Top Ten

July 23, 2020

International students, institutions express confusion, frustration over COVID-19 policies

Recent government communications regarding travel and work guidelines for international students have provoked confusion and concern among students and institutions alike. For example, The Star reports that the federal immigration department has announced that international students will not be allowed to enter Canada if they have received a student visa after the border lockdown on March 18th. Those who enter Canada will have to prove that their travel is “non-discretionary or non-optional,” meaning that online studies are not an option for students’ circumstances and they cannot continue online education from their home country. In Québec, CBC reports that confusion around which services are considered essential and qualify for work exceptions has led some businesses and institutions to provide incorrect information about how many hours students are allowed to work under federal guidelines. CBC | The Star (National)

QC announces new research transfer organization

Quebec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation has announced that it will be creating a new organization to promote public research with the goal of increasing the value of research and structuring social innovation in all provincial regions. The new organization will provide public research promotion services to all sector stakeholders in the province: Universities, colleges, public research centers, and hospitals will all have access to the services. MTLinTECH reports that the location of the yet unnamed organization will be announced in Fall 2020 and that it is unclear what will happen to the staff currently employed at technology transfer offices. Newswire | Minitech (QC)

Scrap CSSG, implement strong postsecondary student supports: CASA

Student organizations across the country, including the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, are calling on the Government of Canada to cancel the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) program and reallocate the nearly $900M in funds to stronger supports for postsecondary students. “The goal for the Government of Canada should be to get support to students as quickly as possible in an efficient and effective manner,” said CASA Chair Bryn de Chastelain. “The CSSG is coming too late for students to fully take advantage of the program, so it is time for the government to re-evaluate where best to support students with $900M of existing money.” Federal Youth Minister Barish Chagger has stated that officials are looking at multiple ways and programs to deliver the grants, but did not provide a timeline for such releases. CASA | ACAE | Winnipeg Free Press (National)

Anxiety, optimism as Canadian postsecondary institutions prepare for American students’ return

Students, parents, staff, and faculty are expressing concerns as American students prepare to return to Canadian postsecondary institutions. One McGill University employee told CBC that they and their colleagues, who are typically in close contact with students, are worried about personal and familial safety given that many staff are in their 50s or 60s with elderly parents at home. American students and parents are also expressing concerns regarding whether American students will be safe, given reports of Americans facing verbal abuse from Canadians. However, others are expressing a more optimistic view of the Fall return: McGill employee Franco Taddeo explained that, “as a father and Canadian, I would much rather have these students here for their safety and well-being than being in present-day America.” University of Toronto Vice-Provost Joe Wong also expressed optimism about the Fall return, explaining that students from outside Canada will be quarantined on campus for 14 days and will include check-ins with staff, meals delivered to their rooms, and "co-curricular" programming. CBC (National)

URegina, CPC sign credit transfer agreement

The University of Regina’s Levene Graduate School of Business and the Canadian Police College (CPC) have signed a Transfer Credit Agreement to establish a block transfer credit (advanced standing) for applicants who have completed the CPC’s Executive Development in Policing Program. The agreement will see URegina provide eligible applicants admitted to one of the Levene programs, up to six credit hours of advanced standing, applicable to open electives exclusively. The agreement is also applicable to select applicants who have completed the Executive Development program after June 2015. “Our programs challenge students to think strategically, linking research, theory, practice, inquiry and imagination to develop ethical and visionary leaders,” URegina Dean of the Hill and Levene Schools Gina Grandy. “We invite all CPC, Executive Development program graduates to explore our Levene GSB programs to see how we can help them achieve their personal and professional career goals.” URegina (SK)

Ryerson to permanently offer some student services online

Ryerson University has announced that several of its Student wellbeing services will be permanently offered online due to the success of the online delivery during the pandemic. For example, Ryerson’s Health Promotion service, designed to help students navigate supports and services, will be offering services online as well as a series of virtual workshops to help students navigate campus. "It is incredible to be part of a team that converted an in-person service delivery model to a completely remote model within days,” said Allan MacDonald, executive director of Student Wellbeing. “We've learned a great deal from this experience, and we will almost certainly be able to apply our learning as we continue to update and innovate our Student Wellbeing support system." In addition, the Academic Accommodation Support will launch a new website this Fall that will provide students with information about the university’s Strive Online program, a drop-in learning strategy, and assistive technology support for students with disabilities. Ryerson (ON)

Exams, online or in-person, leave some students behind: Opinion

“As much as it enables continuity of course delivery,” write Mary Burgess and supporting authors, “using [examination] software comes with its own set of problems and some B.C. educators and institutions are outright rejecting these tools in favour of teaching methods that do not require exams.” In this piece, the authors not only investigate issues arising from the delivery of online exams—such as racially biased proctoring software, technological barriers, and academic integrity issues—but also the nature of the exam format itself. The authors suggest that instructors review the format of their exams, consider implementing both summative and formative evaluation methods, and implement assessment activities that involve applied learning, student reflection, or curriculum co-creation. BCcampus (BC, National)

NOSM, TBHSC renew affiliation agreement

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine and Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre have renewed their affiliation agreement to align and strengthen academic work in clinical settings as well as enhance patient care, education, and research. The five-year agreement will see both institutions develop joint policies to streamline processes and communication for learners, faculty, and staff across the affiliated institutions. “This agreement represents the important, ongoing relationship; namely, between the medical school and the clinical training ground at the Hospital which is a cornerstone for learning physicians,” says NOSM President Sarita Verma. “Collaboration is critical to the health of all Northern Ontarians, and will continue to be critical in sustaining health human resources in the North.” NOSM (ON)

Five tips for pursuing research as a scholar-administrator

“In the midst of the pandemic, we should revisit our goals and motivations, be creative in balancing our multiple roles, and seek to avoid burnout,” suggests Brandy L Simula. Such advice is especially pertinent for scholar-administrators who are working outside of the support and resource systems available to those in faculty positions. Simula offers five tips for scholar-administrators who are hoping to still pursue research interests in addition to their full-time administrative jobs: identify research motivations; consider collaborating with peers; negotiate research-related time and resources; look for creative, time-saving, and cost-saving ways to stay connect to your field; and avoid burn out. “Building in regular periods of rest and renewal is among the most vital steps you can take as a scholar-administrator to maintain a long-term research agenda,” concludes Simula. Inside Higher Ed (International)

AU’s nursing program receives accreditation from CASN

Athabasca University’s Nurse Practitioner program has received accreditation from the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) Nurse Practitioner Accreditation Bureau. AU states that it is the first postsecondary institution to receive such accreditation, and adds that the accreditation will help validate the credibility of AU’s Nurse Practitioner Programs and ensures a strong program for students, along with Nursing Education Program Approval Committee (NEPAC) provincial approval. “CASN sets the national accreditation standards for schools of nursing,” said Kimberly Lamarche, AU Nurse Practitioner Program Director. “We are very proud to be accredited and continue to provide this level of excellence to our learners.” AU (AB)

Reinventing the higher ed leadership search

Since the beginning of the pandemic, colleges and universities have been forced to rapidly change how they conduct executive searches explain Suzanne Teer and Karen Berg. In this piece, the authors present the “new ‘must dos’” for a successful leadership search. For example, Teer and Berg note that an institution’s brand is not enough to build a strong pool of candidates; institutions must now make a more compelling case to prospective leaders about why their institution is an attractive prospect. Other recommendations include resisting the impulse to allow consultants to do candidate outreach, leveraging technology strategically and effectively, and tuning-up candidate service. “For all of its many downsides, the pandemic may help us to reinvent and reinvigorate executive searches,” argue Teer and Berg. Chronicle of Higher Ed (International)