Top Ten

January 11, 2017

UBC President re-extends invitation to cancelled speaker

University of British Columbia President Santa Ono announced this Monday that the school will once again extend a speaking invitation to Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong. The speaker's previous engagement had been cancelled after an open letter highlighted allegations made against Furlong in a 2012 newspaper article. The reporter behind the article later lost a defamation lawsuit against Furlong, and an RCMP investigation into the matter concluded without charges. President Ono had previously apologized for the cancellation and celebrated Furlong’s long record of public service. Furlong has reportedly accepted the invitation and will speak at an upcoming benefit for aspiring student athletes. News 1130

Many immigrant college students lack English skills, but achieve comparable GPAs

What role does an immigrant’s region of origin and English language proficiency have on their academic and employment outcomes? This is the question that researchers at Seneca College’s Centre for Research in Student Mobility explore in a new report. The study followed the pathways of 18,466 students (non-international) who entered Seneca College between 2010 and 2014, within five years of leaving an Ontario high school. The study found that Seneca students who were born outside of Canada are more likely than their Canadian-born peers to have highly educated parents, live in lower-income neighbourhoods, and to aspire to university. Despite having attended an ON high school, many immigrants come to Seneca with weak English-language skills requiring support in language proficiency, with 59% being placed below college level English, compared to 36% of Canadian born students. Despite this, however, these students achieve similar overall GPAs and graduation rates. Seneca

UManitoba’s Asper School of Business to create $5M ethics chair with alumni support

Two University of Manitoba alumni have committed $5M to establish the Richard Morantz and Sheree Walder Morantz Chair in Business Ethics. The chair will be based at the IH Asper School of Business, and its funding arrives via UManitoba’s Front and Centre campaign. “I want students to understand the ethical grounding that every professional should have to achieve success,” says one of the chair’s namesakes, Sheree Walder Morantz. “Students should have that kind of foundation going forward so that they become ethically-minded, successful people.” A UManitoba release concludes with a summary of insights that  Sheree Walder Morantz and Richard Morantz want to offer current students at the school and beyond. UManitoba

Arctic College students evicted with one-week notice after returning from break

A group of students at Nunavut Arctic College returned to Iqaluit after the holidays to learn that their program had been cancelled and that they were being evicted from their student housing, reports CBC. College Vice-President Eric Corneau has stated that the students in question had been on academic probation prior to the holiday break, but were not informed about their end-of-semester termination until after they had returned. “Unfortunately we made the decision at the end of December right before the break that a number of students were not going to be continuing in the program,” said Corneau, who added that the school is willing to be flexible about the students’ eviction timelines. Four of the six students taking Inuit Studies at the Nunatta Campus in Iqaluit were on academic probation, yet the termination of their enrolment also resulted in the cancellation of the program, says Corneau, who adds, “It is a extremely difficult and challenging decision to cancel a program and it is not taken lightly, but we cannot offer a program to just one or two students.” CBC

SaskPolytech president reflects on challenges, opportunities for PSE in economic downturn

In an interview with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Saskatchewan Polytechnic President Larry Rosia reflects on a 2016 made difficult by economic weakness, along with his school’s plan to weather a potential funding shortfall. When asked about his school’s biggest achievement in 2016, Rosia points to SaskPolytech’s employment rate for its graduates, with 90% finding employment in a difficult economy and 95% remaining in Saskatchewan in 2016. When asked what he would like to improve on moving forward, Rosia focuses on providing more access for the different types of people who want to enrol in the school’s programs, an issue that the school is looking to address by offering more courses online. Rosia further highlights the success the institution has had in increasing its number of Indigenous students by 30% since 2011-12. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

SLC to open new state-of-the-art clinical learning centre

St Lawrence College has rebuilt and modernized its clinical learning space for students in health and health-related programs. The move comes in response to an increased need for advanced technical training through programs such as practical nursing, Medical Laboratory Science/Assistant, and Pre-Health Science. The new space will include five new adult simulation patient rooms and two infant stations, two new high-fidelity mannequins, and expanded observation space. “We appreciate the support of the governments of Canada and Ontario in providing funds to kick-start this vital training lab,” said SLC President Glenn Vollebregt. “These new classrooms are one way that we will prepare our students for complex challenges in our local hospitals, clinics, and other health care settings.” SLC

Employers look to close the ICT skills gap with free online classes

Rather than always basing hires on “what they know,” many companies today are seeking employees based on “what they can do,” writes Sarah Franklin for the Globe and Mail. The author argues that this trend offers potential employees the opportunity to land high-quality jobs without having an expensive education. Franklin highlights how a number of companies are providing free online courses to anyone looking to upgrade their skills. Using these courses will be essential to closing Canada’s skills gap in information and communications technology, adds Franklin, noting that “with 12 out of the 25 highest paying jobs in demand right now focused on IT, and the youth unemployment rate at just more than 13 per cent, it’s the ideal time for Canadians to consider enhancing and building their skill sets regardless of their background.” Globe and Mail

UK students spark debate by demanding removal of white philosophers from curriculum

Students at a university in London, England have sparked debate by demanding that philosophers such as Plato, Descartes, and Immanuel Kant be significantly reduced in the existing curriculum because they are white, reports the Telegraph. The student union at The School of Oriental and African Studies argues that when studying philosophy, “the majority of philosophers on our courses” should be from Africa and Asia, adding that their demands are part of a wider effort to “address the structural and epistemological legacy of colonialism.” Philosopher Sir Roger Scruton has argued that the students' demands demonstrate “ignorance,” adding that “If they think there is a colonial context from which Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason arose, I would like to hear it.” University administrator Deborah Johnston, however, argues that “one of the great strengths of SOAS is that we have always looked at world issues from the perspective of the regions we study—Asia, Africa and the Middle East.” Windsor Star (Telegraph)

BC tech Sector facing need for more talent

“The breathless headlines trumpeting the expansion of B.C.’s tech sector miss an uncomfortable truth,” writes Randy Shore for the Vancouver Sun. “We aren’t able to supply enough qualified graduates to populate fast-growing firms and startups.” Shore discusses the need for more tech graduates from BC postsecondary institutions, which the author says produce fewer engineering and technology-related degrees per capita than those of other provinces. Further, Shore explains that the British Columbia Technology Industry Association has set growth goals that will ultimately require roughly 25,000 qualified workers to enter into the industry. The article points to Simon Fraser University’s recent addition of 440 engineering student seats as a positive development to meet industry needs. Vancouver Sun

ULethbridge provost discusses new facility, dispels "sinking building" myth

The University of Lethbridge is heralding the completion of its new research facilities this year as it undergoes the first phase of its Destination Project, reports CBC. The article highlights the many anticipated benefits of the school's new science building, including greater cohesion between departments and modernized facilities. “The science facilities at the University of Lethbridge, for many years, have lagged behind what you'd find at many high schools,” explains ULethbridge Provost Andrew Hakin. “Having said that, our colleagues working in the sciences have done a tremendous job in what they do with those facilities. But it's just not the way science is done anymore.” In his conversation with CBC, Hakin also takes a moment to dispel rumours that uLethbridge’s University Hall, one of the buildings to be replaced by the new facility, is at risk of sinking into a nearby river. CBC