Top Ten

July 13, 2020

AB provides additional funding for restoration projects

The Government of Alberta has announced an additional $98M in funding for campus restoration projects at several postsecondary institutions, building on the $118.5M budgeted for maintenance and renewal. AB is providing an additional $16M in funding for the University of Alberta to engage in campus restoration projects, such as the renewal and replacement of mechanical and electrical systems in the Brain and Aging Research Building and the installation of a new piping system in the Tory Building. The University of Lethbridge has also received $20M to upgrade its district heating and cooling centre, which first opened in 1971. “This is spending that will benefit students, help control the cost of future maintenance to the university,” said Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf, “and will also help the community by ensuring that well-calculated and focused projects are creating jobs right here in Lethbridge.” AB | Lethbridge Herald (AB)

ON postsecondary institutions reopen with face mask requirements

Several postsecondary institutions in Ontario have announced that they will be requiring face masks to be worn in or around campus. Algonquin College, Brock University, Carleton University, Durham College, McMaster University, Mohawk College, Niagara College, Redeemer University, and the University of Toronto have all announced protocols around where and when face masks will be expected to be worn. While regional regulations have not mandated the use of face masks at postsecondary institutions, several institutions indicated that the requirement would help to keep the community safe. Algonquin also recently conducted a pilot project where they reopened to a select number of students to allow them to finish up their instruction. "Starting small allows us the flexibility to tweak and make sure everything works well from a procedure and protocol point of view,” explained Algonquin President Claude Brulé. Durham | U of T | CBC | Carleton | CTV News (Algonquin) (ON)

VIU launches Office of Community Partnerships

Vancouver Island University has launched the Office of Community Partnerships, a centre that will connect community members and organizations to build partnerships toward the creation of impactful projects within the region. “We know that many great ideas for projects or research come directly from community members, but often people don’t know how to connect to VIU’s resources or expertise at the university,” said VIU President Deb Saucier. “The Office of Community Partnerships will facilitate these relationships – connecting community to our faculty, administrators and our resources to support innovative projects and research that will have a direct impact on local communities.” VIU (BC)

RMC cyberattack extends to three other institutions of the CDA

Federal officials have revealed that the recent cyberattack against the Royal Military College of Canada has also impacted the Royal Military College Saint-Jean, the Canadian Forces College, and the Chief Warrant Officer Robert Osside Profession of Arms Institute. The Department of National Defence (DND) confirmed that the data breach began last Friday and has affected an entire computer network at the Canadian Defence Academy (CDA). The breach will reportedly not jeopardize any state secrets, but the DND is not commenting on what kind of attack it received at this time. Globe and Mail (ON, QC)

PEI considers plan to house returning students in hotel for 14-day isolation periods

Prince Edward Island’s Chief Public Health Office is considering booking off-campus hotel rooms to house returning out-of-province and international postsecondary students during the 14-day pandemic isolation period. PEI Premier Dennis King stated that both the University of Prince Edward Island and Holland College have been working with public health officials to create a plan similar to what has been used to house temporary foreign workers. While details have not been finalized, the Premier indicated that a preliminary plan will see the province provide financial support for the accommodations. In terms of logistics, King stated that the plan may involve “bringing in 150 increments over a few weeks and having them go into isolation, be tested, come out of isolation and then be enrolled into the school life.” Cape Breton Post (PEI)

Auditor general identifies issues with ESDC’s management of student loans

A report from the federal auditor general has found issues with Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) management of financial assistance for postsecondary students, contributing to $2.4B in unpaid loans. The auditor identified several issues with the ESDC methods, indicating that the organization did not correctly verify postsecondary students’ eligibility for the Repayment Assistance Plan, failed to ensure that students understood their repayment obligations, and failed to adequately assess the impact of the programs on students’ ability to access education. The auditor also indicated that ESDC needs to ensure its approaches to recovering unpaid loans are consistent. ESDC has issued a statement indicating that it agrees with the recommendations and that it is working with provincial and territorial partners to improve Canada’s student loan system. CTV News (National)

Exclusion from benefit programs, tuition hikes exacerbate challenges for international students

Prior to the pandemic, many international students at Canadian postsecondary institutions were struggling financially, write Carlo Handy Charles and Veronica Øverlid, and unexpected tuition hikes, exclusions from financial support programs, and barriers to employment have exacerbated these challenges. Given that international students contribute billions of dollars to the Canadian economy each year, bring a diversity of cultures and world views to many institutions, and contribute to Canadian postsecondary institutions’ reputations, the authors called on governments and institutions to reconsider benefit exclusions and tuition hikes. “The COVID-19 crisis presents us with an opportunity to reflect on the experiences of international students in Canada, and to reconsider what it means to welcome newcomers to the country,” conclude Charles and Øverlid. Policy Options (National)

Rethinking the role of the police through postsecondary education reforms: Opinion

As calls to reform or defund police services across Canada increase, some postsecondary institutions with law enforcement programs are re-examining their curricula to reflect those concerns. For example, Fleming College has launched a project supported by a federal grant to promote diversity in policing and police training to meet community needs for inclusive practices. Several universities across Canada have also launched degrees in policing in an effort to provide what they describe as a broader, humanities-based education. Brock University and Niagara College, for example, are phasing out their joint four-year policing program, and Brock plans to launch a critical criminology degree this Fall in its place. “Once we’ve determined the role and function we want the police to play in our society we’ll then… better determine how we select, educate and train police officers,” said Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, professor at the University of Toronto. “But until then, we’re tweaking with what we know is a broken system.” Medicine Hat News (National)

Cambrian offers free, non-credit courses to the local community

Cambrian College has launched a series of free, non-credit courses to the general public as a way to say thank you to the community. “We have some videos about parenting through COVID-19 and what you can do with kids, and a series on financial literacy, like Budgeting 101 and talking about RRSPs," explained Bradie Granger, Chair of General Studies and Academic Upgrading at Cambrian. Granger added that one of the courses being offered by the college, called “Mino-Bimaadiziwin” or “Living the Good Life,” examines health from an Indigenous perspective. “We wanted to make sure that our Indigenous community members also had something that they can access,” explained Granger, “so it's really looking at all aspects of your health in an Indigenous way.” CBC (ON)

QC announces reforms to PEQ, Fédération des cégeps argues changes do not go far enough

The Government of Québec has announced reforms to the Programme de l'expérience québécoise (PEQ), a program designed to accelerate the process for newcomers to attain permanent residency. The reforms have instituted a transitional measure for international students already in the province, as well as introducing flexibility to the duration and work experience required for students. The Fédération des cégeps, however, stated that the reforms are unsatisfactory. The federation argues that the program still excludes students whose graduation is expected after December 31, 2020, undervalues the professional experiences of students, excludes attestations d'études collégiales, and—as a consequence of these oversights—undermines the attractiveness of Québec as a postsecondary education destination for candidates from abroad. Newswire (PEQ) | Newswire (Fédération des cégeps) (QC)