Top Ten

March 22, 2017

MB raises PSE tuition cap

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government introduced legislation on Monday that will lift a cap on PSE tuition in the province. Bill 31—the Advanced Education Administration Amendment Act—will amend legislation put in place by the NDP in 2012 and remove the requirement that postsecondary institutions tie tuition increases to the rate of inflation. The bill allows universities in the province to hike tuition annually by 5% plus inflation. “We need to make sure that we have quality education now and into the future,” said MB Minister of Education and Training Ian Wishart. “We need the finances to do that.” Student leaders from the province have said that they are disappointed, but not necessarily surprised by the move. The Manitoban | CBC (Student response)

Entrepreneurship training programs show particular benefits for women, minorities

Entrepreneurship programs have a greater positive impact on women and minorities than on Caucasian men, according to research conducted by Western University’s Laurina Zhang. Working with a co-author, Zhang studied 335 undergrad students in North America who went through an entrepreneurship training program between 2011 and 2015. She found there was “an increase in the likelihood that minorities subsequently pursue entrepreneurial activity,” particularly in the technology sector, after students had participated in the program. The increase applies in both the short and long term, and Zhang argues that the difference is attributable to access to resources such as mentorship and capital that certain groups would otherwise have less access to. “What we’re showing is that for a particular group of people [minorities and women], the benefits provided by the program are very important and difficult to access in the absence of the program,” says Zhang. Globe and Mail

Many Canadian universities cannot provide data on racial diversity

Many Canadian universities that promote the diversity of their campuses cannot provide accurate data about how their students identify racially, reports CBC. A recent CBC investigation of race and racial discrimination at Canadian universities reports that more than 60 schools say they do not collect data regarding students’ racial identity. The article notes that human rights advocates have endorsed the collection of race-based data “as a means of uncovering inequality and better understanding the needs of racialized groups.” “If you want to really serve the population, I think you first need to know who's in your student body,” said Renu Mandhane, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. “And not just at an eyeballing it sort of way, actually understanding in a much more discrete way.” CBC

Many ON students confused about key aspects of OSAP program: HEQCO

Many college and university students in Ontario have misconceptions about some key aspect of the Ontario Student Assistance Program, writes Cassandra Cao for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Citing a recent study performed for HEQCO by Academica Group, Cao notes that about a third of the college and university students surveyed either did not know about the repayment plan for OSAP or thought that it did not apply to them. The author adds that students were “overwhelmingly confused” about OSAP’s grace period, which allows students to postpone making payments on their student loans for up to six months after graduation before interest starts to accrue. “Clearly, there are aspects of OSAP about which students continue to misunderstand,” the author concludes. “With the bold new changes rolling out this and the next school year, we at HEQCO are eager to see how these changes will affect students’ perceptions and understanding of the program.” HEQCO

WLU, Homewood partner on music therapy program

Wilfrid Laurier University has launched a new music therapy program at Homewood Health Centre, a 300-bed mental health and addiction facility located in Guelph, as a result of a partnership between the two institutions. Supported by funding from a private donor, the initiative will see Laurier’s music therapy program and research combined with Homewood Health’s expertise in mental health and addiction treatment, and will provide students with an opportunity to gain practical experience at the centre. “We think it makes a difference on many levels, certainly to patients at Homewood and students at Laurier who will gain practical experience,” said Bryce Walker, who contributed $225K towards the music therapist-in-residence position that will be leading the initiative. “Music, I think, is going to add a lot here in terms of therapy.” The Record

No institutional position may be the best position, says Chronicle contributor

“Rarely does a week go by when I am not asked to commit the institution to a position on some public issue beyond our campus,” writes Michael Hemesath, President of the US-based Saint John’s University. However, Hemesath notes that the issues that the institution is asked to take a side on are typically complicated, multidimensional, and emotional. In order to respond to these issues with general guidelines, Hemesath states that he now approaches them by addressing three points in particular: 1) Who ‘is’ the university and who will therefore be represented by this stance? 2) Does the issue directly and significantly affect the university’s students and/or educational mission? and 3) What is the issue’s impact on education. Hemesath concludes by noting that it is only in rare circumstances that taking an official stance on an issue helps students to pursue their educational dreams, adding that “sometimes no institutional position is truly the best position.” Chronicle

UPEI creates new access to information policy

The University of Prince Edward Island has announced that it wants to keep pace with other universities in Canada by adopting a new policy designed to make accessing information about the school easier. CBC reports that unlike other provinces, PEI does not require PSE institutions to follow provincial freedom of information legislation. UPEI has had its own personal information and privacy policy in place since 2004, but its stated purpose does not include helping people access information. The new policy, which takes effect in May, establishes clear procedures on how to apply for information and entails the hiring of an information and privacy officer to enforce the policy. Holland College has announced that it has also taken steps to ensure that it deals with requests for information and privacy protection in an appropriate manner. CBC | Guardian

UWinnipeg becomes first school on the Prairies to offer MA in Criminal Justice

The University of Winnipeg has received approval to create a two-year Master of Arts in Criminal Justice degree which is reportedly the first graduate program of its kind in Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, or Northwestern Ontario. A UWinnipeg release states that the program can be pursued full or part-time, and that it will include the option to take courses in Indigenous Governance and the Public Administration graduate programs. “The MA in Criminal Justice is an important addition to the suite of innovative, multidisciplinary graduate programs offered by the University of Winnipeg,” says UWinnipeg Dean of Graduate Studies Mavis Reimer. “An important focus of the program will be on Indigenous justice issues, supporting and extending the commitment of the University to the Indigenization of its curriculum.” UWinnipeg

Debates about much-maligned safe spaces require much more nuance: IHE contributors

Threats against free speech and First Amendment principles in the US are very real, write Ashutosh Bhagwat and John Inazu for Inside Higher Ed, “[b]ut there is also a danger of overreacting with First Amendment bluster or ridicule, as many right-leaning critics do in deriding advocates for safe spaces as ‘snowflakes.’” The authors support the concept of the university as a space of free intellectual inquiry and debate. They add, however, that safe spaces still serve a positive purpose, and that understanding this requires people to realize that universities are not only where students learn, but also where they live. For the authors, this fact means that “the nature of the institution is neither a pure public forum nor a wholly privatized space.” After analyzing the history of campus safe spaces, the authors conclude that  “[t]he safe space, like the university itself, is a complex idea that, properly construed, can help students engage more fully in the pursuit of knowledge across differences.” Inside Higher Ed

NorQuest moves to fight stigma, mental illness with post-diploma programming

NorQuest College says that it is responding to both a private and public demand for more specialized mental health and addictions recovery professionals by creating two new post-diploma programs. The college’s Addictions Recovery Facilitator and Mental Health Recovery Practitioner programs are scheduled to begin with the Fall 2017 and Winter 2018 intakes, respectively. “In Alberta there are a wide range of people in professional settings—whether in schools, hospitals, correctional facilities, community organizations, or in child welfare—who interact with people with mental health or addiction issues,” says Susan Otto, a social worker and faculty member in NorQuest’s Community Studies department. “However, their formal training, right up to the diploma and degree level, often isn’t specialized.” NorQuest