Top Ten

August 7, 2019

Students, families “in limbo” after AB delays scholarship applications

Students entering post-secondary schools in Alberta this fall have seen their scholarship applications delayed until late fall rather than the beginning of August, reports CBC. The province says that the delay is due to a “major technology upgrade” to the province’s student aid system. CBC reports that the delay has “sent a shockwave to new post-secondary students and their families” who were planning to receive money from the province’s scholarship fund to pay for tuition. About 14,000 students typically receive some money from the scholarship each year, but the 2016-17 school year saw scholarships awarded to 18,765 recipients, which put the scholarship $7.5M over budget. Edmonton Journal | CBC (AB)

Company co-founded by UCalgary prof finds success allowing for investment in post-secondary students

A for-profit corporation co-founded by an assistant professor at UCalgary has become the first of its kind to provide an alternative to student loans by allowing investors to invest in students as they would a business. Called Lumni, the company sees successful student applicants sign an income share agreement will typically see a student would agree to pay 10% of their post-education income for a fixed term—usually five to seven years. The Calgary Herald reports that a claimed advantage of the company is that if a student makes little income during the term of the agreement, they still only pay 10% and are not saddled with any debt after the agreement expires. Calgary Herald (AB)

BC international student health fee looks to address health care gap

Last Thursday, British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix announced a new $75 monthly health care fee for all international students studying in the province. The Prince George Citizen reports that the fee may “shore up a glaring deficiency in government oversight” that caused as many as 40,000 international students to be not enrolled in the province’s public health care system in 2018. Michael Olson, executive director of the Canadian Federation of Students BC, said that the main reason for the gap is a lack of oversight or follow-up from either institutions or the provincial government, adding that institutions’ extended health care programs often mislead international students into believing they are fully covered. Prince George Citizen (BC )

Women remain underpaid in the university: James, Anderson

New data from Statistics Canada show that women are both underrepresented and underpaid in the Canadian academy, write Yvonne James and John Anderson. The authors note that the overall wage gap between men and women in teaching was roughly 12%, with the gap widening for more advanced positions in the institution. The data also show that racialized individuals were underrepresented in university teaching overall. “The exclusion of a diversity of experiences and knowledge has critical implications for not only our professoriate, and the academic workforce, but also for the growing diversity of the student body,” add the authors. The Star (National)

SFU student society votes to create mobile “Lennon Wall” to head off vandalization

After the alleged vandalization of a wall filled with notes expressing solidarity with Hong Kong protesters at Simon Fraser University last week, the school’s student society has voted to erect a mobile “Lennon Wall” outside its office. The new wall will be monitored and moved in order to prevent its notes from being torn down. In its resolution, the Simon Fraser Student Society notes that it "stands firmly in support of the right of all Simon Fraser University students to peacefully, respectfully and freely express their views regarding the ongoing political situation in Hong Kong.” The society also says it "condemns any attempt to censor or dissuade through threats, harassment or bullying such expression." CBC (BC)

Controversies at student unions across Canada raise questions of oversight, transparency

Allegations of mismanagement and several high-profile scandals involving student unions across Canada have raised questions about whether these associations need more oversight, writes Salma Mahgoub. Sam Schroeder, the advocacy commissioner of the newly formed University of Ottawa Students’ Union, notes that the lack of oversight or enforcement can sometimes come from a culture of impunity that surrounds some student associations. The author notes that students’ trust in their unions is more important now than ever, especially in Ontario, where students will have the ability to opt out of paying fees to their student unions this fall. University Affairs

McGill AI project can provide surgeons with training tailored feedback

An artificial intelligence project at McGill University could change the way surgeons are trained, reports the Globe and Mail. A new algorithm is being used to track a neurosurgery resident’s every movement and classify their performance according to skill level. The algorithm currently has a 90% success rate in determining whether a surgeon is a beginner, an expert, or somewhere in between. The Globe adds that until now, students have relied on verbal and written feedback from mentors, whereas the algorithm can provide specific feedback on actions like the exact amount of pressure placed on certain areas by surgeons’ hands. Globe and Mail (QC)

How to truly help PhDs get jobs: Rancourt, Archer-Kuhn

“How are universities responding to the fact that a majority of graduate student alumni are unemployed, sub-employed or have to receive training from a college in order to procure a good-paying job?” ask Derrick Rancourt and Beth Archer-Kuhn of the University of Calgary. The authors note that PhD students need to be better trained to recognize the transferrable skills they develop in school and to tailor these skills to non-academic jobs when needed. The authors list a number of ways instructors can better teach these skills, which include having students perform informational interviews with non-academics and helping them develop the project management skills they already use when writing a dissertation. The Conversation (International)

WLU, NWT extend research community partnership to 2030

Wilfrid Laurier University has renewed a decade-long partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories that will bring new research expertise and training opportunities to the Territories for another ten years. Thus far, the partnership has already seen the opening of WLU’s Yellowknife research office to establish a year-round presence and deepen partnerships in the NWT, in addition to seeing WLU lead projects in the NWT involving over 15 different universities across Canada. “The collaboration between Laurier and the Government of the Northwest Territories has resulted in more benefits than any of us envisioned when we began our partnership in 2010,” said WLU President Deborah MacLatchy. “Continuing our partnership will enable us to deepen our understanding of the challenges facing Canada’s North.” WLU (ON | NWT)

Queen’s to create Indigenous Knowledge Initiative with support from alumnus

A prominent member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte has donated $250K to Queen’s University to create a new program to promote reconciliation and Indigenous culture on campus. The gift from alumnus David Sharpe will fund the Indigenous Knowledge Initiative, a three-year program that will integrate Indigenous knowledge and wisdom into the academic environment and develop connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars. The gift will allow Queen’s to bring Indigenous scholar Professor Mark Dockstator to lead the initiative. Dockstator is a member of the Oneida Nation of the Thames, the former president of First Nations University, and the first person from a First Nation to graduate with a doctorate in law. Queen’s (ON)