Today's Top Ten

October 24, 2014

Dal campuses locked down following reports of a gunman in Halifax

With the nation still reeling after Wednesday’s events in Ottawa, Dalhousie University briefly locked down its Carleton and Sexton campuses Thursday morning following reports of a man wielding what appeared to be a gun in downtown Halifax. The lockdown was initiated after police received a call concerning a man carrying what appeared to be a rifle wrapped in black cloth; police later received reports of a man leaving a firearm on board a city bus. The latter man was arrested and the firearm recovered, but as of press time it was unclear whether the two incidents were related. Dal lifted the lockdown before noon on Thursday. CBC | Dal Alert

uCalgary partners with Chinese oil company to open Beijing research institute

The University of Calgary yesterday opened a new research, education, and training facility in Beijing, in collaboration with Kerui Group, a Chinese oil and gas company. The $11.25 M, 4,000 square-foot facility will focus on unconventional oil and gas resources, and will include laboratory space for research on petrophysics, geochemistry microstructure, rock mechanics, formation stimulation, and reservoir simulation. Those working at the institute will research policy development, regulatory frameworks, hydraulic fracking, and horizontal drilling; the institute's initial priority will be shale gas development. John Chen, professor of engineering at uCalgary’s Schulich School of Engineering and Director of the facility, said that it is the first institute of its kind at a Chinese university. uCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon said, “we can help position Canada as an energy innovator … The geology, rock formation and hence technological needs in China are different than they are in Canada, so this will be a new frontier to look at some of the unconventional opportunities and challenges in China and look to how we can build on our expertise.” uCalgary News | Financial Post

Atlantic universities see slight drop in enrolments

Enrolment numbers are down at Canada’s Atlantic universities, but the news isn’t as bad as some expected. According to the 2014-2015 preliminary survey of enrolments recently released by the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU), enrolment numbers are almost on par with last year. In Nova Scotia, the largest declines in enrolment were at Saint Mary’s University and the University of King’s College, which reported dips of 4.3% and 7.4%, respectively. In New Brunswick, the largest enrolment dip was at Saint Thomas University (6.5%). Both the University of Prince Edward Island and Memorial University saw slight enrolment increases. The overall enrolment decline for all Atlantic universities is 1.2%. “In recent years, we've seen the decline in the youth population here in the Maritimes, so knowing that, years ago, we decided to look heavily into recruiting internationally,” said SMU’s VP of External Affairs Margaret Murphy. Earlier this year, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) reported that enrolment numbers at Maritime universities were holding steady due to increased numbers of out-of-region and international students. CBC | AAU Report

Academica releases results of StudentVu survey on orientation

Academica Group has released the results of a recent StudentVu survey on students’ orientation experiences. Between September 24th and October 4th, 2014, Academica asked close to 500 first-year students on its national research panel about orientation at their schools. The survey data indicate that orientation events vary widely across institutions. Approximately two-thirds (67%) of respondents said that their institution hosted full-week or multi-day orientation events, with 17% reporting a full-day and 12% a half-day event. 62% of respondents said that the length of orientation was just right, and 22% said it was too long; 9% said the event was too short. 41% of respondents said that alcohol was banned at the orientation events they attended, with 12% saying that moderation was encouraged. 35% said they were unaware of any alcohol policies at orientation. 60% of students who attended orientation said they most liked the opportunity to meet new people and get familiar with campus, as well as the free stuff they received. Attendees also said that they least liked that orientation was over-crowded or too busy, that they had to pay to attend, and that there were too many early-morning events. Academica Blog | Survey Highlights

New Student Mental Health Strategy at UVic

The University of Victoria has launched a new Student Mental Health Strategy. The comprehensive 3-year strategy is designed to enhance traditional counseling and support services and to provide faculty and staff with training to recognize students at risk and to respond appropriately. Initiatives outlined by the strategy include efforts to reduce the negative stigma around mental illness, the creation of a more welcoming and supportive university community, and improvements to UVic’s ability to support students dealing with mental health issues. The first elements of the strategy to be implemented immediately include a new Student Mental Health website for students, faculty, staff, and families; campus-wide training for faculty/staff to enhance awareness and good practices, as well as an ‘Assisting Students in Distress’ folder with quick tips and resources; and Student Mental health activity grants to support student-led events and activities. “We are strengthening programs and supports to assist undergraduate and graduate students to build resilience and healthy coping strategies, thereby fostering personal and academic success,” said UVic President Jamie Cassels. UVic News Release | Student Mental Health website

Research Infosource releases list of top 50 Canadian research colleges

Research Infosource has released its annual list of Canada’s Top 50 research colleges. Topping the list this year was the British Columbia Institute of Technology, which, according to Research Infosource, saw a research income of over $15 M in the 2013 fiscal year. BCIT was followed by the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and George Brown College, which had research incomes of roughly $9.7 M and $9.3 M, respectively. Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles and SAIT Polytechnic rounded out the top 5. The rankings also recognized the top research colleges in the country based on the number of formal research partnerships and number of formal research projects completed at each institution. Algonquin College topped both categories among large colleges, and Collège d’Alma topped all small colleges in both areas. Olds College was the top mid-sized college for number of partnerships, and La Cité collégiale was the highest ranked mid-sized college based on number of completed projects. Full Rankings

Canada's art and design universities refute myth of the starving artist

University Affairs reports on how universities of arts and design are evolving to meet the changing demands and expectations of their students. Emily Carr University of Art + Design, OCAD University, and NSCAD University have all transitioned to university status and have begun to offer graduate degrees, art history and criticism courses, and digital media programs. OCADU President Sara Diamond says that visual arts “was tapped out” when it came to attracting students, prompting the university to introduce programs that combine engineering, business, and science with the arts. ECUAD emphasizes the breadth of careers attained by its graduates, many of whom have gone on to work in film and gaming. 90% of its graduates over the last 15 years were employed. “The picture is very similar in a way to traditional university,” said ECUAD President Ron Burnett. NSCAD, meanwhile, has embraced research that has benefited fields as diverse as elder care and agriculture. “NSCAD was quick off the mark to realize that research in the visual arts was expanding and becoming more interdisciplinary,” said Provost Kenn Honeychurch. University Affairs

Emphasis on architecture a "hugely disruptive" moment in education

The Globe and Mail has published an article that highlights the impact that the innovative use of space can have on education. Some universities are turning to flexible, active learning classrooms, as well as informal study spaces and atriums that serve as gathering spaces and classrooms. Charlotte Yates, Dean of Social Sciences at McMaster University, describes this emphasis on space as a “hugely disruptive” moment in education that “has the potential to be enormously positive for how we engage in education with students.” Technology is an important driver, as PSE institutions try to accommodate smartphones and tablets. However, the emphasis need not be technological: even things as simple as moveable desks and an abundance of whiteboards for group work can make a big difference. Globe and Mail

Wake Forest U reorients MBA offerings around working professionals

Wake Forest University will cease to accept applications for its traditional daytime MBA program next year. Instead, it will expand its offerings for working professionals. The move comes in response to a 5-year period of declining enrolment in the traditional program. Meanwhile, enrolment in a program aimed at working professionals, with year-round evening and weekend classes, has climbed from 242 to 304. “Our decision is a proactive step that will allow us to redirect resources and energy to meet the changing needs in the market,” said Charles Iacovou, Dean of Wake Forest’s School of Business. In addition to increasing its evening and weekend course offerings, Wake Forest will also put an emphasis on e-learning opportunities for students. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) recently reported notable increases in enrolment in most flexible and online MBA programs. Inside Higher Ed

Investigation reveals that over 3,100 UNC students received credits for fake courses

An investigation into academic fraud at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has revealed that more than 3,100 students received credit for fake classes in the school’s African and Afro-American Studies department. The fraud was perpetrated over nearly 20 years. Approximately half of the students involved were athletes, and investigators say that some academic support services employees at the university actively encouraged student athletes, as well as other struggling students, to enrol in the fake classes, which had no attendance or faculty involvement. Inside Higher Edreports that the fraud may have been initially instigated by 2 administrators who wanted to help survivors of sexual assault, students with mental health issues, and underprepared athletes, following the death and imprisonment of 2 athletes who dropped out due to poor grades. “Those experiences left [one of the 2] feeling committed to trying to prevent those kinds of tragedies in the future,” said Kenneth Wainstein, lead author of the report. UNC-CH Chancellor Carol L Folt said, “make no mistake. We are absolutely taking action.” 9 employees have been fired or disciplined so far. Reuters | The Chronicle of Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed | Full Report