Top Ten

February 7, 2017

Canadian law students engage in “research-a-thon” to support refugees refused by US

Students from all of Canada’s 22 law schools have begun working on how Canadian law can be used to support refugees turned away by the United States. The Canadian Press reports that between 300 and 500 law students from across the country worked in four-hour shifts this weekend to conduct legal research as part of a “research-a-thon,” with the ultimate goal of gathering information for the Canadian Council for Refugees to help support a potential legal challenge to the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement. “What was fascinating was to see how fast people mobilized around this,” said Pearl Eliadis, a Montreal human rights lawyer who teaches at McGill University. “There has been this amazing coalescing of lawyers, advocates, scholars around what is manifestly a deeply troubling development in international law and in Canada’s relationship with the United States.” Montreal Gazette | CBC | iPolitics (CP)

NS university leaders explain decision to take teachers’ union to court

Taking legal action against the Nova Scotia Teachers Union was a “last resort,” write the presidents of Mount Saint Vincent University, St Francis Xavier University, and Acadia University. In a nearly identical letter posted on the schools’ websites, the presidents acknowledge the frustration of all those involved in the dispute, which centres on the inability for education students to pursue teaching practicums under the current strike. The presidents note that while they are willing to change their degree requirements to help the 600 students affected by the strike, they note that they “have no authority to change the number of weeks required for teacher certification—in Nova Scotia, in other provinces and internationally.” CBC

NB to increase some PSE funding by more than 5%

The New Brunswick government has announced that it will increase funding for some areas of PSE by just over 5% in its latest provincial budget. The Canadian Press reports that the new funding will include new grants for community colleges and money for “research and strategic initiatives.” The change will also reportedly include a 5% increase in funds available for student financial assistance in both the university and college sectors. While the budget reportedly includes additional university funding, the CP reports that details on the subject are not yet available. Hamilton Spectator (CP)

Incubators should invest in students’ growth, not their ventures: UA contributors

“There is an unsettling gap between our pedagogical goals and the structural rewards of university,” write Teresa Kramarz and Kourosh Houshmand for University Affairs. The authors argue that many students in PSE will avoid taking risks out of fear of receiving a lower grade, yet the growth of on-campus incubators offers students a chance to be more daring and experimental in their learning. That said, the authors note that the main goal for many of these incubators is to help students commercialize their ideas and create marketable products. The authors argue that the true goals of these incubators should be much broader and should centre on the co-creation of knowledge, experimentation, tracking of progress, and building of relationships. The authors conclude that “[a]cademic institutions remain relevant precisely because they have the luxury, if not the mandate, to invest in students’ growth, not in their ventures.” University Affairs

Affordability, quality, and accessibility rank as top priorities in OUSA student survey

Part-time students, married students, and students with dependants studying in Ontario find their education unaffordable, says Danielle Pierre, a Research and Policy Analyst for the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. The claim draws on survey data from over 10,000 students that was collected by OUSA’s biennial Ontario Post-Secondary Student Survey in November 2015. Among students’ primary concerns about PSE was affordability, specifically with respect to tuition, ancillary fees, and financial assistance. The affordability concerns for part-time students, married students, and students with dependants are especially compelling, notes Pierre, when one considers the fact that 79% of students surveyed worked during the summer and 38% worked during the school year to pay for school. OUSA

UCalgary study reveals concerns about “pockets of perceived disrespect” on campus

Some participants in a University of Calgary study have expressed concerns about “pockets of perceived disrespect” and a “lack of respect for diverse voices” in campus culture, reports the Calgary Herald. The newspaper notes that the survey was part of an ongoing consultation that the university is undertaking as it moves toward the next phase of its Eyes High institutional strategy. In addition to their concerns about disrespect for certain voices, some respondents reportedly expressed concern about lingering communication gaps within the university. “The rich feedback we received through the 2016 consultation process is of tremendous value as we begin to draft an energized Eyes High strategy,” said UCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon in a statement. “It is exciting to confirm that we are on the right track and to learn where people feel we can focus to improve even more.” Calgary Herald

UBC Indigenous community planning program secures funding for five years

The Indigenous Community Planning program at UBC will continue for another five years thanks to a $500K grant, reports the Vancouver Sun. Funded by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, the grant will allow the program to hire an Indigenous instructor and increase the program’s student intake from six to 10 students per year. ICP is offered as a masters concentration in which students attend core courses, followed by an eight-month practicum where students are sent out in pairs to spend 400 hours living in and working with an Indigenous community. “I think it’s a breakthrough way of doing planning with indigenous communities,” said program Chairwoman Leonie Sandercock. “I think we’re the first planning program in North America to recognize the need to think deeply about how to work in a good way with indigenous communities, given the range of issues affecting indigenous communities and their relationships with the Government of Canada.” Vancouver Sun

Cuts to Aurora teacher, social worker programs spark criticism

The proposed cutting of programs for locally-educated teachers and social workers in the Northwest Territories has garnered criticism, reports CBC. The NWT government has announced a proposed $1.9M reduction in funding to Aurora College, which will reportedly result in the cutting of the college’s four-year bachelor of education program and two-year social worker program. “We're not going to let this happen. We're already taking action to see what we can do to get this changed,” says first-year education program student Justina Black. NWT Education Minister Alfred Moses said that the programs are being cut because of low enrolment and completion rates in both programs. There are currently 29 students in the bachelor of education program and 30 students in the social worker program. CBC reports that students already enrolled in the programs will have the opportunity to finish their degree or diploma. CBC

Carleton transforming outdoor amphitheatre into Indigenous space

Carleton University will be transforming its outdoor amphitheatre into an Indigenous learning and gathering space, which has temporarily been named Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Park. The university will consult with Indigenous students, faculty, and staff; as well as Indigenous communities and groups on the use and design of the space. “This project is a wonderful opportunity for Carleton to engage the Indigenous students, faculty and broader community in a necessary dialogue that speaks to our efforts to implement the TRC Calls to Action in a way that tangible, timely and relevant,” said Kahente Horn-Miller, assistant professor in the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies. The Carleton release outlines a number of other related initiatives that the university is currently pursuing. Carleton

Georgian announces 10 new programs

Georgian College has announced that it will launch 10 new programs in September 2017 that range from culinary programs to biotechnology programs. The programs include a mix of diploma, certificate, and graduate certificates; as well as two degree-diplomas to be offered in partnership with Lakehead University. Eight of the programs will be offered at the institution’s Barrie Campus; while the Mechanical Techniques – Industrial Maintenance certificate program will be available at the Robbert Hartog Midland Campus and the Social Entrepreneurship in the Non-profit Sector graduate certificate program will be offered online on a part-time basis. Georgian