Top Ten

September 10, 2019

Concerns mount over ON student hunger in light of fee changes

The Government of Ontario’s student choice initiative became active this September, allowing students to opt out of some fees that were previously mandatory. While certain feessuch as health and counselling, sports and recreation remain mandatory, others that support campus newspapers or student food banks are now optional. "This puts food banks in a precarious situation because they don't know how much food they can afford to buy for students or how many staff they can hire," says Sofia Descalzi, national chairwoman of the Canadian Federation of Students. A 2016 study by the Meal Exchange of four Ontario and one Alberta university reports that two in five students face food insecurity. The Spectator | CBC (ON )

Students who engage in active learning learn more, but feel like they learn less: US study

A new US study suggests that the challenges of active learning may lead student to prefer passive learning, despite the latter’s inferior learning outcomes. The study surveyed Harvard University undergraduates in large, introductory physics classes, and compared students' self-reports about what they had learned with a test of what they had actually learned. Findings suggest that "attempts to evaluate instruction based on students' perceptions of learning could inadvertently promote inferior (passive) pedagogical methods," the study says. "These results suggest that when students experience the increased cognitive effort associated with active learning, they initially take that effort to signify poorer learning." Inside Higher Ed (International)

UPEI to build new residence in response to student housing shortage

The University of Prince Edward Island has announced plans to build a new student residence in response to its growing student population. CBC reports that the 260-bed building will increase the university’s housing capacity from 9.4% to 15% of the student body. The $60M infrastructure project is scheduled to be completed by 2022. In addition to student housing, the building will include lecture halls and multi-purpose spaces. "We need to show our city that we're working to find more housing for them and many of our students really want to experience the residence,” said UPEI President Alaa Abd-El Aziz. UPEI | CBC (PEI)

Toward a more holistic understanding of social disadvantage in PSE admissions: D’Souza

Recent developments at the University of Manitoba and the US College Board suggest that post-secondary admissions might be taking a more holistic approach to assessing social disadvantage rather than basing this judgement solely on race, writes Raymond J D’Souza. The author points to the new “Adversity Score” in SAT tests and the new admissions process for UManitoba’s medical school as ways that schools are working to address social disadvantage in a way that considers race among many other factors. It is not only individual racism, but “a welter of social and economic factors that might make it more difficult for racial minorities” to succeed at the post-secondary level, the author concludes, which is why schools and boards are now looking at these factors in a more holistic way rather than treating race as a proxy for disadvantageNational Post (National)

BC post-secondary institutions gain 314 spaces in ECE programs, providing career-paths for students and help for families

The Government of BC has announced it will add 314 student spaces to early childhood education (ECE) programs at 12 post-secondary institutions. This announcement marks the second phase of the Province’s $7.4M, three-year investment in ECE. The Province reports that there will be up to 620 more ECE graduates between 2018 and 2021. “A strong workforce of early childhood educators gives B.C. families the peace of mind that their children are in good hands, and it gives parents, particularly women, the ability to return to work if they choose,” notes Melanie Mark, BC Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. BC (BC)

YorkU announces launch of cloud computing strategy certificate

In January 2020, York University’s Continuing Studies will launch a Certificate in Cloud Computing Strategy. YorkU states that the program is the first of its kind in Canada to be offered entirely online. The program aims to meet industry demands for skilled cloud architects and consultants. “The future of work is vastly different than anything we’ve seen before,” says YorkU assistant vice-president of Continuing Studies Tracey Taylor-O’Reilly. “With changes in technology shaping what employers are looking for when they hire, the need to close the impending skills gap is critical.” The program’s curriculum thus aims to be responsive to a job market increasingly affected by emerging technologies and automation. YorkU (ON)

How to gain time in grad school through three mental shifts: Van Wyck

“Many Ph.D. students think of time as a zero-sum affair: time spent doing one thing necessarily takes away from time spent doing something else,” writes Van Wyck. However, the author argues that there are three mental shifts that graduate students can make to better negotiate their time: thinking about macro time periods such as months and years versus days and weeks; connecting with others as a means of gaining resources and connections that save time; and regularly checking to see if you are spending time in ways that align with your strengths, preferences, and goals. “The Ph.D. requires long-term planning, vision and endurance, so don't fall into the cycle of short-term thinking or the trap of valorizing over-work,” writes Van Wyck. Inside Higher Ed (International)

St. Clair launches first four-year honours BAA program

Thirty St. Clair College students have begun their work in the college’s first four-year Honours Bachelor of Applied Arts Program in Social Justice and Legal Studies. “The students will learn how to advocate, how to complete grant applications for funding, how to develop programs, do analysis and research to determine the needs in the community and how to counsel individuals,” states Elizabeth Strutt-MacLeod, program coordinator. The Windsor Star reports that the combined field of study is built on the three pillars of poverty law, social justice, and community capacity building. Windsor Star (ON)

Queen’s receives donation of wetland that will support student fieldwork

Queen’s University has received an 18-hectare tract of land from Larry McKeown and Anna Kelly, who donated the land to honour their grandmother, Queen’s graduate Kathleen McKeown. The land is an ecologically significant span of wetland known as a fen, which is home to rare plants, insects, and small animals. The donation will allow students to participate in fieldwork, which is an essential part of the student experience, states Queen’s biology professor Vicki Friesen, adding that the wetland “is completely different from a forest or a river ecosystem... so Queen’s students now have better access to see and study a wider range of plants and animals out in the wild." Queen’s (ON)

UWindsor strike avoided, tentative agreement reached with Unifor staff

A tentative agreement has been reached between the four Unifor bargaining units and the University of Windsor. The 425 workers comprising the bargaining units work as full and part-time administrative staff, operational engineers, and special constables. The Windsor Star reports that negotiations primarily concerned provincial legislation that placed a 1% per year wage cap over the next three years for public sector employees. Details of the agreements will be released pending ratification by members of the Unifor bargaining units and the Board of Governors, reports UWindsor. Unifor | UWindsor (ON)