Top Ten

December 16, 2016

BC might lose billions over skilled labour shortage, says report

British Columbia could lose up to $7.9B in GDP annually because it does not have the skilled labour to replace its aging workforce, according to a new report by the Conference Board of Canada. The report notes that the proportion of jobs in BC held by people with PSE is expected to rise from 70% to 77% by 2025, and senior researcher Matthew McKean says that the province’s postsecondary system faces a difficult task in educating enough students to keep up with this growth. A key area for addressing the issue, he argues, is for schools to put more effort into attracting groups that are underrepresented in PSE, such as Indigenous students, students with disabilities, and students from lower economic backgrounds. McKean adds that another place for improvement is better channels for employers to communicate what they need from new graduates. CBC | Report

QC adds $80M to student financial aid system

Quebec has announced that it will inject an additional $80M into its student loan and scholarship system, reports La Presse. The funds were made possible by a $300M annual bonus awarded by the federal government, which was financed by the abolition of tax credits for tuition and textbooks. Student associations in Quebec had expressed concern that the province might not pass the $80M on to students, yet QC Higher Education Minister Hélène David assuaged these fears by choosing to announce the new student funding jointly with the Union étudiante du Québec and the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec. La Presse reports that the new funding will eliminate the current practice of treating child support as income in the calculation of student assistance, along with a general revision of the allowable expenses for students receiving support. La Presse

Lecturing ineffective in helping students develop problem-solving skills: UBCO study

Traditional university lectures are likely to be ineffective in helping postsecondary students develop problem-solving skills, according to a recent study by researchers at UBC’s Okanagan campus. The researchers developed a testing system to measure the problem-solving abilities of students in various stages of their undergraduate degrees, with data showing that while freshman students’ skills increased nearly 10% in their first semester, those in a majority of disciplines experienced almost no improvement in the semesters that followed. “As problem-solving is becoming an increasingly sought-after skill, it is likely post-secondary institutions will need to adapt their teaching styles to ensure students are able to better participate in a skill-based economy,” says Heather Hurren, manager of academic development at UBC’s Centre for Teaching and Learning in Kelowna. UBCO

UK considers cutting number of student visas in half

University leaders in the United Kingdom have expressed concern over reports that the country’s Home Office is considering a reduction in the number of student visas granted from 300,000 to 170,000, reports The Guardian. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has reportedly pledged to crack down on international student numbers and to introduce tougher visa rules for “lower quality” universities and courses. But senior university sources are warning that the cutbacks could be far more severe than expected. Cardiff University President Colin Riordan has argued that the plan will not address the UK’s immigration goals, noting that “it doesn’t address people’s concerns about immigration. The problems people are seeing on the ground are certainly not caused by international university students or staff.” The Guardian

U of T to co-host “guerrilla archiving event” to protect climate data from impending Trump presidency

This Saturday, the University of Toronto and the University of Pennsylvania are set to co-host a “guerrilla archiving event” to preserve and protect climate data from an impending Trump presidency in the US. “Access to government information is so important,” says Sam-Chin Li, a government information librarian at the University of Toronto who will be giving advice and direction for the event. “It's really a foundation for a function of democracy. And we're seeing all those things disappearing in front of our eyes, so how can we stand there not working?" Li adds that the threat of governments deleting information and evidence is not unfounded, as she was involved in archiving many Canada government websites whose information could have been lost under federal order in 2013. CBC

UWinnipeg deepens energy collaboration with Norway

A team from the University of Winnipeg has visited Norway in recent weeks in an effort to strengthen energy research and sustainability initiatives with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Funded by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education, the program includes the development of a comparative course focused on Sustainable energy and is set to open for Canadian and Norwegian undergraduate and master’s students in May 2017. A field school that will be based in Churchill, Manitoba in 2018 also plans to include students from both NTNU and UWinnipeg, and aims to provide more cross-cultural opportunities for hands-on learning. NationTalk | UWinnipeg

Small US colleges struggle to meet enrolment targets

“Everything depends on those two numbers” of enrollment and tuition revenue, write Eric Hoover and Sara Lipka for the Chronicle of Higher Education. “They hover over cabinet meetings, they keep presidents up at night.” The authors discuss how small US colleges in particular are responding to declining numbers of high school graduates. Drawing on a survey of small colleges and midsize public universities in the US, the authors note that in the latest admissions cycle, two-thirds of private colleges and more than half of public institutions missed either their enrolment or tuition revenue goal. Another concerning trend, the authors note, is the increasing amount of money institutions are paying to attract each new student. One Senior VP of Enrolment argues that schools need to set more realistic forecasts and goals when it comes to enrolment, noting that “some forecasts are built on hope and not necessarily on reality.” Chronicle (Subscription Required)

UAlberta, AB partner on long-term agricultural research

The University of Alberta has partnered with the Alberta government to perform ongoing agricultural research at two ranches formerly operated by the federal government. Since 2013, the Onefour and Stavely research ranches have been operated by AB, and the new partnership aims to maintain the continuity of research with UAlberta at the helm. The ranches will reportedly continue to maintain rangeland and native grassland, and providing space for wildlife habitats and grazing. “The opportunity cost of losing access to these sites necessitates that we have a more long-term agreement,” said Edward Bork, director of the Rangeland Research Institute at UAlberta, adding that the research performed at the ranches could provide a major boon to producers and Albertans. Edmonton Journal

Yukon launches new programs in Climate Change Policy, Bilingual Customer Service

Yukon College has launched its new post-degree certificate program in Climate Change Policy. The program is a one-year, part-time program that features a two-week field school and is, aside from the field school session, offered entirely online. “Interest has been very high since this new program was announced,” noted program coordinator and instructor Katrine Frese. The program will begin in September 2017. Yukon has also partnered with the Association franco-yukonnaise to offer a 13-week Bilingual Customer Service program that will allow French speakers to train for front-line roles in tourism and other service industries in the Yukon. This program will begin in January 2017. Yukon (Climate Change Policy) | Yukon (Bilingual Customer Service)

UQO LTRC announces launch of Cilex

The Language Technologies Research Centre at the Université du Québec en Outaouais has announced that it is launching Cilex, a non-profit organization that will accompany startups and SMEs in their development process. A release from UQO notes that the decision to launch Cilex stems from an expansion in LTRC’s mandate to include technological innovation that began in 2014. UQO Rector Denis Harrisson explained that Cilex was a concrete example of interdisciplinary research projects that have valuable benefits for both the academic and general community. UQO