Top Ten

December 9, 2021

UPEI president announces resignation “effective immediately,” board launches investigation

University of Prince Edward Island President Alaa Abd-El-Aziz has announced his resignation, effective immediately, after ten years at the helm of the university. Abd-El-Aziz stated in an email that his decision to retire came sooner than he had anticipated and noted that his “health has suffered” in the wake of several difficult months. CBC reports that the university’s board of governors is launching a third-party investigation into allegations of misconduct surrounding Abd-El-Aziz. UPEI board chair Pat Sinnott stated that the board learned about the allegations and brought them to the president’s attention a day before receiving his resignation. CBC | CBC (2) | Saltwire (PEI)

AB postsecondary budget cuts are “based on bad data:” Opinion

University of Lethbridge professors Trevor W Harrison and Richard E Mueller have penned an editorial arguing that the budget cuts to Alberta’s postsecondary education system were based on a 2019 McKinsey and Company report that misrepresented the data. Harrison and Mueller say that the report, which has not been made public, argues that postsecondary education in AB was more expensive than in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. While AB has used it to justify budget cuts, the authors assert that the concerns in the report are largely unfounded. Looking at the most recent available data, Harrison and Mueller found that the per-student expenditures for university students in ON, QC, and BC were at odds with the values cited in the MacKinnon report. “Good data makes for good policy,” conclude the authors. “The government is using outdated and misleading data for an assault on post-secondary education disguised as fiscal prudence.” Edmonton Journal (AB)

Increase in phishing attacks reported at North American institutions: Study

There has been an increase in phishing attacks using COVID-19 themes at North American postsecondary institutions, writes Kristal Kuykendall. Kuykendall writes that phishing attacks have adapted to the changes in COVID-19 policies, with the newest attacks using information about testing and the Omicron variant. Cybersecurity experts at Proofpoint said that attacks often mimic legitimate login portals and present a threat to cybersecurity as institutions ramp up COVID-19 requirements during the holiday season. URLs and attachments have both been used in phishing attempts, and some malicious actors have attempted to steal multi-factor authentication credentials as well. Campus Technology (Editorial)

QC announces action plan, $130M investment in skills recognition for immigrants

The Government of Quebec has announced the creation of an action plan to improve skills recognition for immigrants in the province. The plan includes the investment of $130M over a period of two years and covers six measures: identifying countries which offer similar professional training to Quebec, offering supports to regulatory bodies, providing personalized support to immigrants, providing funding for the creation and delivery of training and internships, providing financial support to immigrants seeking recognition of skills, and providing support to QC employers. QC Minister of Higher Education Danielle McCann expressed the province’s enthusiasm about the plan, which she said will help immigrants put their skills to use in QC more quickly than before. QC (QC)

Georgian receives investment from County of Simcoe for tech centre, puts out calls for student housing

Georgian College has received a $1.5M investment from the County of Simcoe which is part of a $5M overall commitment to support the Peter B Moore Advanced Technology Centre. The funding aims to boost academic and industry collaboration and to support Georgian’s research and economic development. “We are very thankful that Georgian College continues to adapt their programs to our regional needs,” said Warden George Cornell. “The College serves as a tremendous partner in our economic, social and community growth.” Georgian is also anticipating an increase in need for student housing in the Owen Sound area as it grows and has put out a call to community to consider housing a student if they have space available. Bradford Today | The Star | Owen Sound Sun Times (ON)

UBC strikes partnership to support T1D research

The University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine and JDRF have partnered to establish the JDRF Centre of Excellence in Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) research at UBC. The centre will focus exclusively on researching a cure for T1D and translating discoveries into clinical solutions and will be supported by JDRF Canada’s $100M Campaign to Accelerate. “Launching Canada’s first JDRF Centre of Excellence at UBC’s Faculty of Medicine is a meaningful opportunity for collaboration that will accelerate discovery and innovation toward a cure for type 1 diabetes,” said UBC VP of Health Dr Dermot Kelleher. “Our shared vision to prioritize team science will speed up the development of accessible immune therapies that alleviate dependence on insulin and ultimately improve health outcomes for patients with type 1 diabetes.” Globe News Wire (BC)

YorkU invests in interdisciplinary research through CIRC initiative

York University has announced that it is investing over $3.5M in interdisciplinary research through the Catalyzing Interdisciplinary Research Clusters (CIRC) initiative. The initiative will fund projects in areas such as artificial intelligence and society, digital cultures and financial technologies, and disaster and risk governance. It will also support the new Markham Campus and the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct. “York is pleased to invest in interdisciplinary research clusters that will continue to facilitate our leadership in research that aims to have a transformative impact on society,” said YorkU VP Research and Innovation Amir Asif. “The CIRC funding is bringing together talented researchers from across disciplines to address questions of global importance, such as health and the environment, enhancing the diverse socioeconomic impacts of our research.” YorkU (ON)

AU, Ethically Aligned AI launch AI Ethics micro-credential

Athabasca University and Ethically Aligned AI have launched a micro-credential in Artificial Intelligence Ethics that will teach participants about ethically developing AI systems. The program includes four courses in topics such as data, machine learning models, and roboethics. The courses are offered fully online and asynchronously, with the aim of providing flexible education to those who may be working. “AI ethics is an emerging area and we’re excited to be offering this first-of-its-kind program in a field that will have widespread impact,” said Jessica Scott, director of PowerED at AU. AU (AB)

CNC launches LaKles Way-hut: Business Start-Up for Indigenous Youth program

College of New Caledonia has launched a new program for Indigenous youth with an interest in entrepreneurship. The LaKles Way-hut: Business Start-Up for Indigenous Youth program provides12 weeks of entrepreneurship training, which covers the skills and confidence participants need to either start their own business or pursue further education. The program is free to eligible youth ages 15-19 and is taught with a blended online approach. “Indigenous people have always been entrepreneurial,” said curriculum developer Ray Gerow. “It’s who we are and how we survived in society. This program is about making Indigenous youth understand that the entrepreneurial drive exists within them as well.” CNC (BC)

Student banned from MUN campus after accusations of harassing president

A student at Memorial University has been banned from campus except for classes and exams after protesting against MUN President Vianne Timmons at an event, reports CBC. Matt Barter was allegedly notified that a complaint had been filed against him for behaviour “interpreted as harassing and intimidating towards Dr. Timmons” at a media briefing. CBC reports that Barter stood up during the briefing and held a sign that said “Stop Vianne! No to Tuition Hikes and Out of Control Spending!” MUN’s students’ union has criticized the ban as potentially silencing student activism, and the Canadian Federation of Students has issued a statement expressing support for the rights of students to engage in protest. CBC | VOCM News (NL)