Top Ten

January 21, 2019

ON’s recent PSE changes but another example of long-term underfunding: critics

“It is uncharacteristic of the PCs not to point out what a poor job the Liberals did” in supporting post-secondary institutions, writes Randall Denley for the National Post. “But the reason is quickly apparent. They don’t intend to do any better.” While complimenting some aspects of the Ontario government's new legislation, Denley notes that even with the proposed 10% tuition cut, Ontario PSE will remain among the most expensive in the country, due largely to a lack of proper investment in institutions. Among those most negatively impacted by the changes are the institutions themselves, adds Council of Ontario Universities President David Lindsay, who notes that this latest move is part of a 16-year trend in which per-student operating grants have decreased 10.6% after adjusting for inflation. NDP critic Chris Glover has gone one step further in condemning the new PSE changes, calling them a “sugar-coated poison pill.” National Post | OCUFA | COU | Inside Higher Ed (ON)

SK announces $5.5M to tackle 21st-century agriculture challenges

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced $5.5M in funding for 34 livestock and forage-related research projects through the provinces’ Agriculture Development Fund and Strategic Field Program. The research for the initial project supported under the program will be conducted by the University of Saskatchewan. “This project is exactly the type of work the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence is designed to support – tackling the challenges of the agriculture sector,” said Kris Ringwall, Director of USask’s Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence. “The research will provide clear and meaningful results that are science-based.” SK (SK)

ON student fee opt-out option could undermine transparency: CFS

The Ontario government has announced that students may opt-out of ancillary fees for campus groups they do not agree with, reports the Toronto Star. The move has raised concerns from student organizations that the opt-out option will undermine institutional transparency. “What’s really scary is that I feel like this is a direct attack on the groups that actually try to hold the government accountable when it comes to student issues,” said Nour Alideeb, Chairperson of Canadian Federations of Students Ontario. Brittany Greig, President of the College Student Alliance, added that the opt-out could also cost students access to transparent academic appeals, on-campus food banks and breakfast programs, scholarships, and student employment opportunities. Toronto Star(CP) (ON)

Dal to explore the manipulation of light in new partnership with industry

Dalhousie University has partnered with Metamaterial Technologies Inc. and Mitacs for a $1.62M initiative that explores the manipulation of light. “Mitacs is pleased to support this important research collaboration in the field of light manipulation,” stated Alejandro Adem, CEO & Scientific Director of Mitacs. “Discoveries in this arena will impact a variety of sectors ranging from aviation to healthcare, improving the lives of Canadians.” A Dal release explains that the research will span different applications of metamaterials, including absorption enhancement of ultra-thin solar cells using metamaterials, light emission enhancement for LEDs, the development of optical filters based on metamaterials, and the improvement of medical diagnostics using metamaterials. Dal (NS)

How to better serve minorities in STEM

Although many universities throughout the US have made sincere efforts to incorporate first-gen, low-income and underserved minority students in STEM, the attrition rates of these populations remain high. Adrianna Kezar and Elizabeth Holcombe suggest that the solution does not so much lie in faculty-specific interventions, but an integrated approach across faculties and administrative units. A holistic approach, argue Kezar and Holcombe, can address the scattered systemic inequities that hinder these students’ success more directly than discipline-specific measures that cannot take social contexts into account. The authors conclude that if student success remains siloed, “students who seek support from one unit or another end up getting only some of their needs met.” Inside Higher Ed (International)

Alberta College of Art + Design now known as Alberta University of the Arts

The Alberta College of Art + Design has changed its name to the Alberta University of the Arts, reports CBC. Daniel Doz, President and CEO of AUArts, told CBC that the name change reflects the institution’s efforts to make itself more stable and sustainable. “Let's face it, in Canada, in the post-secondary landscape, there's a lot of territoriality,” Doz said. “So if you're coming from a college, you might be perceived as not as good. I would argue this is nonsense but it's often used.” CBC adds that AUArts earned its university designation in 2018. CBC | AUArts (AB)

SFU launches innovation hub for digital senior care

Simon Fraser University has a launched a national innovation hub in partnership with the AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE) and Canada’s technology and aging network. An SFU release reports that the AGE-WELL National Innovation Hub: Digital Health Circle will support current and future digital health solutions for senior care. “Our aim is to leverage the extensive resources already established in BC to spur the development of technologies and services in the digital health sector,” says Andrew Sixsmith, Scientific Co-director of AGE-WELL and an SFU gerontology professor. The release adds that the hub will also prioritize interdisciplinary approaches while connecting community and industry stakeholders with the university. SFU (BC)

Employers Want 'Uniquely Human Skills': Survey

While employers are continually seeking candidates with so-called “human skills”—such as critical thinking, the ability to listen, and interpersonal abilities—neither workplaces nor post-secondary programs offer extensive training in these areas, finds Dian Schaffhauser. Meanwhile, a recent survey of 1,500 students and recent graduates out of the US has found that one-in-three respondents feel their education has not adequately prepared them for the workforce. “These results show that we must not underestimate the power of the people factor in the workforce. Technology and automation will continue to change and replace jobs, but there are skills that cannot be automated, such as the ability to think critically or problem solve,” said Michael Hansen, CEO of CENGAGE. Campus Technology (International)

UBC fraternities implement mandatory workshops on sexual consent

CBC has learned that fraternity members at the University of British Columbia are now required to attend annual workshops on sexual consent. Last October, Executive Council members attended training sessions that included topics such as Consent 101, bystander intervention and healthy masculinity. Following those sessions, the members decided to make the training mandatory. “It’s shocking that something like this wasn't put in place before,” said IFC President Jamie Gill. “When people aren't educated on such a topic, a lot of problems can arise and as a first step, education is necessary.” CBC (BC)