Top Ten

January 18, 2019

ON government axes free tuition for low-income students, reduces overall tuition, mandatory fees

The Progressive Conservative Ontario government says that it is eliminating a free tuition program introduced by the previously governing Liberals and will replace it with a grant-and-loan system, reports the Toronto Star. Earlier this week, the government also announced that it would reduce tuition fees at the province’s post-secondary institutions by 10%, adding that the schools would need to absorb the loss in revenue from these changes. The government has also announced that many student fees, such as those that support on-campus clubs and societies, will no longer be mandatory. Critics say that the changes will disproportionately benefit students from wealthy families, while the PCs argue that by reducing the ceiling of student aid eligibility from a family income of $175K to $140K, their plan will better support low-income students. CBC | Toronto Star (ON)

McGill receives $15M for doctoral fellowships

Les and Judy Vadasz have donated $15M toward doctoral fellowships at McGill University’s Faculty of Engineering. A McGill release states that the new Vadasz Doctoral Fellowships in Engineering will support up to 60 doctoral students at a time over a four-year cohort, including 15 new recipients each year. “The Fellowships create multiple benefits,” said Jim Nicell, Dean of McGill’s Faculty of Engineering. “They bring outstanding students to McGill who receive an excellent education, and help drive research in the Faculty. Doctoral students are required to make significant contributions in their area of research. And because they’re working on their PhD, they’re pushing the research agenda of the professors and University much further.” McGill (QC)

PLATO Testing Partners With Sault College

PLATO Testing, a technology company that brings training and employment to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities in Canada, has partnered with Sault College. A release states that PLATO will create a testing lab in Sault Ste Marie, where training will consist of a four-month in-class session followed by a two-month paid internship. Graduates of the program will then be offered full-time employment at the lab. “We’ve had incredible success in other cities, with an 85% completion rate,” said PLATO President Denis Carignan. “Students enter the program with no testing experience and graduate six months later with the skills they need to succeed as a software tester and possibly advance their career further in IT.” Nation Talk (ON)

Advisory committee on gender-based violence develops national framework

The Government of Canada’s new Advisory Committee on the Framework to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions has held its inaugural meeting and begun developing a national framework. “We’ve been asked to come in and fill in gaps where they exist, and enhance and scale up best practices where they’re occurring,” said federal Minister of Status of Women Maryam Monsef, adding that the advisory committee will also discuss the measures to ensure that the framework is implemented. “None of the (provincial) legislation has actual robust oversight mechanisms outlined,” said Connor Spencer, the National Chair of Students for Consent Culture Canada. “Federal oversight is an important step in changing the culture that exists on these campuses.” The committee includes representatives from student associations, postsecondary institutions, Indigenous communities, sexual assault centres, and other organizations. The Star |Canada (National)

Laurentian hacker pleads guilty to mischief

Spencer Brydges, a former computer sciences student who found a flaw in Laurentian University’s computer system, has pleaded guilty to mischief, reports CBC. In 2017, Brydges accessed personal student and faculty information on Laurentian’s servers, and then reported the breach to Laurentian’s IT staff. He was later charged with unauthorized use of a computer system, mischief to data, and breach of probation for an unrelated assault charge. Ontario Court Justice Randall Lalande told Brydges that he saw no malicious intentions in the hacking. Brydges has since completed a course on ethics and technology, and works for an IT security firm in Toronto. CBC |Sudbury Star (ON)

UCalgary launches online Occupational Health and Safety program

The University of Calgary has introduced an online Occupational Health and Safety program. A release states that the program, which will be offered through Continuing Education, may be laddered into an Occupational Health and Safety Diploma. “Stackable or laddered credentials have gained momentum in higher education,” said Sheila LeBlanc, Director of Continuing Education. “Giving students multiple entry and exit points in a program is of great benefit to non-traditional learners who are balancing work and professional continuing education needs.” UCalgary adds that the new OHS replaces Continuing Education’s Health, Safety and Environment Certificate. UCalgary (AB)

Queen’s launches graduate program in management analytics

Queen’s University has launched the Smith School of Business Global Master of Management Analytics. According to a Queen’s release, the program will blend online learning with four in-person residential sessions hosted by SmithToronto, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School Executive Education, and Mannheim Business School. “The smart management of data is the next revolution in business,” said Yuri Levin, Executive Director, Analytics and AI, at Smith School of Business. “Teaching our students how to unleash the potential of data as part of a business strategy gives them and the organizations they represent a competitive advantage.” Queen's (ON)

LLCs mark a significant innovation in post-secondary residence living

Themed living communities or living-learning communities are part of a growing trend at Canadian universities, writes Suzanne Bowness. An LLC is a section of university housing that is home to a community of students who share a common interest, program major, or coursework. Many higher ed stakeholders say that these communities help students develop new friendships, engage more with their faculties and universities, and better cope with their first year away from home. The author highlights strong examples of LLCs that currently exist at universities across Canada. University Affairs (National)

UQAM co-op excludes white comedian from show because of dreadlocks

A solidarity co-operative created by the Groupe de recherches d’intérêt public at Université du Québec à Montréal has become the centre of a controversy after excluding a white comedian from two comedy shows. The comedian was excluded on account of his dreadlocks, which the co-op deems an act of cultural appropriation. While the co-op stated that it understands that he comedian’s intention was not racist, it explained that cultural appropriation is “a form of passive oppression, a deconstructive privilege and, above all, a manifestation of ordinary racism.” The co-op also issued an explanation on its Facebook page that highlighted its mission to be “a safe space, free from any link to oppression.” Montréal Gazette |Journal de Montréal |Coop Les Récoltes (Facebook) (QC)

Why I’ll never offer an extra credit assignment: Stauffer

“I know other professors have their sensible rationales for offering extra credit … But I don’t apologize for not offering extra credit and never have,” writes Wayne Stauffer. The author asserts that the main problem with requests for extra credit assignments is that they mark an attempt by students to choose which assignments they have to complete and which ones they do not. For Stauffer, this insistence on choosing which assignments to complete (and when to complete them) marks a destructive overreach by the culture of consumer choice while undermining the notion of consequences or personal responsibility for one’s work. Inside Higher Ed (International)