Top Ten

August 1, 2019

Federal student loan system “is broken,” warn documents presented to government

The federal student loan system is “broken” and the risk of students defaulting on their loans is rising, according to a presentation delivered to the federal government earlier this year. The presentation, obtained by the Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, notes that Federal student debt alone is approximately $17B, and that the federal government has to regularly write off millions of dollars in loans it will never collect. The presentation adds that the situation is a difficult one, considering that post-secondary is all but mandatory for many entering the job market. The CP adds that the presentation included recommendations for addressing the issue, but that these were blacked out in the materials they received. Times Colonist (CP) (National)

New equity targets for Canada Research Chairs program lauded by CAUT

The federal government’s recent announcement that it will make changes to enhance, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the Canada Research Chairs program has been met with praise from the Canadian Association of University Teachers. The new agreement establishes a ten-year framework for the CRC program to reflect the diversity of the Canadian population, setting institutional targets for the representation of women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous peoples. Additionally, the under-representation of members of the LGBTQ+ community will be addressed for the first time. The CAUT reports that the announcement is part of a settlement relating to a process started in 2003 by eight academics who, with the support of CAUT, filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission over the program’s failure to reflect the diversity of Canada’s university researchers. CAUT (National)

NB unveils plan to increase nursing seats, produce 1,300 new nurses in 10 years

The New Brunswick government is aiming to address its current nursing shortage by adding 130 nurses a year over the next decade, reports CBC. The strategy will reportedly focus on attracting and accommodating internationally trained nurses and providing better education opportunities for students in Canada. The plan specifically says the province must make sure the University of New Brunswick and University of Moncton are able to train more nurses by adding more seats. The plan also involves a bridging program that will allow licensed practical nurses to get bachelor of nursing degrees and become RNs within two or 2.5 years. CBC (NB)

Western student council to train volunteers to better support victims of sex assault

Western University’s student council is supporting the provision of training to its volunteers to better support victims of sexual and gender violence on campus, particularly during the “red zone,” or the period when students are most at risk, reports the London Free Press. The training will take place the week before orientation week. “The first six weeks of their first year are statistically when female students are at the highest risk for gender-based violence,” says Cat Dunne, vice-president of Western’s student council. “It helps explain why it was a priority for our council that our orientation volunteers are trained in survivor-centric disclosure response.” London Free Press (ON)

US official challenges colleges to get Chinese students out of their propaganda “bubble”

The United States welcomes students from China, but colleges must do a better job of integrating Chinese students and getting them out of their “bubble” of Chinese Communist Party propaganda and misinformation, according to statements recently made by Marie Royce, the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs in the US State Department. Elizabeth Redden reports that these comments come at a time when many US higher ed leaders are expressing concern about how anti-immigrant rhetoric and visa policies are damaging their ability to attract international students. Inside Higher Ed (International)

ILAC, Georgian establish pathway partnership for hospitality, business students

ILAC International College and Georgian College have signed a partnership that will provide ILAC students with advanced standing in Hospitality and Business diploma programs at Georgian. Students will be able to transfer up to six courses to their program at Georgian, save $6K towards their Georgian tuition, and become eligible for a 2-year post-graduate work permit upon graduation from Georgian. ILAC states that the agreement is the first public-private academic partnership of its kind. ILAC (ON)

Every Brock program to have experiential education this Fall

Brock University states that it will offer experiential education opportunities in 100% of its academic programs beginning this fall. “Experiential learning is huge for career outcomes, employment and personal development,” said Brock Associate Director of Experiential Education Sandy Howe. “We are seeing a shift in post-secondary studies driving directly towards careers. Our programs help to clarify the path for success while offering real opportunities to set students on their way.” Brock states that its Co-op, Career, and Experiential Education team is developing ways for students to track students’ course and work term experiences, and that they are preparing to launch a university-wide experience record. Brock (ON)

MSVU introduces course on Queer literature and culture

Mount Saint Vincent University has introduced a new “queer-centred course” in time to recognize the 2019 Halifax Pride Festival. The course examines themes in 2SLGBTQ+ literature from a range of historical periods, as well as theory, art, film, television, and/or other forms of popular culture. MSVU stated that interest in the fourth-year Queer Theory course demonstrated a need for a more accessible offering. The university adds that the course will bolster the department’s offerings focused on gender and sexuality, create an anchor at the 2000-level for related upper year courses, and provide an interdisciplinary perspective on queer topics that will resonate with other disciplines. MSVU (NS)

Canadian science needs to move beyond the argument that more is better: Leslie, Desserud

Support for science is crucial to Canada’s social and economic wellbeing, but “we need more than a rallying cry for increased spending,” write Stefan Leslie and Heather Desserud of the Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response Network at Dalhousie University. The authors argue that the primary problem with calls for increased science funding is that they equate more research with more value, without taking into consideration how different audiences receive and act upon the information produced by science. This approach requires us to move beyond questions about the production and dissemination of research, the authors add, to better understand how research is received by different audiences, and thus how to derive more public value from it. University Affairs (National)

Computer woes force BC to review Grade 12 exams, spark panic in graduating students

Panic has swept graduating students from the British Columbia K-12 system after a computer system error forced the Ministry of Education to review the final marks posted for Grade 12 English exams, prompting concerns about university acceptances. The Globe and Mail reports that Grade 12 English is a required course for all postsecondary institutions and that a provincial exam is a required part of the final grade. “The ministry is reviewing each June 2019 exam result to ensure student grades are accurately reflected on their transcripts,” said a statement issued by the Ministry of Education, which added that it is actively contacting universities across the country. Globe and Mail (BC)