Top Ten

May 11, 2017

Four Canadian universities identified as “tech challengers” by THE

Four Canadian universities have appeared on a list of schools that the Times Higher Education has identified as “technology challengers,” or schools that “have innovation at the core of their strategy, strong industry links and research that excels in technological areas like engineering.” The University of Waterloo, University of Calgary, Queen’s University, and Simon Fraser University all appeared on the list. “While elite institutions may be able to rely on their long-established reputations and large pots of research funding,” the article notes, technology challengers “have been forced to be fleet-footed and innovative as they strive for other sources of income.” The product of this fleet-footedness, the article adds, is a group of schools that are at the centre of “innovative areas of research associated with the technological and digital revolution.” Times Higher Education

MRU, SMU researchers find that student evaluations are dependent on subject area

“Professors teaching quantitative courses are far more likely not to receive tenure, promotion and/or merit pay when their performance is evaluated against common standards,” says a study co-written by Mount Royal University Psychology Professor Bob Uttl and Saint Mary’s University PhD Candidate Dylan Smibert. The study investigated over 325,000 individual student ratings for a select number of quantitative and nonquantitative fields, and found that class subject had a substantial impact on satisfaction and excellence ratings. Uttl and Smibert state that these findings at least suggest that “fairness requires that we evaluate a professor teaching a particular subject against other professors teaching the same subject rather than against some common standard,” and Uttl further suggests that student evaluations of teaching should not be used for high-stakes personnel decisions. Inside Higher Ed

U of T doctoral student diagnosed with terminal cancer receives PhD in special ceremony

A PhD candidate diagnosed with terminal cancer fulfilled a lifelong dream earlier this week when she received her doctorate in medical science from the University of Toronto. The Toronto Star reports that Precilla Veigas was halfway through her PhD program when she received a diagnosis of a rare and incurable abdominal cancer. Veigas was honoured by the school this Tuesday in a special ceremony at U of T’s Massey College, which was reportedly the first of its kind in school history. “I had a decision on my hands, to do or to die, literally,” she said in her remarks. “I believed in miracles and I was ready to fight.” The Star reports that Veigas’s doctoral work is already being incorporated into potentially life-saving practices at a Toronto hospital. Toronto Star

UManitoba fined $13K for workplace accident

The University of Manitoba has pleaded guilty to a workplace safety charge after an employee fell 14 feet through a hole in a building's floor. An investigation from Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health reportedly found that the employee fell after two other employees left a hole in the building's floor unattended. The report also found that no guardrail had been placed around the hole. The university pleaded guilty last month to a charge of failing to ensure the safety of workers under Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and Health Act. It has now been ordered to pay $13K in fines and surcharges. Metro | Global News | Journal of Commerce

Portage College to expand Cold Lake campus, program offerings with $1.1M investment

Portage College has received a $1.1 M investment from the Province of Alberta to help the institution expand its Cold Lake campus to an anticipated 5,400 square metres, increase the study space available to students, and introduce new programs in high demand areas. “The funding is critically important for the college for future prospects in Cold Lake. The college simply doesn’t have $1.1 million to put into a very specific project,” said Portage College President Trent Keough. “This money comes at a time when we can plan in consultation with the city as they are looking at the existing and future footprint of this site.” Keough also told the Cold Lake Sun how the City of Cold Lake helped the college lobby for funding. Bonnyville Nouvelle | Cold Lake Sun | Portage College

UCalgary, Olds partner on collaborations in veterinary education and research

The University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Olds College have forged a partnership that will see the institutions collaborate on veterinary education and research. “I’m excited about collaborating to create unique learning opportunities for students at UCVM and Olds College,” said Baljit Singh, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at UCalgary. “And this agreement supports our faculty’s strategic commitment to strengthen our community connections and serve Alberta’s rural communities and its agricultural and equine industries.” The agreement will reportedly make possible a number of initiatives and programs, such as student practicum rotations, research collaborations, and teaching opportunities at Olds for UCalgary graduate students. UCalgary

Holland, Collège de l'Île travel to Magdalen Islands to recruit, promote new partnership

Officials from Prince Edward Island’s Holland College and Collège de l'Île recently travelled to the Magdalen Islands with an eye to attract more students to their programs. CBC reports that the officials emphasized the strong ties between the Acadian and Francophone community, and informed students about a new partnership that will allow them to take courses at both institutions. “So now with being able to take French programming for the students from the Magdalens and for the English-speaking students, they can also come and take our programming,” said Ross Young, international student coordinator for Holland. Collège de l'Île’s Director of Communications Dominique Chouinard added that both colleges are currently “on the upswing” in the Magdalen Islands. CBC

No substitute for proper funding when it comes to PSE graduation, retention: US report

Performance-based funding is not an effective way for governments to improve PSE graduation and retention rates, according to an analysis of 1,800 research studies. The report found that performance-based funding does not improve retention and graduation outcomes, and that it also has negative side-effects, such as encouraging schools to admit only the students who are most likely to succeed. The report does, however, highlight several effective strategies, which include the formation of more articulation agreements between institutions. Yet ultimately, the report concludes, the strongest driver of retention and graduation is the amount of money invested in public postsecondary institutions. The report also found that needs-based financial aid was especially helpful at improving PSE success rates. Inside Higher Ed

MUN proposes to keep tuition freeze only for NL students, introduce new fees

Memorial University is proposing to keep its tuition freeze for Newfoundland and Labrador students, while all other current students will see their tuition frozen until 2021, reports CBC. However, the proposal would also see tuition rise $400 per semester for Canadian students from outside NL, and $1.2K per semester for international students starting in fall 2018. The university is also proposing a “campus renewal fee,” which will cost $50 per course for undergraduate students and $167 per semester for graduate students, in addition to a $50 per semester “student service fee.” The proposed changes have met with sharp criticism from MUN’s student union, but MUN President Gary Kachanoski says that fees such as the campus renewal fee are necessary to meet the school's infrastructure needs and “to keep the rain and water out.” CBC

What will PSE admissions look like if traditional high school transcripts disappear?

“What if traditional high school transcripts—lists of courses taken, grades earned and so forth—didn't exist?” This is the question being put forward by an educational reform movement in the United States, which Inside Higher Ed reports is looking to redefine how high schools chart the success of students and how PSE institutions process admissions. Leaders from more than 100 private schools across the US say that they are ready to embrace a “mastery transcript,” which evaluates students based on their level of proficiency in specific skills, rather than a grade on a certain academic subject. The transcript would also be paired with a work portfolio, which would allow an admissions officer to see evidence of students succeeding in particular competencies. Inside Higher Ed