Top Ten

March 27, 2017

McGill institute director resigns amidst backlash to article accusing Quebecers of “social malaise”

The director of McGill University’s Institute for the Study of Canada has resigned after publishing an article in Maclean’s that accused Quebec of suffering from “social malaise.” The article has provoked significant backlash from critics who include QC Premier Philippe Couillard. Last week, the director in question, Andrew Potter, cited “the ongoing negative reaction within the university community and the broader public to my column” as the reason for his departure. News about the resignation immediately drew questions about potential violations of Potter’s academic freedom. In a public message, McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier stated that Potter’s resignation had “provoked unfounded rumors and concerns regarding academic freedom," which she added was “foundational principle” for the university. Inside Higher Ed | McGill | Globe and Mail | CAUT | CBC | StarPhoenix | National Post

UWaterloo president sends personal message to faculty following student suicide

The reported death by suicide of a student at the University of Waterloo earlier this week prompted university president Feridun Hamdullahpur to send a message to faculty, staff, and students expressing his grief and explaining the university’s response. “I have met with students and heard from faculty,” Hamdullahpur wrote, adding that “more needs to be done” at the school to improve student mental health. The president focused on the importance of having “many voices” contribute to the ongoing conversation around how to achieve this goal, and concluded by stating that “when tragedies like this happen, the University's main concern first and foremost is the student's family. We do not take lightly our obligation to ensure that they have been informed and do our utmost to respect their wishes. The University always reaches out to the families to offer any support they need. This is a very sad duty, but must be done.” CBC

AB considers “free tuition” programs in ON, NB as part of higher ed review

The Alberta government has stated that making tuition more accessible for those who can least afford it will be a main priority for its review of the province’s tuition structure. AB Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt has confirmed with Metro that the government is considering the examples set by New Brunswick and Ontario, both of which have offered free tuition to students from lower-income families, as part of its review. “We don’t want any kid with ambition and good grades to not be able to go to university or college because they can’t afford it,” said Schmidt. The news has been well received by Council of Alberta University Students Chair Dexter Bruneau, who says he finds it encouraging to see the government considering such a model. “Alberta’s a very unique climate,” said Bruneau. “I think those systems address a lot of key problems that students face, and for that they’re definitely worth taking a look at.” Metro

BC injects funding into health-care seats

The British Columbia government has announced a significant investment to create more health care seats at postsecondary institutions across the province. The funds will be used to create additional seats at Northwest Community College, College of New Caledonia, the Justice Institute of BC, Okanagan College, Selkirk College, College of the Rockies, Camosun College, and North Island College. The funds will also support new health care seats at Vancouver Island University. “Health-care professionals play an important role in meeting an increased demand for quality health-care in their local communities,” said BC Minister of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson. “Our government is providing targeted funding that will allow students to gain hands-on experience that will help them find success close to home after graduation.” NWCC | CNC/JIBC | Okanagan | Selkirk | COTR | Camosun/NIC/VIU

UCalgary to expand student spaces with new funds

The University of Calgary has received $270M over four years from the Alberta government for the renovation of the MacKimmie Complex and Professional Faculties building. “The MacKimmie Complex redevelopment will play an integral role in helping provide quality teaching, learning and research space for our students, and will enable us to create a hub for entrepreneurial thinking serving the entire University of Calgary community in the heart of campus,” said President Elizabeth Cannon. This renovation will reportedly address building code and maintenance issues, offer centralized undergraduate and graduate student services, and see the addition of new and renewed study and academic spaces. The renovation will also allow for the creation of 500 new classroom and study spaces and see the renewal of student spaces in Nursing and Social Work. UCalgary | Calgary Herald

Looking to Finland to address growing issues with Canadian PSE

“Canadian post-secondary education can’t continue on the same path it has followed for the past 25 years or so,” writes Crawford Kilian. The author cites recent data suggesting that in the past 15 years, Canadian college tuition has doubled, university tuition has tripled, public student debt has grown to well beyond $28B, and many who work and teach in PSE only have temporary appointments. Kilian compares and contrasts Canada’s PSE system with that of Finland, reflecting on which parts of the Nordic country’s system are feasible and unfeasible to incorporate into Canada’s. Kilian concludes by arguing that Canada has the opportunity to push its PSE completion rates ever higher while leaving students less burdened with debt. He adds, however, that any drastic expansion to PSE access could have severely damaging effects without the proper infrastructure and resources in place to support it. Tyee

Sheridan opens new expansion of Hazel McCallion campus

Sheridan College has officially opened a new 220,000 square-foot expansion to its Hazel McCallion campus with the support of nearly $68M from Ontario. An ON release states that the new facilities will provide high-quality postsecondary education to 3,200 more students and will feature 29 state-of-the-art classrooms, 28 studios, new labs, and production spaces where students can engage in hands-on learning. “We are grateful to the Province of Ontario for its investment which has helped make our Hazel McCallion Campus expansion a reality,” said Sheridan President Mary Preece. “With its opening, we are able to increase our enrolment and offer a truly creative and innovative postsecondary experience to thousands of students from Mississauga and beyond.” ON | Sheridan

Queen’s TRC Task Force delivers final report, recommendations

A Truth and Reconciliation Task Force at Queen’s University has delivered its final report on how the university can meet the calls to action in the national TRC report. The task force has issued 25 recommendations, which include a call for new bridging and pathway programs to increase postsecondary access for Indigenous youth, as well as efforts to ensure Indigenous candidates are represented in administrative roles, and the creation of spaces that honour Queen’s location on the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee People. “Today, our communities come together to change course,” said Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf. “By taking steps to ensure that Indigenous histories are shared, by recognizing that we can all benefit from Indigenous knowledge, and by creating culturally validating learning environments, we can begin to reduce barriers to education and create a more welcoming, inclusive, and diverse university.” Queen’s (1) | Queen’s (2)

Lethbridge, Saamis partner on Powerline Technician program for Aboriginal community

Lethbridge College has continued its partnership with Saamis Aboriginal Employment and Training Association and other partners to support a Powerline Technician program intake that is specifically designed for the Aboriginal community. Lethbridge states that on top of powerline technician-specific training, the program includes essential skills training that will improve participant success and employability. “This is a wonderful opportunity for Aboriginal people in Lethbridge and area to take part in the Powerline Technician program,” says Saamis Executive Director Anita Neefs. “This industry-supported partnership had a tremendous result last year and is a fantastic opportunity for individuals to get into a high-demand career.” The program has been funded by Alberta Labour, Community Futures Treaty Seven, and Rupertsland Institute Métis Centre of Excellence. Lethbridge

URegina engineering professor sanctioned for plagiarizing student’s work

A University of Regina engineering professor has been reprimanded by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan for plagiarizing the work of one of his master's students. CBC reports that a December 2016 document from the APEGS states that there was sufficient evidence showing that Professor Shahid Azam published an academic paper but “failed to acknowledge the contribution” of master’s student Argun Paul. Azam has admitted guilt on the matter, and the journal that originally published the paper has reportedly withdrawn it. CBC