Top Ten

May 24, 2017

International student funding not keeping pace with growth in enrolments

The number of awards and financial supports available to international students studying in Canada is not keeping pace with growing enrolments, writes Simona Chiose for the Globe and Mail. As many Canadian schools report record numbers of international students for the coming year, Chiose notes that a “vast majority" of Canadian research-intensive universities do not receive any public funding for international students, be they graduate or undergraduate. While some attempts have been made to provide more money to these students, such attempts are reportedly not keeping pace with a significant growth in international student numbers in recent years. “Much as it is exhilarating to see the growth in demand, it is disconcerting, because if it does not come with additional money, we are going to frustrate a larger number of students,” says Britta Baron, the associate vice-president, international, at the University of Alberta. Globe and Mail

UoGuelph student union sparks debate after deeming Lou Reed song transphobic

The student union at the University of Guelph gained international attention this month after it criticized the Lou Reed song “Walk on the Wild Side” for being transphobic and apologized after it was played at a campus event. The Toronto Star reports that online reaction to the decision has been mixed. “(They) literally found a pro-trans song to be transphobic because it implied being trans is uncommon/unusual. Look at when the song was written for a little perspective,” wrote one online commenter. Another noted that “if the biggest controversy is that the (student association) apologized for a song being transphobic and then it turned out it wasn’t—that's basically fine. Good on them for trying to be accountable, even if they got it wrong.” Since the condemnation of the song became international news, several of Reed's close friends have defended the late singer-songwriter, saying that the song is “a love song to all the people [Reed] knew.” Toronto Star

GBC releases handbook on teaching, assessment of critical thinking skills after three-year study

George Brown College has developed an assessment rubric and handbook to help PSE institutions  incorporate critical thinking skills into their curriculum and improve the way they assess these skills. The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario reports that these new resources are the products of a three-year study of critical thinking skills at the college. During the study, the research team found that critical thinking was not explicitly being addressed or assessed within existing English courses and rubrics. Further, the assessment of critical thinking was complicated by the quality of students’ English language skills, which required additional training for faculty to understand critical thinking separately from language skills. HEQCO | Report | Handbook

Dual credit programs offer opportunity for head start on PSE

Students interested in getting an early start on their postsecondary education are turning in increasing numbers to Alberta’s dual credit programs, writes Juris Graney for the Edmonton Journal. The author highlights such a program at NorQuest College, which has graduated nearly 500 students since it began eight years ago. Focused in the health field, the program gives high school students the opportunity to earn 25 secondary and 25 postsecondary credits, and provides them the opportunity to work in home care, long-term care, assisted living, or at schools with students with disabilities. “When they take a course like this, it’s real life, they see value in it, they see they are able to help people have a better quality of life,” says Program Coordinator Tamis Romboughand. Edmonton Journal

URegina cuts are bad for SK economy: Leader-Post

“When it comes to taking cuts, perhaps the U of R has done its part,” writes the editorial board of the Regina Leader-Post. The article highlights the economic benefits of URegina on the Saskatchewan economy, and argues that the provincial government's short-term goal of balanced budgets will come at the cost of long-term benefits that the university could provide with better funding. URegina President Vianne Timmons recently noted that in the past nine years, provincial funding has dropped from 60% to 51% of the university's budget. Meanwhile, data supplied by URegina indicates that since 2009, there has been a 25% growth in the number of students, 122% growth in the number of international students, and 84% growth in the number of Indigenous students. “We are not a burden on you, I hope you’ve realized,” said Timmons at a Regina and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “We’re actually an investment. … We generate huge economic impact.” Regina Leader-Post

UCalgary Faculty Association criticizes mid-negotiation change in AB bargaining legislation

The University of Calgary Faculty Association has expressed deep concern with the Alberta government for changing collective bargaining legislation while the Association is still in the middle of new contract negotiations with UCalgary. This spring, the NDP introduced and passed Bill 7, which brings faculty associations under the provincial Labour Relations Code as unions, thus giving them the right to strike but taking away compulsory arbitration. The faculty association was reportedly in the midst of contract negotiations when the legislation came into effect. UCalgary would not comment on the negotiations, but said in a statement that its most recent wage offer to the faculty association was informed by a “request for fiscal prudence” from the provincial government. Calgary Herald

Plagiarism does not always deserve harsh punishment: IHE contributor

“Plagiarism, we know, is an immoral act, a simple case of right and wrong, and as such, deserves to be punished,” writes Jennifer Mott-Smith before adding, “however, nothing is simple about plagiarism. In fact, the more we examine plagiarism, the more inconsistencies we find, and the more confusion.” Mott-Smith notes that it can often be difficult to determine ownership of a particular idea because any given person’s ideas are always mixed with those of others. Second, Mott-Smith notes that anyone looking to learn a new field of knowledge will often “try out” other writers’ phrases and ideas in order to master that field. Third, the author notes that expectations around attribution and writing “vary among contexts and readers, making it not only confusing to learn the rules but impossible to satisfy them all.” Inside Higher Ed

UOttawa pledges to meet its CRC diversity targets amidst criticism

The University of Ottawa says that it is confident that it will meet the federal government’s targets for diversity among the Canada Research Chairs held at the school, yet a UOttawa professor says that doing so will require more than words. UOttawa Spokesperson Isabelle Mailloux Pulkinghorn says that the school is making progress on addressing the existing shortfall in the diversity of its CRC holders. “The University of Ottawa has redoubled its efforts to ensure measures are in place throughout its Canada Research Chair recruitment and nomination process to support the full participation of members of these groups.” But Amir Attaran, a UOttawa professor who recently held a research chair and is now suing the university for discrimination, disagrees. “This is a university that went backwards on equity not forwards,” says Attaran. Metro

Number of students dropping out of UK universities with mental health issues grows by 210%

The number of students dropping out of UK universities with mental health problems has grown significantly in recent years, according to official UK figures. Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency has revealed that a record 1,180 students who experienced mental health problems left university early in 2014-15, the most recent year for which data is available. The Guardian reports that this figure amounts to a 210% increase in such numbers since 2009-10. These statistics have provoked PSE stakeholders from across the UK to call for greater mental health supports for students. Former Health Minister Norman Lamb has stated that there is “a crisis on campus with respect to students’ mental health,” adding that mental health services are “too often underfunded.” The Guardian

Fleming undertakes one of the largest hiring initiatives in school history

Fleming College has announced that it is hiring more than a dozen full-time faculty and staff positions in the spring of 2017 in an effort to keep pace with growing enrolments. A Fleming release states that the college will also look to expand and upgrade its physical space, with two major renovation projects that are beginning at the school’s Frost and Sutherland campuses. The renovations will create new classrooms, labs, and study spaces for students. “As recently hired faculty attest, the College is a great place to work and the opportunity to develop the next generation in Canada’s workforce is an extraordinary privilege,” said Fleming College President Tony Tilly. Fleming