Top Ten

November 16, 2016

AB postsecondary institutions facing millions in deferred maintenance costs

Alberta postsecondary institutions are struggling with hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of deferred maintenance, reports the Calgary Herald. The University of Alberta reportedly has $800M in deferred maintenance costs, while the University of Calgary has $490M. The Calgary Herald points to a number of issues contributing to the problem, including insufficient government funding and the age of existing buildings. “The bad part is we are 50 years old,” commented Boris Dragicevic, UCalgary associate vice-president of facilities and development, “and a lot of the buildings when we were first established are starting to hit those critical dates and times where there needs to be significant investment in them to carry them over for another 50 years.” Calgary Herald | Edmonton Journal

UManitoba faculty reject short-term offer from university

The University of Manitoba has urged its striking faculty members to agree to a short-term contract that would last until March 2017 and return students to class. Yet the school’s faculty association says that it considers the offer a “waste of time” and will not present it for voting among its members. “The semester, every day this goes on, is being adversely affected,” says UManitoba Vice-President of External Relations John Kearsey. “We can sign this collective agreement. There are only five months left. Get our students back in the classroom and let's keep this other discussion going.” Faculty association president Mark Hudson, however, says that “this is an offer that's a week old and our members have seen it. … All of the feedback we got from the membership on that was extremely negative.” CBC

NORTEP, SK government reach agreement on northern education, funding cuts remain

The Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) Council and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education have come to an agreement that will see the two parties work together to support continued access to university programs in La Ronge for northern students after NORTEP ends. NORTEP will be holding consultations in order to provide recommendations to SK on offering teacher education and arts and sciences education after the program closes in July 2017. A government release states that changes to the delivery of the NORTEP and NORPAC programs “must be carefully considered to minimize impacts on current and future students.” SK | CBC

“Passport” program to help international students engage with off-campus Montreal

Several thousand international students will have newfound access to free cultural activities through a new “passport” program spurred by the city’s universities. The International Student MTL Passport program aims to encourage Montreal’s 28,000 international university students to enjoy the “cultural wealth of the city” by distributing maps and providing the students with free access sites such as the Biodôme, the Botanical Garden, the Insectarium, and the Planetarium. They will also be offered credits to participate in a number of other events at reduced cost. “We want to decompartmentalize the students, get them out of their campuses,” said Nadine Gelly, general manager of the cultural promotion organization La Vitrine, which helped launch the project. Journal de Montréal

Growing list of Canadian literary figures call for inquiry in UBC Galloway dismissal

More than 60 literary figures from across Canada have signed an open letter to the University of British Columbia demanding an inquiry into the school’s dismissal of author and instructor Steven Galloway. “The University’s conduct in this matter is of great concern,” says the letter, which calls on UBC to launch an independent investigation. “There is growing evidence that the University acted irresponsibility in Professor Galloway’s case,” the letter adds. “Because the case has received a great deal of public attention, the situation requires public clarification.” The letter’s signatories include authors Joseph Boyden, Margaret Atwood, and Michael Ondaatje. Globe and Mail

PhD grads need to show employers they are “career ready,” writes IHE contributor

“Employers value candidates who have developed career readiness competencies throughout their diverse academic experiences,” writes Joseph Barber for Inside Higher Ed, who adds that graduate students and postdocs should be especially mindful of how to demonstrate their transferrable skills. Barber outlines four core skills that students need to showcase in order to impress employers and offers tips on how students should demonstrate them. These skills are teamwork and collaboration, leadership and project management, professionalism and work ethic, and career management. Barber concludes by recommending patience, noting that acquiring and demonstrating transferrable skills “won’t happen in a week or a month.” He adds, however, that “by working with career advisers, mentors, supervisors and your peers, you can continue to develop as a professional over time.” Inside Higher Ed

When politicians lose faith in the humanities

“In the last decade or so, governments have been edging away from philosophy and all the other subjects that we cluster under the term ‘humanities,’” writes Robert Fulford for the National Post. The author argues that while an English literature department would have been considered the core of a university only one or two generations ago, current governments are far more likely to subsidize science, math, engineering, and other courses that are supposed to promise better job prospects and do more to stimulate the economy. Today, writes Fulford, “universities have become a site for a bitter struggle between no-nonsense job training and the grander possibilities of the imagination.” Part of this struggle, he notes, is the widespread unwillingness to recognize that “citizens cannot relate well to the world around them by factual knowledge and logic alone.” National Post

Algonquin takes page out of Google’s book with campus nap pods

The students’ association at Algonquin College has installed two new sleeping pods in a silent study area located in the student commons. Annie Thomlinson, manager of marketing and communications for the Algonquin Students' Association, notes that part of the inspiration for the pods was the recognition that many students have to wait several hours between classes and can benefit from using some of this time to rest. “One of the main concerns the students had is that they didn't have anywhere to nap on campus,” she said. “They were looking for somewhere where they could just close their eyes and rest… so they didn't have to go all the way home to have a nap.” The students' association has also introduced six new recliners in a different silent study area to give students another place to catch up on their sleep. Thomlinson said the student group will wait to see “how popular” the pods are before it makes a decision on purchasing more. CBC

Ryerson to boost not-for-profit training with gift from Scotiabank

Ryerson University has received $325K from Scotiabank to boost student engagement and training in the not-for-profit sector. The funds will help students from Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management participate in internships with not-for-profit organizations and thereby encourage more students to pursue careers in this sector. “Scotiabank has been a generous and forward-thinking partner with Ryerson University for many years,” says Ryerson President Mohamed Lachemi. “With this gift, they further our work to engage and build community, and they provide real-world opportunities for students to bring to life the university’s mission to serve society’s needs. We are truly grateful for their investment to make a positive difference for tomorrow.” Ryerson

How academics can succeed by offering non-academic online courses

“You are a highly trained, skilled professional, but the academic job market is less than rosy,” writes  Kirsten Drickey for Inside Higher Ed, which is why academics should look at the opportunities available in offering online, nonacademic courses. The author notes that the market for such courses is “large and growing,” especially for “academic entrepreneurs” who are willing to retrofit some of their existing courses for a broader public audience. To this end, the author offers four tips for succeeding in the world of online, non-academic course offerings: identify your target market, differentiate yourself, work out the logistics of teaching your course, and decide on effective pricing. “These steps aren’t necessarily quick and easy,” the author concludes, “but they’re very doable for people with prior teaching experience and subject matter knowledge. It requires reimagining your courses—and maybe yourself.” Inside Higher Ed