Top Ten

April 18, 2019

ON scheme to end faculty double-dipping is “cynical game-playing”: Conlon

The Ontario government has introduced legislation that will prohibit faculty from receiving a salary while drawing on their pension, reports CBC. A government budget document states that higher retirement ages are “limiting turnover that would bring in earlier career professionals with new teaching methods and increase diversity,” claiming that the new rule "could help achieve a more sustainable post-secondary sector and employee renewal.” Michael Conlon, Executive Director of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, said that the province has shown no interest in hiring new faculty. “It's really not about making the system better or making the educational experience better for students, but really a Ford government agenda to undermine collective bargaining in public-sector unions,” Conlon added. CBC (ON)

UBC-led research teams receive over $21M for nanomedicine, clean water, and advanced materials

A research initiative on nanomedicine, led by the University of British Columbia, has received $18.5M in federal funding from the Networks of Centres of Excellence. Two additional projects—on water quality for Indigenous communities and composite manufacturing for industry—have also garnered $1.6M each from Ottawa. A UBC release states that the network behind the nanomedicine initiative has developed five out of the ten drugs approved by United States, Canadian, and European regulatory agencies. The clean water project incorporates a “community circle” model as it supports Indigenous communities, while NCE funding for the Composites Research Network Knowledge Mobilization Centre will help transfer knowledge to small businesses while improving composites manufacturing across Canada. UBC (BC)

Student learning outcomes assessments a “hot mess,” say experts

Nearly all attempts to measure student learning outcomes to date have been a “hot mess,” according to a group of experts speaking at a recent US-based conference on accreditation. The speakers agreed that although assessments should help individual students and improve the quality of instruction, they are unreliable indicators of an institution’s performance. “There's a paradox that puzzles me and should puzzle all of us,” said John Etchemendy, former provost at Stanford University, “whenever we try to directly measure what students have learned, what they have gotten out of their education, the effect is tiny, if any. We can see the overall effects, but we cannot show directly what it is, how it is that we’re changing the kids.” Inside Higher Ed (International)

Dal Board approves tuition hikes for domestic and international students

Dalhousie University’s Board of Governors has approved a tuition raise for the 2019-20 academic year. A Dal release states that all students will see a 3% tuition increase. New international students entering into undergraduate and non-thesis master’s programs this fall will also pay an additional $1,473 next year, and will see the same increase of $1,473 in each of the subsequent three years. However, current international students will be exempt from these additional increases. The release adds that the university has set aside funds for student assistance and that it will look at ways to reduce financial hardship for international students. Dal (NS)

Writing to pass is no way to write: Abrams

Reflecting on the Advanced Placement English Language Exam in the US, Annie Abrams reveals a fundamental contradiction between writing clearly as a means to think clearly and writing mechanically to satisfy an arbitrary template. For Abrams, an educational system that emphasizes the latter at the cost of the former misses the point of teaching students how to write as a means of communication, as communicating well involves sustained engagement with a complex set of problems for which there is no conceptual roadmap. Writing to satisfy a template, on the other hand, treats writing and communication as predetermined formulas to be deduced from the content at hand. Inside Higher Ed (International)

BCIT fills skills gap with industrial cybersecurity program

The British Columbia Institute of Technology has launched the Industrial Network Cybersecurity program, which BCIT says is the first of its kind in Canada . A release explains that the program will provide students with hands-on experience with defending network systems in the context of industrial operations. “In a time where cybersecurity is a growing problem for Canadians, the students that graduate from this program will be key in combating cybersecurity threats in plant operations,” said Forrest Tittle, Dean of the BCIT School of Energy. BCIT adds that industrial plant operations include hardware, operating systems, and Ethernet-based networking interfaces that make them susceptible to the same cyberattacks that plague traditional business operations. BCIT (BC)

Langara refreshes brand with Musqueam name

Langara College has announced that it has refreshed its brand identity, incorporating the name snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓, which was given by the Musqueam people. “We are very proud to share our new dual-name identity. Given our campus location on what was once a Musqueam village, it was important for us to honour the gift of the name snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ by fully incorporating it into our institutional identity,” said Langara President Lane Trotter. As part of the refresh, the college has commissioned a type designer to create character extensions for the College’s main font, given that there are limited fonts available for the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language. Nation Talk Langara (BC)

McGill begins new phase on Outaouais campus

The second phase of construction has begun at the McGill Faculty of Medicine’s Campus Outaouais. A McGill release states that the project will include two additional floors for the Emergency Department of the Gatineau Hospital, one of which will feature a high-tech simulation and interactive learning centre for McGill’s undergraduate medical education teaching facilities. “We are deeply committed to creating a centre of excellence in health with our Outaouais partners in order to attract more medical students and residents to study, train and establish their medical practice in the Outaouais region,” said McGill Vice-Principal, Health Affairs and Dean of Medicine David Eidelman. McGill (QC)

Durham crane program lifts hope for jobs, housing

Durham College has received approval to launch a new Tower Crane Operator (339B) apprenticeship program, which it states will be the only program of its kind in Ontario. The program was developed in response to requests by industry leaders, and will help stem the shortage of qualified operators across Ontario and Canada. “The skilled trades – including crane operators – need the kind of grassroots support that this [new program] will provide,” stated Residential Construction Council of Ontario President Richard Lyall. “Educating eager young minds to help the residential construction industry ultimately will add supply to a region that faces a housing crisis.” The program is expected to launch in January 2021 at the college’s Whitby campus. Durham (ON)

Citing wage discrepancies, ULaval lecturers vote to strike

Lecturers at the Université Laval have voted 86% in favour of a ten-day strike. La Pressereports that ULaval’s lecturer’s union decided to take job action after two years of failed negotiations, and that they have requested a 6.75% wage increase to lessen the wage gap between lecturers at ULaval and other universities in QC. 700 of ULaval’s 1,600 union members are currently under contract, adds La Presse. The union has not yet announced a date for the strike.  La Presse (QC)