Today's Top Ten

October 17, 2014

uOttawa to launch first-in-China medical program

University of Ottawa Dean of Medicine Jacques Bradwejn is off to China to inaugurate a new medical program—a duplicate of uOttawa's—at Jiao Tong University in China. uOttawa says that the partnership between the institutions represents the first time a Chinese medical school has adopted a North American education program, and that it will create the first Sino-Canadian joint medical program. “This program is very exciting because it’s the first time it’s ever been done in China, and it’s for Chinese students, the best that they have,” Bradwejn said. The English-language program will enroll 30 students in an introductory program next fall, with the 4-year MD program commencing in 2016. The partnership will also lead to research and exchange programs between the 2 institutions. Bradwejn says that Canadian medical practitioners have much to learn from the efficiency of the Chinese health system, while their Chinese counterparts stand to benefit from Canadian experience with front-line medicine, family medicine, and preventative medicine. uOttawa News Release | Ottawa Citizen

NBCC launches new community service institute

New Brunswick Community College has launched the Robertson Institute for Community Leadership, an initiative that will allow students from all programs to complete a community leadership course and participate in service learning experiences. The institute is named after Cheryl MG Robertson, former Chair of NBCC’s board of governors and a long-time community activist. The new community leadership initiative reflects the commitment to establish signature learning experiences for students laid out in NBCC’s strategic plan. "Every year, thousands of students choose NBCC knowing they'll graduate with the skills that are in demand with employers," said NBCC President Marilyn Luscombe. "With NBCC's new Robertson Institute for Community Leadership, our students will not only learn the skills to get the job done, they'll have the ability to make a difference in their communities and across the province." NBCC News Release

ACC to launch new public safety training facility

Assiniboine Community College has announced that it will create the ACC Public Safety Training Centre (PSTC), bringing a variety of safety training and simulation components into one location. The centre will be available to justice and public safety organizations from across Canada for group training and mock scenario exercises, including physical defence training, training involving public and commercial vehicles, and high-risk extraction exercises. The college’s Police Studies students and those in programs such as Interactive Media Arts will also have access to enhanced learning opportunities through the new centre. “Our college is committed to being a leader in public safety programming here in Manitoba,” said Karen Hargreaves, Dean of Health and Human Services. “The formation of this centre is a progressive move for us and one that clearly identifies what we see as our continued role in advancing public safety education.” The new centre is expected to be open in January. ACC News

Academica suggests that PSE institutions can play a role in fostering local entrepreneurship

New research conducted by Academica Group suggests that London, Ontario’s PSE institutions have a role to play in fostering local entrepreneurship. The study, funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and presented by the London Small Business Centre, found that 39% of individuals surveyed had started a small business, planned to start one, or had previously ran one; 12% said that they intended to start a small business. However, the report also found that over the last 5 years only 30% of owners had received training or support that made a difference in the success of their business. Among the recommendations in the report is that, given the growth in entrepreneurship training in PSE, local business support organizations could benefit from collaborating with PSE institutions on the development of training materials and resources that could be offered to the community in a hybrid format, combining online and traditional delivery methods. The report recommends that the next stage of the research involve the creation and management of a consumer research panel, consisting of business owners and those who intend to start a business. Academica CEO Rod Skinkle said, "the opportunity here for PSE is to bring their expertise, both teaching and research, down to a local and actionable level and to maximize their effect on local economies by supporting entrepreneurial success. It’s not just about teaching a course, but rather about working with a consortium of local groups to help develop and support local business startup and growth.” London Free Press | Full Report

Genome Canada announces projects to receive GAPP funding

Canada has announced the first 12 projects to be funded through Genome Canada's Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP), which partners academic researchers with companies and organizations that use genomics in order to enhance innovative research. In addition, a new partnership between Genome Canada and Mitacs will create internships within GAPP projects for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. The 12 projects involve a total investment of $56 M, with $15 M coming from Genome Canada and the rest from partner organizations, who must contribute at least $2 for every federal dollar. The selected projects are in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, and include diverse industries such as aquaculture, cheese-making, horticulture, animal feed, agriculture, forestry, and healthcare. "These first 2 rounds have proven that there is a high degree of interest and engagement from a whole range of industry sectors that see Canada's genomics research enterprise as a valuable source of ideas and innovation,” said Genome Canada President Pierre Meulien. Genome Canada News Release | Globe and Mail

Humber releases 5-year sustainability plan

Humber College has released its new 5-year sustainability plan, following consultations with more than 5,000 staff, students, and faculty members. The plan focuses on 3 core priorities—campus footprint, learning, and engagement—and sets specific targets for recycling and waste management, green buildings and landscapes, water use, curriculum integration, co-curricular activities, research, and outreach awareness, among other areas. Humber has committed to increasing waste diversion from 42% to 70%; decreasing the number of single-driver vehicles coming to campus; and reducing total energy and water use by 40%. “We want to ensure that we’re an institutional leader in sustainability on campus. Having a formal plan allows us to clearly measure our success. We want our students to graduate with the awareness of their impact both on the community and in the world—and this is a great step in our progress as an institution to becoming more sustainable,” said Lindsay Walker, Humber’s Sustainability Manager. Humber News Release

uToronto fourth in global scientific performance rankings

The University of Toronto is fourth in the world and first in Canada for scientific performance, according to new rankings from National Taiwan University. The rankings are based on 3 criteria—research productivity, research impact, and research excellence—and also rank institutions in the fields of agriculture, clinical medicine, engineering, life sciences, natural sciences, and social sciences. uToronto took the top spot among Canadian universities in 5 of those fields, with UBC appearing as the top Canadian school for agriculture. In the main rankings, UBC ranked second among Canadian institutions and 27th overall; it was followed by McGill University at 33rd, the University of Alberta at 79th, and the University of Montreal at 86th. uToronto and the University of Oxford were the only non-American schools in the top ten. Harvard University took top spot overall, followed by Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University. uToronto News | Full Rankings

JIBC open textbooks initiative saves students over $50,000

The Justice Institute of British Columbia reports that its students will save more than $50,000 this year thanks to the school’s use of open and free textbooks. More than 425 students at the school this year will use textbooks published under a creative commons license, most of which come from the BC Open Textbook Collection provided by BCcampus. Students in an English 100 class, for instance, will each save about $134 on textbooks. Stuart Ruttan, Associate Dean for the Centre for Academic Planning and Graduate Studies at JIBC, said that open textbooks “are lighter on the pocketbook and lighter in the backpack. And we aren’t sacrificing quality. It’s one thing to save money, but we’ve got to make sure the quality is there.” JIBC is working on developing additional textbooks and resources for its students in courses including English, fire and safety, and ethics. JIBC News

Ontario’s differentiation plan still faces significant challenges

An article in the Globe and Mail looks at some of the factors that will affect the success of Ontario’s plan to increase differentiation among its PSE institutions. According to the article, critics say that the changes are taking place so slowly that they may leave schools ill-equipped to address critical matters including budget constraints, educational quality, and accountability for student outcomes. The Globe reports declining enrolment in PSE is leading to tighter budgets, which may make it difficult for universities to step away from their emphasis on growth. Other critics say that Ontario took the wrong approach by giving individual institutions too much say in how they would be evaluated; a better approach, they say, would have been to divide institutions into categories and impose common metrics. Some Presidents have said that the bottom-up approach is respectful of institutional autonomy. “To impose funding levers from the top is not to be sensitive to what the strengths of each university are,” said Trent University President Leo Groarke. Still, some questions remain about how institutions’ specific goals will be reflected in provincial funding formulas. “If the government changes the funding formula without increasing funding, you are moving the same money around. It means you could destabilize some institutions,” said Brock University President Jack Lightstone. Globe and Mail

New website intended to help students avoid "slackers" in groupwork

A York University MBA grad has launched a new site that allows students to anonymously rate their classmates. Stefano Cerone has invested $12,000 in Tworp.com, which rates students based on 5 factors: teamwork, competence, dependability, work ethic, and communication skills. He says that the site is intended to help students avoid working with peers who don’t pull their weight. Stefano said, “it can be frustrating to get into groups with people you don’t really know; the last straw was one assignment where myself and one other group member had done the majority of the work and decided to ask the member who never really contributed at all to do the final 12-page edit. But the night before our assignment was due he sent an email at midnight to say he couldn’t do it because he was busy.” But critics point out that the site could provide a medium for shaming and abuse, and that it could also violate one of the pedagogical purposes of group work: learning to work well with others. Toronto Star | Tworp.com