Top Ten

January 29, 2020

Canadian institutions battle fake coronavirus alerts, discourage travel, send aid to China

Several Canadian postsecondary institutions are taking extra precautions related to the coronavirus. Global News states that Ryerson University, McMaster University, and Durham College have been made aware of and warned their students about fake coronavirus alerts circulating online. The University of Regina has cancelled all centrally organized and funded travel to China for the next three months, and Western University has urged students and faculty to avoid travel to the Wuhan region. Dalhousie University researchers are reportedly working to send medical supplies to health-care workers in Wuhan. Dal has also begun work with the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology and the University of Saskatchewan’s VIDO-Intervac on potential vaccines against coronavirus. CBC (Dal) | CBC (USask) | London Free Press (Western) Global News | CBC (URegina, USask) (National)

CBC (Dal) | CBC (USask) | London Free Press (Western)

Financial Times releases global MBA rankings for 2020

The Financial Times has released its Global MBA Rankings for 2020. Three Canadian business schools landed in the top 100: Western University's Ivey Business School (#87), McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management (#91), and the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management (#94). While the top three schools this year were all located in the United States, the Ottawa Citizen reports that demand has been falling at most US-based business schools since 2015, which the authors note stemmed from reduced international student participation, due to tighter visa re-strictions for foreign students and anti-immigration rhetoric from the White House, as well as a strong job market that discouraged domestic students from participating in postgraduate study. Financial Times | Ottawa Citizen (ON)

UBC signs on to OSFI to increase transparency in academic research, bolster public trust in science

The University of British Columbia has announced that it has signed on to the Center for Open Science's Open Science Framework Institutions platform, an act that UBC states is a first for a Canadian university. OSFI is a collaboration and research management tool that encourages best practices in research. “With recent concerns about a reproducibility crisis plaguing scientific research, the benefits of open science, where everything from research plans to the data and results of a study is posted for all to review and scrutinize, are well recognized,” said UBCO Southern Medical Program librarian Mathew Vis-Dunbar. “Breaking down traditional barriers to collaborative research is also very effective at improving the quality and impact of research, making connections and accelerating the pace of scientific discovery.” Vis-Dunbar added that the initiative will help bring greater transparency to academic research and help maintain public trust in science. UBCO (BC)

Lambton to expand skilled trades training with $900K investment

Lambton College has received $900K from the Government of Ontario to support over 380 students in six in-class skilled trades training program. The funding supports the college’s newly accredited construction boilermaker apprenticeship program, as well as the Instrumentation and Control Technician, General Carpenter, Steamfitter, Construction Maintenance Electrician, and Welder programs. “The Minister’s announcement today means Lambton College will provide training in the much-needed boilermaker construction trade, preparing our students for rewarding careers, in our community and throughout the province,” said Lambton President Judith Morris. “By offering this program it will strengthen our economy and workforce.” Lambton (ON)

Grading more equitably: Opinion

While faculty members typically believe that their grading practices are fair, Joe C Feldman argues that grading practices often reflect the idiosyncratic preferences of individual faculty members and can perpetuate achievement disparities. Feldman thus recommends that faculty institute grading policies that validly describe a student’s level of mastery; evaluate students based on knowledge instead of their environment, history, or behavior; support a growth mind-set; and 'lift the veil' on how to succeed. "If we are serious about eliminating achievement disparities, we have to be willing to tackle grading, an important but largely unaddressed aspect of higher education teaching and student succcess," concludes the author. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Cambrian, Algoma forge transfer pathways for select programs

Cambrian College and Algoma University have signed transfer credit agreements that will provide more options for postsecondary students in Northern Ontario. Graduates of select programs at Cambrian - including Business and Business Accounting, Police Foundations, and the Social Service Worker program - will be able to earn a related bachelor’s degree in an additional two to three years of study. The agreements also include a joint international student acceptance provision, which will provide international students from the Cambrian programs with the opportunity to be automatically accepted into the corresponding Algoma program upon graduation. Sudbury Star (ON)

UVic proposes fossil fuel divestment

The University of Victoria has proposed divesting from high carbon emitting companies to reduce the carbon footprint of its $225M short-term investment fund. After months of research and consultation, the university announced a policy that would see money moved from high-carbon emitting companies to enterprises in renewable energy and other clean technologies. The proposed policy would aim to lower carbon emissions across the entire portfolio by at least 45% by 2030. “The university knows it has a critical role in responding to the climate crisis caused by excessive emissions of greenhouse gases due to human activity,” says Gayle Gorrill, vice-president of Finance and Operations. “While a target of 45 per cent is an ambitious goal that will challenge the university, we believe it was an important goal to set, and that this comprehensive approach will bring real and meaningful change.” UVic | Times Colonist (BC)

Calculating "fair pay" for sessional instructors

John Warner explores a method of determining fair pay for “nontenurable” instructors. In order to calculate the teaching labour wage gap, writes the author, aggregate the salaries for all faculty who teach at least one class and determine what portion of those salaries is dedicated to instruction. Warner then explores the different factors that would or would not play into the per-course wage, such as eminence, experience, and seniority. Noting faculty are unlikely to accept pay cuts to achieve overall pay equity, the author suggests that a "more palatable solution would be to set a floor for a per-course wage as the average across all ranks and then find some additional money to bring people up to that floor." Inside Higher Ed (International)

OCUFA calls on ON to increase per-student investment, reverse performance-based university funding

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations has released its pre-budget submission for the 2020 Ontario Budget. The report makes a series of recommendations to the provincial govern-ment, including increasing per-student public investment in ON universities by 2024-25, reversing the performance-based university funding model, and eliminating the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. “A high quality and accessible higher education sector is only possible through robust public funding,” states OCUFA. “It is time for the Government of Ontario to invest in and protect postsecondary education in the province.” OCUFA (ON)

Olds suspends student intake while reviewing fashion program

Olds College has announced that it is suspending intake to the Apparel Technology program for 2020-2021. The 60 students currently enrolled in the two-year program will not be affected by this decision, and the majority of the program's 10 staff members will remain in their positions during the review. “This was not an easy decision,” said Olds spokesperson Blayne Meek. “but will provide Olds College time to rethink the future of apparel technology programming with the goal to continue to serve both students and industry.” Calgary Herald (AB)