Top Ten

March 1, 2021

AB PSE responds to decreased funding in Budget 2021

Postsecondary institutions and communities in Alberta are responding to Budget 2021, which the Edmonton Journal reports contains a decrease in funding to $5.04B in 2021-22 and 750 lost jobs for postsecondary institutions. “We know they’re trying to manage their ability to spend and not accumulate too much debt,” said Economic Development Lethbridge CEO Trevor Lewington, “[but] nine out of our 10 largest employers are public sector entities, […] like the college, like the university.” Representatives from Red Deer College faculty association and the University of Calgary have expressed concern about the announcements and the impact of a tuition hike on students, communities, and the economy. Mount Royal University President Tim Rahilly told Global News that the university “wasn’t surprised by the government’s expectations” and had been working toward that goal “for some time now.” Edmonton Journal | Calgary Herald | Ponoka News | Global News (Lethbridge) | Global News (UCalgary) (AB)

MtA receives $5M gift to support Fine Arts program

Mount Allison University’s Fine Arts program has received a $5M gift from Toronto businessman Pierre Lassonde and the Pierre Lassonde Family Foundation. The funds will be used to support new projects and programs such as scholarships, internships, and an artist-in-residence program. MtA has named the Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts in recognition of the investment. “Mount Allison’s deeply-rooted history of Fine Arts, and the magnificent facilities of the Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts, are a tremendous springboard for the future,” said MtA President Dr Jean-Paul Boudreau. “The gift from the Pierre Lassonde Family Foundation is both their philanthropic support and their extensive connections into Canada’s arts community — these together will be a catalyst for an explosion of connectivity between leading artists, galleries and museums, and Mount Allison’s Fine Arts students and faculty.” MtA | The Chronicle Herald (NB)

International students may face lower earnings due to lack of pre-graduation experience: Report

A report released in collaboration with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada suggests that international students earn less in the first five years after graduation than their domestic counterparts. The report states that international students generally have had fewer years of pre-graduation work experience and have received lower earnings during this time. “The disadvantage for international students in pre-graduation work experience hampers their ability to compete for a high-paying, high-quality job after graduation,” said the report. The Star explains that the government must address the barriers faced by international students to reduce the earnings gap. The Star (National)

Indigenous Cultural Alliance alleges systemic racism against Bishop’s

Bishop’s University’s Indigenous Cultural Alliance (ICA) members have raised issues with Bishop’s treatment of Indigenous peoples and issues, according to APTN News and City News. APTN News explains that the ICA has made allegations of instances of systemic racism against Bishop’s, including disrespect directed at the former vice-chair of the university’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Nikki Baribeau. “There was a lot of eye-rolling and there was a lot of negative tones when we were asking our questions,” explained Baribeau. ICA members also cited the university’s “insensitive” land acknowledgment, underrepresentation of Indigenous staff, retaliation against students who bring up issues, unwillingness to pay to have Indigenous guest speakers, and exclusion from the planning of Bishop’s new “Kwigw8mna ‘Our House’” project. “These are important and at times difficult and painful discussions,” said Bishop’s Principal Michael Goldbloom in a response, “and we are determined to pursue them in a climate of candor and mutual respect.” APTN News | City News (Video) (QC)

Laurentian professors, Assembly of Francophone Ontario debate future of French programming

The recent events of Laurentian University have sparked a conversation around the future of Francophone programs in Ontario. CBC reports that, despite the current high enrolment in French programming, faculty are concerned that these programs may face cuts due to their small size. Members of the Assembly of Francophone Professors are calling for French programs at Laurentian to be centralized, which would give greater administrative control to Francophones. Former VP of the Assembly of Francophone Ontario Réjean Grenier has co-written a letter calling for Laurentian to drop its Francophone programming and for a new, multi-campus Francophone institution to be created for northern Ontario. “I believe that the bilingual aspect of Laurentian is something worth looking at, not just to get rid of it, but to create something better with partners,” said Grenier. CBC (1) | CBC (2) (ON)

Strategies to mitigate COVID-19-related faculty burnout: Opinion

Emma Pettit condenses a recent report on strategies postsecondary institutions in the US have used to support instructors and mitigate burnout after a year of increased demands and stress due to COVID-19. The author explains that having an automatic tenure-clock extension, being proactive in faculty assessments, and supporting non-tenure-track faculty members can support those whose experiences might otherwise be overlooked. Other strategies in the article include prioritizing tasks, evaluating committees, and tangibly showing appreciation for the extra work instructors have put in during COVID-19. “If institutions don’t offer meaningful support, if they don’t grapple with the seen and unseen implications of Covid-19,” writes Pettit, “they will lose vulnerable faculty members as teachers, mentors, community citizens, and groundbreaking researchers.” The Chronicle of Higher Ed (International)

Council of Ontario Universities calls on ON to provide $500M in support

The Council of Ontario Universities is calling on the Government of Ontario to provide $500M of support to cover costs and lost revenue due to COVID-19. The Star explains that postsecondary institutions have incurred greater costs because they have had to close residences, enhance health and safety measures, and move courses online, and that these actions have affected revenues. The Star explains that universities were able to save $500M through “temporary reductions,” but that these reductions may not be sustainable as some expenses cannot be deferred. “What we’re looking for right now is to deal with the impact of COVID-19 in the 2021 fiscal period, but we’ll continue to monitor ... how this is impacting the sector over time,” said Steve Orsini, president of the Council of Ontario Universities. The Star (1) | The Star (2) (ON)

Loyalist launches three media studies programs

Loyalist College is launching three media studies programs to meet industry demands: A one-year graduate certificate in advanced filmmaking, a two-year diploma in advanced filmmaking, and a two-year diploma in journalism and communications. Advanced Filmmaking – Digital Content Creation students will learn filmmaking skills through integrated crew work and can pursue a four-week placement through Loyalist’s industry connections. Students in Broadcasting – Television, Filmmaking & Digital Content Creation will learn a variety of skills such as television production, digital filmmaking, and content creation. Journalism – Communications students will learn storytelling and research skills, as well as creative content development. Loyalist (ON)

Tips for planning online conferences: Opinion

Moving conferences online is challenging but possible, write Brian Whalen, Jennifer Wright, Catherine Marte and George F Kacenga. The authors share twelve lessons they learned while organizing an online conference, including aiming for high-value presenters, scheduling presentations at times that work for their intended audiences, and keeping the conference platform simple. The authors also explain how recording presentations so that conference attendees can access them within their own time frame and producing a daily newsletter to give attendees the overall narrative of the conference can improve the experience for those attending the conference. “[F]uture conferences [planned by the authors] will need to have at least some online programming for those unable to attend the in-person event,” the authors write. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Western 5G network partnership to support research on student mental health

Western University has begun the launch of its 5G-connected campus project in partnership with Bell. The first 5G site on campus is established, and the university expects to have the full network available across campus by summer. The university will be taking advantage of their increased network speed at the Bell-Western 5G Research Centre by conducting research to support student mental health. Dr Kevin Shoemaker, acting associate vice-president (research) at Western will be leading a project to develop an app that will help students learn skills for coping with stress through using biofeedback. “The 5G network allows us to assess large volumes of data to detect patterns and anomalies among hundreds of variables affecting student mental health,” said Shoemaker. “What we learn can be used to generate interactive feedback between the app and user – messages that would allow students to take better control of their mental health during stressful times or to flag potential crises.” Western (ON)