Top Ten

July 26, 2017

ON universities need to be more transparent with faculty salary data: Hicks

“Over my 30 year career in service to them, Ontario universities and colleges have again and again said ‘no’ to sharing data about themselves,” writes Martin Hicks for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Hicks writes that he recently requested data from ON universities that would allow HEQCO to calculate how much the salaries of full-time faculty members have increased in recent years. Hicks reports that the universities denied this request on the basis that it would be misleading and that no other sector is asked to publish similar data on salary growth. Hicks argues, however, that as institutions of the public good, universities have a social duty to be transparent about how they spend their public dollars. HEQCO

“Time-savers” increase happiness more than material goods: UBC, HBS research

Spending money on time-saving services like hired cleaners makes people much happier, but few make the investment, according to a new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School. Researchers gave 60 people taking part in the study in Vancouver $40 to spend on two weekends, with the first weekend being devoted to buying material things and the second devoted to buying “time-saving” things. When the researchers compared happiness levels between the two weekends, they found that the participants reported experiencing much higher levels of happiness after buying time-saving services. The study also found, however, the participants were much less likely to say they would spend money on “time-savers” compared to material things. Times Colonist

Yukon program, INRS, Yukon Energy partner to study Mayo, Aishihik rivers

The Northern Climate ExChange at Yukon College has partnered with the Institut national de la recherche scientifique and Yukon Energy Corporation to study climate change impacts on the Mayo and Aishihik rivers in the Yukon. The three-year project will run on a budget of $1M, with close to half the amount coming from the energy corporation. The research team will look at how long-term changes in temperature, snow, rain, and permafrost may impact each river in the decades to come. The project will reportedly allow Yukon Energy to better manage water in each hydroelectric reservoir in the short term while planning for the effects of climate change over time. NationTalk

Portage hockey team to remain in Lac La Biche following legal battle

A legal battle between two northeastern Alberta communities has ended with the Portage College Voyageurs men's hockey team remaining in Lac La Biche instead of moving to Cold Lake. CBC reports that the team, based in Lac La Biche, asked the City of Cold Lake for financial support earlier this year. The City in turn promised the team a three-year sponsorship deal at $100K per year in exchange for naming rights. At this same time, however, the team was reportedly trying to reach a new funding deal with Lac La Biche County. In early July, Lac La Biche County went to court to stop the move to Cold Lake, arguing that the Voyageurs had a continuing commitment to play in Lac La Biche. Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland said that while the college's decision to keep the team in Lac La Biche is disappointing, Cold Lake will not be pursuing the issue any further. CBC

“Find your unique ability,” says UBC alum of competing in tight law job market

“There are simply too many lawyers being trained for too few jobs,” writes UBC alumnus Andy Semotiuk for Forbes. The author cites recent US statistics showing that the employment rate for new law school graduates was only 64.5% in 2016, and notes that the Canadian landscape is equally “saturated” with law school graduates. With this in mind, the author advises those enrolled in or considering law school to “find your unique ability and put it into the service of others,” even if one realizes that this unique ability does not lie in the legal field. Forbes

Mexican students learn English and Island culture through Collège de l'Île program

Students from Mexico are learning English while gaining exposure to the culture of Prince Edward Island through a program being run by Collège de l'Île. The four-week English immersion program includes 96 hours of teaching and cultural activities that allow the participants learn about the Island as well as the language. This program is part of Proyecta 10,000, an initiative whose goal is to bring 10,000 Mexican students to Canada between 2015 and 2018 to learn English. Each week of the program has had a different theme, including history, heritage, arts and traditions. CBC

Seneca students provide recommendations on municipal staffing issues

Public Administration students at Seneca College recently presented their recommendations to municipal leaders about future staffing issues in the public sector. The presentation was conducted in collaboration with ONWARD: Building Tomorrow’s Ontario Municipal Leaders, which is a coalition that includes several political and municipal staff organizations. The group’s objective is to ensure future staffing needs are met to guarantee the stability of municipal services. “This made for an interesting assignment because they were not only helping to shape policy, but directly contributing practical solutions to the current and projected skills shortage in the municipal government sector across Canada,” says Seneca Professor Jon Olinski. Seneca

Debate emerges over costs associated with academic conferences

Many scholars who are off the tenure track have long criticized the high costs associated with attending academic conferences, writes Colleen Flaherty. But a new round of criticism has come from tenure-track and tenured professors, with a number proposing less expensive ways for academics to meet and exchange ideas. The article cites assistant research professor Pamela Gay, who argues in a recent article that conference costs are essentially no-interest loans made by a faculty member to their university, due to the benefit the university derives from these costs and the length of time it takes to reimburse them—if they do so at all. ““We need to stop being silent,” Gay adds, “and start recognizing that academia taxes people for the right to keep and advance their careers.” Inside Higher Ed | Medium (Gay Article)

Data needed to determine whether online education eliminates academic jobs

“How many good jobs in education have been created by the growth in online learning?” asks Joshua Kim, who notes that the popular assumption that online learning kills jobs may be misleading. Kim notes that from 2002 to 2014, the number of students who took at least one online course rose from 1.6 million to 5.8 million, with a large proportion of these students concentrated in non-profit institutions. “If anything, I’ve seen online learning offer more opportunities for teaching gigs for all higher ed teachers,” Kim argues, stating that many schools tend to draw their online faculty from the same pool of academics as their residential programs. Yet ultimately, Kim argues that data on the jobs associated with online education need to be published before one can determine the impact of online learning on academic jobs. Inside Higher Ed

RRU doctoral program can provide a model for others in re-imagining the PhD: report

Royal Roads University’s Doctor of Social Sciences (DSocSci) program is effective at creating advanced scholar-practitioners who generate high-quality research and action, according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada. The report examines Royal Roads’ DSocSci program in light of the shifting academic labour market and the need for universities to better prepare doctoral students for work in non-academic careers. An RRU release notes that the findings will be a welcome development for those “who have called for a modernization of the PhD in recent decades, citing overspecialization, lack of collaboration across disciplines, and inadequate professional skills development as challenges to be addressed.” Conference Board | RRU