Top Ten

March 20, 2019

$2.5M from BC supports sustainable innovation at UNBC

The Government of British Columbia has invested $3.5M into new learning facilities at the University of Northern British Columbia. A provincial release states that the money will fund new classrooms, laboratories, and collaboration spaces for the university’s upcoming civil and environmental engineering degree program. “I’m proud of UNBC’s stellar reputation as an institution committed to sustainability, and a contributor to world-class teaching and research in the field of engineering,” said UNBC President Daniel Weeks. “We’re thankful to the government for providing funding that is truly meaningful for our future scholars and talented faculty, whose work helps showcase the North’s leadership on a global scale.” BC (BC)

'We've had enough': U of T students demand change in wake of campus suicides

Students at the University of Toronto staged a sit-in outside of President Meric Gertler’s office earlier this week, saying the administration has not adequately acknowledged a string of suicides over the last year. CBC reports that the sit-in was prompted by the death of a student over the weekend, the details of which the university has not disclosed. Executive Director of Health and Wellness Janine Robb told CBC that “something happened on campus,” but could not discuss any details. “We can continue to throw counsellors, psychiatrists, medical doctors at this issue, and it's never going to be enough,” said Robb, adding that the school needs to provide students with better coping strategies and support networks. CBC | The Star (subscription required) (ON)

USask launches module for health researchers engaging with Indigenous communities

The University of Saskatchewan has launched a training module aimed at building meaningful research relationships with Indigenous peoples and their communities. A release notes that the module was created by four Indigenous professionals with backgrounds in graduate school. “Indigenous people deserve to work with researchers who are properly equipped and ready to create reciprocal research relationships that provide real benefits back to our communities while acknowledging our rights to be self-determining,” said Cassandra Opikokew Wajuntah, director of IPHRC. “This training module is just one in a series of modules that we hope to create and deliver over the next two years for researchers, communities and patients.” NationTalk (SK)

George Brown says it took away sick days to be “in compliance” with ON law

TheStar reports that George Brown College has taken away paid sick days for its non-union workers, stating that it is now “in compliance” with new legislation. Critics have responded that the province does not require employers to take away sick days; rather, the new legislation means that sick days are not mandatory, leaving eight days of emergency leave for all workers. College Employer Council CEO Don Sinclair stated that colleges “must pursue fiscal responsibility as the majority of our funding comes from student tuition and Ontario taxpayers.” Jeff Brown, a full-time instructor at George Brown, called the college’s justification for taking away sick days “disingenuous.” The Star (ON)

Online phys ed classes spark controversy

Nine CEGEPs have started offering online physical education classes, raising concern amongst some phys ed instructors. CBC reports that the program, overseen by CEGEP de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue, aims to help students earn their required credits. However, a group of 600 teachers says that the program undermines the purpose of gym classes, which are not just about exercise. "One of the things you do in physical education classes is develop social connections," said Jérôme Leriche, a professor of education and sports at the Université de Sherbrooke. Eric Aubin, Director of Studies at the CEGEP de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue, said the online course was developed in consultation with phys ed professionals. CBC (QC)

ULethbridge, USherbrooke link up with industry for RNA program

The University of Lethbridge, Université de Sherbrooke, and industry collaborators have launched an initiative called the RNA Innovation program. According to a ULethbridge release, the program trains highly qualified personnel with skills in advanced RNA research and scientific leadership. “The University of Lethbridge is committed to upholding excellence in both research and graduate education," said Erasmus Okine, VP of Research at ULethbridge. "This program will contribute to the training of high-quality personnel and effectively ensure the sustainability of Canada’s future knowledge-based economy.” ULethbridge adds that the NSERC-funded program features an entrepreneurial research and development component and an extensive internship. ULethbridge (AB)

UCW creates student bursary to put international tuition at par with domestic

Students from 34 countries will now be able to attend University Canada West at the same tuition rates as domestic Canadian students, thanks to a new bursary launched by the school. A UCW release notes that the Americas Bursary is open to students from the 34 countries that are part of South, Central and North America, as well as the Caribbean. “For many talented people, the opportunity to study in Canada is often limited by critical factors, including the costs of education,” said UCW President Brock Dykeman. “We have therefore created The Americas Bursary to make education more affordable without compromising on quality, and to close the distance between South and North America from an educational, cultural and economic perspective.” UCW (BC)

Royal Roads joins MITx MicroMasters pathway

Royal Roads University has joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s MITx Micromasters pathway. Under the pathway agreement, graduates will be able to apply 9 credits of their credentials in Supply Chain Management, Principles of Manufacturing or Data, Economics, and Development Policy towards completion of Royal Roads’ Master of Business Administration in Executive Management. “I’m very pleased to see Royal Roads University become the first Canadian university to offer pathways for students from MITx MicroMasters programs to master’s degrees,” said Krishna Rajagopal, MIT’s Dean for Digital Learning. Royal Roads (BC)

Lakehead receives over $500K for cutting edge molecular equipment

Lakehead University has received $515K from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to help fund a $1.5M Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer. A Lakehead release explains that NMR spectroscopy is a versatile, non-destructive technique for characterizing the structure and dynamics of molecules.  The new NMR spectrometer includes cutting-edge technology for investigating highly dilute chemical systems, particularly those containing silicon.  “This equipment will be highly beneficial for many researchers at Lakehead University, including students and faculty,” said Pedram Fatehi, a researcher in the Department of Chemical Engineering. “Forestry and the value-added economy are an important part of Northwestern Ontario, and the NMR spectrometer will help advance this research.” Lakehead (ON)

Sá: HEQCO claims about skills attainment, applicability of assessment lacks scientific validity 

The way that the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario chose to communicate the results of its recent Skills Assessment Pilot Studieslacks rigour and scientific integrity, writes Creso Sá, director of the Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Sá specifically highlights HEQCO’s claim that an achievement of Level 3 (on a scale from 1 to 5) represents the “minimum required proficiency level for Ontario’s higher education graduates,” before Sá argues that “this claim is unsubstantiated according to no others than the test designer and a project lead at the OECD.” Sá then questions scientific validity of how HEQCO took this assumption to make the widely reported claim that “One-quarter of graduating students score below adequate on measures of literacy, numeracy.” University Affairs (ON)

KPU collaborates with IBM for design thinking pilot

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has partnered with IBM Canada for a course called Design Thinking and Innovation. According to a KPU release, design thinking is “a solution-based approach to solving problems” that “refers to the steps by which design concepts are developed.” The course features a case-study that enables students to apply the concepts they learn to a real-life scenario. “As part of an emerging collaboration in Building an Innovation-Enabled Workforce for Canada, we’ve been using insights from the KPU pilot projects in our parallel initiative with six academic institutions and six workplace partners in Ontario,” said Karel Vredenburg, Director of Global Academic Programs at IBM and head of IBM Studios Canada. NationTalk (BC)