Top Ten

March 12, 2018

NRC’s plan to re-imagine itself benefits from increases in federal funding

The National Research Council has been undergoing a change over the past year and a half that will be accelerated by new funding from the federal budget. The Montreal Gazette reports that NRC President Iain Stewart has been asked to “re-imagine” the agency, which reportedly includes a return to focusing on basic research, which is conducted without immediate commercial applications. Stewart says that another priority of the re-imagined NRC will be to recruit talented young minds and re-connect with regional research centres by “putting small teams on university campuses.” Montreal Gazette

Federal officials to study why career college students have more difficulty repaying student loans

Recent efforts to reduce unpaid student debt have led federal officials to undertake a project to investigate why graduates of Canada’s career colleges have more difficulty paying off student loans. iPolitics reports that roughly 9% of the almost 500,000 students who receive federal assistance each year through the Canada Student Loans program attend private schools, which include career colleges. A federal research proposal from last year says these students are at a “higher risk of defaulting on their student loans” and face more problems making payments on time. National Association of Career Colleges CEO Serge Buy says that career college students are usually older than other PSE graduates and are more likely to have children, which can strain their finances. iPolitics | Times Colonist

To change graduate school for the better, create better supervisors

While much discussion has been devoted to the need to rethink graduate education, not enough attention has been paid to the role that poor supervision plays in bad graduate experiences, write Melanie Greene, Marie Vander Kloet, and Michal Kasprzak. The authors note that when graduate students do not complete their degrees, departments often blame the students themselves, while “little attention is given to the unspoken elephant in the room – poor supervision.” The authors highlight Memorial University as a school that has undertaken significant efforts to train professors in the skills necessary to be effective supervisors, and suggest that other schools follow a similar path. University Affairs

RRC, UCN partner to provide language training for newcomers to Canada

Newcomers to Canada living in Thompson, Manitoba have new opportunities to learn English, thanks to a partnership between Red River College and University College of the North. An RRC release notes that the training has become available as part of the expansion of RRC’s Language Training Centre to satellite sites in Arborg, Steinbach, Selkirk, and Thompson. “We’ve welcomed about 200 people to Thompson in the last year, and many of the newcomers have valuable skills to offer – the only barrier keeping them from the kind of job they’re qualified for is language,” says David Williamson, Acting Dean of Access at UCN. RRC Program Manager Anna Janik- Kelly adds that “what this partnership allows us to do is provide students with the language and communication skills they need in order to achieve their professional and educational goals.” RRC

McGill to offer certificate in cannabis cultivation

The Journal de Montréal reports that McGill University has introduced a new professional certificate program in cannabis cultivation. While other schools in Canada offer similar programs, Anja Geitmann, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, asserts that McGill will offer more specialized training than the existing offerings. McGill is reportedly in the process of establishing a nationwide research network to better understand cannabis cultivation. Geitmann states that horticulturalists know little about the plant’s genome or of its potential to cultivate products beyond marijuana or hemp. The program will welcome its first cohort in January 2019. Journal de Montréal

Acadia decolonization strategy promises collaboration with Mi’kmaq

Acadia University has released a decolonization strategy that responds to the TRC’s “challenge to Canadian universities to make themselves more accessible to indigenous students and to find new ways engage more directly with First Nations communities.” Acadia President Peter Ricketts emphasized that “collaboration with neighbouring Mi’kmaq communities and their leaders” as a crucial pillar for the strategy, which reportedly incorporates “15 short, medium, and long term actionable recommendations” made by the President’s Advisory Council in 2017. The recommendations include the creation of a full-time position for an Advisor and Coordinator of Indigenous Affairs, a Mi’kmaq language course, and a recruitment and retention plan for Indigenous faculty. Acadia

ON colleges continue to work with Indigenous students: province

All 24 of Ontario’s colleges have incorporated Indigenous knowledge into their service and programs, according to a newly released report from the provincial government. In addition to courses and modules geared toward Indigenous knowledge and issues, every Ontario college reportedly provides an Indigenous counsellor as well as an Indigenous council advisory group. “Incorporating Indigenous language, culture, identity and community in education is a key step towards reconciliation,” said ON Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Mitzie Hunter. Sault College Dean of Indigenous Studies Carolyn Hepburn adds that although it will take years to fully develop policies and programs with Indigenous stakeholders, “colleges are committed to providing Indigenous students with the education and supports they need and deserve to be successful.” Fanshawe | Lambton

McMaster lowers tuition for international PhD students, improves research environment

As part of a comprehensive strategy to continue attracting international PhDs, McMaster University will reportedly lower international tuition rates, increase funding, and enhance the research environment. “This new approach allows us to continue to attract the very best international PhD students while maximizing the value and impact of research grants and research productivity,” stated McMaster Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies Doug Welch. The article adds that the new funding package will also benefit the community, as approximately half of international graduate students remain in Canada after completing their PhDs. McMaster Dean of Science Maureen MacDonald added that the new approach signals how “McMaster will continue to be a top choice for the next generation of leading researchers.” McMaster

$1M donation to promote entrepreneurship, innovation at University of Calgary

University of Calgary president Elizabeth Cannon and her husband, Gérard Lachapelle, will donate $1M to create the Cannon Lachapelle Award in Entrepreneurial Thinking, UCalgary reports. “We chose to make this gift because it enables promising students to become entrepreneurial thinkers,” said Cannon. Every year, the scholarship is awarded to up to four undergraduate students who demonstrate creativity and innovation in ways that support UCalgary and the surrounding community. “Getting students involved in entrepreneurial thinking is key to developing community builders and leaders for our future,” added Lachapelle. “This is important for our students, our university, and for Elizabeth and me.” UCalgary

Carleton, striking workers contest the truthfulness of each other’s statements

Carleton University and the union representing nearly 850 striking support staff at the school have publicly accused each other of making “untrue” statements, reports the Ottawa Citizen. Last Thursday, Carleton issued a statement regarding CUPE 2424 President Jerrett Clark’s claim that the union wanted to return to negotiations and had asked the school for possible dates. “No further dates have been requested by the union,” said Carleton Assistant Vice-President Rob Thomas, who added that the union told university negotiators it would be prepared to resume talks “only if Carleton changed its position.” The union has also contested Carleton President Alastair Summerlee’s claim that neither the school’s board of governors nor the negotiating team had “ever raised the prospect of converting our plan from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan.” Ottawa Citizen