Top Ten

June 6, 2017

Finding, paying for housing not easy for today’s students

“If you’re a young university student still living at home, don’t—repeat, DON’T—feel like you’re falling short of independent, responsible adulthood,” writes Guy Dixon for the Globe and Mail. The author highlights some of the unique challenges to finding a place to live while pursuing PSE in Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax. Dixon looks specifically at the University of Toronto, McGill University, and Dalhousie University before commenting on how these schools respond to students whose housing costs put them in financial crisis. “We try to do as much preliminary education as we can, so students know what to expect when they get here,” says Jennifer Radley, manager of housing services at the U of T. “But certainly if we do have a handful of those [emergency] cases that come up, our office meets with the student one on one and just goes through some troubleshooting, and works with their resources and the university’s resources to see how we can support that student.” Globe and Mail

University rankings should be viewed with more suspicion: UBC professor

Popular global university rankings might make headlines and please the schools that do well in them, but they say very little about the quality of education offered at the schools they rank, says University of British Columbia Professor Michelle Stack. Another problem, Stack argues, is that universities place too much value on these rankings and sometimes focus on the wrong priorities in order to improve their ranking. Many of the most widely cited rankings are produced and owned by for-profit businesses, Stack adds, and the pressure created by these rankings can encourage some schools to try to “game” the system through unethical practices. Finally, Stack says that the most common rankings do not acknowledge things that should really matter to students, such as campus safety or student debt. CBC

Bishop’s launches $2M chair in undergraduate teaching excellence

Bishop’s University has announced the creation of the Stephen A Jarislowsky Chair in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence. The chair will be supported by a gift of $1M from the Jarislowsky Foundation, which will be matched by the Bishop’s University Foundation for a total commitment of $2M. A Bishop’s release notes that one of the chair’s central principles will be the recognition that “excellence in one’s academic field does not necessarily translate into excellence in teaching.” The first Chairholder will be Jessica Riddell, Associate Professor in the university's English Department. “Most of Canada’s undergraduate students do not go on to graduate school,” says Bishop's Principal Michael Goldbloom. “Their undergraduate degree is their final degree. Consequently, the ability to concentrate on how best to teach at the undergraduate level is a critical priority for Bishop’s and undergraduate programs across the country.” Bishop’s

“Let us unite”: Dal VP on the importance of advocating for discovery research

“Discovery research is both foundational and necessary to meet the many challenges that face us daily,” writes Martha Crago, vice-president, research at Dalhousie University. Crago reflects on her work with the Advisory Panel for Canada’s Review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science, and notes that the experience has taught her that “although government money has been invested in research in Canada in recent years, much of it has been for priority-driven, partnered research.” Crago argues that one of the primary questions coming out of the review is how Canadian university researchers can advance the argument for the government’s reinvestment in discovery research. “Let us unite and work with the government and wider citizenry so that they can appreciate investments in research,” Crago concludes. “To do this, we need to believe in ourselves and what we do, make it accessible to others outside the university and, in so doing, convince others of its importance.” University Affairs

Ryerson issues open letter regarding recent charges of anti-Semitism surrounding 2015 incident

Ryerson University has published an open letter to its university community affirming the school’s commitment to diversity in response to recent media coverage of a 2015 incident at the university’s School of Social Work. Two years ago, student Rebecca Katzman was reportedly denied a request to fulfill her work placement by serving at one of two Toronto-based Jewish organizations. Katzman’s third-year placement co-ordinator reportedly told the student that her organizations of choice had “a strong anti-Palestinian lean” and therefore appeared to be in opposition to the values of the School of Social Work. In its response to the story, Ryerson writes that at the time of the incident, it offered the student multiple offers of support, before adding, “we regret that the student feels the matter is still unresolved. We apologize again to the student.” The open letter also offers an explicit endorsement of the two organizations that Katzman originally wished to fulfill her placement with, calling them “appropriate agencies to be considered for placement opportunities.” Ryerson | Toronto Sun (1) | Toronto Sun (2) | Canadian Jewish News

UManitoba launches Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing

The Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba has launched its Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing—Ongomiizwin. The initiative, known as Ongomiizwin/Clearing a path for generations to come, is reportedly the largest Indigenous education and health unit in Canada with respect to its scope and mandate. “As we establish this Faculty-wide institute, we are clearing the path for tomorrow’s children – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – to be educated as dentists, dental hygienists, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and rehabilitation therapists in a culturally safe place where Indigenous knowledge and relationships are formally recognized,” said Catherine Cook, vice-dean of Indigenous health at the Rady Faculty. UManitoba

Providence issues release in wake of fire that destroyed residence building

Providence University College has issued a release stating that the school is moving ahead following a fire that consumed the Bergen Hall residence building last Thursday. “A process is already in place that will see us develop plans for immediate and long-term housing needs,” the release reads, adding that the school’s remaining accommodations will be able to comfortably host everyone attending its programs over the new few months. The release also expresses heartfelt thanks to the neighbours and firefighters who helped extinguish last Thursday’s fire. “We are excited to continue in our mission of teaching people to grow in knowledge and character for leadership and service,” the release concludes. Providence

UQÀM, Marie-Victorin, National University of Vietnam sign agreement

Université du Quebec à Montréal, Cégep Marie-Victorin, and the National University of Vietnam in Hanoi have signed a cooperation agreement that will see the three institutions develop a training program for Vietnamese students that will allow them to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Quebec. A one-year preparatory program will take place partially in Vietnam and partially at Marie-Victorin. Students who complete this program will be automatically eligible for UQÀM's undergraduate programs. Sylvain St-Amand, UQÀM’s International Relations director, noted that the program will also allow students to become acquainted with North American pedagogy, and could lead to similar gateway programs to other Asian institutions. UQÀM

Nunavut MLA questions need for Kitikmeot Mining Training Centre

The government of Nunavut has announced $39M in funding for the Kitikmeot Mining Training Centre and upgrades to Nunavut Arctic College's campus in Cambridge Bay. But Rankin Inlet North MLA Tom Sammurtok has questioned the value of the investment. “This government is looking to build a mine training centre in the Kitikmeot. We have a perfectly good mine training centre which was built to provide services to all Nunavummiut,” Sammurtok said. “I’m just curious as to why there is duplication of another mine training centre when we have a mine training centre already operating.” Paul Quassa, however, clarified that the program offered at the centre would be targeted: “With respect to the one in Rankin Inlet, let’s be clear that this is a trades school and it falls more into the category of employment training, and that’s why its name is ‘Sanatuliqsarvik Trade School.’” Nunatsiaq Online

Harvard rescinds offers of admission to 10 students for behaviour on private Facebook group

Harvard University has revoked its acceptance of at least 10 applicants to its incoming class of 2017 after learning that the applicants traded sexually explicit and racist images in a private online message group, according to the Harvard Crimson. Reuters reports that a university spokesperson declined on Monday to comment on the Crimson’s report, which cites multiple members of the incoming class who said that their offers of admission had been withdrawn. The messages exchanged on a private Facebook group reportedly joked at times about sexual assault, the Holocaust, and various ethnic groups. According to the Crimson, university officials notified the students in April 2017 that their admission offers had been revoked. “We do not comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants,” Harvard spokeswoman Rachael Dane said in an email when asked for comment. CBC (Reuters)