Top Ten

January 4, 2017

Chinese billionaire donates $320M to create educational development prize

Canadian universities are being encouraged to submit nominations to an annual prize for educational development that has been created and personally funded by Chinese billionaire Charles Chen Yidan to the tune of $320M US. “We definitely are seeking among [Canadian universities] the best cases because Canada is a big country in terms of education. You have huge experience,” said Yidan, who emphasized the two countries’ capacity to learn from one another. “Canada in terms of education is quite successful, their educational model is well known and attracts lots of Chinese students and also students from Asian countries.” The Yidan Prize Foundation will award two prizes for educational research and development, each valued at approximately $5M, with the first prizes to be awarded next September. Globe and Mail

Applications to Canadian universities spike in wake of Trump’s election

The surge in website traffic and enrolment inquiries that occurred at Canadian universities following the election of Donald Trump in November 2016 is now translating into applications, according to the Associated Press. Applications to the University of Toronto from American students have reportedly jumped 70% compared to this time last year, while several other Canadian schools have seen increases of 20% or more. The AP also reports that US applications to McMaster University are up 34% since this time last year. Officials at some US colleges tell the AP that the election will undoubtedly affect their international enrolment patterns. “I think everybody in international education is a little uneasy, in part because some of the rhetoric in the campaign frightened people overseas,” said Stephen Dunnett, vice provost for international education at the University at Buffalo. “It's going to be perhaps a little bit rocky for a couple of years. AP

Camosun aims to become “College of the Coast”

Camosun College has launched its Coastal Skills Initiative in order to better address the unique needs of coastal communities and industries. A college release states that the initiative will contribute to the growth of BC’s unique coastal communities and the career opportunities associated with them. The Coastal Skills Initiative will educate people in their specific trade and then provide educational “add-ons” that will allow graduates to attain the skills and knowledge needed for the marine industry. Examples of target industries include marine electrical certification, sheet metal work and pipefitting for shipbuilding, construction work related to marine infrastructure in remote coastal communities, and the training of ship’s crews and officers. Camosun

ULethbridge president reflects on 2016 challenges, successes

The president of the University of Lethbridge says that despite the challenges involved, he is encouraged by the way his school responded to the growth it experienced in 2016. “I’m pleased with where we’re leaving 2016,” said ULethbridge President Mike Mahon. “At the same time, it’s been tumultuous with budget challenges, and various other challenges other universities face at various points in their evolution.” Among the challenges faced was a loss of parking spaces due to new construction initiatives involved with the school’s $260M Destination Project. Yet Mahon pointed out that more parking is not always consistent with institutional goals for sustainability. “The solution to parking is not always building more parking lots,” said Mahon. “It’s hard for me to think we should just keep building more parking lots if we have a theme around sustainability.” Lethbridge Herald

UK researchers call for universities to teach students how to navigate fake news

Universities need to take an active role in teaching students how to identify, avoid, and critique fake news and media manipulation on social media, according to UK researchers. Philip Seargeant and Caroline Tagg of the Open University and Amy Brown of the University of Nottingham Ningbo argue that institutions should teach students “critical digital literacy” in order to fight back against the problems created by the fake news that is often spread on Facebook and other social media sites. “Whatever subject you’re doing, you’re going to be learning how to process information, how to communicate that information, how to craft arguments, and that involves a lot of these issues,” says Seargeant. “The implications are wider within the whole ‘fake news’ discussion—Facebook now [has] such a central part in people’s lives generally but also in the way news and opinions get circulated.” Times Higher Education

University degree “no longer a golden ticket,” writes CBC contributor

“When I was little, my father told me all I needed to be successful was to earn a university degree,” writes Jo Davies for the CBC, yet the author notes that this is no longer the case. For this reason, the author encourages readers to set clear goals for what they or their children expect to gain from a university education. Without such goals, Davies warns, students will graduate from school with little more than a “nice piece of paper, a lot of debt and no guarantee of a job.” “The only way to ‘write your own ticket’ nowadays is to take a long, hard look at your skills and interests and be as clear as possible about what your goals are in terms of a career,” the author concludes. “University is an option, but only one of many, and it's certainly not for everybody.” CBC

US community colleges, universities find new ways to support transfer students

Across the United States, “community colleges and universities are teaming up to improve the dismal rates of bachelor’s-degree completion for community-college students who aim to get BAs,” writes Ben Gose for the Chronicle of Higher Education. The author notes that by working together, community colleges and universities can remove institutional roadblocks and help students obtain a university degree at a pace that fits their needs. One effective strategy the schools are using is hosting university courses at community college campuses, writes Gose. Others include encouraging collaboration between university and community-college faculty members, guaranteeing admission to a four-year university when a student enters a community college, and automatically signing students up for coordinated course advising by both the community college and the university. Chronicle (Subscription Required)

SFU criminology students make headlines with anti-extremism campaign

A group of criminology students at Simon Fraser University has created a campaign designed to combat extremism. The Province reports that this campaign has taken on additional significance since the election of Donald Trump in the United States, with the Southern Poverty Law Centre documenting more than 1,000 racially motivated attacks since the election. The campaign, called Voices Against Extremism, is composed of several parts, including an online video outlining the history of extremism and how people become radicalized. The campaign also includes a series of interviews focusing on community members' experiences. “We go out, we look for community members … and we ask for their story, their own narrative about what it means to be Canadian for them and what it means to be part of a community,” says campaign co-creator Nathaniel Lam. The Province

Four key pieces of advice when pursuing an administrative role

“Almost any administrative position in higher education today [...] comes with a heavy workload and a lot of stress,” writes David Perlmutter in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “It’s sink or swim: We learn by doing (or not doing) and surviving (or drowning).” With this in mind, Perlmutter provides advice to those considering pursuing an administrative role, including conducting a realistic self-assessment of one’s skills, preparing psychologically for the demands of the role, and ensuring that one could create a work-life balance that their family would support. Further, Perlmutter cautions would-be administrators to consider their own motivations in pursuing an administrative role, stating that the role will not be rewarding to those interested in public recognition and gratitude. Chronicle

More Edmonton PSE students to benefit from unlimited transportation access

A growing number of postsecondary students in Edmonton have gained unlimited access to the city’s transportation system beginning on January 1, 2017. The Universal Transit Pass (U-Pass) will now extend to Fort Saskatchewan, Spruce Grove, and Leduc in addition to its existing service areas of Edmonton, Strathcona County, and St Albert. The U-Pass program is currently available to students at MacEwan University, the University of Alberta, NAIT, and NorQuest College, costing each students $170 per term as part of their tuition fees. iNews880 | CTV News