Top Ten

January 31, 2019

McGill, UMontréal unveil state-of-the-art AI facility

The Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, a collaborative initiative between the Université de Montréal and McGill University, has opened a 90,000 square-foot facility. MILA President and CEO Valérie Pisano told the Montreal Gazettethat the building will house 350 researchers, 200 graduate students, and 150 professionals in the AI sector. “We need AI, we need machine learning, we need the development of new technology to get people more efficient, I think that over the long run it’s going to be beneficial, furthermore, I think we’re going to see that most of the new jobs created through AI will be high-quality jobs, high-paying jobs,” said Quebec’s Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon of the project. Montreal Gazette (QC)

Students across Canada demand government action on mental health

Yesterday, students across Canada kicked off the #StudentsLetsAct campaign, issuing an urgent call for government action on student mental health. “We love that there’s been so much discussion and sharing going on around mental health over the past few years, but we want to take things one step further,” said Emma Walsh, Advocacy Director for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, which spearheaded the campaign. Among the campaign’s calls to action are a call for the federal government to expand the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities to also support those with temporary conditions. Students also think the grant should be increased by 50%, as were the other Canada Student Grants in Budget 2016. CASA (National)

Baker: Midcareer faculty should have more access to professional development training

“Colleges and universities should invest in continuing education for their midcareer professionals like other sectors do,” writes Vicki L Baker. The author notes that while recently hired faculty often enjoy a number of professional development opportunities, these become quite limited once those professors receive tenure. Baker suggests that academia should take a page from the book of other professions that require their practitioners to complete a minimum amount of ongoing professional development to maintain their licenses. The author explores several means by which institutions can “help faculty members through this ill-defined career stage.” Inside Higher Ed (International)

Contract talks stall between USask, support workers

Contract talks between the University of Saskatchewan and the union that represents the university’s support workers have broken down, reports the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. The pension plan and retroactive wage increases have reportedly become the major points of dispute between the two sides. USask Spokesman Gord Hunchak told the StarPhoenix that the university is disappointed by the union’s response. “It is not fiscally responsible, nor is it financially sustainable, for the university to continue with the current CUPE 1975 defined benefit pension plan,” Hunchak wrote in a statement. The StarPhoenix adds that the university offered a five-year proposal, retroactive to 2016, that includes 2% wage hikes in 2019 and 2020, as well as a signing bonus up to $3K. StarPhoenix (SK)

Provincial intervention is cutting into Canadian university autonomy: Study

A new study has found that six research-intensive universities across Canada—Dalhousie University, l’Université de Montréal, l’Université du Québec à Montréal, the University of Toronto, the University of Alberta, and the University of British Columbia—are “experiencing increased requirements for accountability, and increasing pressures to respond to government priorities.” Co-author Glen Jones attributed greater capacity for research and knowledge mobilization, as well as the fact that more people are attending universities, as major factors in this trend. Trust—or lack thereof—between governments and institutions is also said to have contributed to the pattern of decreased autonomy cited in the study. The authors note, however, that the relationships between universities and provinces have undergone distinct historical trajectories that differ on a case-by-case basis. University Affairs |Study(PDF) (National)

CNC launches Northern BC’s first sonography program

The College of New Caledonia has launched what it says is the first sonography program offered in Northern British Columbia. A release from the Government of BC states that CNC’s lab includes eight ultrasound machines and simulators that use augmented reality to facilitate learning in cardiac, lung, abdominal and obstetrics/gynecology ultrasound. “A sonography program at CNC will help tackle waitlists, while providing the opportunity for northern graduates to succeed and thrive closer to home,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. The release adds that the provincial government has kicked in $460K in annual funding—of which $400K will go toward startup costs—and $1.5M in capital funding for equipment and renovations. BC |Prince George Citizen (BC)

Faculty workload imbalances see improvement from strategic interventions: US study

“If the consequences of faculty workload inequity are grave, there have been few to no widespread interventions to address it,” writes Colleen Flaherty. The author finds reason for hope, however, in an ongoing study in the US that suggests change is possible. The study, which involves 17 departments and an additional 13 control departments, has found that specific interventions can make a positive difference on the faculty experience of workload fairness across demographic groups. One such intervention is the creation of a data “dashboard” that shares transparent annual faculty work activity data, and which has resulted in some participants becoming more aware of their own implicit biases, and other participants becoming more willing to self-advocate and protect their time. Inside Higher Ed Study (International)

QC struggles with teacher shortage

Applicants for teacher-training programs in Quebec have dropped by 30% over the last ten years, reports the Journal de Montréal. The drop in enrolments coincides with a looming influx of 65,000 secondary students over the next ten years, and the Journal states that the trend has administrators and provincial legislators alarmed. Johanne Jean, President of the Université du Québec, said that some institutions are considering recruiting students from abroad to alleviate the shortage. QC Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge added that younger teachers should be paid more and given better professional support. The Journal adds that several students felt that poor working conditions are also driving away new teachers. Journal de Montréal (QC)

ACC introduces six new programs to enhance skill-building

Assiniboine Community College will offer six new advanced diploma programs in September, reports the Brandon Sun. The new programs will enable students to earn one-year diplomas in accounting, agribusiness, finance, human resource management, Indigenous financial management, and marketing. “These programs are designed for learners to sharpen their skills in focused subject areas and ladder their existing education to branch into new fields,” said ACC Dean of Business Bobbie Robertson. The Sun adds that the programs are also designed to help students build on their existing skills and experience while enhancing critical thinking. Brandon Sun (MB)

Speciality programs as alternatives to MBAs gaining momentum in Canada

Canadian business schools are finding success by offering programs that are seen as alternatives to an MBA, writes Sheldon Gordon. “We’re more focused than the MBA program,” said Angelo Melino, Co-Director of the Master of Financial Economics program at the University of Toronto. “Our students take only second-year MBA finance courses and they don’t take other MBA-kinds of courses such as human resources or marketing.” The author adds that “non-MBA” programs in areas such as finance, business analytics, or information technology do not require previous work experience. The article goes on to describe several specialty programs at McGill University, the University of British Columbia, and Western University. University Affairs (National)