Top Ten

April 27, 2021

RSC releases report on federal leadership’s role in higher education in post-COVID Canada

The Royal Society of Canada (RSC) has released a new policy briefing that calls on federal leadership to stabilize the postsecondary sector. The report contains eight recommendations that focus on federal government involvement, COVID-19 recovery, and creating long-term plans. Recommendations include increasing core funding for postsecondary institutions, forgiving student loans, and continuing COVID-19 funding. Dalhousie University professor and chair of the RSC higher education working group Julia Wright explains that the postsecondary sector will need federal involvement in order to be robust after the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the federal government has an interest in postsecondary goals “in terms of research, in terms of integration, in terms of equity and inclusion, and so on.” University Affairs | Policy Briefing (PDF) (National)

BC experiences vet shortage, organizations call for additional spaces for students

British Columbia is experiencing a shortage of veterinarians, which is impacting the level of care that can be offered to animals in the province, report theDelta Optimist and TriCity News. A recent labour market study by the province estimates that there will be an accumulated shortage of 500 veterinarians by 2024, with a particularly serious shortage in urban areas. The Society of British Columbia Veterinarians have called on the provincial government to provide funding for an additional 20 spaces at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. TriCity News | Delta Optimist (BC)

MQF calls for breakup of cegep system into French, English networks

CTV News reports that the Mouvement Québec français (MQF) is asking that the Fédération des CEGEPs be split into a French-language CEGEPs network and an English-language network. MQF argues that course offerings in the French-language college sector have been increasingly anglicized. The organization further stated that it fears the majority of Montreal cegep students will be attending an English-language cegep in the Fall semester, which it says has not happened before. Bernard Tremblay, head of the Fédération des CEGEPs, is opposed to applying Bill 101 to colleges and instead called for action on multiple fronts to ensure French is Quebec’s common language. Montreal Gazette | CTV News (QC)

Collaborating with youth movements to address climate change: Ono, Nosek

Universities should collaborate with youth movements in order to address climate change, write University of British Columbia president Santa Ono and UBC Climate Hub inaugural student director Grace Nosek. The authors explain how UBC’s student climate activism has encouraged UBC to divest from fossil fuel and join climate-focused organizations. The article describes a number of practices UBC uses to encourage student initiatives, such as empowering students to participate in shaping decisions, moving toward sustainability not only on campus but around the globe, and embedding climate justice into UBC action plans. “[W]e call on those leaders across North America to work collaboratively with their students to find solutions that will protect our communities and mitigate climate change,” write the authors. Inside Higher Ed (BC)

Queen’s hosts virtual tour through Minecraft, Discord

Queen’s University announced that it hosted a virtual tour of its campus for prospective engineering students using a version of its campus hosted in the video game Minecraft. Students were able to visit a Minecraft rendition of the campus, which was created through hours of volunteer work from community members, while participating in a live chat hosted on Discord. A tour guide took students on a campus tour of key locations, students participated in an egg hunt to get to know the campus better, and current engineering students answered questions from prospective students on Discord. “[T]he blend of innovation and technology was ultimately secondary to the feeling of community the event engendered,” read the release. Queen’s (ON)

MHC introduces HyFlex model into BEET program

Medicine Hat College has introduced the “HyFlex” model into its Built Environment Engineering Technology (BEET) program. The model allows students to choose to attend class in person, online, or through a combination of the two. Instructors deliver classes “on stage,” engaging with both their in-person students and their online students through cameras, while students are encouraged to interact with classmates through Microsoft Teams. “Learners have total autonomy to choose their own path and are not tied to one delivery method or another,” said Chad Flinn, dean of MHC’s the School of Trades and Technology. “They can attend in person one day, online the next. Watch the lecture live or catch the recording at a later time.” MHC (AB)

Carleton leads research on AI conservation tool

Carleton University is leading a project focused on helping to conserve Canada’s landscapes, freshwater, and wetlands. A team led by Carleton Biology Professor Joseph Bennett will develop conservation tools based on artificial intelligence, computational science, and systematic conservation planning approaches. University of British Columbia Indigenous fisheries scientist Andrea Reid will ensure that the tools are usable by Indigenous nations and communities. “In half a lifetime, there have been very big changes, just around here in Ottawa,” said Bennett. “That gives me a lot of motivation to conserve Canada’s biodiversity for its own value as something beautiful, the way the Sistine Chapel is beautiful. The creatures in Canada and our environments are, to my thinking, just as beautiful and just as worth preserving.” The project will be supported by over $2M in cash and in-kind supports from NSERC, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada. Carleton (ON)

RRC students “outraged” over in-person exams

Students at Red River College are “outraged” after being told that they will have to write exams for some courses in person. CTV News reports that RRC plans to have students writing in-person exams while ensuring physical distancing, requiring all students to wear masks and glasses, and logging attendance for contact tracing. RRC student Sam Wilson, who was told that two out of his five courses would have in-person exams, said that students had the impression that exams would be online. “There was no mention of in-person exams at all,” said Wilson, who argued that the decision was “more or less negligent for our safety.” CTV News (MB)

Dal students facing suspension, other discipline for breaking COVID-19 gathering limits

Dalhousie University is considering suspension and other forms of discipline for students who broke COVID-19 gathering limits on the weekend. Halifax Today says that Dal has identified the students who participated in a gathering that exceeded the provincial limit set on gatherings. The article states that students who violate Dal’s Code of Student Conduct could receive sanctions ranging from a warning, probation, loss of privileges, restitution, work assignments, conditions on attendance, suspension, and expulsion. Halifax Today (NS)

U15 institutions losing market share to other Canadian universities

While international students have been increasingly interested in studying at Canadian universities, U15 institutions in Canada are losing their share of the international student market, writes Meti Basiri of ApplyBoard. Basiri points to how the growth of the international student population at U15 institutions was slower than at other institutions prior to the pandemic, and notes that the decrease in study permits during the pandemic was more severe for U15 institutions. The article closes by describing the major risk factors for U15 institutions, including loss of diversity and loss of revenue from tuition, before touching on strategies U15 universities can use to attract more international students. Apply Board (National)