Top Ten

February 24, 2017

NS education students resume practicums as province’s teachers end work-to-rule

Education students in Nova Scotia will not have their graduation dates impacted by the work-to-rule job action taken by the province’s public school teachers, reports CBC. The teachers initially refused to accept education students into their classrooms when the work-to-rule action began in early December 2016. Yet after the passing of Bill 75 and an imposed contract ended the job action, the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union said teachers would again observe the provision of the Education Act that ensures in-class practicum opportunities for student teachers. NS Education Minister Karen Casey has stated that all parties involved in coordinating the placements are now working together to “ensure that those young, soon-to-be teachers are welcome in our schools and have a placement that will certainly give them the guidance and direction, and they will learn from that teacher what makes a good teacher.” CBC

NB to introduce tuition assistance program for middle-class families

The New Brunswick government has announced that it is creating a program to provide assistance for postsecondary students from middle class families. CBC reports that the government faced criticism last year when it introduced its Tuition Access Bursary for students from families making less than $60K per year, as the cutoff point was seen as being too punitive for families that made only slightly more than the $60K threshold. The new Tuition Relief for the Middle Class program will pay a portion of tuition depending on a family’s size and income. The program will be implemented for the upcoming year and will only be available for those students attending public institutions from families who make more than $60K. CBC

Former dean weighs in on incentive for universities to lower entrance standards

“Now, there are lots of ways to respond to budgetary shortfalls caused by declining enrolments,” writes Wilfrid Laurier University Professor and former Dean of Arts Mike Carroll for the National Post, adding that one method is to lower the minimum entering average (MEA) required of students in order to receive more provincial funding. The author suggests that Ontario should find a way to change the incentive structure that currently encourages universities to make this move, adding that “[m]aking provincial funding dependent on measures of student success, like retention rates and graduation rates, would be a start.” Carroll concludes by calling on the provincial government to ensure that any university that lowers its MEAs in order to enroll more students must have the necessary resources in place to support these students. National Post

Terry Fox Research Institute invests $5M in research effort lead by UNB

A cross-national research team led by researchers from the University of New Brunswick has received $5M from the Terry Fox Research Institute to help find better treatments for people with multiple myeloma. The study will be led by UNB Professor Tony Reiman, and includes researchers from centres across the country, including the University of Calgary. “Hope is what sustains all myeloma patients,” commented research participant Susan Collins. “Research offers hope for a cure.” “This is our first pan-Canadian study led from New Brunswick and we congratulate Dr. Reiman and his team for bringing together this talented group,” commented Victor Ling, Terry Fox Research Institute president and scientific director. UNB | Globe and Mail

YorkU, IBM Canada announce partnership in disaster and emergency management

York University and IBM Canada have reportedly formed Canada’s first academic-industry partnership in Disaster and Emergency Management. IBM contributed $1.8M to accelerate the Advanced Disaster, Emergency and Rapid Response Simulation at YorkU. ADERSIM will reportedly combine YorkU’s big data and research with IBM’s analytics capabilities in order to meet Canada's demands in emergency management and public safety. “ADERSIM is a big step towards drastically improving disaster and emergency planning in a way that could impact the safety of all Canadians,” said IBM Canada VP, Manufacturing, Development & Operations Pat Horgan. “This is a significant initiative, and we are proud to be part of it.” The project received a total of $5M from IBM, YorkU, NSERC, and the Ontario Research Fund. YorkU

Police recover stolen Mohawk printer used in counterfeit operation

Hamilton police have announced that a high-quality printer stolen from Mohawk College last November has been recovered. Police added that at the time of discovery, the printer was being used to produce fraudulent driver's license cards, health cards, birth certificates, social insurance cards, credit cards, and counterfeit money. The police reportedly happened on the printer by chance after being called to a Hamilton residence on an unrelated matter. In addition to the two individuals arrested for the printer’s theft last year, two more were arrested at the time of the printer’s discovery. The printer has since been returned to Mohawk. Hamilton Spectator | Guelph Mercury

Queen’s students create service platform matching students with paid projects

A group of Queen’s University students is working to match students and companies for freelance work. Queen’s students Morgan Roff and Paul Everitt are both working with Connectiv8, a digital platform that Roff—a co-founder—says will allow students to find freelance projects that they can complete for a business. The initiative is part of an effort to address a brain drain, or what employers describe as a lack of access to qualified Queen’s students once they graduate. Roff notes that unlike an internship, the opportunities provided through the program are “the kind of thing that they [students] can do while in school.” Some of the freelance projects that students have worked on include web design, web development, updating websites, logo design, sales, e-commerce, electrical engineering, and marketing projects. Kingston Whig-Standard

OCUFA to host “Twitter day of action” to support contract faculty

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations has called for faculty, students, staff, and concerned citizens from across Ontario to participate in a campaign to raise awareness about the need for fairness for contract faculty. Set for March 3, the group will take to Twitter to build on the efforts made during Fair Employment Week, a week-long initiative that took place in the fall of 2016 to promote fair work practices. Throughout the day of action, university and college community members will be invited to send their Boards of Governors a message about their priorities for the institution, including improving contract faculty working conditions and the quality of education offered to students. OCUFA

Posters questioning the Holocaust appear on UCalgary campus

Anti-Semitic posters expressing doubt about the number of Jewish people killed in the Holocaust were reportedly found on windows and doors at the University of Calgary campus earlier this month. The Calgary Herald reports that UCalgary Students’ Union President Stephan Guscott condemned the posters and called for a positive response from students, noting that “these posters can throw people off and make them feel unwelcome, but what’s even more important is the response of the students, that amounts to supporting one another.” In a statement, the university noted that “along with a commitment to free inquiry, open debate and diversity of opinion, the university is committed to sustaining a safe, healthy, inclusive and respectful academy that supports excellence in teaching and research.” Calgary Herald

Performance reviews should be used to encourage, not punish: opinion

“In my view, the best evaluations are those that identify problems where they exist, but also the ways and means of encouragement that can lead to improvement,” writes Robert O’Kell, professor emeritus and dean emeritus of the faculty of arts at the University of Manitoba. While some faculty members and administrators might demand that chronic underperformers be called out for their lack of productivity, O’Kell argues from personal experience that weak performance is almost never a matter of laziness or selfishness. O’Kell then delves into some of the reasons why certain faculty members might be seen to underperform. University Affairs