Top Ten

April 17, 2019

Apprenticeship portal a big win for colleges, skilled workers: Colleges Ontario

Funding for an online, one-stop-shop for apprenticeship applications in the 2019 Ontario budget marks “a major step in producing a more highly skilled workforce to help close the skills gap,” according to Colleges Ontario President and CEO Linda Franklin. Franklin notes that the current application system can be difficult for students and apprentices to navigate, making it difficult to connect with willing employers. A Colleges Ontario release also notes that the 2019 budget will help ON produce a stronger workforce thanks to new programs that will encourage people to enter the skilled trades and a micro-credentials pilot that provides people with the specialty skills employers are seeking. Colleges Ontario | Timmins Today (ON)

UAlberta faculty voice concerns about raise exclusively for women at rank of full professor

Academic staff at the University of Alberta have voted 52% in favour of a pay raise for women at the rank of full professor. According to the Edmonton Journal, female full professors will receive a 5.8% wage hike and a cash lump sum determined by their years of service. Female faculty will also receive $1.5K for “damages to dignity and self-worth.” Carolyn Sale, former President of the Association of Academic Staff University of Alberta, voiced concern about the deal, stating that AASUA was not told how UAlberta calculated either the gendered pay gap or the 5.8% increase. Excluding female associate and assistant professors would also create new inequities, Sale added. The Academic Women’s Association also said that it cannot support the deal. Edmonton Journal (1) | Edmonton Journal (2) (AB)

Universities spend big on international recruiters: CBC

A CBC investigation has found that several universities and colleges in the Atlantic region rely on recruiters to draw international students from around the world. Although some institutions were reluctant to disclose the fiscal details involving the recruiters they hire or the total revenues from international fees, CBC reports that the trend reflects a growing reliance on students from abroad. While some institutions have been accused of boosting revenues on the backs of foreign students, Lloyd Henderson, Assistant VP of Enrolment and Recruitment for the University of New Brunswick said that schools have to hire international recruiters because the foreign student market has itself become a field of competition between universities and colleges across the country. CBC (National)

UQAT, Polytechnique Montréal receive funds for environmental projects

Researchers from the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Polytechnique Montréal have received nearly $1.5M for environmental projects in partnership with the mining industry. Approximately $760K will go towards a project focused on identifying and treating contaminants in mine effluents, while an additional $650K will go towards investigating the influence of vegetation on the water balance of mining restoration methods. The projects will involve industry partners such as the Éléonore de Goldcorp mine, IAMGOLD Corporation, and Mines Agnico Eagle ltée. The research is funded by contributions from industry partners and NSERC Collaborative Research and Development grants. UQAT (QC)

Spear phishing yields 100% success rate in accessing sensitive data, UK study finds

A recent study conducted in the United Kingdom found that, within two hours, ethical hackers were able to access high-value data at every UK university they tested for security. The study raised particular concern about the impact of “spear phishing” attacks, where hackers pose as senior members of staff and contact individuals at the institution with seemingly genuine requests for information. When using this method, the hackers had a 100% record of gaining access to high-value data – including personal information about staff and students, financial records, and research data – within two hours. “To avert a potentially disastrous data breach, or network outage, it is critical that all university leaders know what action to take to build robust defenses,” said report author John Chapman. Times Higher Education (International)

Free guide aims to improve STEM teaching at universities

The University of British Columbia’s Warren Code and University of Colorado Boulder’s Stephanie Chasteen have published The Science Education Initiative Handbook, a free guide focused on transforming STEM teaching practices. The guide explains that a STEM education initiative model allows institutions to move beyond traditional lectures. It also provides a framework to help manage issues with scale and success, as well as recommendations and resources for planning and implementing a Science Education Initiative through discipline-based education specialists. UBC BC Campus (BC)

USask receives nearly $500K for arts

The University of Saskatchewan’s Art Galleries and Art Collection have received an award of over $480K to develop a digital service that will help SK art organizations better engage with their audiences. Through the project, USask will provide in-kind use of facilities, such as digital labs, and the employment of summer students, graduate students, and staff members. “We are increasingly living in a digital world. Technologies such as augmented reality, apps and social media are being utilized more frequently by arts organizations in Saskatchewan and beyond,” said USask Art Galleries Interim Managing Director Jeremy Morgan. “Through this new project, we are seeking to better understand what our audiences want and need as digital technologies continue to grow and evolve.” Nation Talk (SK)

Toronto coding school introduces delayed-payment option

CBC reports that HackerYou, a private college based out of Toronto, is offering to waive its $12K tuition fee if students hand over a predetermined portion of their earnings later on. The arrangement, known as an Income Sharing Agreement, requires students to pay the school 17% of their income over two years, provided that they earn a salary of $50K or more. CBC states that successful students could end up paying 250% of their tuition since the school has set its repayment cap at $30K. Personal finance expert Bruce Sellery described the scheme as “insurance you don’t need,” given the technology sector’s shortage of coders. CBC (ON)

UBC Okanagan celebrates opening of community-engaged research spaces

The University of British Columbia Okanagan has celebrated the opening of two community-focused research spaces. “Our aim is to foster research excellence that is responsive to the healthcare needs of our region,” said UBCO Professor Kathleen Martin Ginis. “To develop, test and evaluate the latest interventions and deliver the most effective strategies directly to those that can benefit from them the most.” The facilities will take an approach that brings the community into the research process and ensures the resulting knowledge is immediately available to those who can use it. UBCO (BC)

ON’s outcomes-based funding and the “twilight” of self-reflection: Roberts

“The twilight of the university as place of self-reflection, fundamental inquiry, and criticality is upon us. Ford will pull the trigger, but the Liberals loaded the gun,” writes Joel Roberts of the Ontario government’s recent announcement that it will tie 60% of post-secondary funding to outcomes. Roberts notes that while Premier Doug Ford claims that the move will make ON a national leader in outcomes-based funding, the province was already a national leader in this regard under the Strategic Mandate Agreements introduced by the previous Liberal government. The author adds that performance metrics are more likely to change what institutions do rather than measure it, creating a system in which institutional efforts go toward padding a narrow set of statistical outcomes rather than focusing on high-quality education. Toronto Star (ON)