Top Ten

September 12, 2017

ON universities hire Indigenous elders to support students, understanding

Ontario universities are hiring Indigenous elders in growing numbers to bring Indigenous perspectives to the education system and offer support to students, reports TVO. The article notes that while some of the province’s universities have been appointing elders since the early 1990s, this practice has gained growing support and visibility since the introduction of the Postsecondary Education Fund for Aboriginal Learners in 2009. “The community recognizes you as an elder,” says Joanne Dallaire, who became an elder on Ryerson’s Aboriginal Education Council in 2008 and is now recognized as an elder for the whole university. “You don’t jump into being an elder. It’s a gradual accumulation of experiences and knowledge.” TVO

Canada, QC invest over $21M at Montreal Island cégeps, colleges

The Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec are investing just over $21M in projects at CEGEPs and colleges on Montreal Island. A federal release reports that the funding will support 14 projects at nine CEGEPs and colleges, ranging from the establishment of a regional centre for research and training to the creation of an animal health services centre. “The projects receiving funding support the college and the community, not only from an educational and social perspective but also from an economic one. It would have been impossible to carry out all these projects without the support of the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec,” said Stéphane Godbout, directeur général of Collège de Rosemont. Canada

Can design thinking transform higher ed?

A number of PSE stakeholders have gravitated toward design thinking as a way to change higher ed, writes Lee Gardner, but many say that there are limits to how much this approach to innovation can influence the sector. To begin, the author notes, design thinking might seem incompatible with academia because it assumes that end-users are the experts on how teaching and learning should be accomplished rather than professors. Gardner notes that some higher ed professionals see design thinking as a way to “better engage a new generation of students” or as a “tool to bring fresh thinking to colleges bound by tradition and inertia but operating in an increasingly volatile landscape.” Yet as one interviewed professor notes, the approach has yet to prove itself to many academics. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Hundreds of Canadians likely have fake credentials: CBC

As many as 800 Canadians have purchased fake credentials from just a single online diploma mill, reports CBC Marketplace. During a CBC investigation, a team of researchers spent months combing through thousands of degree transactions to determine the number of fake degree buyers. Former FBI agent Allen Ezell points out that those who purchase false credentials and enter professions such as engineering and health care can put many people in danger. “All of us can be harmed by any professional that … does not have the full extent of training that his credentials purport that he has,” says Ezell, adding that these false degree also devalue legitimate degrees that people spend many years earning. CBC

UVic launches Indigenous Plan

The University of Victoria has announced that it will launch its first Indigenous Plan as part of its ongoing efforts to support increased Indigenous student recruitment and retention through innovative programming, bursaries, mentoring, and community-based internships. As part of the plan, the university is establishing the Learning from Each Other fund to provide meaningful engagement with Elders, as well as opportunities for learning Indigenous ways of knowing to students, faculty and staff. The fund will support events and activities such as faculty seminars, classroom visits, Elder honorariums, and meetings off campus with community groups or local First Nations communities. UVic | UVic (Elder engagement fund)

Bill 148 has the potential to improve the lives of ON contract faculty: OCUFA leaders

“Ontarians expect universities to be good employers and role models in their communities. But for more than a decade, universities have been hiring more and more professors on short-term contracts, with low wages, no job security, and limited access to benefits,” write Gyllian Phillips and Frankie Cachon for the Windsor Star. The authors note that Ontario’s Bill 148 can offer a golden opportunity to ensure equal pay for equal work among PSE instructors, but they note that the bill “also includes broad exceptions that will allow employers to avoid paying their contract and part-time employees equally.” One of the areas where these exceptions might apply is higher ed, the authors add, concluding that the province must ensure that the bill helps ensure fairness, job stability, and equal pay for the province’s contract faculty. Windsor Star

UMFA reaches contract agreement “under duress,” awaits results of legal challenge against MB

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association issued a release late last Friday stating that its members have voted in favour of ratifying a four-year settlement. The contract includes job protections for academic librarians and instructors, and increased the minimum number of UMFA members required to be on payroll unless the university proves financial exigency. The Winnipeg Free Press reports that the agreement was reached “under duress,” and that represented parties expect to revisit wages if a labour coalition legal challenge that was launched by 25 unions against the Manitoba government is successful. UMFA President Janet Morrill noted that the association holds the right to reopen negotiations pending the results of the legal challenge. CBC | Winnipeg Free Press

Departmental boundaries obstruct more than they enable, says THE contributor

“Perhaps our academic departments aren’t as useful or even practical as they seem. We’re used to them, they’re certainly convenient, and we sometimes cling to them to offer protection, identity and a physical location – but they can be more of a barrier than a benefit,” writes Zahir Irani. The author notes that one of the difficulties that academics often face is that they are looking to find a place in the university for ideas that do not fit into traditional departmental boundaries. Departments, the author adds, can also be an obstacle to having discussions about giving resources to cross-disciplinary work. The author offers examples and tips on how to rethink departmental lines to encourage more interdisciplinary collaboration. Times Higher Ed

More than one-third of ON students receive free PSE tuition

More than one-third of Ontario PSE students will receive free tuition in 2017-18 due to changes made in the Ontario Student Assistance Program, reports the ON government. “Going to college or university is a wonderful opportunity for young Ontarians. That’s why this government is committed to making it as easy and affordable as we possibly can for students, so that they can pursue their dreams, fulfil their potential and get the skills they’ll need for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Deb Matthews, ON Deputy Premier, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, and Minister Responsible for Digital Government. The release notes that Matthews met with students yesterday to discuss other programs that will benefit students as well, such as free prescription medication for youth under 25, a rise in the minimum wage, and free online textbooks. ON | National Post

UBC's maintenance worker union vote in favour of strike mandate

Members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 882 at the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus have voted unanimously in favour of job action if a contract dispute is not resolved. “We hope UBC negotiators will return to the bargaining table quickly to reach an agreement without unfair concessions, otherwise we will regrettably be forced to take limited job action in the near future and escalate until we reach a new contract,” says Union Local business manager Adrian Davi, who added that workers have been without a contact for three years. UBC Associate Director of Public Affairs Leslie Dickson stated that the institution hopes to resolve negotiations before a strike takes place, and that if a strike became a possibility, the university would seek an essential service designation from the Labour Relations Board of BC. Classes are not expected to be affected by the picket line. CBC | UBC | Vancouver Sun