Top Ten

September 1, 2021

AB launches micro-credential pilot program

The Government of Alberta has announced that it is launching a micro-credential pilot program to reskill or upgrade skills for workers. AB will invest $5.6M into the program, which will focus on careers in priority sectors and high-demand or emerging industries, including machine learning, artificial intelligence, solar energy, animation, and data privacy and security. Athabasca University has received over $1M through the program to support the development of three online, on-demand micro-credentials. “We must do everything we can to ensure Albertans have access to a wide range of learning options that meet them where they are and lead to great careers when they graduate,” said Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides. AB | CBC | Calgary Herald | AU (AB)

UManitoba to receive $3.5M to support wheat breeding programs

The University of Manitoba has received a pledge of $3.5M from three wheat research groups to support its wheat breeding programs. UManitoba will use the funds to continue to evaluate breeding lines, provide information to the network of western Canadian breeding efforts, and develop Fusarium head blight (FHB) resistant wheat varieties. The funds will also be used for research on winter wheat that will support the delivery of field ready cultivars and improve winter wheat quality. “This foundational funding of UM’s wheat breeding program ensures the continued evaluation of FHB resistance of breeding lines from across the Prairies,” says Dr Curt McCartney, who will be assuming the role of wheat breeder at UManitoba. UManitoba (MB)

UoGuelph prof leads McMaster fundraising campaign to support glioblastoma research

University of Guelph professor Dr Thomas Graham is leading a fundraising campaign at McMaster University in memory of his wife Cindy Graham, who passed away due to an aggressive brain cancer called glioblastoma. Throughout her illness, Cindy donated tissue samples to the lab at McMaster, and donated her brain and brain stem to research. “This was the first time I had a patient request to donate their organs for research,” said Dr Fred Lam, a clinical scholar working at McMaster’s Sheila Singh Lab and treating patients. “I was lost for words.” Thomas has established an endowment fund that will provide annual grants and scholarships to graduate students who are studying glioblastoma at the Sheila Singh Lab. UoGuelph | Globe and Mail (ON)

International initiative to cure HIV receives $26.5M USD grant

An international collaborative research endeavour studying a cure for HIV has received a $26.5M USD grant over five years from the National Institute of Health (NIH). The HIV Obstruction by Programmed Epigenetics (HOPE) Collaboratory, which involves research organizations and postsecondary institutions from around the world, will use knowledge about virus inactivation to attempt to remove HIV from the body. Dr Pauline Sameshima of Lakehead University will play a lead role in developing the Community Arts Integrated Research (CAIR) plan, which will develop an HIV cure curriculum that will resonate with people from different countries and under-represented backgrounds. “The arts are a unique and powerful vehicle for knowledge dissemination, one that will help to increase HIV cure literacy,” said Sameshima. Lakehead | Gladstone (International)

CIBT Education Group to build four new facilities

CIBT Education Group is currently building four new facilities in Vancouver, which will include spaces for student housing, educational facilities, retail spaces, and more. A new, 49-storey-tall education campus centre for CEG Cybercity will include residences for students from any school, five to 12 schools of various disciplines, and various amenities. Another facility, CEG Mega Education Centre, will amalgamate public and private schools, student housing, offices, and retail to create a one-stop academic centre in Surrey. A similar facility will be developed in Richmond. GEC will also be building a residency-only tower at Oakridge Centre. The article says the new buildings will add a total of 2,200 beds to the area, which will help meet the high demand for student housing. Globe and Mail (BC)

Addressing inclusivity issues in open access publications: Opinion

The push for open access articles may lead to a less inclusive world for research as researchers face steep publication fees, write Alicia Kowaltowski, Marcus Oliveira, and Ariel Silber Hernan Chaimovich. Kowaltowski, Oliveira, and Chaimovich argue that the fee for open access publication is an economic barrier to international researchers whose grants are capped, and that even though there is a waiver system in place for those from struggling economies, it is not always accessible to residents of countries with upper-middle-income economies. The authors call for the push for open access to be replaced by a push for inclusiveness, for fair practice and pricing in academic publishing, and for prioritization of journals that give back to the scientific community. Times Higher Ed (Editorial)

McGill should lead by mandating COVID-19 vaccinations: Opinion

McGill University must live up to its reputation as a world class institution and mandate vaccinations against COVID-19, writes author and former McGill employee Saleema Nawaz. The author points to the vaccine mandates introduced at Harvard University and other universities across Canada and the United States. She explains that McGill faculty members and the McGill Association of University Teachers have requested that McGill require vaccination as a way to protect itself from liability, but that McGill has responded that it is a “medical procedure” that people have a right to refuse. Referencing a recent article in the Lawyer’s Daily, Nawaz argues that McGill can do more and calls on the university to advocate for science-based action rather than “coddling [students] or pandering to their imagined selfishness.” Montreal Gazette | The Lawyer’s Daily (QC)

BrandonU receives gift from outgoing premier for student awards

Brandon University has received a gift from Government of Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, an alumnus of the university. The gift will be used for the endowment of two new scholarships: One scholarship will be for male student-athletes, while the other will be for students who have come to BrandonU to finish joint programs with Assiniboine Community College. The funds will also increase the value of entrance scholarships that were previously established by Pallister. “There’s no better feeling than knowing you have changed the life of a student,” said BrandonU President Dr David Docherty. “It’s a reason so many people love being teachers and academics, and also why so many of our alumni and donors give so generously to support the Brandon University mission.” BrandonU | Brandon Sun (MB)

Dechinta Centre launches on-the-land program for high school students

The Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning will be offering an on-the-land program for high school students from Tuktoyaktuk, NWT, in the Mackenzie Delta region. The program, which is known for being a “bush university,” will use land-based programming to teach students university-accredited courses. Participants will receive class credit while completing three weeks of land-based learning and discussing topics such as climate change, Inuvialuit history, and more from visitors. Noel Cockney, Dechinta’s regional programmer for the Mackenzie Delta region, explained that the program is intended to teach youth that skills for their futures can be learned outside of the classroom, and that “education isn’t either all hard or bad as people make it seem.” CBC (NWT)

ON institutions help international students get vaccinated against COVID-19

Ontario postsecondary institutions are helping international students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after arriving in Canada so that they can begin their studies with as little interruption as possible. Conestoga College is maintaining contact with students after they arrive, and helping them access vaccination options on campus or in a local pharmacy as soon as they are finished self-isolating. The University of Waterloo is helping international students who have not received a Health Canada authorized vaccine to access one at their on-campus vaccine centres or nearest clinic. Amelia Burton, international student experience manager at UWaterloo, said that students who have not received a Health Canada authorized vaccine will be offered a dose “soon upon arrival in Canada.” CBC (ON)