Top Ten

May 8, 2020

MB announces dollar-for-dollar fund matching, top up to bursary programs

The Government of Manitoba has announced an increase in their matched funds program for the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative for the 2020-2021 academic year. The initiative will see the province match all funds raised by universities and colleges for the year, amounting to approximately $30M in support for students via scholarships in bursaries. MB also announced that they are committing $5M to the program on top of the $10M already announced, and the separate Manitoba Bursary program—which provides up-front financial support to students in need—has been increased by $1.8 million for 2020-21. MB | Times Colonist (MB)

SK institutions announces 0% tuition increase for 2020-21 budgets

The University of Regina and Saskatchewan Polytechnic has announced a 0% increase to tuition and fees for 2020-21 after the school’s operating budget for the year was approved by the Board of Governors. In a statement, URegina explained that the University was able to stave off a tuition increase due to the Government of Saskatchewan, which provided the University with an increase of $1.07M this year, as well higher than anticipated revenue from increased enrolments last year. “It is critical that we remain focused on the future and on our mission to educate students, and provide skilled and successful graduates,” says Sask Polytech President Larry Rosia. “I am happy to share that Saskatchewan Polytechnic will not be increasing tuition during this challenging time.” URegina | Sask Polytech (SK)

ON presses pause on performance-based funding, AB to introduce policies later this month

The Government of Ontario has announced that it is shelving its plan to introduce performance-based funding for the province’s postsecondary institutions. ON did not specify when it will revisit the new funding model, but at least one university-planning document indicates it will not be before 2021. The Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations have called on the provincial government to permanently discontinue the plan. The Government of Alberta has indicated that it will still be launching its outcomes-based funding model by the end of this month after a delay in its introduction due to the pandemic. Globe and Mail | CAUT (ON)

Universities launch online supports for prospective, first-year students

Several universities are launching online initiatives to support prospective and first-year students regarding their decisions to pursue and transition into postsecondary education. McMaster University has developed a program called Archway that will offer first year students individual support by pairing them both with an upper year student and a coach, providing a professional staff member who can answer questions, and helping to create a sense of community. Meanwhile, at Athabasca University, the school’s Counselling Services teams have launched a series of online resources to help all learners navigate their educations journeys. The “Am I Ready?” section provides prospective and new learners with information to ensure they are ready for university level courses, online learning, or studying several courses at the same time. McMaster | AthabascaU (ON, AB)

How educational developers are saving higher ed amid COVID-19

“Since the COVID crisis, ed devs across the country […] have finally had the chance to prove that we do a whole lot more than just help faculty turn on their computers,” writes Kathleen Bortolin, a Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Specialist at Vancouver Island University. Speaking from her experience as an educational developer during the pandemic, Bortolin highlights some of the challenging, but important tasks she has engaged in—such as supporting faculty in curriculum and course design, and developing online testing strategies—in order to allow the institution to continue delivering quality learning experiences. “As many of us wonder […] what if anything we’ll take and keep doing differently after life returns to normal (or near-normal),” concludes Bortolin, “I hope one is a greater awareness of what teaching and learning centres do, and how educational developers are a valuable asset to faculty, curriculum, students, and institutions.” Dr Bortolin (National)

GPRC partners with AthabascaU to increase online learning opportunities for northern AB students

Grande Prairie Regional College has signed an agreement with Athabasca University to improve access to educational opportunities for students in northern Alberta. The agreement will see GPRC join AthabascaU’s online learning platform, which will allow the college to move courses online and develop new online courses. “It is innovative partnerships such as this new agreement between GPRC and Athabasca University that will allow GPRC to achieve its goal of being more inclusive, modern, and accessible for students across northern Alberta and beyond,” said Robert Murray, President of GPRC. AthabascaU (AB)

Why conduct a leadership search during a pandemic?

It is exceptionally difficult to have a leadership vacancy in a crisis like this, writes Rod McDavis, who offers some concrete suggestions on how to respond effectively. McDavis encourages institutions to proceed with their leadership searches, despite the pandemic, as existing senior management teams are likely already strained from the extra labour caused by the pandemic. In addition, there is a possibility that another institution may scoop the best fit for one’s school. To help facilitate searches, the author recommends conducting phone and digital interviews, and, if your institution is conducting a public search, remembering to record and disseminate those meetings. Alternatively, McDavis encourages schools that cannot proceed with searches to consider hiring an interim leader. Inside Higher Ed (International)

NLC launches free online courses for community

Northern Lakes College’s Continuing Education & Corporate Training department is offering several free and discounted training courses to help serve its community. Free online courses offered include Leading during Turbulent Time, Introduction to Zoom, Podcasting for Business, and Writing Effective Proposals. “A distance learning college, Northern Lakes College [is committed to providing] the most accessible and flexible educational opportunities through innovative delivery,” explains a NLC statement. “We understand this is a challenging time for many and we want to assure you that you have our continued support. NLC (AB)

UWindsor faculty receive over $6.5M in funding to support science, engineering research

38 faculty at the University of Windsor have been awarded over $6.5M in federal funding to further research and innovation in science and engineering. The funding supports a wide range of topics including large lake ecosystems, electric vehicle drive systems, big data and supercomputing, air pollution, and clean energy. 14 of the successful grant applications, submitted by early career researchers in the first five years of their academic appointment, received a launch supplement of $12,500. “I am absolutely delighted by the success our researchers have enjoyed this year”, said UWindsor vice-president, research and innovation K W Michael Siu. UWindsor (ON)

Repurposing campus spaces amid COVID-19

Given the possibility that considerably fewer students may be taking in-person classes on campuses this fall, George R La Noue argues that institutions should consider what they may do with their facilities. In the short term, the author notes that some schools might follow the example of others in clearing student dorms for medical personnel or persons awaiting COVID-19 test results. Alternatively, La Noue proposes that institutions could partner with governments to see the creation of housing vouchers for families that would benefit from living on campus. “Rules would have to be worked out to assure nondiscrimination, family priorities and what campus facilities would be accessible to these nonstudents,” explains La Noue. “Campuses should be free to negotiate some conditions in return for these vouchers within the basic legal framework.” Inside Higher Ed (International)