Top Ten

February 11, 2021

BC, the Canada-BC Workforce Development provide new funds for micro-credentials

The Government of British Columbia and the Canada-BC Workforce Development have announced the provision of $4M in funds to 15 postsecondary institutions in BC to offer micro-credential courses focused on in-demand jobs. The new micro-credential courses include a Core Skills for Data Literacy program through the College of New Caledonia; a supervisory skills program through Royal Roads University; a course on clean energy and efficient buildings through Camosun College; and a course on mass timber construction at British Columbia Institute of Technology. "Micro credentials are an exciting new initiative for B.C. post-secondary education that will enable learners to get the education and skills they need to access high-demand jobs," said BC Advanced Education Minster Anne Kang. Prince George Citizen (CNC) | Royal Roads | BCIT | Camosun (BC)

UAlberta plans to demolish Ring Houses, public sign petition for delay, public consultations

The University of Alberta is planning to demolish its historical Ring Houses due to the cost of maintaining the buildings. The buildings were previously used as office space, but were decommissioned in 2020. UAlberta VP of facilities and operations Andrew Sharman explained that the houses were built as single-family dwellings and are unusable as modern teaching spaces. Sharman added that the spaces would require accessibility upgrades and $4M in maintenance. Community members have responded to the plans with a letter with over 1100 signatures requesting that UAlberta delay the decision for 12 months and commence public consultations. “See what comes forward in the way of creative ideas, possible funding, reimaginings, repurposings of these buildings,” said Ryan Dunch, a professor of history at UAlberta. CBC (AB)

Community response to Laurentian insolvency

Several members of the local and broader sector community have responded to Laurentian University’s recent announcement of insolvency. An editorial by Laurentian Professor Emeritus Dr. Dieter K Buse in The Sudbury Star argues that while Laurentian’s leadership has been “irresponsible,” Laurentian has greatly benefited Sudbury in several ways. In another article for the Star, Laura Mae Lindo, NDP critic for colleges and universities, argues that when the investigator is finished the financial report in six to eight weeks, the financial report should be made public. Sault Online has published an open letter to Minister Romano written by Laurentian neighbours, who allege that Laurentian’s Board has spent over $150K on a property lawsuit because of a development issue. The authors explain that they had tried to buy the land in question, which the Board valued at less than $2K, but their offer was refused. Julien Cayouette of University Affairs outlines how the news of Laurentian, as well as the news from Université de l’Ontario français, have created uncertainty for the French postsecondary community in Ontario. The Sudbury Star (Buse) | The Sudbury Star (NDP) | Sault Online | University Affairs (ON)

Navigating postsecondary toward a more inclusive environment: Oriola

In the face of events such as the Black Lives Matter movement, postsecondary institutions have been called on to do more to promote a more inclusive society. University of Alberta Associate Professor and joint editor-in-chief of African Security Temitope Oriola writes about how institutions can respond to the growing call for action on equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonization. In particular, Oriola outlines key considerations for faculty hiring and retention, the creation of research chairs and other awards, the selection of senior administration, the collection of race-based data, and the creation of EDI policies that are more than honorary. “The ship of each university needs to be navigated towards a more inclusive environment,” concludes Oriola, “where each individual can thrive to the full extent of their abilities and hard work.” Ideas-Idees (National)

NorQuest, City of Wetaskiwin partner on Wetaskiwin City Academy

NorQuest College has partnered with the City of Wetaskiwin on Wetaskiwin City Academy, which will offer custom offerings to train City employees. The agreement will see the establishment of a centralized training system and strategy to train employees, develop pathways, and track progress made on training goals. Wetaskiwin City Academy will offer a variety of course offerings, including leadership development, problem solving, psychological safety, and Indigenous awareness. “This kind of training is critical to cultivating an exceptional and effective workforce, and NorQuest is well-positioned to provide advice, training programs, and support to the City of Wetaskiwin to serve its citizens,” said Michele Braun, NorQuest’s Director of Continuing Education and Partner Solutions. NorQuest (AB)

Instructors should build career skills training into classes: Berdahl

University instructors should build career skills training into their university teaching, argues University of Saskatchewan Professor Dr Loleen Berdahl. Berdahl outlines three key reasons for instructors to include skills training in their programs. First, doing so helps to fulfill the claims that departments and disciplines are already making about the skills learned through their program(s). Second, career outcomes are expected by the public and governments. Third and finally, teaching career skills is intrinsically rewarding: “In my experience,” write Berdahl, “students appreciate a clear connection between coursework and career competencies.” Berdahl concludes by encouraging instructors to consider why they would include career training in their teaching and to reflect on the instructor’s role in career skills training. University Affairs (National)

TRU ITTC recognized with LEED Gold certification

Thompson Rivers University has announced that its Industrial Training and Technology Centre has been granted Gold certification under the Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Canada Rating System. The building reduces the use of water, energy, and other resources, and its sustainability is a step toward TRU’s goals of being carbon-neutral. “We are proud to achieve LEED Gold certification of the ITTC building,” said Warren Asuchak, TRU AVP of Campus Infrastructure, Sustainability and Ancillary Services. “This certification demonstrates that we are a leader in sustainable buildings, which is one part of the university’s overall commitment to sustainability, and I look forward to more TRU buildings receiving LEED certification in the years to come.” TRU (BC)

Limited library and archive collections presents challenges for researchers

An article by Maan Alhmidi published in the Times Colonist discusses the challenges researchers are facing due to limited need access to Library and Archive Canada’s collections during COVID-19. The article explains that researchers have not been able to access the collections during the lockdown, and that there is a growing backlog of access to information requests. The Colonist says that academics who need access to the collections are putting off their research projects or changing to digital research because they cannot access the physical Library and Archive Canada collections. While the archives are working to digitize the collections, the process reportedly presents legal and technological challenges and doubles the burden of preservation. Times Colonist (National)

AU, CFLPA announce five-year renewal of partnership

Athabasca University and the Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA) have renewed a partnership that positions AU as the official provider of education for CFL players and the CFL Alumni Association. The partnership allows CFLPA members to access high-quality, flexible education that fits their schedules. “We provide a unique opportunity for our learners, with an open and online model that helps people overcome the barriers to success in post-secondary education,” said AU’s Manager of Partnerships and Collaborations, Michael Shouldice. “We’re proud of how this partnership with the CFLPA is helping players to transform their lives.” AU (AB)

QC prevents debate on redirecting funding formerly for Dawson to francophone cegeps

The Montreal Gazette reports that the Government of Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette "shot down' a debate in the National Assembly focused on Dawson College. The debate, presented by Parti Québécois MNA Pascal Bérubé was focused on debating whether the $100M in funding originally allotted for Dawson College’s expansion should be redirected to francophone cegeps. The Gazette states that the CAQ did not give consent for a debate to immediately take place on the motion. Montreal Gazette (QC)