Top Ten

May 20, 2020

Yukon College becomes Yukon University

Yukon College has officially become Yukon University, the country’s first university north of 60°. YukonU will deliver over 50 degrees, diplomas, certificates, trades, and university prep programs while continuing the school’s tradition of northern-focused education. “As YukonU, we promise to continue anticipating and meeting your education and research needs, to offer an accessible pathway for every learner, and to contribute to a strong, resilient north,” said YukonU President Karen Barnes. “Thank you to everyone who has supported our journey along the way.” Until in-person celebrations can resume, the school is marking the launch with a renewed website and rebranded social media channels. YukonU (YK)

Canada provides $450M in funding to support national research community

The Government of Canada has announced $450M in funding to support the country’s academic research community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will provide wage supports for retaining research staff funded by industry or philanthropic sources that are unable to access some of the government’s existing support measures. The funds will also allow universities and health research institutes to maintain essential research-related activities during the crisis and to ramp back up to full research operations once physical distancing measures are lifted. “By providing these institutions with immediate support, we continue to nurture Canada’s talent pipeline and sustain our innovation capacity, while helping to mitigate the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the research community,” said Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains. Canada (National)

Student seeks collective action against QC universities for partial refunds

A Université Laval student has requested authorization to institute a class action lawsuit against fifteen Québec universities. The aim of the suit is to recover some fees paid to the schools by students during the winter 2020 session that was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit proposes that for each university credit—where a university course generally corresponds to three credits—a $30 sum would be claimed by students due to the alleged inferior quality of the educational services provided during the shift to online learning. The lawsuit also claims that in addition to education-related complaints, students pointed to the inability to access certain facilities or training activities like conferences and internships. Radio Canada | La Presse (QC)

CAUT releases re-opening guidelines for colleges, universities

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has released guidelines for its member associations regarding the reopening of Canada’s universities and colleges. The document recommends including workplace Joint Health and Safety Committees and academic staff associations in decision-making processes, following the guidance of public health authorities, and establishing a variety of safety protocols and criteria. The recommendations also contain calls for institutions and organizations to negotiate changes to instructional methods and delivery modes with academic staff associations, ensure that academic freedom is not compromised, and consider the equity implications of decisions made on all students, staff, and faculty. CAUT (National)

ACFA launches online campaign against cuts to French-language UAlberta campus

The Association Canadienne Française De L’Alberta (ACFA) has launched an online campaign petitioning budget cuts that have left the University of Alberta’s Saint-Jean campus in a “precarious financial situation,” according to the ACFA president. The campus, which is the only location in Alberta where students can study postsecondary education in French, is considering reducing the number of courses offered in September by 44% because of recent provincial budget cuts. “For the francophone community, we really feel (the cuts will have an) impact on our ability to continue to speak French in Alberta,” said ACFA president Sheila Risbud. “The ripple effect I guess with a decision like this is that we find ourselves not able to instruct our children at the primary and secondary school level.” Edmonton Journal (AB)

McMaster Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans officially launched

The Government of Canada has officially launched the Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans, based at McMaster University’s Faculty of Health Science. The Centre will work with veterans and their families to advance pain management research and evidence-based therapies that address veterans’ chronic pain challenges and needs. Federal funding for the center, announced last year, includes $20.1M in the first five years, with an addition $5M per year after that. "Chronic pain is a vicious cycle where you feel hopeless, broken, and isolated,” said veteran Derek Speirs who is also a volunteer at the Centre. “By getting involved with the Centre of Excellence, veterans can reconnect with each other and break that cycle, and help our brothers and sisters in pain.” McMaster | CBC (ON)

CARL launches Institutional Open Access Policy Template

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) has announced the release of their Institutional Open Access Policy Template that will support schools preparing to develop open access policies on their campuses. The sections of the toolkit—such as Key Principles Underlying a Policy’s Rationale, Beginning the Journey Towards an OA Policy, and Lessons Learned—aim to support first efforts to create an institution-wide open access policy, but can also be used to develop faculty- or department-specific policies, or in expanding an institution’s existing policies. However, CARL also acknowledges that open access policy practices are evolving quickly and plans to “revise the policy template and toolkit on an ongoing basis in response to shifting norms and expectations.” CARL (National)

URegina to sell president residence to save costs during pandemic

The University of Regina is preparing to sell a house that has served as the home of the schools’ presidents as a cost-saving measure. The house, owned by the university since 1991, was historically provided to the URegina president to live in rent-free. The building has cost the school approximately $100K each year to own and maintain. "We have no interest in buying a new replacement house and that wouldn't be part of the package on offer for an incoming president," said URegina vice-president of administration Dave Button. “When we actually sell the house, we’ve already earmarked at least $100,000 to go into a student bursary fund to help students during this tough period.” Global News | CBC (SK)

Instructors, institutions deliver hands-on learning virtually

Colleges and universities are implementing innovative tools and tactics to deliver traditionally hands-on learning components online. Camosun College, for example, partnered with a platform called Electude to provide its automotive service technician students with a simulation of a vehicle engine that can be digitally worked on. Similarly, second-year nursing students at MacEwan University used virtual simulations to learn how to ask patients difficult questions about their mental health. At Vancouver Community College, chef instructor Tobias MacDonald has been hand-delivering ingredient packages to students to allow them to complete assignments and providing point-of-view lessons filmed with action cams to help students follow along with lessons. Camosun | MacEwan | VCC (BC, AB)

On the benefits of OER during the pandemic: Opinion

Due to the recent and rapid shift to online learning, there has been an uptick in the interest and use of open educational resources, as well as increased discounts for access to some commercial learning platforms and resources. Speaking with local librarians and open education experts, BCcampus outlines some of the benefits of OER—such as no end dates, adaptable to instructor needs, and free use—whilst also highlighting expert concerns with the time-limited altruism of some commercial companies providing learning materials during the pandemic. “One of the concerns shared on the BC ELN listserv is that we might add the discounted or temporarily free resources to our library services and databases, where instructors can link and share them to their students,” said Lin Brander, open education librarian at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, “but at the end of the pandemic, these resources would be removed.” BCcampus (BC)