Top Ten

March 17, 2017

Universities moving toward greater engagement with non-academic communities

“Universities have not always been the best of neighbours,” writes Jennifer Lewington for Maclean’s, but this trend is “beginning to change as universities increasingly turn to local residents and non-profit organizations as allies, not adversaries.” To further this mission, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council is conducting a seven-year national study on university-community engagement. The study’s principal investigator, Carleton University political scientist professor Peter Andrée, notes that there are three factors driving the increased emphasis on university-community partnerships. First, researchers are seeing non-academic partners as co-participants rather than as research subjects. Second, today’s students want “meaningful experiences that contribute to their education and that are developed in co-operation and collaboration with outside organizations.” Finally, the public has rising expectations for universities to serve the community and the public good. Maclean’s

Smaller institutions find “niche” with specialized business programs

Canada’s colleges and smaller universities are finding better ways to serve the needs of both students and industry by offering niche business programs, writes Daina Lawrence for the Globe and Mail. Lawrence highlights the Automotive Business School of Canada at Georgian College as an example of the way that smaller institutions “not only capture students with a well-defined career path, but also answer a call from industries and communities alike that need to fill both an economic and cultural gap.” “Because these students already have the industry training, the learning curve after they join the corporation or dealership is a lot less than if they hire a [university] grad from the business program who now needs to learn all about the auto industry,” says Georgian Instructor Jim Smith. The article goes on to highlight niche business programs at Simon Fraser University, the University of Saskatchewan, Camosun College, and Cape Breton University. Globe and Mail

UWinnipeg, UManitoba collaborate on commercialization process

The University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba have signed an agreement that will provide UWinnipeg-based inventors access to the expertise and services of UManitoba’s Technology Transfer Office. “This collaboration to utilize existing services makes sense for all parties,” said UManitoba Vice-President (Research and International) Digvir Jayas. “It prevents duplication by using the existing suite of capabilities available at the University of Manitoba.” The release notes that the centre will provide services such as patenting assistance, market assessment, and discussion and recommendations on commercialization strategies. Other postsecondary institutions, hospitals, and research centres have signed similar agreements with UManitoba. UWinnipeg

Redeemer launches Centre for Experiential Learning and Careers

Redeemer University has marked the official opening of its Centre for Experiential Learning and Careers. The university says that its goal is to triple the number of programs with co-op opportunities and ensure experiential learning options in every program offered by the school. A university release states that the CELC builds on the foundation of Redeemer’s new core curriculum to combine the best of a liberal arts and sciences education with experiential learning. “Today’s launch of the CELC does not signal the start of experiential learning at Redeemer,” said CELC Director Susan Van Weelden. “What today’s launch does mark is Redeemer’s firm commitment to increase experiential learning and career services across the university so that students in our liberal arts and sciences programs are better prepared to successfully enter the workforce.” Redeemer

Northlands to take over delivery of university education in northern SK

Northlands College will take over the duties of providing university education in place of the defunded Northern Teachers Education Program in La Ronge, Saskatchewan, reports CBC. Last August, the Saskatchewan government announced that it would stop funding for NORTEP and the Northern Professional Access College. Opposition NDP MLA Ryan Meili has criticized the move, stating that “one has to think that this is about cutting funds.” Meili also pointed out that the ensuing change in administration from NORTEP to a southern-appointed board “takes away control from the north.” SK Minister of Advanced Education Bronwyn Eyre says that Northlands College was chosen to deliver the university-level education because of its history and the fact that it already has an established presence in northern SK. CBC | NationTalk | SK

UQAR receives $38M for new sports facilities

The Université du Québec à Rimouski has announced that it has received confirmation for $38M in funding for a new sports facilities that will be built on land adjacent to the school's Rimouski campus. Ownership of the land will be transferred from the City, and UQAR reportedly plans to build an ice rink and a semi-Olympic size pool. UQAR Rector Jean-Pierre Ouellet praised the infrastructure investment, stating that it would enable UQAR to improve access to quality sports facilities for the university’s community and to develop new university courses. UQAR states that the new infrastructure is expected to open by the end of 2018. UQAR

To issue a ‘wake-up call’ for students, accompany low grades with concrete feedback

In a reflection on the occasional student essay that is “so poorly written, so shoddily done, that it seems to demand a special response,” David Gooblar investigates the value of failing grades as wake-up calls for students. After a review of research and theory around the issue, Gooblar concludes that a poor or failing grade can clearly communicate to a student that they have failed to meet the expectations of an assignment or course. But the author adds that a failing grade should not stand on its own. Improvement, Gooblar determines, comes as a result of the student receiving clear feedback on where they went wrong, and concrete ways that they could improve to achieve better results in the future. Chronicle Vitae

Schools seeking “elite” rankings status face more risk than reward, says German study

Schools that gain status in large-scale ranking schemes tend to benefit much less than they lose in the event of a decline, according to a new study of institutional reputation and enrolment in Germany. Times Higher Education reports that the findings of the study call into question “whether institutions should be more heavily protected against losing their status” in such ranking systems. The study found that universities do not see a significant rise in student perceptions when they reach “elite” status; yet they lose a significant percentage of enrolments if students see their status or ranking drop. Times reports that this finding could have an impact on how other national and international university ranking systems are imagined and implemented. Times Higher Education

UOIT signs agreements with German, Italian universities

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology has announced three new partnerships with institutions from Germany and Italy. A new agreement with Augsburg University of Applied Science in Germany will focus on short-, medium- and long-term study opportunities in the areas of business and information technology. An agreement with Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany will expand research and education program opportunities in fields connected to autonomous vehicles, new manufacturing processes, urban mobility, and molecular sciences. Finally, an updated partnership with the University of Salerno will promote faculty and student exchanges in energy systems, business, legal studies, information and communications technology (ICT) and data analytics, materials science, environmental studies, and health and pharmaceutical sciences. UOIT

When to speak your mind as an untenured academic

“Being untenured is the ultimate manifestation of ‘You just have to know how and when to pick your battles,’” writes Deborah Cohan for Inside Higher Ed. The author notes that in an increasingly divisive climate, untenured professors face growing pressure not to express ideas that could alienate students or administrators. To this end, Cohan offers tips for untenured faculty, which include creating a policy prohibiting students from recording classes, finding mentors, and building good faith with members of the administration. Despite the earlier suggestion of creating a policy banning students from recording classes, Cohan concludes by advising untenured professors to “assume that everything you say and do in the classroom could show up on social media.” Inside Higher Ed