Top Ten

September 6, 2019

Future of AB universities uncertain under new government plan: Braid

The Alberta government’s plan to bring the provincial debt down to zero may lead to the shrinking, amalgamation, or outright closure of some post-secondary institutions, writes Don Braid. The author notes that in a recent presentation, AB Finance Minister Travis Toews offered public sector compensation statistics to argue that if Alberta spent at the same level as the average of Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, the annual savings would be $10.4B and there would be no provincial deficit. “Overall, one great question is how the quality of services can possibly be maintained amid such a drastic upheaval across the whole government,” notes Braid. Calgary Herald

UOttawa tightens rules around when, where security can demand ID

Security guards at the University of Ottawa should not make asking for ID part of their “routine practice,” according to a new set of rules released by the school in response to a June incident in which a black student was stopped and arrested as he skateboarded on campus. The rules also establish when and how guards can ask for ID, as well as an updated complaint process for students “who believe they have been treated unfairly by uOttawa’s Protection Services.” The creation of the new rules has been accompanied by additional training on diversity and discrimination for security guards, as well as the creation of a new President’s Committee for a Discrimination-Free Campus to advise Fremont on ways to combat racism and promote diversity. UOttawa | CBC

$3M funding for Venturelabs SFU, scale-up and soft-landing centre

Venturelabs of Simon Fraser University has received $3M funding from the Western Economic Diversification Canada to create a scale-up and soft-landing centre in its Vancouver-based business accelerator. The lab’s executive director, Virginia Balcom, notes that funds will enable Venturelabs to extend and engage its entrepreneurial communityinvestors, Executives-in-Residence, and industry partnerstowards delivering intensive programming for potential science and technology-based SMEs. “The funding will help us support the pipeline of companies, from creating ideas to developing business plans and building products... We look forward to collaborating with BC’s entrepreneurial community to help companies scale on every front,” says Balcom. SFU

Strikwerda: Faculty, departments key to helping at-risk students graduate

“The biggest challenge that America faces in higher education is graduating more of our students,” says Chris Strikwerda. The author observes that funding and research aimed to improve student retention does not always support the people who are most important to student success, such as faculty and department chairs, program directors, and deans. To improve retention, Strikwerda highlights the importance of collaboration and sharing of information within and between departments. However, the most direct way to help at-risk students, the author adds, is in the classroom through faculty engagement. “No matter what else colleges and universities do for students, success in the classroom is essential,” Strikwerda concludes. Inside Higher Ed

More US institutions offering orientations specifically for non-traditional learners

Colleges across the United States are offering orientations specifically geared toward mature and non-traditional students as more of these learners join their academic communities, writes Jeremy Bauer-Wolf. The author notes that college enrolment by those older than 25 has increased steadily in recent decades, including an 11% increase between 2006 and 2016. In contrast to the festivals and concerts geared toward students in the traditional college age range (18 to 24), older students “want information pared down to simply learn what they need to earn their degrees.” In a 2017 survey of 229 institutions, 35% reportedly offered orientation for "nontraditional" students. Inside Higher Ed

Brock receives $5M to launch Validating, Prototyping and Manufacturing Institute

The federal government has granted Brock University $5M to support the launch of the Brock-Niagara Validating, Prototyping and Manufacturing Institute (VPMI). Funded through the Community Economic Development and Diversification stream, the grant will allow Brock to create an expanded facility that enables businesses to access the university’s researchers, expertise, and advanced technology. The new centre is expected to open in 2021. “The VPMI will support applied research and development, innovation and commercialization efforts to help businesses grow and thrive,” Brock President Gervan Fearon said. Brock

“It’s a mess”: ON cutbacks create concerns for province’s teens

The Ontario Student Trustees’ Association issued a statement Wednesday responding to “a slew of complaints” regarding increases in high school class sizes and decreases in course options created by changes made by the Ontario government. ON representatives responded by citing the province’s $1.6B fund to help boards avoid teacher layoffs, noting that schools use a variety of means to ensure students are equipped to meet their graduation requirements. Critics, however, state that boards have little flexibility to add extra course sections. Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation says, “Many courses are simply not running, and many students’ timetables are incomplete ... To put it bluntly, it’s a mess.” Toronto Star

CMHA’s “Carry It Toolkit” addresses post-secondary student opioid crisis

The Canadian Mental Health Association has launched the “Carry It Toolkit” campaign to reduce harms caused by opioid overdoses on Canadian campuses. The toolkit teaches students how to identify and respond to an overdose, as well as how to use, train, store, and gain access to naloxone. A recent study shows that 81% of Canadians have witnessed recreational drug use at a post-secondary school. Yet, 53% of Canadians said they would not know how to respond to a person experiencing an overdose. “Many Canadians (88%) believe parents should be concerned about their kids’ exposure to recreational drugs while attending post-secondary institutions, but access to the right services and support networks can help them cope with pressure in healthy ways,” says CMHA. CMHA

Slovic and Nelson: How can admin better support researchers’ scholarly, creative achievements?

“If a book -- or an article -- is published and nobody notices, why does it matter?” ask Scott Slovic and Janet E Nelson, who note that researchers’ scholarly and creative achievements are all too often reduced to their ability to bring grant money to an institution. To better mobilize “the fascinating and societally valuable insights” of researchers, the authors argue that universities can do more to encourage conversations about research across and within departments. For example, institutions may implement Short and Sweet (SAS) research talks or informal “coffee conversations.” The authors add that, “The role of offices of research administration is not only to facilitate sponsored projects, important as that may be, but also to sponsor community.” Inside Higher Ed

Seneca’s new downtown location provides flexibility and accessibility

Seneca has opened a new downtown location in Toronto’s financial district. A college release states that Seneca Downtown offers professional and graduate education through a mix of in-class, online, and hybrid courses at a variety of times. “Seneca has a wide range of program choices for postsecondary graduates and also working professionals... Plus, Seneca Downtown adds a new dimension to what we can offer students from the perspective of flexibility and access,” states Kiley Bolton, Director of the Centre for Graduate & Professional Studies at Seneca. Seneca