Top Ten

April 30, 2020

QC authorizes resumption of research in specific fields

The Government of Québec has approved the resumption of some university research, and the gradual resumption of other areas of research. According to a Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire release, research activities in health, natural sciences, agriculture, forestry, engineering, as well as seasonal outdoor activities, can now resume if they are conducted accordance with public health guidelines. An email obtained by Le Devoirnotes that the provincial government has also authorized universities to continue infrastructure construction in anticipation of a full reopening. McGill University, Université Laval, and Polytechnique Montréal have responded to the announcement cautiously, indicating that further institutional planning is underway to ensure the success of the gradual reopening. BCI | Le Devoir | McGill | Laval | Polytechnique Montréal (QC)

USask’s VIDO-InterVac receives $23M for COVID-19 vaccine research

The University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) has been awarded $23M by the federal government to fast-track efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The funding will support pre-clinical testing and two phases of clinical trials. “This major federal investment will accelerate VIDO-InterVac’s efforts to develop a Canadian vaccine against COVID-19, critical work that will help protect the health and safety of all Canadians and people around the world,” said USask President Peter Stoicheff. USask (SK)

NB partners with universities to offer online intersession courses to eligible Grade 12s

The Government of New Brunswick has partnered with the University of New Brunswick, St Thomas University, Mount Allison University, and the Université de Moncton to allow Grade 12 students to get an early start on their postsecondary education. The agreement allows students on track to graduate in June to enroll in online intersessional courses and earn credits toward their degrees. “Intersession courses allow our students to smoothly transition from high school to university over the summer months,” said NB Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “Our universities are offering a valuable opportunity to students wishing to kick-start their first year and I encourage students looking for an extra challenge to explore this option.” NB (NB)

Trent launches four-year Kinesiology degree

Trent University has launched a Bachelor of Science honours in Kinesiology degree to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to become a registered professional with the College of Kinesiologists of Ontario. Beginning in September, the program will feature hands-on placement opportunities, allowing students to gain career experience with a variety of clients as well as provide students with a diverse course offering. “Practical experiential-based learning is a very important and necessary component in the study of kinesiology,” explains Trent incoming program coordinator of Kinesiology Sarah West. “This program and Trent’s outstanding facilities will allow us to transition our students into well-educated kinesiologists, and provide them with the experience they need to succeed.” Trent (ON)

MB launches Student Aid Provisions Order

The Government of Manitoba has implemented a measure that will allow students to remain eligible for financial aid during the state of emergency period. The Student Aid Provisions Order allows postsecondary students to remain eligible for aid, even if they temporarily stop qualifying during the state of emergency period. The provision also lowers the minimum monthly repayment from $25 to $0, suspends the obligation for a student to start paying back their loan eight months after they end their studies, prevents borrowers from going into default during the state of emergency period, and extends the maximum term for repayment. MB (MB)

Laurentian announces financial hardships due to COVID-19

Laurentian University has announced that it is “facing significant financial challenges arising from COVID-19.” A statement from the school explains that alongside pre-existing financial pressures, COVID-19 will require Laurentian to amend and accelerate its sustainability plan to address a shortfall of approximately $15M in the 2020-21 fiscal year. Laurentian is now amending its financial forecast and has taken a number of immediate actions to mitigate financial risks including suspending new hiring and reducing casual, part time, and limited term contracts. “These difficult decisions were not made on the basis of performance, but rather, on the basis of our financial challenges,” stated Laurentian Vice President, Administration Lorella Hayes. “We thank our colleagues and workforce for their immense contributions to the University.” Laurentian (ON)

UPEI hopes to break ground on 260-bed residence as soon as possible

The University of Prince Edward Island hopes to start construction on a new 260-bed residence soon. UPEI vice president administration and finance Jackie Podger told CBC that breaking ground soon is important as the project will need to be completed by the fall of 2022 in order to act as a temporary home to athletes competing in the 2023 Canada Winter Games. The $60M structure will be around 185,000 square feet and will feature classrooms and a theatre that will double as a lecture hall and conference space. "This is a very large building, so we need to get in the ground as soon as possible," said Podger. "We really need to get going on this project right away." CBC (PE)

Graduate students call on schools for summer tuition relief

Graduate students at Queen’s University and Carleton University have launched letter writing campaigns calling on the schools to suspend tuition payments or provide tuition relief. "The university is not living up to our understanding of what we're paying tuition for," said Doug Yearwood, a third year PhD student at Queen’s. "We're not able to do fieldwork, we're not able to access the university and at the same time, we're not able to work." Thus far, universities have resisted cancelling tuition payments, but Queen’s has introduced COVID-19 bursaries for international and domestic students and Carleton has made unique emergency funding available to graduate students. CBC (ON, National)

UofT Continuing studies launches fund to support those seeking to upgrade skills

The University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies has launched a fund to help those experiencing financial difficulties pursue their education and upgrade their skills. The Opportunity Fund will provide eligible students a one-time bursary of up to $750 towards the cost of a School of Continuing Studies course. “Many of the folks in our learner community are being adversely affected by the COVID-19 situation, whether they’re finding themselves unemployed or less employed than they were,” said UofT Dean of Continuing Studies Maureen MacDonald. “We thought that, by creating this fund, we might be able to support some of our existing learners but also perhaps attract some new learners to the School of Continuing Studies.” UofT (ON)

Shared governance helps schools respond more effectively to pandemic: Opinion

“Colleges that share information and consult broadly with diverse constituencies have been able to respond more effectively than those that rely on top-down decision making,” writes Marjorie Hass. Based on their own experience, the author advocates for shared governance structures during and beyond the pandemic, highlighting three key areas that strengthen shared governance efforts: transparency in communicating a school’s financial realities; building a culture of trust; and creating inclusive leadership teams. “When leaders have the courage to share the power that comes with the knowledge of their institution’s market position, financial structures and strengths and weaknesses,” concludes the author., “shared governance is a force for positive change Inside Higher Ed (International)