Top Ten

October 25, 2017

Time to cast aside the “skills gap myth” and address the skills awareness gap: OUSA authors

“Despite the fact that we are a student and a recent graduate of a postsecondary program, we admittedly have difficulty articulating our skills and competencies,” write Victoria Lewarne and Marc Gurrisi of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. The authors note that students’ lack of awareness about the skills they learn in PSE is a major contributor to the “skills-gap myth” that pervades much of the discussion around higher ed today. Rather than lacking the skills employers seek, today’s students lack the ability to articulate and provide evidence of these skills. The authors offer examples of several resources that can help schools build students' awareness of the skills they are learning. HEQCO

PSE teaching needs greater consistency, quality control: Bubak

“The unfortunate reality of contemporary academia is that a teaching contract serves as a ticket to ‘professoring’ at one’s pleasure – a virtual free-for-all,” writes Oldrich Bubak of McMaster University. Bubak argues that the lack of prerequisities or training for university teaching leads to a “mixed bag of styles, expectations, rules and philosophies” that introduce significant quality concerns into university teaching as a whole. The author contrasts university teaching’s lack of consistency with the success of “highly developed industrial quality systems,” adding that the time has come to learn from these systems and to place student experience at the centre of teaching. University Affairs

The challenges of education and predicting the future or work

“The changing nature of work will create additional challenges for young Canadians who are already experiencing suboptimal labour market outcomes,” write Craig Alexander and Matthew McKean of the Conference Board of Canada. The authors argue that it will take nothing short of broad-based collaboration between public and private stakeholders to prepare today’s youth for the future of work. Alexander and McKean note that it is particularly important to ensure that marginalized and vulnerable youth are supported in their transition from school to work. To this end, they highlight a number of initiatives that have been launched in recent years to help ease this transition and to provide youth with the skills and awareness they need to thrive in the future economy. Globe and Mail

McGill creates new autism spectrum disorder research centre with $16M

Thanks to a $16M donation from the Azrieli Foundation, the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University is creating the Azrieli Centre for Autism Research. The centre will be a hub for multiple approaches to autism research, including genetics and brain imaging. “This investment will make it possible for our McGill scientists to advance knowledge and make the breakthrough discoveries that are needed to understand autism and eventually provide hope for the many families in Quebec, in Canada and around the world who are living with this disorder,” said McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier, who thanked the Azrieli family and Azrieli Foundation for the donation. McGill

Another look at the concept of staff bloat

“The growth of non-faculty postsecondary staff is blamed for everything from rising higher education costs, increased student debt, and the loss of faculty autonomy,” writes Joshua Kim. The author notes, however, that “if staff are so bloated, why is it that every part of higher education that I observe seems to be so understaffed?” Kim argues that faculty and staff need to stop looking at postsecondary funding as a zero-sum game, and to instead unite behind the notion that education as a whole is being underfunded. “Staff and faculty should be allies in the fight to invest postsecondary resources in people,” Kim concludes. “We should be working together around public funding, while fighting trends to outsource work or reduce positions to temporary or part-time.” Inside Higher Ed

SMU’s Sobey School of Business launches library dedicated to ethics, sustainability

Saint Mary's University’s Sobey School of Business today announced the launch of the Sobey School PRME Library, a curated online collection of educational resources related to ethics, sustainability, and social and environmental issues. The library is open to the public and currently hosts links to 500 books, articles, case studies, simulations, videos, teaching games, and more. “In our efforts to make an impact with purpose, we focussed on further embedding ethics, innovation, sustainability and responsible management across the breadth of the Sobey School’s programs a few years ago,” says Sobey School of Business Dean Patricia Bradshaw. SMU

Queen’s to expand Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre space

Queen’s University’s Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre will be expanding in order to meet recommendation 13 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. “When we found out that Four Directions was going to be expanded, we were all ecstatic,” said Queen’s Director of Indigenous Initiatives Janice Hill (Kanonhsyonni). “We were bursting at the seams there. To know that we’ve outgrown this space to the point where we’re doubling our size is amazing.” The expansion will see the neighbouring heritage house renovated, and Hill states that the team hopes to see the houses operate in two capacities: one for operational functions and one for dedicated study space and an accessible library. Queen's Journal

Michener receives five-year accreditation for continuing professional development

The Michener Institute of Education at UHN has been granted status as an accredited continuing professional development (CPD) provider by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The accreditation will last five years, the longest accreditation cycle offered by the Royal College, and will allow physicians to earn Continuing Medical Education credits for any CPD courses developed by Michener that meet select criteria. “Being a Royal College accredited CPD provider will create new opportunities for UHN educators to tap into Michener’s education design expertise and program management infrastructures for continuing education and professional development,” said interim UHN CEO Charlie Chan. Michener

MUN Core Science Building project receives first Gold Seal certification in province

The Memorial University Core Science Building, which is currently under construction, is the province’s first Gold Seal certified project. Representatives from the Canadian Construction Association, Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association, and primary project contractor Marco Services Ltd have signed a memorandum of understanding recognizing the building as the first Gold Seal certified project in the province. The certification grants the project and construction industry additional exposure, and the CCA only grants certification to 2 or 3 projects per year. The $325M construction project is still three years away from opening, but is currently both on time and on budget. The Telegram

Holland College buys homes to help meet student housing demand

Holland College is spending time purchasing available housing in downtown Charlottetown for students. CBC reports that the college recently purchased a single family home and a duplex for an undisclosed amount and spent $25K on renovations to prepare them for students. “The timing was very good because we did have excess demand for campus housing and we definitely wanted to accommodate as many of our students as we could,” said Holland Vice-President for Strategic Planning Mike O’Grady. “In the end we were obviously scrambling for additional spaces and the availability of those houses at that point was a great thing.” The college plans to have additional on-campus accommodations next year, including a new 80-bed residence. CBC