Top Ten

May 16, 2017

Boom in international applications turns into admissions at Canadian universities

“Canadian universities will welcome unprecedented numbers of international students this fall, with some institutions seeing jumps of 25 per cent or more in admissions of students from abroad,” writes Simona Chiose for the Globe and Mail. The author notes that within the past year, Canadian institutions have seen double-digit increases in the number of applications from international students. But until recently, institutions and stakeholders were not certain whether these applications would translate into admissions. Chiose notes that this rise in admissions coincides with ambitious internationalization projects being implemented at a number of Canadian schools. “And in some cases,” the author adds, “the rise in international students will plug budget gaps that postsecondary institutions in Ontario and the Maritimes are experiencing as a result of declining domestic enrolment.” Globe and Mail

Canada has been lucky to avoid “WannaCry” ransomware crisis: Ryerson professor

Canada largely has luck to thank for escaping a massive cyberattack that impacted networks around the world last week, according to Ryerson University Professor Atty Mashatan. Speaking with the Montreal Gazette, Mashatan explains that the WannaCry ransomware attack disrupted services in Russia, the UK, Ukraine, Spain, and India by seizing control of computers, encrypting their contents, and holding the computer’s data ransom. “The vehicle that the malware going from one device to the other is spam. The most common way that they do that is via a link in an email,” says Mashatan, adding that, “this time around we were lucky.” Mashatan notes that if one person in Canada had clicked on an infected link, the ransomware might have spread across the country. Since the publication of Mashatan's commentary, the Government of Saskatchewan has reportedly experienced a network attack from the ransomware. Montreal Gazette | Global News (SK) | Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Trent to add 25 full-time faculty positions, create visiting scholar program

Trent University has announced that it will hire 25 new full-time faculty members due to a marked increase in the school’s enrolments over the past three years. The 25 positions will be focused in the humanities, social sciences, sciences, education, and nursing. Of these 25 positions, four will be tenure-track, while the rest will be permanent jobs with a special focus on teaching and on researching effective, discipline-specific teaching methods. Trent also announced last week that it will create a new visiting scholar program, thanks to a $1.25M anonymous endowment. “Today’s announcement underscores Trent’s commitment to undergraduate teaching at a time when our interactive approach to student learning is in high demand among students from across the country and around the world,” said Trent President Leo Groarke. Peterborough Examiner | kawarthaNOW | Trent

NAIT receives largest alumnus donation in school history

NAIT has received a $1M donation from alumnus Ashif Mawji and family to create the the Mawji Centre for New Venture and Student Entrepreneurship. The donation is the largest ever made by an alumnus to the polytechnic. A NAIT release states that the Mawji family donation will provide seed capital to establish the centre, which is expected to be operational in fall of 2017. More specifically, the centre will be a hub for entrepreneurship, innovation, and new venture learning opportunities. “Entrepreneurship has a natural place in polytechnics,” said NAIT President Glenn Feltham. “This gift will allow us to support aspiring student entrepreneurs across NAIT.” NAIT | Edmonton Journal

Presidents should spend first year getting to know their university: US report

“In the first year on the job, a college president may feel pressure to put out a glossy five-year-plan or begin an ambitious capital campaign,” writes Nell Gluckman for the Chronicle of Higher Education. But a new 18-month study from the US has found that presidents would fare better if they focused on spending meal times in the dining hall and planning a vacation. The report notes that while the role of president “has never been more complex,” presidents should spend the early stages of their tenure getting to know their institution and its challenges instead of bringing forward a ready-made action plan on day one. Gluckman summarizes six key action items from the report that describe how presidents can better use their first year in office. Chronicle of Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed

New federal CRC diversity rules “don’t go far enough”: UAlberta scholars

A new set of federal rules aiming to improve the diversity of the Canada Research Chairs program “don’t go far enough” and will not close the diversity gap, write Malinda Smith, Kisha Supernant, and Nancy Bray of the University of Alberta. While the authors commend Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan for calling attention to the “dismal” equity numbers in the program, they argue that many of the new guidelines set out in the federal rules are not new, and that the federal government has already allowed universities to delay compliance despite knowing about the diversity gap for years. The authors also note that the new guidelines do not draw attention to the structural  problems related to disciplines and funding, as federal research funding in recent years has been redirected into those fields and disciplines where women and Indigenous peoples are most underrepresented. Globe and Mail

Competing on the global stage can turn universities away from their local communities: UWN contributor

“As the distribution of economic activity and scientific collaboration has become increasingly international, higher education has been transformed from a local institution into a global actor,” writes Ellen Hazelkorn for University World News. This shift, the author adds, has reversed the traditional relationship between universities and states, with universities now providing for the needs of the state rather than the other way around. One of the primary metrics of success in this new era of globalized higher education, writes Hazelkorn, is global university rankings. Yet “as nations compete based on their knowledge and innovation systems,” the author concludes, “higher education plays a key role as it is transformed from being a predominantly social institution with a local or sub-national remit to being the cornerstone of economic policy with geopolitical responsibilities.” University World News

SFU receives $1M to support entrepreneurship

Simon Fraser University is poised to bolster an entrepreneurship training program, thanks to a $1M gift from Coast Capital Savings. SFU will recognize the gift by renaming its Venture Connection program as the Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection program. An SFU release notes that the program is Western Canada’s first university business incubator, offering entrepreneurship training services and opportunities for students, faculty, staff and alumni. “Thanks to the outstanding contributions from Coast Capital Savings, to date, over 6,000 participants have received inspiration and support,” said SFU President Andrew Petter. “As Canada’s engaged university, SFU is committed to advancing a vibrant innovation sector that generates new economic opportunities and social benefits for British Columbia and beyond.” SFU

TRU professors pen open letter highlighting concerns with academic seniority practices

14 professors at Thompson Rivers University have written an open letter to Kamloops this Week expressing their concern over what they view as “anomalies in the way academic seniority is recognized and rewarded” at their school. The professors state that even as full professors, they earn less than the most junior full professors at the nearby University of British Columbia Okanagan. The reason this gap exists, the authors note, is because instead of basing salaries on career ranks, TRU allegedly “has conferred disproportionate salaries on hand-picked new hires while keeping the salaries of longest-serving full professors at ridiculously low levels.” This structure not only underpays senior professors, the authors write, but creates a disincentive for more junior faculty to put in the work required to climb faculty ranks. Kamloops this Week

Why boards need to be more curious

“Good boards ask good questions, and great boards ask great questions,” write Peter Eckel and Cathy Trower for Inside Higher Ed, but the authors note that all too often, board members lack the curiosity necessary to find fresh solutions to old problems. One of the main barriers to asking good questions, the authors add, is a prevailing leadership culture “in which curiosity is perceived as an indication of ineptness.” In these situations, boards develop incentive structures that reward statements and arguments rather than questions. The article lists the top risks that can affect boards that lack curiosity, and offers tips of how to foster more curiosity among a board moving forward. Inside Higher Ed