’s Department of Chemical Engineering, will use the funding to help create a next-generation lithium-ion rechargeable battery that “could be on the market within three or four years,” according to uWaterloo. “A silicon-based lithium-ion battery could make dramatic improvements in powering hybrid and electric vehicles,” said Chen. “Demand is high for a next-generation battery and the potential market is huge.” uWaterloo

Georgian opens new centre for international students

Georgian College has taken a step forward in achieving international student satisfaction through the opening of its Segal International Centre. The college states that the new centre was made possible through a $400K donation from insurance, whose president and founder Keith Segal will be the centre’s namesake. The new centre reportedly features a multi-media screen, computer stations, and a lounge for domestic and international students to interact. The centre will also provide orientation activities and important information sessions on visas and cross-cultural communication. “This centre will help foster a sense of community, connectedness and collaboration, and will ensure [students] are fully immersed in Georgian life,” says Georgian President MaryLynn West-Moynes. Barrie Examiner | Georgian

“A university needs to be more than Kickstarter U,” says TVO contributor

“In place of critical thinking as way to reflect on our place in the world, we are creating institutions that teach critical thinking as marketing and philosophy as personal branding,” writes Paul Barrett for TVO. The author reflects on thirteen large-scale projects that received funding from the Canadian First Research Excellence Fund in 2016, none of which contained the humanities as part of its knowledge base or approach. Barrett notes that this shows a change in the university's mission from being a place of thought and reflection to a place focused on securing grant funding and having measurable impact. “There is nothing necessarily wrong with these things,” concludes Barrett, “but a university needs to be more than Kickstarter U. When the language of impact and market application is used to justify a university’s existence, we have lost a major part of what it means to be a student and a scholar.” TVO