Top Ten

March 8, 2017

ON’s non-traditional access strategy must be mindful of diverse groups, challenges: OUSA leader

“Yes, Ontario has high postsecondary achievement, but are the people who are gaining access to higher education reflective of the broader population?” writes Zachary Rose, executive director of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. Rose reflects on the different barriers faced by different groups, noting that while affordability is a common barrier, others may include experience of systemic prejudice, intergenerational trauma, low expectations from teachers and guidance counsellors, and lack of family supports. “If we fail to be mindful of these diversities,” Rose concludes, “we will continue to leave some students behind, no matter how well intentioned we are.” HEQCO

Travelling to US for academic conferences poses significant risks, write U of T Scarborough professors

“As targeted racialized academics, we knew we were being forced to accept loss and indignity,” write Aisha Ahmad and Minelle Mahtani of their decision not to attend upcoming US-based conferences due to the Trump administration’s revised travel ban. The University of Toronto Scarborough professors note that with border guards enjoying “an enormous amount of discretion” in detaining travelers, the risks of attending a conference in the US are too high. “One unlucky meeting with a careless border guard can jeopardize the ability of a researcher to complete their fieldwork, and thus risks their commitments made to both funding agencies and global research teams,” the authors add, noting that such a situation undermines global academic communities and “blinds us to the world at a time when we are desperate for truth and light.” Globe and Mail

UoGuelph holds “stakeholder labs” for student mental health

The University of Guelph recently held “stakeholder labs” as part of a new approach to foster better mental health among its student body. CBC reports that the labs aimed to engage students on their wellness needs through interactive group sessions. The sessions provided the students with an opportunity to talk through their experiences in a supportive setting while providing UoGuelph with crucial feedback for honing its mental health policies and programs. The labs came in the wake of public pressure for the university to do more to support student mental health. UoGuelph has stated that students who were not able to attend the sessions will have other opportunities to give their feedback in the future. CBC

AB apprentice training award receives $1M boost, CBC questions benefit to women

Alberta has announced that it will give an additional $1M to support a financial assistance program that aims to help apprentices with their training. The $1K individual grants offered through the program are available to apprentices who have not been working in their trade for at least 30 consecutive days prior to the start of training. CBC reports that nearly all of the people who stand to benefit from the program and its increased funding in 2017 will be men, citing numbers from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology that show that only 7% of those enrolled in the apprenticeship program are women. “There needs to be more work done in junior high, high school to expose young women to these different trades and technologies,” said Stevie Fuhrer, coordinator of the Women in Technology and Trades initiative at NAIT. Edmonton Journal | CBC

Innovative workplaces require diversity of educational backgrounds

“What are you going to do with your humanities degree? This is a question that almost anyone who has studied the humanities faces at some point from a skeptical relative or friend,” writes Scott Stirrett for the Globe and Mail, who argues against the “all too common narrative” that liberal arts graduates bring little for the workforce. Reflecting on his work with Venture for Canada, an organization that pairs top university graduates with startup companies, Stirrett insists that a diversity of academic backgrounds is crucial to building a successful team. The author goes on to highlight several unique benefits to hiring a liberal arts graduate before advising readers that “next time you see on a résumé someone has studied art history or political science—don’t rule the person out—he or she could be your next great hire.” Globe and Mail

Law not keeping pace with technology in uMoncton cyberattacks, says Dal law professor

A law professor at Dalhousie University tells the CBC that cybercrimes like the one impacting a Université de Moncton student demonstrate a gap that currently exists between technology and current laws. Wayne MacKay argues that even though Canada has instituted a new federal law prohibiting the distribution of intimate images without consent, the law is very difficult to apply. With cases like that at uMoncton, MacKay adds, issues involving jurisdictional boundaries can make laws very difficult to enforce. “Because in the world of cyberspace, there really aren't any boundaries,” he says. “So it's not as simple as it used to be that the crime was committed in a particular country, it's dealt with in a particular country.” However, MacKay adds that there are still steps that Canada can take to seek justice in cases like uMoncton’s. CBC

Bring back the flesh-and-blood academic community, says Chronicle contributor

When returning to her faculty office after a decade in administration, Deborah Fitzgerald noted one particular difference in her department: “Where did everybody go?” Noting the sudden quiet of the hallways, Fitzgerald discusses the possible reasons behind the vacancy, including technological developments and a cultural push for improved family/life/work balances. The article goes on to discuss the negative impacts this trend can have the academic community, and highlights a number of ways to reverse it. “For most of us, the bricks-and-mortar community has given us an intellectual and physical home, as well as a commitment to serve our students, our colleagues, and our institutions with integrity and energy,” writes Fitzgerald. “In this era of academic stress, we need to revisit those commitments, and figure out how to become a flesh-and-blood community once again.” Chronicle

Olds, RDC partner on Business Start Up Training Program

Olds College and Red Deer College have partnered to launch Start Up Saturdays Central Alberta, a program that will teach students and recent graduates entrepreneurship and innovation skills. The workshops in the program will cover ideation, the development of the idea pitch and business model, marketing and branding, financials and pitching to bankers and funders, and a pitch competition. “We have noticed the spirit of entrepreneurship within many Olds College students,” said Olds Entrepreneurship and Innovation Coordinator Karla Petersen. “Partnering with RDC on this initiative allows us to offer the training and expertise that our students need in order to develop an idea, or to bring an existing idea to market.” RDC

Fleming announces that it will offer PSW program in fall 2017

Fleming College has announced that it will launch a two-semester Personal Support Worker certificate program at its Cobourg campus in September 2017. Students of the program will learn hands-on skills and theory courses related to long term care and community care, with three different clinical placements to provide career experience. “We believe there is a need in the community for additional workers with the appropriate skills to assist an aging population to stay in their homes as long as possible and as they transition to long-term care,” said Fleming Vice-President Academic Judith Limkilde. “Establishing the PSW program here will give us the ability to provide other training for health professionals in the area to assist them in keeping their skills up to date.” CHEX Peterborough | Fleming

U of T looks to develop laneway housing for future residence spaces

The University of Toronto hopes to unveil two modestly sized residences in the fall of 2018 as part of an experiment to see how it could use laneway housing to build up currently owned property. The project is pending City approval, and current residents of the proposed development area have expressed their desire to ensure that the location’s character is preserved through any construction. CBC reports that the current system for changing laneway housing is “piecemeal,” with property owners needing to file individual applications for City approval. The university will reportedly submit a municipal planning application in the next few months, but Campus & Facilities Planning Director Christine Burke says there has already been “quite of bit of buy-in,” as both the school and the Huron-Sussex Residents' Association approved a neighbourhood plan in 2014. CBC