Top Ten

October 17, 2017

Faculty at 24 ON colleges now on strike

Faculty at 24 Ontario colleges have gone on strike as of this past weekend. The Ontario Public Services Employees Union says that the colleges and the union were unable to resolve their disagreements by a strike deadline of 12:01 am on Sunday. College faculty have called for improvements in job security and for faculty to have a stronger voice in academic decision making. “There was really nothing left that we could put forward, nothing more coming from the employer,” said Nicole Zwiers, a member of the union bargaining team. The College Employer Council, which represents that colleges, argued that the union’s demands would cost the college system an additional $250M per year. Globe and Mail

UCalgary faculty request provincial probe into academic freedom at school

The University of Calgary's Faculty Association is calling for the provincial government to investigate the alleged “domination” of senior administration in the school’s governance. Faculty association chair Sandra Hoenle wrote in a letter last week that “the failures of the checks and balances intended in effective collegial governance are significant,” adding that “there's really this corporate creep, and the thing is — we're not a corporation. Universities are not corporations.” The statements have arisen in the wake of an investigation by the Canadian Association of University Teachers into the formation of the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability in 2011 and 2012. CBC

There is no STEM gap in ON: Watson

“Women [in Ontario] who come out of high school with the math and science prerequisites for STEM programs are only slightly less likely than men to go into such programs,” writes William Watson. The author notes that while it is true that only 30.3% of women university undergraduates are enrolled in STEM programs compared to 42.5% of men, the difference is due largely to the larger overall number of women attending university. Citing previous research on the topic, Watson argues that women make up roughly 49% of STEM students in ON universities. “If there is a problem,” Watson concludes, “it’s not that women aren’t interested in STEM; it’s that men aren’t interested in poetry—or languages or philosophy or art or all the other non-STEM subjects.” Windsor Star

KPMG report gets it wrong on MB higher ed: Seiff

“A factory approach to education won't create that rich soil for novel endeavor,” writes Joanne Seiff in response to the recent release of a KPMG financial report for Manitoba. Among the report’s recommendations are the elimination of duplicate programming across schools and the targeting of funds toward programs that produce graduates for in-demand professions. Seiff argues that the elimination of redundancy may create significant programming disruptions when professors become suddenly unable to teach, and that a lack of proximity between academics working in the same field will stifle innovation. Further, Seiff argues that jobs that are in-demand today might not be in-demand tomorrow, and that the best way to deal with this changing reality is to train creative, critical thinkers. CBC | Winnipeg Free Press

UBC partners with Huawei to spur communications innovation

The University of British Columbia has partnered with Huawei to support continued research in advanced communications with the Faculties of Applied Science and Science. The three-year partnership aims to spur a wide range of R&D initiatives including next generation communications while accelerating the ability for Huawei and UBC to develop new research partnerships in areas such as data analytics. Huawei is committing an investment of between $2.5M and $3M over the next three years to support two new projects and a number of ongoing research initiatives in 5G-related project areas. “This partnership formalizes and builds on the strong relationship between UBC and Hauwei,” said UBC President Santa Ono. “With this agreement, UBC researchers can work on new projects with an innovative company to advance communications technology.” Huawei

Driving real change might require adjuncts to quit: Potter

Quitting might be the most radical and effective course of action that adjuncts can take if they want to disrupt the exploitation of part-time academic labour, writes Claire Potter. The author notes that “[a]side from the stress of trying to piece together a career one course at a time, the adjunct army -- permanently contingent, underemployed, overworked and underpaid faculty members -- has every reason to demand radical change.” However, Potter suggests that this demand for change usually takes the form of “radical utterances that get contingent faculty into trouble and leave a system that relies on a reserve army of labor unchanged.” Quitting academia, Potter argues, would leave universities with a shrinking group of part-time instructors and would force real change in higher ed hiring practices. Inside Higher Ed

Chinese media tour Canadian PSE institutions

Chinese journalists recently attended a weeklong tour of Canadian educational institutions to gain a firsthand look at the country’s international education offerings. The Canadian government says that it hopes the tour will help the Chinese public “gain a better understanding of and appreciation for Canadian education.” Coordinated by the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, and with support from the International Education Division of Global Affairs Canada and EduNova, the media tour took place in September. Four Chinese journalists visited and met with representatives from universities, colleges and other education-related organisations in Ottawa, Québec City, Montréal and Halifax. The PIE News

Atlantic universities support student mental health with hiring of regional coordinator

Universities in Atlantic Canada are taking a co-operative approach to mental health by hiring a full-time regional coordinator to provide strategic guidance and support in this area. Appointed by the Association of Atlantic Universities, which represents 16 universities, Elizabeth Cawley will take on the role. Cawley notes that her long-term goals include resource allocation, faculty and staff awareness and training, and the creation of policies that better support student’s mental health. “We need to look at policies through a mental health lens,” she said. “We want all policies and procedures to benefit students.” University Affairs

Concordia receives $850K in federal funding for Grey Nuns Building

Concordia University’s Grey Nuns Building has been officially recognized as a National Historic site and has received a pledge of $851K in federal funding to support the building’s preservation. “The investment promised here today will go a long way towards preserving the integrity of this Montreal landmark,” said Concordia President Alan Shepard. “The Grey Nuns Building not only enriches the lives of the student residents who call it home, but also enhances the vibrancy and culture of our city.” Today, the building houses 600 residence beds, individual and group study spaces, and a number of other Concordia spaces and resources. Concordia

ENAP, UQC, UQAT to offer public admin programming designed for Aboriginal context

The National School of Public Administration (ENAP), the First Nations Education Council, the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, and the Université du Québec à Abitibi-Témiscamingue have partnered to offer graduate programs in public administration adapted to an Aboriginal context. ENAP Directeur Général Guy Laforest explained that consultations with various stakeholders highlighted an urgent need for access to graduate courses and programs specific to public administration and adapted for Aboriginal students and managers. UQuébec