Top Ten

November 3, 2017

Talks resume between ON colleges, faculty union

A provincial mediator has called Ontario’s colleges and faculty back to the bargaining table, according to a statement from the ON Ministry of Labour. The Globe and Mail reports that classes at Ontario's 24 colleges could resume as early as Monday if the faculty and colleges come to an agreement. Faculty have been on strike since October 16 and are demanding that full-time positions increase to make up 50% of all teaching staff. The colleges have responded that hiring a set percentage of full-time staff would increase their costs by $250M, and that doing so would also take away their ability to hire professionals who are connected to the labour market and only looking to work part-time. Globe and Mail | National Post | Waterloo Region Record |CBC | NationTalk

Athabasca on track to meet sustainability milestones: president

Athabasca University President Neil Fassina says that he is confident that the institution can accomplish a series of recommendations outlined in a third-party review. Commissioned by the Alberta government, the report laid out more than a dozen action items that stretch into mid-2018, covering everything from establishing a new mandate and vision statement to addressing northern educational needs and developing collaborations with northern Alberta colleges. Fassina notes that one of the most difficult recommendations to undertake will be a full review of existing programs and courses to determine “which ones cannot be sustained based on past and anticipated future enrolment and cost of delivery.” Edmonton Journal

UFV student information breached by hacker, ransom demanded

The University of the Fraser Valley is reportedly investigating breach of student information. The Abby News reports that an email was sent to dozens of students containing the personal information of 29 UFV students, as well as a threat to release more students’ personal information unless a $30K ransom was paid. “UFV takes the responsibility of protecting the privacy of our employees and students very seriously,” said UFV Spokesperson Dave Pinton. “We regret that this has occurred and we are working to ensure these systems are secure and the impacted students receive the support and resources they require today and going forward.” UFV has suspended its student email system and select web systems until the end of the investigation in order to protect the privacy of students, faculty, and staff. UFV | Abby News | CP

CEGEPs respond to new QC sexual violence legislation

The Federation of CEGEPs says that while Quebec’s Bill 151 places CEGEPs and universities on the same footing when it comes to sexual assault prevention, the resulting legislation must still take into account the particular contexts and resources available to different types of institutions. Last August, the province committed $23M over five years to support sexual assault prevention for all of the province’s CEGEPs and universities as part of its Intervention Strategy to Prevent and Address Sexual Violence in Higher Education Institutions. The Journal de Montréal notes that the bill also stopped short of prohibiting intimate relationships between instructors and students, leaving it to the institutions to regulate these relationships through school policies. Fédération des cégeps | Journal de Montréal

Enrolment management online game teaches players about tough choices in PSE admissions

A new internet game released by Vox invites players to manage college enrolments in a way that improves their institutional ranking without discriminating against the financially marginalized. Called College Scholarship Tycoon, the game asks users to accept and deny applicants with a wide range of family incomes and test scores. The sole objective of the game is to improve the ranking of the user’s fictional school. “Well timed for the height of application season,” writes Eric Hoover, “the game offers a peek at the trade-offs selective colleges make, and an accompanying article summarizes how the competition for wealth and prestige in admissions can skew institutional priorities.” Vox (Game) | Chronicle of Higher Education

ON postsecondary groups call for province to introduce mental resilience training in K-12

A coalition of Ontario student groups, colleges, and universities has asked the province to commit significantly more resources to helping students with mental health issues pursuing PSE. A recent report by the College Student Alliance, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, Colleges Ontario, and the Council of Ontario Universities says that providing the necessary level of support is something that schools cannot do on their own. Rather, the coalition calls for a collaborative “whole community” approach to the issue, which would involve introducing mandatory curriculum that would teach children and teens psychological resilience, starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school. Saskatoon StarPhoenix | CBC

BCIT to partner with Microsoft on VR/AR curriculum

Microsoft President Brad Smith recently announced that Microsoft Vancouver will partner with the British Columbia Institute of Technology to develop a first-of-its-kind Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality/Mixed Reality (VR/AR/MR) curriculum. A BCIT release notes that the institution is rapidly developing and expanding comprehensive re-skilling programs and educational resources to help employees transfer into tech-focused roles and succeed in the new economy.  “Collaborating with Microsoft will help keep BCIT at the forefront of technical innovation and sets our students up to enter the job market with the highly desirable skills that businesses are demanding,” said BCIT President Kathy Kinloch. BCIT | Seattle Times | Business in Vancouver

Laurentian’s Goodman School of Mines launches Project Management Certificate

Laurentian University’s Goodman School of Mines has officially launched a Project Management Certificate program that will provide students with the training and knowledge needed to oversee all aspects of industrial project management. “This new certificate program is just the latest example of the Goodman School’s leadership in mining research and education,” said Goodman Founding Executive Director Bruce Jago. “But it goes much further than that. The project management skills offered through this program will benefit all industrial sectors across our region and beyond.” The certificate program includes a three-day mandatory Project Management Essentials course, followed by seven days of additional instruction on topics such as project close-out best practices, risk management, and PMP exam preparation. Laurentian

Postsecondary institutions key to wider understanding of Truth and Reconciliation: Becker

Postsecondary institutions are key to fostering the public’s understanding of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation process and what is needed to implement its recommended changes, says Jean Becker, senior advisor for Indigenous initiatives at Wilfrid Laurier University. In a recent interview with CBC’s Morning Edition, Becker noted that PSE institutions are “prone to say we are producing leaders in society” and must therefore ensure that students understand the TRC and its impact. “A lot of people are interested in understanding what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended, they're interested in doing something about it but for the most part people are not sure what it all means,” said Becker, “and I think that they look to Indigenous people to lead the way.” CBC

Canadian academics making their mark in podcasting

Podcasting has been slow to catch on in the world of Canadian academia, writes Natalie Samson for University Affairs, yet a growing group of Canadian academic podcasters are starting to change this. Samson profiles a number of academically themed podcasts that touch on subjects as diverse as surgery, Harry Potter, scholarship and policy, and Indigenous studies. The article also lists a number of podcasts that are university-based. “There are a lot of synergies between podcasting and doing academic presentations and teaching,” says Eve Tuck, an associate professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, and creator of The Henceforward podcast. University Affairs