Top Ten

December 9, 2016

Canada has become “a place of stability, of openness, of inclusiveness”: U of T president

Canada’s decision to welcome thousands of Syrian refugees “stands out as an important symbol” of the country’s “openness and eagerness to attract newcomers,” says University of Toronto President Meric Gertler in an interview with Times Higher Education. Gertler highlights a number of significant steps Canada has taken to be open compared to the isolationist tendencies of Brexit and the Donald Trump presidential campaign. These include Canada’s efforts to attract 450,000 international students by 2022, its amendments to its citizenship process for international students, and its increased investment in research and scientific infrastructure. “Canada has certainly emerged as a place of stability, of openness, of inclusiveness,” says Gertler. “I think we’re doing many things right now that will position us as a stark alternative to things that are happening in other countries, including the UK and the US.” Times Higher Education

One in four Ottawa Food Bank users have PSE

One out of every four people who use the Ottawa Food Bank have post-secondary education, according to a new report released by the organization. The types of credentials noted include university degrees, college diplomas, and trade accreditations. The new data, collected through a system implemented in 2015, shows that 41,540 people use the Ottawa Food Bank each month. “The sheer number itself is striking,” says Maidment. “What is more alarming is some trends that number uncovers. Hunger is not reserved for the homeless or those on social assistance. It is all around us and largely invisible. It could be someone you work with or your neighbour.” Ottawa Citizen

“It's not the Star Trek holodeck yet, but we're getting there”: GBC unveils new virtual centre

Students at George Brown College will have the chance to design buildings in a 3D virtual environment thanks to the school’s new Visionarium lab. The lab will be available to students of GBC’s Building Information Modeling program and allow them to participate in applied research projects related to building design. The space is currently being used "to capacity" by student and faculty researchers, says Clint Kissoon, chair of the Angelo DelZotto School of Construction Management at the college's Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies. Dave Paolini, manager of media and public relations Christie Digital Systems, says that the new facility’s virtual environment “is bigger and badder, able to handle more data and render it quickly and smoothly into 3-D images. ... It's not the Star Trek holodeck yet, but we're getting there.” Daily Commercial News

Brescia commits to multipronged policy, campus-wide education strategy for sexual violence

Brescia University College has adopted a multipronged approach to sexual violence that outlines the school’s response protocol and builds on a campus-wide education strategy launched in September 2016. A Brescia release states that one of the strategy’s core missions is to ensure that proper resources and supports are in place for those who experience sexual violence and for those who wish to support the survivor. “We know that one in three Canadian women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime,” says Brescia Principal Susan Mumm. “As Canada’s only women’s university, it is imperative for us to recognize this and to take proactive measures in ensuring the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors on campus.” The school has also launched an interactive website to support the policy. Brescia

The barriers faced by Syrian refugees in Canadian education​

Caroline Alphonso and Simona Chiose of the Globe and Mail highlight the difficulties faced by Syrian refugees at all levels of education in Canada in a series of articles, and discuss ways to help them overcome these barriers. Chiose highlights the experiences of university and college students who have arrived from Syria, and the barriers faced by both these students and the organizations that work to help them. Michelle Manks, senior manager of the student-refugee program at the World University Service of Canada notes that “[we] would like institutions that work with us already to look at increasing the numbers to the same levels they increased them last year.” Manks also discusses the popularity of of shorter college programs that enable refugees to join the labour force more quickly than a 4 year program. Globe and Mail

CAUT threatens to censure Niagara over its Saudi campuses

The Canadian Association of University Teachers says that it will censure Niagara College if the institution does not address alleged discrimination and academic freedom issues at its campuses and programs in Saudi Arabia. Delegates at the CAUT Council meeting held on November 26 unanimously passed a motion stipulating that unless the group’s concerns about discrimination and a lack of academic freedom at the Saudi campuses are satisfactorily resolved, censure will be imposed at the group’s Spring 2017 meeting. Imposing such a censure would ask CAUT’s members and the international academic community to decline appointments at the censured institution, invitations to speak or participate in academic conferences there, and any distinctions or honours that may be offered by that institution. CAUT

Idea of students wanting protection from uncomfortable ideas is exaggerated: IHE contributor

“The current public assumption that safe spaces and trigger warnings conflict with academic freedom and are the result of political correctness gone mad is a false dichotomy,” writes José Antonio Bowen. The author notes that the anonymity of social media has increased people’s tendency toward polarized arguments without making them any more at ease with difficult conversations. Rather, the author argues that new technologies make it easier for students to avoid direct conflict, and therein opportunities to learn. Yet having students learn to live with discomfort does not mean bluntly confronting them and forcing them to adapt, the author suggests, but requires providing a space in which students feel safe enough to experience discomfort. “The news media has greatly exaggerated the very few students who want ‘protection’ from ideas they find uncomfortable,” the author adds, concluding with a list of clear steps that institutions can take to help students develop a higher tolerance for discomfort and ambiguity. Inside Higher Ed

Women are “storming the ivory towers” in Canada, writes Huffington Post contributor

The rising proportion of women in Canadian universities will “make gender parity a reality in the next 10 years,” writes Bob Ramsay for the Huffington Post. The author argues that in Canada today, there are almost three women for every two men on university campuses, with some campuses having student cohorts made up of 75% women. Ramsay also cites specific programs, stating that three out of five of today’s medical school graduates are women, as are 53% of law school grads. The author also applauds the efforts of schools to pursue gender parity in programs traditionally dominated by men. He notes that the social benefits of these statistics have yet to be seen in many areas, admitting to the absence of women on many public companies’ boards and a general wage gap. Yet Ramsay ends on a note of optimism, writing: “[do] big numbers translate into real power? When it comes to gender parity no, not yet. But I'm confident [they] will.” Huffington Post

“It’s the little college that could”: Lambton celebrates major step forward in applied research

Lambton College is poised to give its students even more opportunities for applied research with industry partners thanks to $6.3M in new funding for its Bio-Industrial Process Research Centre and the Lambton Energy Research Centre. The funding will be used to buy advanced equipment for applied research, allowing. “Lambton College has distinguished itself as a leader in applied research and development,” said Sandy Marshall, chairperson of the college's board of governors. “It's the little college that could. When I think about what we've accomplished over the last 10 years, moving from a very small research program to what we're doing today, it is quite remarkable and very impressive.” Lambton was recently ranked first for college-based applied research in Ontario, and third in Canada. The Observer | Lambton

Seneca receives CPA accreditation

Seneca College has issued a release stating that it is the first college in Canada to receive accreditation from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario under the CPA National Recognition and Accreditation Standards for Post-Secondary Institutions. CPA Accreditation allows successful graduates of Seneca’s Professional Accountancy program who have completed Seneca’s Bachelor of Commerce - International Accounting and Finance, Accounting Stream to complete requirements of the CPA Professional Education Program in four months of full-time study and enter with advanced standing into the CPA PEP Capstone 1 and 2 modules. Upon successful completion of these modules, students will be eligible to write the Common Final Examination. “CPA accreditation by CPA Ontario means that students who are enrolled in Seneca’s accounting degree will have a direct route to achieving their Chartered Professional Accountant designation,” said Karen Murkar, Chair of Seneca's School of Accounting and Financial Services. Seneca