Top Ten

October 19, 2021

Canadian polytechnics launch Purpose, Applied campaign to promote polytechnic education

Eleven Canadian polytechnic institutions have banded together to promote the value of a polytechnic education called “Purpose, Applied.” The group will raise awareness about how students, parents, and employers value polytechnic education as a first choice, with employers often seeking graduates of polytechnics when hiring new employees. “The campaign will illustrate how deeply an innovation mindset is embedded into polytechnic training,” said Sarah Watts-Rynard, CEO at Polytechnics Canada. “As Canada emerges from the pandemic and tackles our biggest challenges – an aging population, technology adoption and climate change – polytechnic graduates will be increasingly critical. Simply put, they have the pragmatic skills to get things done.” Polytechnics Canada (National)

BC university staff, students request clarity on COVID-19 exposures, rapid testing, support

University staff and students in British Columbia are asking for greater clarity on COVID-19 exposures on campus and improved access to rapid testing and remote-learning support. CBC says that exposures are not posted publicly, and that access to on-campus and off-campus rapid testing is often physically or financially difficult to access. CBC reports that while students who are required to self-isolate or who are vulnerable may have their professors’ support, educators are responsible for figuring out how to make hybrid learning work. UBC’s director of university affairs Matthew Ramsey said that UBC has incorporated “significant flexibility” into this year’s teaching, and that students should reach out to their programs to learn what options they have. CBC (BC)

Student celebrations at Queen’s, Acadia lead to police involvement

Police were called to manage students celebrating homecoming in Kingston, Ontario and Wolfville, Nova Scotia over the weekend. CBC says that in Kingston, a street near Queen’s University student housing was crowded with up to 8,000 people. Misogynistic messages reportedly hung from two homes in the area and were taken down by campus security. Meanwhile, in Wolfville, NS, documentation of homecoming celebrations for Acadia University showed maskless crowds roaming residential streets in the town. The celebrations led to multiple arrests and charges. Mayor Wendy Donovan explained that even though there are fewer large house parties now, the parties may have simply been pushed into the street. “Just when you think you have plugged one hole, then another one emerges,” said Donovan. Both universities condemned the behaviour of students at the unsanctioned parties. CBC (Acadia) | CBC (Queen’s) | Times Colonist (ON | NS)

AB tribunal orders Alberta Pipe Trade College to pay instructor fired due to pregnancy

The Human Rights Tribunal of Alberta has ordered the Alberta Pipe Trade College to pay $35K to former instructor Branka Turnbull, who had been fired after asking for accommodations because she was pregnant. The human rights commission stated that the college did not “try to accommodate Branka Turnbull's pregnancy in the male-dominated workplace,” and instead terminated her employment. While department head Jack Johnston reportedly said that Turnbull had not specified that her medical issue was a pregnancy, tribunal chair Kathryn Oviatt stated that “[t]he fact that the respondent did not know exactly what protected ground the medical condition related to does not insulate it from liability for discrimination when it knew that a protected ground was involved and decided to terminate her because she asked for accommodation.” CBC (CP) (AB)

Study examines influences on engineering students’ choice of program in NL

A new study by Memorial University doctoral candidate Amit Sundly and Faculty of Education Professor Dr Gerald J Galway examined the influences on an engineering student’s choice of degree program in Newfoundland & Labrador. The study, which included a survey of 151 undergraduate students, found that respondent decisions were mainly influenced by personal factors, earnings potential, social value/status of engineering as an occupation, academic focus/success in STEM subjects, and parental influences such as pressure and advice. Sundly and Galway conclude that there is a “pressing need” to increase opportunities for underrepresented groups and call for targeted financial support coupled with improving career counseling capacity and authentic STEM experiences. The full report is available for download. Springer (Study) (NL)

FNUniv, Mexican researcher partner on project examining traditional medicinal plants

The First Nations University of Canada and Arellano Franco, a biotechnology researcher from Mexico, have partnered to examine the healing properties of traditional medicinal plants. Franco is analyzing the molecules in the species and working to identify how molecules can be synthesized in a method that is respectful to Indigenous peoples every step of the way. Franco’s work on plants from Mexico will be used as a foundation for work at FNUniv. “What we’re looking at is underappreciated Indigenous medicinal plants and their secondary metabolites, including alkaloids and other antioxidants,” said FNUniv assistant professor of chemistry Dr Vincent Ziffle, who says that the goal is also “to properly acknowledge Indigenous knowledge in the context within a chemistry or medicinal plants biology paper.” CBC (SK)

MHC, Sask Polytech launch new micro-credentials

Medicine Hat College and Saskatchewan Polytechnic have launched new micro-credentials to provide students with in-demand skills. MHC has launched a selection of micro-credentials, including Tourism and Hospitality Management, Permaculture Design, Rainwater Harvesting, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Advanced Pilot Training. The certificates can either stand alone or be used towards a credential or employer requirements. Saskatchewan Polytechnic announced the launch of Surge micro-credentials, which are designed in collaboration with industry partners. The micro-credentials will provide students with an opportunity to quickly advance their careers with verifiable training in skills required by their respective industries. MHC | Sask Polytech (AB | SK)

Yorkville, Royal Bridge form pathway partnership for Bachelor of Business Administration

Yorkville University and Royal Bridge College have formed a partnership that will give Royal Bridge students an additional educational pathway to earning a degree at Yorkville. Through the agreement, graduates of Royal Bridge’s Business Administration Diploma will have the opportunity to enroll in Yorkville’s general Bachelor of Business Administration Degree program with advanced standing. “We are delighted to partner with Royal Bridge College to provide deserving and qualified students significant credit towards the completion of their Bachelor of Business Administration degree,” said Tristan Wright, Director of Admissions at Yorkville. “We believe students should receive academic credit for work completed whenever possible.” Yorkville (BC)

UWindsor, Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex partner on 3D-printing homes

The University of Windsor’s Centre for Engineering Innovation and Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex have partnered on a project that aims to address the need for affordable, environmentally sustainable housing through 3D-printing. UWindsor civil engineering professor will be leading a team of engineering graduate students and laboratory technicians in designing a 3D printed home that will meet residential building code requirements. The team will print the house in segments in UWindsor’s Structural Engineering Testing Lab, and testing these segments for strength, sustainability, and durability. The partnership will see the creation of four 3D-printed homes for community members who are in need. UWindsor (ON)

College of Veterinarians of BC, vets call for additional seats for BC vet students

The College of Veterinarians of BC and veterinarians are speaking out about the vet shortage and burnout within the profession, which is expected to continue for the “foreseeable future.” Castanet and CBC report that the lack of veterinarians and the strong demand and pressures placed on vets leads to mental health issues. The Society of BC Veterinarians’ executive director Corey Van't Haaff says that if the Ministry of Advanced Education would provide the funding, the funded seats available for BC students at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine could be doubled. “We’re short 100 veterinarians a year for the next five years, and we’re only graduating 20 veterinarians from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine,” said CVBC Council Vice-President Michele Martins. Castanet | CBC (BC)