Top Ten

April 5, 2017

UBC to expand graduating tech cohorts as part of downtown Vancouver transformation

The University of British Columbia will soon increase its graduating cohort by 250 students as part of a new initiative to transform Vancouver’s Robson Square district. The British Columbia government says that it will help UBC expand its presence in downtown Vancouver by creating a vibrant digital and data science hub that will include e-classrooms; cutting-edge programming; and collaborative space for innovators, sector partners, and investors. A BC release states that the 250-graduate increase at UBC will come from the expansion of engineering, computer science, and life sciences programming and is part of the #BCTECH Strategy commitment to increase the number of tech grads throughout the province by 1000 per year. The province says that it will soon embark on an engagement process to seek the input of British Columbians on the future of the Robson Square district. BC | UBC

Six ways QC can attract more international students: Conference Board briefing

Quebec derives an enormous amount of value from international students, but the province is not recruiting as many of these students as it might, according to a new briefing from the Conference Board of Canada. The briefing outlines the educational, social, cultural, demographic, and economic benefits of international students for the province before offering six recommendations for how QC could better attract these students in an increasingly competitive global market. These recommendations call on the province to develop a provincial international education strategy, expand the pool of international students, review the financial recruitment incentives available to universities, and make international students eligible for more programs designed for immigrants. The report also recommends that QC improve the point scores for Canadian degrees in immigrant selection, facilitate initial work experiences by making job placements widely available, and increase employer awareness of the value of international students. Conference Board

Academics need the chance to be wrong if we want them speaking beyond the ivory tower: Gordon

Some of the lessons that are being drawn [about Andrew Potter’s resignation] are, well, unhelpful,” writes Stephen Gordon for the National Post. “At least, unhelpful if you believe that academics should be sticking their heads above the parapets of their ivory towers more often than they are now.” Gordon argues that the first thing the public should understand about Potter’s resignation is that it is “not a scandal” for an academic—or anyone, the author adds—to be wrong about something. Gordon writes that it is harmful for academics and the public to assume that an academic cannot make a poor argument, adding that those who are never wrong rarely say anything of interest. National Post

CNC to expand facilities, install high pressure boiler with $3.8M investment

The College of New Caledonia will soon offer power engineering students access to leading-edge equipment at its Quesnel campus thanks to a $3.8M contribution from the British Columbia government. A BC release states that the funds will be used to install a new high pressure steam boiler and expand facilities at CNC, which will support the college’s power engineering certification program and ensure the program meets safety and training requirements. “This new funding for CNC is much needed for our students to learn with up-to-date equipment,” said CNC President Henry Reiser. “Ensuring our students graduate with the tools they need to succeed in the work force gives them a leg up on competition for jobs.” BC

Canada to invest over $117M to attract world’s top researchers

The federal government has formally announced that it will invest over $117M to attract “world-leading scholars and researchers who will help further the country’s reputation as a global centre of excellence in science, research and innovation.” Earlier this week, Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan announced that the funds will be provided over the next eight years to support the Canada 150 Research Chairs program, which is designed to attract roughly 25 internationally esteemed researchers and Canadian expatriates to Canada. “Attracting international researchers and scholars to Canada is critical for us as a country,” said Duncan. “These efforts will also ensure the next generation of students learn from the best and brightest talent in the world, seeing what they have to offer so that they are better prepared for the highly skilled jobs of the future.” Canada

Using a laptop in class is connected to lower grades: US study

A new study from the US has found that using a laptop in class can lead to lower grades, especially for male and low-performing students. The study’s principal investigators found that students who used laptops, typically in “laptop required” or “laptop optional” classes, scored between 0.27 and 0.38 grade points lower on a four-point grade point average scale than those who took notes using pen and paper, which translates into a difference of half of a letter grade. “Students believe that laptops will improve their productivity but the opposite occurs,” said study co-author Richard Patterson, adding that the effect was “either due to the superiority of pen and paper, the unforeseen influence of distractions, or some other unseen factor.” Times Higher Education

How open educational resources are changing the way knowledge is spread, accessed

The open educational resources movement is changing the way people across the world publish and access knowledge, writes Suzanne Bowness for University Affairs. The author adds that for many academics, these resources also have the power to make teaching more collaborative, inclusive, and creative. Bowness points to BCcampus—a program that houses over 170 freely available textbooks, toolkits, and other online resources—as one example of the movement. According to BCcampus estimates, that program has saved British Columbia’s institutions between $3.3M and $3.9M. The author goes on to further explain the concept and potential of open educational resources, chronicling the work of other provincial organizations like OpenEd Manitoba and eCampusOntario. University Affairs

ULaval considers parental leave for students

In what the Journal de Montréal calls a potential first for Quebec universities, Université de Laval is considering the introduction of a six-session maternity leave for students, which would see a new mother maintain her student status and her place in her program. Last week, le Comité Politique Familiale de l’université revealed a draft of the policy that will serve as a working document for future discussions with the university. Isabelle Caouette, president of l’Association des parents-étudiants de l’Université Laval, noted that a policy would involve benefits such as standardizing the accommodations granted to parent-students at the association. Journal de Montréal

Canadore expects $1.5M to $1.8M in new funding from recent ON pledge

Canadore College President George Burton says that he expects Canadore to receive between $1.5M and $1.8M of the $50M envelope of new funding promised to Ontario colleges by the provincial government. Burton adds that one of the college's top priorities is the new Village Living Wellness and Learning Centre, the construction of which is set to begin next month. The $13.4M village will reportedly include space for the practice of Indigenous medicine, traditional practices and healing, and western and eastern medicine. It will be 35,000 square feet in size and offer lab space, a sweat lodge, and space to practise traditional lifestyle activities. North Bay Nugget

U of T fires contractor after asbestos leaks, faculty and staff express frustration

The University of Toronto has reportedly severed its relationship with a long-time contractor after the discovery of multiple asbestos leaks during its major renovations. “We have zero tolerance. And this is a contractor who's worked on this campus for a long time, multiple years—never had an issue before. We've never had a breach like this,” stated U of T Vice-President of University Operations Scott Mabury, who added that the contractor will not be given any further contracts on the St George Campus. U of T has stated that the Ministry of Labour has visited the site three times and has not issued any further orders or recommendations. The Globe and Mail reports that some faculty, staff, and students have expressed frustration with the situation. Globe and Mail | CBC