Top Ten

October 17, 2019

Skills development must be a priority of the next federal government: Sado

If the next federal government does not prioritize innovation and skills development, Canadians are going to be left behind, writes George Brown College President Anne Sado. According to the author, partnerships between Canada’s polytechnic institutions and businesses are at risk of termination due to funding cuts at the provincial and national levels. Sado suggests that in addition to being attentive to current funding needs, postsecondary institutions must be prepared to train students who will be entering a labour market where multiple career changes are likely, which itself will require further funding from the provincial and national governments. “It’s vital to Canada’s economic survival that we get skills development right,” concludes Sado. George Brown (National)

Responding to student suicide in ways that reduce risk, promote healing: Opinion

“Universities face multiple challenges in establishing practices for mental health referrals, suicide prevention and intervention and knowing how to respond after a suicide to reduce risk and promote healing,” writes Debbie Bruckner, Andrew Szeto, and Susan Barker. Given these challenges, the authors suggest six considerations for institutional responses to student suicides: when consulting with the student’s family, prioritize listening to their needs and wishes; identify affected communities and establish an outreach response; remain flexible in relation to all affected parties’ arising needs; be sensitive to cultural differences; consider creating a forum to honour students rather than a memorial; respect the family’s wishes in relation to public communications; and ensure that supports are in place for staff spearheading response efforts. The Conversation (National)

National calls to support the liberal arts aren’t just for detractors: Behling

What if the various “pleas to uphold liberal learning” are directed not just towards liberal arts detractors, but these programs’ most staunch proponents? asks Laura L Behling. According to the author, higher ed professionals involved in the liberal arts need to hear criticisms of the field to ensure that their programs and courses are in touch with student and national issues. Arguing that there is power in the grassroots and the local, the author offers three recommendations for how liberal arts professionals can keep the field contemporary and relevant: hear national calls to fund the liberal arts as speaking to its proponents; use one’s credibility within higher education to advance the vitality and relevance of the liberal arts at institutions; and more deeply reinforce how the liberal arts offers clear pathways for work and life after postsecondary. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Concordia supports Indigenous self-identification through new online feature

Concordia University has added a new feature to its MyConcordia student portal that will allow students to self-identify as First Nations, Métis, Inuit, or international Indigenous at any point throughout their academic journey. The self-identification feature is intended to address government policies like the Indian Act that removed Indigenous peoples’ capacities to self-identify, and to enable the university to share information about relevant cultural activities at the Aboriginal Student Resource Centre (ASRC), as well as funding opportunities. Concordia is also encouraging alumni to self-identify to help create future networking opportunities amongst Indigenous graduates. Concordia (QC)

Plans for ON’s first French-language university coming to life

Further details have been released regarding the creation of Ontario’s first French-language university, the Université de l’Ontario français (UOF). The original funding agreement announced in early September has been revised to include provincial subsidies, bringing the total funding for UOF to $126M over 8 years. Officials hope that the UOF will open in the fall of 2021, offering courses on globalized economy, urban environments, digital cultures, and human plurality. University Affairs reports that once the institution has reached financial maturity, it hopes to welcome some 2,000 students. Although it seems settled that UOF will open in Toronto, the city of Cornwall has also confirmed their desire to host the new institution. University Affairs (ON)

Atlantic universities buck demographic trends with enrolment increase

The Association of Atlantic Universities has released a report of its 2019-2020 preliminary enrolments revealing a 4% increase in full-time undergraduate and graduate students, a number that is bolstered by a 20% increase in full-time international students. Cape Breton University had the largest increase in international students, from 1,982 to 3,436. Dalhousie University, which currently holds the highest enrolment of international students in the province, saw an increase of nearly 12%. “Our universities have understood the demographic challenge facing the region for some time,” said the Chair of the Association of Atlantic Universities Allister Surette. “To that end, more institutional time, effort and resources have been committed to student recruitment, especially internationally.” The Telegram | AAU (Atlantic Canada)

Sexual misconduct investigation into former Concordia prof provides few answers for complainant

The investigation into complaints of sexual misconduct by a former Concordia University professor is complete, but the conclusions of the investigation are unclear, reports CBC. In May of 2018, Emma Healey filed a complaint about John Paul Fiorentino, then a creative writing professor at Concordia, who engaged in what Healey describes as a consensual relationship that “was eventually marred by an imbalance of power.” An official response from the university indicated that “necessary steps and actions in response to th[e] matter have been taken”; however, privacy laws set by the Quebec Education Ministry prevent Concordia from revealing whether the defendant has been sanctioned, fired, or exonerated. "I would not recommend anyone go through this process,” Healey said. “It's incredibly difficult." CBC (QC)

Arrest made in ECUAD arson, clean-up continues

Charges have been filed against a Vancouver man who is suspected of causing the arson that resulted in damage to and the temporary closure of Emily Carr University of Art + Design at the beginning of October. The 40-year-old Vancouver man was charged with two counts of break and enter, and one count of arson. ECUAD Director of Communications Rob Maguire states that the university does not believe the man has connections with the institution. "While every effort is being made to get Emily Carr back to its original state, unfinished walls or relocated shops, classrooms and studios will be a regular part of many students' experiences for several weeks," the school stated. CBC | Vancouver Sun (BC)

U of T, Vector institute create three new faculty positions in the deep learning subfield of AI

The University of Toronto and the Vector Institute have announced the creation of three new tenure-track faculty positions in deep learning to honour U of T Professor Emeritus Geoffrey Hinton. Deep learning is a sub-discipline of AI that employs neural networks, which are modelled on the network of neurons in the human brain, to learn and make decisions. The three positions will be distributed between the Faculty of Arts and Science, the Faculty of Medicine, and the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. “These new positions will help us serve the growing interest in AI among our students, prepare them for careers in this burgeoning field and further consolidate U of T’s position as a world-leading centre of research and excellence in AI,” said U of T VP Cheryl Regehr. U of T (ON)

CNA business students partner with Co-Operators Insurance, offer mental health kits to students

College of the North Atlantic Business Management students have developed a mental health toolkit for students. Sponsored by Co-operators Insurance, the Clear Image project creates mental wellness kits that are given to participants in an interactive presentation on mental health. Each kit includes information regarding local mental wellness services, information sheets, and self-care tools such as a mindfulness sensory card. Moving forward, CNA plans to incorporate an iteration of the project into next year’s student orientation. “There is so much focus on mental health today, so we are confident the self-care kits will have a positive impact on students’ mental health as they navigate their way through CNA,” said CNA Director of Student Success Karen Antle. CNA (NL)