Top Ten

August 23, 2021

McGill, UMontreal, Inserm, UBordeaux use AI to identify predictive factors in suicidal risk among students

Researchers from McGill University, Université de Montréal, Inserm, and Université de Bordeaux recently published the findings of a project that used artificial intelligence (AI) to predict suicidal behaviours in students. The study involved the use of surveys and machine learning to analyze the factors associated with suicidal risk and their importance in predicting suicidal behaviour. “Many known factors can contribute to the increased risk in university students, such as the transition from high school to college, psychosocial stress, academic pressures, and adapting to a new environment,” explained McGill Postdoctoral Fellow and study co-author Massimiliano Orri. The four factors that were found to have the highest predictive power were 12-month suicidal thoughts, trait anxiety, depression symptoms, and self-esteem. McGill | Nature (QC)

USudbury “worried” by ON silence as federal funding sits on table

The Sudbury Star reports that the University of Sudbury is waiting to hear whether the Government of Ontario will commit the funds necessary for the university to gain access to part of the $121M federal investment announced two weeks ago. “We want part of that money to flow through the community,” said USudbury president Serge Miville. “If we don’t act on this, Sudbury is going to miss out on millions of dollars that would be put towards Francophone post-secondary education.” Miville described the investment as an almost risk-free opportunity for the province to secure significant funding for the French-language university. The university is also awaiting recognition from the ministry for its programs before it begins accepting transfer requests from students. The Sudbury Star (ON)

MB PSE announce vaccination mandates, proof to attend campus

Several universities and colleges in Manitoba have announced that they will require students to be fully vaccinated in order to attend classes. The Winnipeg Free Press reports that University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg, Red River College, Canadian Mennonite University, and University College of the North have announced new COVID-19 requirements, such as expecting students, staff, and academics on campus to be fully vaccinated. Brandon University and Assiniboine Community College have reportedly not announced a vaccine mandate for the Fall term, but are exploring this option further. Winnipeg Free Press (Paywall) | CBC | Brandon Sun (MB)

Increase access to WIL to strengthen ON’s future workforce: Pilla

Increased access to work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities could play a critical part in Ontario’s post-pandemic recovery, writes Natalie Pilla, a researcher with the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Pilla highlights the impact that WIL has on graduate employment and earnings, and discusses how the loss of WIL opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the futures of students and graduates across Canada. The author points to strategies that government bodies and organizations can undertake to improve access to quality WIL experiences and, in turn, create a stronger future workforce for ON. HEQCO (ON)

Teaching high school students how to manage the communications double standard of applications: Barnard

Brennan Barnard has penned a new article for Forbes magazine about how prospective students can navigate a “double standard” as they explore institutions. “Colleges expect high school students … to identify what they want and how they are unique,” writes Barnard. “Meanwhile armed with a team of marketing professionals and consultants, colleges and universities seem ill-equipped to hone in on what sets them apart.” Barnard discusses how institutional brands that cast their nets too wide tend to become more generic, losing their unique identity in a bid for broader appeal. He concludes by explaining how students can better research postsecondary institutions and sift through the marketing materials to understand their offerings. “Do what [colleges] say,” Barnard concludes, “not what they do.” Forbes (Editorial)

Communications personnel must be taken out of the crosshairs of public feedback: Opinion

Reflecting on a recent eruption on social media around the University of North Carolina, Teresa Valerio Parrot calls for institutions to take stronger action to address the online vitriol aimed at communications staff over institutional decisions. “Before and especially during the pandemic, I’ve seen an unhealthy cycle experienced by my colleagues across institutions,” writes Parrot. “Decisions are made by leaders at institutions, they are communicated, people disagree with them and their disagreement is aimed at the communicators.” Parrot encourages institutions to avoid using communications departments to collect feedback from the public, and instead suggests actively encouraging the community to direct constructive feedback to the offices in charge of the announced decisions. Inside Higher Ed (Editorial)

Administrators, students share mixed feelings about return to CEGEP campuses

With the return to campus quickly approaching, Montréal’s CEGEP community is experiencing mixed emotions. Dawson College Director General Diane Gauvin applauded the provincial government’s decision to allow the return to campus, stating that the in-person classes are “the best environment for (learning).” Gauvin described the efforts Dawson was taking to ensure a safe return, and the Gazette reports that all public CEGEPs in Montréal are encouraging students to get vaccinated and that most are offering vaccination clinics. However, some students told the Montréal Gazette that they are concerned about the return to the campus. “I took the two vaccines, but I’m still kind of worried because I know some of my friends didn’t take the vaccine,” said Vanier College Commerce Student Raymond Villapando. “I’m still happy about it because I don’t like online classes. [… But] I’m more worried about having COVID than passing my class at this point.” The Journal de Montréal adds that several CEGEPs have implemented new mental health supports over the past year to contend with growing needs, but that the institutions do not intend to reduce their expectations or requirements for students as they return to campus. Montréal Gazette | Journal de Montréal (QC)

UPEI, Dal, faculty associations call for vaccine mandates

Faculty associations at the University of Prince Edward Island and Dalhousie University have called for vaccine mandates as the campus community returns for the Fall semester. At UPEI, the faculty association has sent a letter to the UPEI president calling for COVID-19 measures on campus, such as mandatory vaccination. UPEIFA Association president Michael Arfken told CBC that faculty have the right under the collective agreement to refuse to deliver their course on campus. UPEI’s administration has indicated that it will consider the letter. At Dal, the DFA has called on the university to introduce mandatory vaccinations, masking, and physical distancing, as well as adequate ventilation. “People are concerned about going back into the classroom,” said DFA President Tara Perrot. “We've got classes of up to 500 students. What's going to happen when some of those students say, 'I'm not going to wear a mask'?” CBC (1) | CBC (2) (NS | PEI)

Addressing the research crisis in the face of precarious circumstances for academics: Opinion

In the face of COVID-19, Jenny Pickerill describes how many academics have experienced exhaustion, escalating care responsibilities, and other restrictions on their work during the pandemic. Pickerill says that PhD researchers and early career academics in particular have received little support, while those with care duties have faced “impossible” demands. The author argues that academics should prioritize supporting the work of more precarious colleagues, push back against growing teaching responsibilities in order to reclaim time for research, and avoid becoming habituated to higher levels of stress. Times Higher Ed (Paywall) (Editorial)

UQAM faculty receive $816K for literacy research

The Université du Québec à Montréal has received $816K from the Programme de recherche en littératie provincial research fund to conduct research on literacy. The goals of the fund include increasing knowledge about the development and maintenance of literacy skills in Quebec, creating partnerships between communities, and promoting the application of research findings in school and community settings. The funding will support UQAM projects such as a study of an interactive reading program for 6-to-8-year-old children, the co-development of a professional development program for teachers, and a study on the relationship between the physical learning environment and student language and writing development. UQAM (QC)