Top Ten

January 6, 2017

Maritime institutions consider changes to reference letter requirements

Some Maritime PSE institutions say they are reconsidering their reference letter requirements for scholarship and program applications due to the ongoing job action of Nova Scotia teachers, reports CBC. The Nova Scotia Teachers Union has reportedly advised its members not to write reference letters for graduating students as part of the group's work-to-rule campaign. The move has led Mount Saint Vincent University to call a mid-January meeting to discuss whether it should still require applicants for its President’s Scholarship to submit a reference letter from a teacher, principal, vice-principal, or guidance counsellor. Acadia University’s scholarship committee will also meet to discuss the school's policy of asking for two letters of reference from all students hoping to qualify for entrance scholarships. Nova Scotia Community College and Mount Allison University have also made exceptions to reference letter requirements to help address the current situation. CBC

ON nursing students to get unlimited tries for provincial licensing exam

Nursing students in Ontario will no longer need to pass the provincial licensing exam for registered nurses in Ontario within three tries, as the NCLEX-RN exam will soon allow for unlimited attempts. CBC reports that nursing students were particularly concerned about the exam, due to the fact that not all of the content was based on Canadian practices. The failure rates for the exam were reportedly much higher than those of the previous Canadian test. The Ontario College of Nurses has already reported that it will still limit other exams to three attempts in an effort to mitigate concerns about prospective nurses memorizing the exam. The change will take effect January 9th, 2016. CBC

HEC Montréal’s French identity remains strong, says school director

HEC Montréal’s French identity has never been stronger, says school director Michel Patry. The comment comes in response to concerns that have been recently voiced by professors about the school’s allegedly growing use of English. “First of all I want to point out you are required, and you need, to master French to come to HEC,” Patry told the Montreal Gazette. “The idea is to better equip the French speaking students who come to HEC, to help them deal globally, internationally. Quebec is a small, open economy. If you want to grow your business … you’ll have to deal with Canada and with the United States.” Patry acknowledged the concerns raised by professors, but added that the decision to introduce more bilingual courses into the school's curriculum was made after substantial consultation with faculty. Montreal Gazette

UAlberta to require med school applicants to have an undergraduate degree

Starting in 2018, the University of Alberta will require applicants to its medical school to have an undergraduate degree, reports Metro. Students can currently apply after only two or three years of undergraduate study if their GPAs are high enough. According to Sita Gourishankar, assistant dean (admissions) of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at UAlberta, the school is adding the requirement in order to attract students who are more broadly prepared for medical school. Medical students themselves are reportedly divided on the new policy, however, with some saying it will add an unintended barrier for some students who wish to pursue transfer degrees or co-op placements. Yet Gourishankar argues that these students are in the minority, adding that 75% of students admitted to medicine have an undergraduate degree and 90% have four or more years of undergraduate study. Metro

How to address student grade challenges before they happen

Instructors can help address grade challenges by students before they happen if they follow a few basic steps, writes David Gooblar for Chronicle Vitae. The first step, the author argues, is to be as clear as possible about your expectations and grading policies in your syllabi. The second is to clarify your grading policies throughout a semester, giving a breakdown of grading criteria at the beginning of each new assignment. The author adds that it is also crucial to create space for the appropriate discussion of grades, explain your reasoning for particular grades, and stand your ground while remaining patient with students who challenge their grades. Chronicle Vitae

BCIT program supports fast-tracked admissions by recognizing prior learning

The British Columbia Institute of Technology is aiming to provide new opportunities to experienced workers by recognizing and rewarding their prior learning. The school’s Advanced Placement and Prior Learning program assesses the education and work experience of individuals who are employed in a select number of organizations with rigid training programs, such as the Canadian Armed Forces. If the individuals have worked for an approved organization, they can be fast-tracked into one of BCIT’s accredited postsecondary programs. “Our society is full of people who don’t realize they have picked up a lot of intangible skills along the way,” says BCIT faculty member Kevin Wainwright, who developed the program. “It’s a huge social issue. [We] have to find a way to formally recognize the skills people already have developed, allowing them to take on leadership roles.” BCIT

uMoncton Faculty of Law enters into agreement to help Francophones outside QC

The Faculty of Law at Université de Moncton has entered into agreements with Société Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin, the Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia, and the Université Sainte-Anne, in order to better respond to the legal training needs of Francophones outside of Quebec. Dean Fernand de Varennes states that the agreement will help the faculty better fulfill its mandate to provide comprehensive, quality training in common law in French to Francophones and Acadians in minority settings. The dean further notes that the agreement will help create facilitated and accelerated admissions to law school for students from certain programs at Université Sainte-Anne. uMoncton

Trend in university initiatives to train more Indigenous doctors “encouraging”

While the Royal Commission’s call for 10,000 Indigenous people to be trained for the healthcare field between 1996 and 2006 has still reportedly not been met, the results of programs from schools such as the University of British Columbia show “an encouraging trend,” according to the Globe and Mail. The article discusses a number of initiatives launched by universities across the country to meet the call to action to increase the number of Indigenous doctors in Canada, with a particular focus on UBC’s Aboriginal Admissions MD program. The author goes on to discuss the successes and barriers faced by these initiatives. Globe and Mail (Subscription Required)

Sheridan to open new Mississauga campus expansion

Sheridan College will officially open the $67M addition to its Hazel McCallion campus in Mississauga next week. The 220,000-square-foot building was initially slated to open for the Fall 2016 semester, but postponed until this month due to a construction delay. Affected students who remained in their programs of study by the tenth day of fall classes were offered a $500 bursary for the inconvenience, according to Sheridan spokesperson Susan Atkinson, who added that bursaries were ultimately given to 1,225 students for a total expense of $612,500. Atkinson notes that that student enrolment for the new building will be 1,300 when the space opens. The five-storey facility will eventually be able to accommodate 3,200 students and contain 29 classrooms and 28 studios.

NU law program nears application deadline

The joint law degree program offered by the University of Saskatchewan at Nunavut Arctic College has entered its final week for applications, reports CBC. Arctic College Nunatta Campus Dean Eric Corneau says that the program has so far received 30 applicants for 25 seats, which means that the school will soon enter a selection process. Students will study in NU for their first year before moving directly into the same course load and course types as uSask students for their second, third, and fourth years. "I am adamant that there will be no shortcuts, that they will get a high-quality U of S [law] degree,” said Martin Phillipson, dean of law at the University of Saskatchewan. “We will be working the local [legal] bar, local lawyers, and government and other things to make sure there are some courses that are of direct relevance to those who seek to practice law in Nunavut.” CBC