Top Ten

February 13, 2019

Universities’ credit rating could be threatened by diplomatic tensions with China: Moody’s

Some of Canada’s universities could be exposed to credit risk because of political tensions between Canada and China, according to a new report from Moody's. The warning comes as Canada-China relations have been strained by the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. The report notes that the University of British Columbia, McGill University, and the University of Toronto would be impacted more than any other Canadian universities if China were to impose restrictions on Chinese students studying in Canada. “We have many strategies in place to support robust international enrolment, which include monitoring economic and demographic trends worldwide,” wrote UBC Vice Provost and Associate Vice-President of Enrolment and Academica Facilities Pam Ratner in an email. “However, we will not speculate about any potential impact on our international student enrolment at this time.” CBC (National)

ON Tories accuse student unions of “crazy Marxist nonsense” in fundraising email

Ontario Premier Doug Ford accused student unions of engaging in “crazy Marxist nonsense” as part of a message his party sent out this week asking for donations. The comments come in the wake of the ON government's recent announcementthat the province's post-secondary students will soon be able to opt out of certain student fees that were previously mandatory. The message has sparked condemnation from student groups and opposition politicians who said the premier's language confirms that the fee changes are politically motivated. “It's really just taking away resources from student groups. A lot of these are basic necessities that students need to succeed,” said Nour Alideeb, chairwoman for the Canadian Federation of Students’ Ontario branch. College Student Alliance president Brittany Greig noted that student unions are democratically elected, adding that “student leaders hold institutions and government accountable for decisions surrounding fee increases, programming, strategic plans and more.” Times ColonistCBC (ON)

U of T receives $20M from Labatt family

The University of Toronto has received a $20M donation from the Labatt family to establish the Labatt Family Network for Research on the Biology of Depression. This network will pioneer innovative approaches to depression research, advance the understanding of depression’s biology, and foster new research talent from the next generation. The network will also establish two Labatt family chairs and fund a professorship, fellowships, residents, and early-stage scientists. “This support for the early, innovative work of clinician-scientists will allow them to pursue sustained interdisciplinary research that we hope will lead to a biomedical model of depression,” said Faculty of Medicine Dean Trevor Young. “This will help us understand how depression begins and develops across the lifespan.” Globe and Mail | U of T (ON)

URegina withdraws support from Camp fYrefly, citing workload pressures

The University of Regina’s Faculty of Education is reportedly withdrawing its support of Camp fYrefly, an initiative that CBC reports has been supported by the faculty for 10 years. Camp fYrefly is an annual leadership retreat for gender and sexually diverse youth. While it is independent from the faculty, the faculty’s support gave the camp “a stamp of credibility and legitimacy” according to former faculty dean James McNinch, who was involved in bringing fYrefly to Saskatchewan. URegina issued a statement explaining that the faculty had taken on administrative functions and dedicated staff resources for the organization, and that the faculty is now undertaking changes in order to better address Education students’ program needs and workload pressures on support staff. CBC (SK)

Redeemer reduces domestic undergraduate tuition by 42%

Redeemer University College has announced that it is reducing its tuition by 42% for Canadian undergraduate students. Thanks to $11M from donors, tuition will be reduced from $16,992 to $9,800 and will be frozen until the 2023-2024 academic year. “Affordability is a key concern for Redeemer, for its students and for their families,” said Redeemer President Robert Graham. “The cost of higher education has been rising faster than the rate of inflation and faster than family incomes. Students are taking on significant debt as a result. With this major shift in the pricing model, Redeemer will reach a sustainable enrolment level where students will be able to pursue their callings with less financial pressure.” As part of its new financial structure, Redeemer stated that it will be rolling out a new scholarship and financial aid model, as well as adjusting select fees. Redeemer (ON)

Concordia becomes first Canadian university to issue sustainable bonds

Concordia University has become the first university in Canada to issue sustainable bonds, according to the Financial Post. The $25M senior unsecured bond has a duration of 20 years, which the Poststates is the longest for any sustainable bond in Canada, and offers investors a 3.626% yield. The article explains that the bond will be used to reimburse the university on the capital it spent financing its Science Hub, which is expected to open in Fall 2019. “For Concordia, the question of sustainability is also a high priority for us so it’s a good message to present to our stakeholders, our students and our community,” said Concordia Chief Financial Officer Denis Cossette. “There was a lot of appetite. It was very easy to sell.” Financial Post (QC)

Sheridan innovation hub to bolster regional economy with help from federal investment 

Sheridan College’s EDGE innovation hub is poised to foster economic growth in Mississauga and beyond with the support of a new $1.5M investment from the Government of Canada. EDGE, which stands for Entrepreneurship Discovery and Growth Engine, is located at the school’s Hazel McCallion Campus in Mississauga. A Sheridan release notes that the centre offers training, mentorship, and support to access funding to early-stage entrepreneurs. Sheridan President Janet Morrison noted that EDGE helps to further Sheridan’s mandate to “put creativity to work and nurture innovation that makes an impact.” She also thanked Ryerson University for the advisory support they provide to EDGE based on their globally recognized expertise in incubation programming. Sheridan (ON)

UAlberta faculties of Law, Native Studies collaborate to support Indigenous law, governance 

The Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta are launching a new initiative to support Indigenous law and governance through research that is led by the Indigenous community. According to a UAlberta release, the Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge is funded by the Alberta Law Foundation through a two-year grant. It was created to honour Call to Action #50 from the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which asks Canada to establish Indigenous law institutes in collaboration with Indigenous communities. “While we have made great strides, we have further yet to go,” said UAlberta Faculty of Law Dean Paul Paton. “This support is the culmination of over two years of engagement with the Foundation in this area, and provides us both an opportunity and challenge: to demonstrate how research and community engagement can serve the public interest.” UAlberta (AB)

CNA, Qatar Ministry of Education sign 3-year agreement continuing partnership

College of the North Atlantic and the State of Qatar’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education have entered into a three-year service agreement that will continue the parties’ partnership and increase autonomy for the college’s Qatar campus. “This agreement shows the college continues to be a strong academic partner of Qatar, which benefits students in both countries,” said Newfoundland and Labrador Advanced Education, Skills, and Labour Minister Bernard Davis. “I cherish the friendship between Newfoundland and Labrador and Qatar. The cultural exchange experienced by staff and students will benefit them for the rest of their lives.” CNA (NL)

NS nearly doubles its post-graduate retention of international students

The number of international students choosing to stay in Nova Scotia after graduating from post-secondary education has nearly doubled since 2014, according to new numbers from One Nova Scotia. CBC reports that the number has grown from 5% in 2014 to 9.4% in 2018, which is close to the 10% target that the 2014 Ivany report recommended the province aim to hit by 2024. The number of applications is reported to be growing rapidly; the province nominated 440 post-secondary graduates to immigrate through its programs in 2018, compared to 35 in 2014. For the years between 2015 and 2018, the number of permanent residents who used to be students increased from approximately 125 people to 210 people. CBC (NS)