Top Ten

December 12, 2018

Canada announces major investment into new research fund

The federal government has announced that it plans to “transform the way government supports research” by investing $275M over the next five years, and $65M per year ongoing, into the New Frontiers in Research Fund. “Designing this new Fund was a collaborative effort coordinated by our committee with the research community,” said SSHRC President and CRCC Chair Ted Hewitt. “The projects funded over the next five years and beyond will transform the research enterprise and help researchers develop new knowledge, insights, technologies and ideas that will benefit Canadians.” A federal release notes that the fund will specifically transform traditional research funding by supporting collaboration between non-traditional partners. Canada (National)

UCalgary partners to bring collaborative research hub to city’s former Central Library

A new partnership between the University of Calgary and the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation will see UCalgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design move into the main floor of the City of Calgary’s former Central Library. The Faculty will create an active street-level collaborative research hub in the heart of downtown Calgary and explore how innovations in design, construction, and operational management can benefit cities. “The new space will cement our reputation as a community partner, while also helping to diversify the economy and activate an important landmark in downtown Calgary,” said UCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon. CBC | UCalgary (AB)

2017 saw slight dip in PhD completions, women continue to make gains: Flaherty

A new study out of the US has found that the number of PhDs conferred fell slightly in 2017, from 54,862 to 54,664. Colleen Flaherty reports that while science and engineering made up the majority of degrees awarded at 41,438, non-science and engineering degrees dipped to 13,226, which is said to be their lowest since 2012. Flaherty also finds that women have steadily earned more doctorates in all broad fields over the last 20 years, taking the lion’s share of degrees in life sciences, psychology and social sciences education, and humanities and arts in 2017. Flaherty adds that women doctorates remain underrepresented in engineering, math, and computer science, although they are starting to enter those fields, as well. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Over 400 Indian students admitted to Niagara told to retake IELTS

Niagara College has told more than 400 Indian students that they must retake their English language test or risk losing their offers of admission for January 2019, reports the Hamilton Spectator. Steve Hudson, Niagara’s VP of Academic and Learner Services, said that the number of non-native speakers who were flagged by faculty as academically “at-risk” surged from 150 in previous years to approximately 300 this fall. A subsequent in-house language test found that 200 of the students lacked the required English proficiency to pass their coursework, and that 80% of those students had taken tests at IELTS testing centers in India. Hudson added that Niagara is treating the failure rate as an “anomaly,” and that it will continue to work with IELTS to address the issue. Hamilton Spectator (ON)

CSIS advised universities about Huawei prior to CFO’s arrest

The Winnipeg Free Press has learned that CSIS advised VPs from the U15 Group of Universities about potential security issues with Huawei a few months ahead of CFO Meng Wanzhou’s arrest. The arrest reportedly came in connection with allegations that the Chinese tech giant has committed fraud in violation of US sanctions in Iran. According to the Prince George Citizen and Vancouver Province, several Canadian universities have partnered with Huawei on research projects for 5G technologies. Digvir Jayas, UManitoba’s VP Research and International, told the Free Press that if the federal government were to issue a directive restricting research funding from any entity, the university would abide by it. The US, Australia, and New Zealand have banned Huawei as university research partner. Winnipeg Free Press| Prince George Citizen| Vancouver Province (National)

Students from private schools, special programming more likely to reach CEGEP than peers  

A study out of the Université du Québec à Montréal that examined 22,500 students over a 10-year period has found that 36% of students from regular programming in public schools continued their studies at a CEGEP, while at least 75% of those enrolled in private schools or special programming did. The authors raised concerns about this difference and noted that discrepancies in high school education appeared to be accentuating social inequalities. They added that removing the private school system would not solve the issue. Journal de Montréal (QC)

Lambton partners with Bluewater Health for occupational and physiotherapy program

Lambton College has launched a new Occupational Therapist Assistant & Physiotherapist Assistant program in partnership with Bluewater Health. A Lambton release states that students of the program will develop interdisciplinary skills to work in both disciplines, and that the program will feature an experiential learning component. “The partnership between Lambton College and Bluewater Health is an important one. This new offering is a testament to what can be accomplished with engaged, collaborative partners, who are experts in their field,” said Paula Gilmore, a Director at Bluewater. Lambton adds that the program will be housed in the college’s soon-to-be-opened NOVA Chemicals Health & Research Centre. Lambton (ON)

ULaval grant application raises controversy, calls for transparency

Quebec’s Minister of Higher Education, Jean-François Roberge, has demanded that the Université Laval show more transparency around a grant application from 2015. According to the Journal de Montréal, Laval Vice-Rector Sophie D’Amours guaranteed to a federal agency that ULaval and Fondation de l'UL would contribute up to $45M to a research project. D’Amours is said to have “overstepped” her position in doing so, as the Journal reports that D’Amour acted without having obtained prior authorization from either the Board of Directors or the Foundation. ULaval countered that the Board does not approve research grant budgets and that the foundation’s contribution amount was an estimate.  An internal Laval investigation concluded that D’Amours had committed no fault. Journal de Montréal |Journal de Montréal (QC)

AU, BVC partner to reduce barriers for learners

Athabasca University and Bow Valley College have signed a Memorandum of Action that will see the two parties work together to remove barriers for learners and ensure that students have access to university-level studies. AU and BVC will work together to align on learning and assessment environments, training and growth opportunities, and integrated academic courses and programs. They further state that they aim to offer a means of student learning and evaluation that is innovative, integrated, flexible, and efficient. AU (AB)

Cambrian encourages students to use telephone, online tools for mental health

Students at Cambrian College are being encouraged to explore two new provincially-funded tools to help them cope with mental health issues. CBC reports that BounceBack is a referral-based online and telephone program, while Big White Wall offers a peer support model in which community members can interact with peers with the help of trained guides. The Canadian Mental Health Association Sudbury/Manitoulin and the North East LHIN will support both services, adds CBC. “We know that there are wait lists for treatment, we know that there are wait lists for accessing counsellors and those needed intervention services. This is just another tool to put into another tool box,” said Sue Tassé, Manager of clinical services for the CMHA Sudbury/Manitoulin. CBC | NationTalk (ON)