Top Ten

July 16, 2020

Federal government announces policy changes to support international students

The Government of Canada has announced a number of temporary policy changes to support and reassure international students and learning institutions amid a rapidly shifting pandemic environment. New measures include providing priority study-permit processing for students who have submitted a complete application online; allowing eligible students to count the time spent in online classes while abroad toward their post-graduation work permit eligibility; and implementing a temporary two-stage approval process. However, the announcement added that prospective students should note that commencing their studies online from abroad following approval-in-principle of a study permit application is not a guarantee that they will receive a full approval of their study permit application or be authorized to pursue their studies in Canada. Canada (National)

Okanagan launches Accessibility Initiative to improve co-op placement accessibility

Okanagan College has launched an accessibility initiative to support students facing barriers in their co-op placements. Okanagan’s Accessibility Initiative and survey aim to obtain data that will help identify the tools, resources, and needs of students in the area of co-op accessibility. “In relation to students with accessibility needs, although there can be many exceptions, overall the research shows that working-age adults with disabilities face many barriers in the Canadian labour market,” said Leslie Munro of Okanagan’s Student Services. The initiative’s tangible goals include improving tools and resources for students and employers, as well as working with community partners to identify gaps and where partnerships could be of benefit. Okanagan (BC)

MSVU launches graduate certificate in Health Communication and Aging

Mount Saint Vincent University’s departments of Communication Studies and Family Studies & Gerontology have jointly launched a graduate certificate in health communication and aging. Described by the university as the first of its kind in Canada, the program will provide students with an opportunity to study the interplay between human communication, aging, and health. “Health is an integral theme across the aging continuum – from preventative, healthy, and active aging to continuing care policies and practices and, eventually, end of life,” said MSVU Professor Janice Keefe. “This situation creates a unique opportunity to connect two areas of expertise at MSVU – Health Communication and Gerontology.” MSVU (NS)

U of T develops LGBTQ+ health curriculum

University of Toronto researchers are developing a LGBTQ+ focused health curriculum to equip doctors with the tools and knowledge to better care for patients. The new curriculum will cover areas researchers identified as specific knowledge gaps, such as hormone therapy and sexually transmitted infections. However, U of T researcher Miranda Schreiber says the primary goal of the curriculum is to provide a broader understanding of the range of issues facing LGBTQ+ patients. “Queer Canadians live shorter, less healthier lives than cisgender, heterosexual Canadians,” explains Schreiber. “We wanted to make it clear that in order to solve systemic issues you need to reroute how you think about the medical process and how you think about the medical model.” UA (ON)

UNB addresses complaints of racial profiling, points to technical errors in new billing system

The University of New Brunswick has responded to complaints regarding a new billing system that incorrectly charged international student fees to non-international students in May 2020. UNB explains that an international equality control process detected the error, which was corrected within an hour of the occurrence, adding that personal identifiers were not a factor in the error. The release seemingly speaks back to complaints by affected UNB domestic students such as Yuki Xie, who told CBC that she believes the university assumed she was an international student of her Chinese name. UNB responded by stating that, "we want to be clear that racial profiling and systemic racism are real and harmful” and apologizing for “any distress students have experienced” as a result of the error. UNB | CBC (NB)

Sask Polytechnic, White Rabbit VR partner to develop mobile VR forklift training simulator

Saskatchewan Polytechnic has recently partnered with White Rabbit VR to develop a mobile virtual reality forklift training simulator. The portable training system will be used by Sask Polytech’s School of Transportation for Warehouse Worker and Parts Management Technician programs, as well as the forklift certification through continuing education. “Using virtual reality is a great way to create an immersive learning experience for students,” says Paul Carter, Sask Polytech Dean for the Joseph A Remai School of Construction and the School of Transportation. “We are excited to incorporate virtual reality into more of our programming and create engaging educational experiences for our students.” Sask Polytech (SK)

More than diversity statements, anti-racist workshops needed to combat institutional racism: Opinion

“In response to those who point out racism on their campuses,” writes University of Victoria Professor Audrey Yap, “university administrations […] are often quick to direct folks to anti-racism workshops” or diversity statements. However, Yap argues that if higher education administration value diversity beyond optics, institutions need to invest time, money, resources, research, and people. In addition to the establishment of diversity statements, dedicated offices, and anti-racist workshops; Yap outlines many additional steps institutions can take toward addressing racism on campus, such as ensuring there is someone in the upper administration whose mandate involves anti-racism, and recognizing and valuing the work of people already engaging in anti-racist work. “Universities need to back up their stated commitments to equity with the resources to hire, train and support people with the relevant expertise, just as we are supposed to do in other areas of our academic mandate,” concludes Yap. The Tyee (National )

UBC project among recipients of $10.5M in federal funding for salmon restoration

The Government of Canada has announced approximately $10.5M in funding from the federal and provincial governments for eight additional projects as part of the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund. Recipients of the fund—which include the University of British Columbia, Pacific Salmon Foundation, 'Namgis First Nation, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance Society, and Spruce City Wildlife Association—will work on a variety of projects ranging from improving wild salmon monitoring to hatchery upgrades and aquaculture research. These latest projects will help the recovery of salmon stocks that are currently in steep decline. The applications for the next round of funding are set to open on Wednesday. Time’s Colonist (BC)

Self-doubt rated as a significant barrier to postsecondary education: Study

A recent American study has revealed that nearly half of adults surveyed identify self-doubt as one of the largest challenges they would face if they enrolled in a postsecondary education or training program. More specifically, nearly half of respondents said it would be challenging to pursue more education because they fear they won't succeed or that they've been out of school too long, or both. While self-doubt ranked below time as a top challenge or barrier to pursuing higher education, the emotional factor ranked above cost. As a result, Nichole Torpey-Saboe argues that, "as important as it is to make it affordable, they also have to think about how they can make students feel like they belong.” Inside Higher Ed (International)

Human Rights Commission calls on Concordia to revise sexual assault response protocol

The Québec Human Right Commission has requested that Concordia University change the way they handle sexual violence complaints, and has recommended that the institution compensate a student who felt abandoned by the university after being assaulted on and off campus. In the decision, the commission found there was not enough evidence to prove Concordia failed to provide a safe learning environment for the complainant, but said her case did illustrate she was discriminated against based on her sex and disability. If the university fails to act on the tribunal’s recommendations, the commission could bring the case to the Human Rights Tribunal, which has the power to enforce them and the financial penalty. “We have seen the proposal by the Human Rights Commission,” said Concordia spokesperson Vannina Maestracci. “We take all complaints brought to us very seriously.” Montreal Gazette (QC)