Top Ten

May 8, 2019

Runaway success of international enrolments suggests Canada ready for “next level”: MacDonald 

Canada has enjoyed a boom in international student enrolments over the last several years, but institutions need to capitalize on Canada’s new-found prestige if it is to cement its place as a top-flight destination, writes Moira MacDonald. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the country had 572,000 international students at all education levels by December 2018. The international boom has alleviated economic shortfalls in regions suffering local declines in industry, MacDonald adds. However, planners also need to exercise caution, as international tensions—such as last year’s dispute with Saudi Arabia and ongoing tensions between Canada and China—can leave universities exposed if they rely too heavily on revenues from international students. University Affairs (National)

QC invests $37M in local medicine for ULaval

The government of Quebec is providing Université Laval with $37M for two teaching pavilions in Lévis and Rimouski, respectively. According to the Journal de Montréal, the facilities will enable medical students to train as local practitioners in these regions. Hands-on training will be provided in partnership with the health services of Chaudière-Appalaches and Bas-Saint-Laurent and the Université du Québec à Rimouski. ULaval President Sophie D'Amours explained that medical students typically divide their time across several departments in a hospital to familiarize themselves with different specializations, but the ULaval program is unique in that students will work at the same site, and with the same patients, for extended periods of time. Journal de Montréal (QC)

New online platform to connect students, employers through WIL  

Ryerson University has partnered with Orbis Communications to bring fresh solutions to one of Canada’s most wicked challenges—connecting employers with talented, hard-working students. A new website launched by the two groups, called Campus Connect, allows employers to share their work-integrated learning opportunities with more than 100 campus-based career centres, as well as co-op and experiential learning programs across Canada. “One of the biggest barriers to growth for employers, large or small, is finding people with the right skills to match their business needs,” said Magnet Executive Director Mark Patterson. “Work-integrated learning is a proven solution to this problem and Campus Connect makes it easier for employers to find the right students.” Ryerson (ON)

Warner: Personalized learning software as the new ‘digital snake oil’

The sale of adaptive learning software Knewton to publisher John Wiley & Sons for pennies marks another instance of a program failing to be anything more than digital ‘snake oil,’ writes John Warner. Warner goes on to argue that the “wildly fantastical” claims from adaptive learning software peddlers fail to capture the complexities of learning. “In my field of writing, for algorithmic grading software, it is simply a lie,” explains Warner, “as there is no more important thing a teacher of writing can do than read and respond to their students’ work.”  Personalized learning software also poses significant privacy risks to students, adds Warner. Inside Higher Ed (International)

“I don’t need any more student housing”: Windsor locals oppose project

Vocal opposition from neighbours and a petition that features 245 names has not dissuaded city councilors in Windsor from approving an application to replace a single-unit home with a three-townhouse project for 16 students, reports the Windsor Star. Although council approved the application, the Staradds that it has requested a study on housing intensification. “There’s got to be a middle ground here, we recognize accommodation of students is important,” said Councillor Jo-Anne Gignac. “But the residents are right .... Certainly we need a game plan.” According to the Star, the same developer has been approved for a number of other lots in the city that do not intrude on residential housing. Windsor Star (ON)

George Brown’s School of Design complex reflects holistic approach to digital disruption

George Brown College’s School of Design at the Daniels Waterfront-City of Arts complex has opened at the college’s Waterfront Campus. The 103,000 square-foot space features modern facilities and technology, specialized labs, and areas designed for collaboration with industry. “This modern, flexible space is a perfect match for our holistic approach to design – which encompasses not only aesthetics, but also technical feasibility, business feasibility and social purpose,” said George Brown President Anne Sado. “As digital disruption transforms the design, arts and digital media sectors, we’re preparing creative people to apply their skills in relevant, career-focused ways, while enabling enhanced industry research and innovation.” George Brown (ON)

USask debuts VR lab for engineering students

The University of Saskatchewan has debuted a Virtual Reality and Cloud-based learning lab for Mechanical Engineering students. The Saskatoon StarPhoenixreports that the $150K lab features VR equipment that enables students test design ideas and examine how real forces act on spans and trusses. “It’s what we visualize. But (using a pencil and paper) we can’t test it, we can’t prove that it works; all we’re left with is numbers and some force arrows on a piece of paper. That’s all we get,” said Shaunti Bergen, a Master’s student in Mechanical Engineering. “Now, students can actually feel that they can confidently use what they’ve learned in a way that worked, without wrecking a whole bunch of stuff.” Saskatoon StarPhoenix (SK)

Cambrian launches free welding program for women 

Cambrian College has launched a free pre-apprenticeship welding program for women that features 10 weeks of in-class training and an eight-week placement. The program is available to all women 16 years of age and over who are eligible to work in Ontario, are proficient in the English language, and either possess an OSSD or GED or receive special consideration to participate in the course. Graduates of the program will obtain their Level One welding apprenticeship requirements. Cambrian (1) | Cambrian (2) (ON)

The perils of hiring for identity: Patel

“Demanding that someone of a certain identity be hired when what you really want is someone of a particular ideology is a little like breaking your foot and telling the surgeon your arm hurts and requires an operation,” remarks Eboo Patel. “It is both the wrong description of the problem and a potentially disastrous solution.” For Patel, the most chilling scenario here would be one in which an ideological group forces a given minority into a political or racial “box” that robs that individual of their agency. Citing Judith Butler, Patel concludes by suggesting that identity is a fluid, politically contingent category. Inside Higher Ed (International)

King’s rolls out critical security diploma and certificate

King’s University College in London, Ontario has announced that it will offer a new Critical Security Studies diploma and certificate program, which is said to be the first of its kind in Canada, beginning this fall. A King’s release notes that the program will allow students to study such diverse topics as terrorism, war and peace, security, and dystopias. “In the world around us, we hear about the fragility of security and how the state reacts to that fragility,” says Benjamin Muller, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and program coordinator of Social Justice & Peace Studies. “Students have an awareness of this preoccupation with security and are looking for ways in interpret, analyse and understand this. Critical Security Studies helps stock their analytical toolbox.” London Free Press King's (ON)