Top Ten

July 31, 2019

How Canada’s med schools are retooling their admissions processes to foster diversity

Medical schools across Canada are acknowledging the complexity of the concept of “merit” and seeking new ways to diversify their student bodies, reports the Globe and Mail. While merit used to refer narrowly to a candidate’s performance in grade-point average and a face-to-face interview, schools are now looking more broadly at the question of which medical students are best positioned to fit the needs of the medical system and of society. To this end, schools are looking for ways to offset the advantages accrued by candidates coming from socially privileged backgrounds. The article goes on to chronicle the specific ways in which Canada’s med schools are working toward this goal of fostering more diversity in their ranks. Globe and Mail (National)

Instructor’s firing not tied to views on controversial herbicide: forestry college

The Maritime College of Forest Technology has issued a statement affirming that the dismissal of instructor Rod Cumberland was for misconduct and not his views on the controversial herbicide glyphosate. MCFT Executive Director Tim Marshall said Monday in a three-page statement to CBC News that Cumberland’s firing was due to his "abuse of authority" and "disparaging remarks" about the Fredericton-based school and its administration. The statement was issued amid calls from some provincial politicians for an independent inquiry into the dismissal of both Cumberland and former Executive Director Gerald Redmond, who retired in 2017 but was still teaching with MCFT’s continuing education program. CBC (NB)

Early findings of largest-ever faculty perceptions study begin to roll out

Canadian researchers have begun to release some preliminary results from what is reportedly the largest study ever about faculty perceptions of the state of the academic profession. The study contains the responses of faculty members from universities in 33 countries about a wide array of topics, including research and teaching activities, budgeting of time, academic achievements, perception of academic work, and job satisfaction. Among the early findings are discrepancies between academic disciplines in terms of how faculty view the relationship between teaching and research. University Affairs (International)

UBC calls for 60-day hold on Hawaii telescope project in response to faculty, Indigenous groups’ concerns

Last week, the University of British Columbia issued a statement calling for a 60-day moratorium on construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea, a mountain considered sacred to Hawaii’s Indigenous people. The Province reports that controversy over the project has grown since 35 Hawaiian elders, or kūpuna, were arrested July 17. UBC’s statement came in response to an open letter written to UBC President Santa Ono by several dozen UBC faculty members, asking the president to suspend UBC’s involvement with the project. The Province (BC)

Keyano publicly rolls out Chicago principles

Keyano College has reportedly become the first postsecondary institution in Alberta to officially adopt the Chicago principals, a set of freedom of speech rules, ahead of a deadline set by the provincial government. “Citizens have the right to pronounce their opinions, morals, ethics and world views within the limits of Canadian law, and institutions should not attempt to shield students from these ideas,” said Keyano Board of Governors’ first vice-chairman Brent Davis in a news release. “At the same time, people have the right to criticize and question other views expressed on campus, within the same limits.” The Edmonton Journal states that these principles have been criticized as benefitting more extreme and conservative speakers. Edmonton Journal (AB)

Western opens $16M research lab focused on infectious diseases

Western University has opened the doors to its $16M Imaging Pathogens of Knowledge Translation (ImPaKT) facility at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. The facility is “unique in Canada and around the world,” according to ImPaKT Director Eric Arts. The facility is made up of Level 2+ and 3 containment facilities, and includes biosafety labs, decontamination suites, small-animal housing, a Polyemerase Chain Reaction clean room, and an ultra-speed centrifugation suite. “This facility advances Western’s position as a leader in infectious diseases research, and opens up the potential to develop vaccines and new treatments to help eradicate some of the world’s most devastating illnesses,” stated Arts. London Free Press | Western (ON)

Dal, CNA partner to provide degree pathway for Qatari students

Dalhousie University and College of the North Atlantic have signed an agreement that will open the doors for CNA’s Qatari students to upgrade their studies to a bachelor’s degree at Dal. The partnership builds on CNA’s relationship with its affiliated technical school in Qatar, and will establish a formal pathway for graduates of the college's Information Technology and Business Studies two- and three-year diploma programs. Dal reports that this agreement marks its first-ever formal arrangement with a technical school outside Canada. Dal (NS)

US community colleges not responding to equity-based performance funding: study

Performance funding systems have little impact on underrepresented student enrolment at US community colleges, regardless of whether they include an equity bonus, according to a new study. Inside Higher Ed reports that roughly 35 states have enacted performance-funding formulas that tie support for public colleges to metrics like graduation rates and degree-attainment numbers, with a growing number adding measures of equity such as additional funding for colleges that recruit and serve low-income students or students from underrepresented groups. Study author Robert Kelchen says the findings show that community colleges are likely not engaging in widespread practices to try to recruit more advantaged students, whether there are incentives to or not. Inside Higher Ed (International)

VIU students connect with community non-profits through research

Students at Vancouver Island University are helping community groups solve real-world problems, thanks to a unique interdisciplinary program. VIU reports that students in the Community-Based Applied Interdisciplinary Research (CBAIR) course are providing community groups with data that supports their mandates while strengthening partnerships and relationships between VIU and the community. The university adds that students from different disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, criminology and business management, are organized into teams to complete each project, ensuring a range of expertise in each group and strengthening students’ teamwork skills. VIU (BC)

Survey: student perspectives of future career vary by major

While postsecondary students are generally bullish about their chances of finding work outside of school, a recent survey of US students found that their optimism varies by major. When discussing their expectations around finding a job related to their educational background within six months of graduation, business students were the most confident (93% expected to find a job), while humanities and social sciences students were the least confident (86%). The study adds that, in reality, only 60% of graduates went on to find work in a position tied to their background, with health care workers most likely to do so (69%). The study also noted differences in perceptions of financial prospects and non-monetary rewards, student loans, and the political situation of the US. Campus Technology (International)