Top Ten

May 11, 2020

Colleges, universities provide further details on fall reopening plans

Universities and colleges across the country have shared their fall delivery plans. Royal Roads University has announced that programs, courses, and residences will continue to be delivered online until December 31st, 2020. The Government of Québec has invited cégeps and universities to consider reopening this fall, but the province’s Ministry of Education notes that distance education could be an attractive solution for many schools. Saint Paul University has announced that it is committed to offering all courses through distance or online learning, as well as in-person if authorized by health authorities. Schools like Mohawk College and McMaster University indicate they are planning for phased reopening and preparing various delivery scenarios, while Fleming College has announced that they will not be holding in-person classes for the month of September. Royal Roads | Journal de Montréal | Global News (Fleming) | SPU | Mohawk (BC, QC, ON)

AB community colleges form Economic Recovery Taskforce

Alberta’s 11 Comprehensive Community Colleges have launched an Economic Recovery Taskforce to aid governments and industry as they tackle the economic challenges faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The taskforce will address three main themes: Economic resiliency to address immediate needs, economic recovery to play a key role in restarting the economy, and economic competitiveness to focus on long-term opportunities for AB’s colleges to build Canada’s economic strength. “This taskforce will align its work with business as well as municipal, provincial and federal government priorities to connect the community-based knowledge and expertise that exists within Alberta’s Colleges to have a direct positive impact on the economy,” said Grande Prairie Regional College President and taskforce chair Robert Murray. GPRC (AB)

Making connections with prospective students through virtual recruitment strategies

Institutions across the country are approaching recruitment with creative strategies. Royal Roads University has announced they will be participating in EduCanada’s Virtual Fair in Latin America and the Caribbean. Assiniboine Community College is using phone calls, emails, and webinars that cover topics like financial aid and school athletics to connect with prospective students. The University of Winnipeg is also taking their recruitment efforts online and have launched Getting Ready for First Year: virtual presentations that are personalized for more than 50 participating high schools that provide accepted students with important information about beginning university. “We want our incoming students to know that there is a lot of support available, and we are looking forward to helping them reach their goals,” said UWinnipeg Student Recruitment Director Ashley Dunlop. Royal Roads | Brandon Sun | UWinnipeg (BC, AB, MB)

UManitoba launches nursing program with emphasis on Indigenous practices

The University of Manitoba’s College of Nursing has announced the launch of a bachelor’s degree program in midwifery. Beginning September 2021, the three-year program will accept six new students into the program each year. Given the need for Indigenous midwives in northern Manitoba, half of the seats will be designated for Indigenous students. Knowledge of traditional Indigenous midwifery practices will also be woven throughout the curriculum. “Currently, in northern and remote Indigenous communities, women often have to travel long distances to give birth,” said UManitoba Professor Kellie Thiessen. “One of the goals of this program is to support families through culturally appropriate midwifery services close to home.” UManitoba (MB)

Lifelong learning as a solution to an unpredictable labour market

While it is difficult to predict specific changes in the labour market, Jackie Pichette and Rosanna Tamburri argue that we can prepare for change by building an agile system of lifelong learning. In this piece, the authors advocate for a lifelong learning model that teaches workers knowledge and skills for specific careers, as well as essential transferrable skills like literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking. Pichette and Tamburri suggest that competency-based education programs are a promising model for retraining displaced workers and are well–suited to adults juggling multiple responsibilities. “While CBE-style programs are in their infancy in Canada, there are signs of change as institutions across the country,” conclude the authors, pointing to the 14 pilot projects created through eCampusOntario to assist colleges and universities and their industry partners to design microcertifications as an example. HEQCO (ON, National)

Northern BC schools, Mastercard Foundation support Indigenous students, respond to pandemic

Four northern British Columbia postsecondary institutions have partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to enhance supports and invest in technological solutions to improve access to remote education for rural and Indigenous students. Coast Mountain College, the College of New Caledonia, Northern Lights College, and the University of Northern British Columbia are collaborating on the project which will create additional funding for student counselling support, employment opportunities for students, and a connectivity technology project to ensure students are able to access online programming. Indigenous students studying at the four schools will also receive academic mentoring and mental health counselling to help them navigate the barriers and challenges caused by the pandemic. UNBC | My PG Now (BC)

Cybersecurity experts speculate that York attack was ransomware

York University has announced that the recent cyberattack on the school corrupted several servers and workstations, but the university believes no sensitive, personal, or confidential information was compromised. York Chief Information Officer Donald Ipperciel noted in a tweet that the cyber-confinement of York systems seriously impeded the school’s ability to respond to community concerns. Cybersecurity expert David Masson speculates that the attack may have been ransomware. “This was a big attack that moved very quickly and it kind of looks like a ransomware attack,” says Mason. “It makes you wonder whether the rest of academia and the Canadian government are paying attention to this and making sure it doesn’t happen to them.” Financial Post | YorkU (ON)

QC university libraries to launch shared library search tool, catalogue late summer

Concordia University Library, in partnership with the in partnership with the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire and 17 other Québec universities, has announced that they will implement a new shared library catalogue platform late this summer. Shared Services Platform is a search tool and unified catalogue that will provide users across the institutions access to over 20 million items from across the 18 institutions. The Partenariat des bibliothèques universitaires québécoises has also created three digital platforms that will allow users to access academic materials from across the province in both French and English. Concordia (QC)

Addressing gendered, race-related inequities in higher ed during the pandemic

“To genuinely support vulnerable faculty members, particularly women faculty of color with children and/or dependents, a paradigm shift must occur that affirms equity in higher education,” writes Abiola Farinde-Wu. Speaking from her experience as “a pregnant black mother scholar professor,” Farinde-Wu argues that higher education institutions have a duty to acknowledge faculty members who are disproportionately disadvantaged during the pandemic. Thus, in addition to the short-term equity measures instituted by some institutions, such as extending junior faculty’s tenure and promotion clocks, Farinde-Wu argues that “higher education must craft and enact language and policies that affirm the long-term effects of this pandemic on faculty career trajectories, with consideration of race and gender, as these groups are historically marginalized.” Inside Higher Ed (International)

Keyano begins to assess flood damage

Officials at Keyano College continue to assess the damage caused by flooding in the region. Damage to the college varies by building. While the Clearwater Campus, theatre, and the Clearwater Hall Residence building have minimal damage. There is reportedly extensive damage to the Bob Lamb building and the damage to the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre, which was also impacted by flooding in 2013, has been described as “catastrophic” by college officials. Fort McMurray Today (AB)