Top Ten

March 15, 2017

BC premier announces major increase in number of tech grads, co-op placements

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark recently announced that the province plans to increase its number of tech graduates by 1,000 per year by 2022. BC will also look to double its postsecondary tech degree program co-op placements annually, and the Mitacs student research program will be expanded by two-thirds to over 800 internships annually. “BC’s tech community has told us their number-one priority is making sure British Columbians have the talent and skills they need so the sector can continue to grow and thrive,” said Clark. “The revised BC Tech Strategy is about giving British Columbians in all corners of the province every opportunity to build careers in tech.” A BC release outlines a number of ways that the province will continue its efforts to bolster its tech sector. BC

StudentsNS releases report on PSE access challenges

A new report by StudentsNS highlights the challenges currently facing students who wish to pursue PSE in Nova Scotia. The report finds that a person’s socioeconomic background, ethnicity, language, culture, citizenship, level of parental education, disability, age, gender, and/or geographic origin may all influence the likelihood of pursuing PSE. The report focuses on the challenges facing some specific groups before making recommendations on how to improve accessibility. The recommendations include the collection of more comprehensive data on student demographics, the creation of a more inclusive and supportive public education system, the reforming of financial assistance so that it can really break down barriers, and the promotion of diversity on campuses. StudentsNS | Report

Building stronger partnerships with industry requires dedicated contact, understanding

“The future of successful economies and prospering free societies will very much depend on a new type of collaboration between various players – and universities are an essential part of that,” writes Feridun Hamdullahpur, President of the University of Waterloo, in Times Higher Education. In order to forge stronger ties between universities and industry, Hamdullahpur outlines several the key points of consideration. In particular, the article discusses the importance of having an “easy-to-find” point of contact or dedicated staff who are capable of directing the company based on its needs; and the importance of gaining an understanding of the differences in culture, language, and expectations of both industry and academe. Hamdullahpur concludes by noting that well-managed partnerships between academics, industry, and other partners “allow innovation to flourish and all participants to reap benefits.” Times Higher Education

McGill to launch anti-hazing program twelve years after banning the practice: Globe

The experience of a McGill University student forced to take part in a hazing ritual in 2015 “indicates that 10 years after a high-profile hazing incident at McGill that prompted policy changes at the university, the top-ranked school has failed to curb the practice,” reports Ingrid Peritz for the Globe and Mail. The author goes on to write that the university was “slow to respond [in 2015] once the student’s family complained and applied only minor sanctions against the students involved.” McGill initially announced a zero-tolerance policy toward hazing in 2005, after another hazing incident made national headlines. In its statement to the Globe, McGill says it plans to launch a new anti-hazing program before the start of the next academic year, and that it has set up a working group to recommend ways to prevent hazing. Globe and Mail (1) | Globe and Mail (2)

Is the “Millennial side hustle” the new normal?

Canada’s PSE institutions and students are struggling to adapt to a world in which a growing number of graduates face precarious work, reports CBC. The article profiles several Millennial graduates who have come face to face with the a difficult new employment reality. The article also highlights the University of Regina’s UR Guarantee program, launched in 2009, which will offer a a year of tuition-free undergraduate education to any student who does not obtain a full-time job within six months of graduating. URegina associate director of student success Naomi Deren notes that the retention rate for students who use the program is 10% higher than it is for those who do not. CBC

Do students fake helplessness to shift responsibility?: IHE contributor

The increasing message of “helplessness” coming from today’s students is “part feigned and part real, but nevertheless it is a problem that is eroding academe,” writes Lori Isbell for Inside Higher Ed. The author suggests that students’ tendency to “send emails and text messages of all sorts with the most basic questions about the most obvious matters” is in fact “a deflective maneuver” designed to shift responsibility for an assignment back onto an instructor. “We might provide the most detailed of written and oral instructions,” Isbell adds, “but students will still find a reason, an occasion or excuse, to challenge those instructions as inadequate to their needs and (attempt to) shift the responsibility of the work from them to us.” Isbell concludes by asking fellow instructors not to give in to students’ deflective maneuvers, adding that she wishes more students would “take their education into their own hands.” Inside Higher Ed

Ottawa-based insolvency trustee advises some student loan holders to consider bankruptcy

It has become commonplace for PSE graduates across Canada to pay off their student loans into their 40s, reports Anna Sharratt for the Globe and Mail, and the trend has at least one insolvency trustee advising young Canadians to consider declaring bankruptcy. Allen MacLeod tells the Globe that a person’s credit rating is only impacted for six years after a bankruptcy, while the struggle of paying off a student debt can last for over a decade. He adds that if someone finds that they are not able to pay down their student debt, “there’s no use having a great credit rating if you can’t service your debt.” That said, MacLeod notes that the option to file bankruptcy is not available once a person acquires assets, and he lays out a number of different tips for those struggling to pay down student debt. Globe and Mail

MB announces changes, funding for scholarships, bursaries

Manitoba has announced new funding and changes to the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative. These changes include increased provincial funding totaling $6.75M for 2017-2018, up to $20M in scholarships and bursaries going directly to students each year, increased fundraising matching from the government, and a new requirement for all funds to be provided directly to students rather than invested in endowments. The initiative will also be expanded to incorporate the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, Canadian Mennonite University, Booth University College, Providence University College, and Steinbach Bible College for the first time. University of Manitoba President David Barnard welcomed the changes, stating that “more students will be able to achieve their goal of attending university, through financial assistance facilitated by the generous support of our government and private donors.” MB

UCalgary, UAlberta partner with Mexico on oil, gas research

Canadian universities have received funding through Mexico’s Ministry of Energy Hydrocarbon Fund, which sees Canadian researchers “partner with Mexican research institutions to modernize and improve that country’s growing oil and gas sector.” The University of Calgary will reportedly receive $44M to support four joint research projects that seek to aid energy reforms in Mexico, while the University of Alberta will receive $14M to pursue three joint research projects. “Encouraging more of these outstanding research partnerships in our universities and colleges is a clear example of the value that our co-operation brings to Albertans and Mexicans,” said AB Minister of Energy Margaret McCuaig-Boyd. “These investments help our two countries develop energy resources in sustainable ways, create employment, and develop valuable learning and research opportunities.” UCalgary | Edmonton Journal

Brock partners with United Way to study precarious employment

Researchers from Brock University’s social justice research institute are teaming up with United Way Niagara Falls and Greater Fort Erie to find out how many Niagara residents are currently facing precarious employment. The study will reportedly look not only at how many people face precarious employment, but what effects this employment has on their quality of life. Social Justice Research Institute Director June Corman says that many labour surveys do not ask about the social and emotional impacts of unstable or uncertain work. “So we are going to be asking those questions and do a followup with the people that we survey to determine what some of those impacts are,” Corman says. “We may also apply for additional grant money to continue the study.” St Catharines Standard