Top Ten

January 11, 2022

Canada, ON launch, renew scholarships in honour of Flight PS752 victims

The Government of Canada has announced that it is setting up a scholarship program in honour of victims of Flight PS752, the Ukraine International Airlines flight that was shot down on January 8th, 2020. The program is expected to disburse scholarships worth an average of $25K to 176 students to honour the 176 victims. Both Canadian and international students will be eligible for the funds. The Government of Ontario has also announced that it has renewed the scholarships created in honour of the victims and will be providing $10K scholarships for 57 students. National Post (CP) | ON (National)

BC report pinpoints three priority policy areas to strengthen BC’s fiscal future

A new report on British Columbia’s fiscal future by the BC Tech Association has pinpointed three priority policy areas to strengthen the province. The report recommends focusing on investing in sectors that have growth potential and that provide high-level and well-paying jobs, prioritizing education and skills training with a goal of driving the knowledge-based economy’s growth, and capturing data to drive decision-making. “We need to equip as many people as possible with the skills and training needed to realize the full potential of our talent pool,” said Jill Tipping, President of BC Tech. “And we need to properly quantify the economic windfall this investment would deliver.” Le Lézard (BC)

Study examines differences in experiences for seasoned WFH staff, newbies

A study authored by Jason Foster (Athabasca University), Mojan Naisani Samani (McMaster University), Shelagh Campbell (University of Regina), and Scott Walsworth (University of Saskatchewan) examines the different experiences of postsecondary staff working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a study that involved seven Canadian postsecondary institutions, the researchers examined how the experiences differed for staff who had already been working from home compared to those who were new to it. They found four determinates of a successful work from home arrangement: the nature of the job, worker attributes, employer support, and domestic responsibilities. The study found that seasoned work from home employees had less stress and greater job productivity, while those who were primary care providers for a child dependent had diminished productivity and augmented stress. Report | Article (National)

Creating a sense of belonging for diverse students on campus: Opinion

Campuses must create a sense of belonging for all students on campus, writes Mary Ann Villarreal, but some parts of campus are doing a better job than others. Students are noticing diversity on campus, which Villarreal says is a major first step that should be followed by intentionally fostering a sense of belonging. The author argues that public higher education institutions must continue to be “torchbearers” for diversity because of the scale of their reach. “When [an] institution centers equity at the intersection of student belonging practices, not only do students see themselves in the institution, but the institution becomes a reflection of the diversity of communities they serve,” writes Villarreal. Inside Higher Ed (Editorial)

McGill Principal announces plans to step down at end of August

McGill University Principal Suzanne Fortier has announced that she will be stepping down from her second term at the end of August, just under a year before her contract is set to expire. “Entering the University’s third century provides a unique opportunity for renewal and for setting new directions and ambitious goals,” said Fortier. “After close to a decade in this role, I believe it is an ideal time to pass the baton to a new leader who will shape the future of our University.” The Globe and Mail reports that the university has had to navigate several thorny issues in recent years, including contending with its own history, academic freedom issues, and the pandemic. “I think she’ll be remembered for turning McGill in the right direction,” said Dr Andrew Kirk, president of the McGill Association of University Teachers. A new principal is expected to be appointed by the fall. Globe and Mail | McGill (QC)

ACC introduces free farm equipment operator course for Indigenous students

Assiniboine Community College has announced a new farm equipment operator course for Indigenous people who live off-reserve in order to address a labour shortage in the agricultural sector. The program, which is funded by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and developed by Keystone Agricultural Producers, will teach students about the industry, farm safety, and operation and maintenance of farm machinery. The free program takes 14 weeks to complete. “This partnership is an important step in helping to meet an industry need and in providing learners, who may otherwise not have had the opportunity, with a chance to enrol in a program that offers a gateway to great job potential,” said ACC dean of the school of trades Kevin Poririer. Global News (MB)

Students express concern, frustration over uncertainty of Winter in-person classes

Students are expressing concern and frustration at the uncertainty around the shifting plans for the Winter semester due to the evolving COVID-19 situation. In Ontario, some universities are expecting students to return to in-person learning by the end of January, but concerned students are questioning the safety of returning to in-person classes and residences. In British Columbia, concerned Douglas College students launched an online petition requesting that Douglas reconsider its in-person return to class plans. In Quebec, at least five cégeps have pushed back their plans for going back to class in person, with students at other institutions expressing concern about the situation. In Alberta, the NDP has criticized the UCP for not providing postsecondary institutions with the support and resources necessary to manage the pandemic and ensure students can return safely. The Star (ON) | Daily Hive (Douglas) | Journal de Montréal (QC) | iPolitics (AB) (National)

Micro-credentials questioned for their usefulness, efficacy, structure

In a recent article for HR Reporter, Sarah Dobson questions the efficacy and structure of micro-credentials and their usefulness to employers. Dobson says that though micro-credentials are becoming increasingly popular, it remains difficult to assess students based on their competencies. Janet Lane, director of the Human Capital Centre, also shares employer concerns about disconnects between learning outcomes and competencies, the lack of a good framework for institutions to follow, and a lack of employer awareness about how micro-credentials work. However, Lane noted that the stackable nature of some micro-credentials could help people become well-rounded employees. HRReporter (Editorial)

Trent joins University Pension Plan

Trent University has announced that it has joined the University Pension Plan (UPP), becoming UPP’s fourth member institution. Over 99% of Trent’s Faculty Association members consented to be converted to the multi-employer pension plan, which will provide predictability and stability for employers and employees. “This move to UPP secures our pension plan as a sustainable financial solution for the faculty and librarians at Trent, who have worked with the University’s leadership in collaboration,” said TUFA President Dr Moira Howes. “This is an exciting step for our TUFA members as we look forward to working with UPP and other university partners.” Trent (ON)

Community fundraising efforts distribute food, coats to students in need

Two community efforts were recently highlighted in CBC for their work to meet student needs for food and warm coats. In Nunavut, Nunavut Arctic College student Miranda Evetalegak launched a fundraiser for food donations for her fellow students, who didn’t receive their financial assistance on time. She raised over $3,900 worth of food, which was enough to feed the entire street of student housing. In Ontario, the Ottawa chapter of Khalsa Aid recently provided new winter coats to 60 international students and shared resources related to networking, immigration guidance, and mental health support to students. “In order to make ends meet, they need some support,” said Gobind Singh, volunteer project manager. “So this is the least we could do.” CBC | CBC (ON | NV)