Today's Top Ten

October 30, 2014

uWaterloo to build new $88 M engineering facility

The University of Waterloo has received approval from its board of governors to proceed with construction of the Engineering 7 (E7) building. The $88 M, 230,000-square-foot facility will help accommodate growth from the biomedical engineering and mechatronics engineering programs, and will house the innovative Engineering Ideas Clinic and the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre. The building will also provide dedicated social and study areas, classrooms and lab space, an atrium, and entrepreneurial support spaces. In addition, there will be a 3D printing laboratory and an indoor flight arena for testing autonomous and robotic vehicles. “E7 is not just a building; the entire design will enable engineering to take our unique educational experience to the next level and realize our vision for educating the engineer of the future,” said Pearl Sullivan, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. uWaterloo hopes to begin construction on the facility in fall 2015. uWaterloo News Release

Donation enables new irrigation programs at Lethbridge College

Lethbridge College has received a $3.1 M legacy donation from Lloyd and Dorothy Mueller that will be used to establish the Mueller Program in Irrigation and the Mueller Applied Research Chair in Irrigation Science. The college will contribute $1.9 M towards these initiatives. The donation was made as part of Lethbridge College’s “Possibilities are Endless” campaign, which includes a private-sector goal of $25 M. The donation will enable the college to enhance its focus on data-driven productivity in agriculture, and will build on an earlier donation that enabled the founding of the Cor Van Raay Southern Alberta Agribusiness Program in partnership with the University of Lethbridge. “Just as this joint program is permitting us to work collaboratively with industry to address their needs … the Mueller’s generous philanthropic gift will allow us to continue to work directly with industry, government and other educational partners to further enhance data-driven productivity in the agricultural sector,” said VP Academic Stuart Cullum. Lethbridge College News Release

Canada creates panel to improve recognition of foreign credentials

The federal government has created the Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians in order to improve the recognition of the credentials of internationally trained professionals. “Our government’s top priorities are creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. Our government recognizes that skilled newcomers will help fill shortages in key occupations and make an important contribution to Canada’s economy. The work of the Panel will help to shape strategies to better integrate newcomers into the workforce and break down barriers faced by employers when hiring and retaining newcomers,” said Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism. The panel will consist of experts in newcomer integration, diversity, and certification. Immigrant advocate and social entrepreneur Nick Noorani will serve as Chair of the panel. Canada News Release

ESL advocates rally at BC legislature to protest cuts

Critics of recent cuts to British Columbia’s ESL education held a rally on the lawn on the provincial legislature on Monday, criticizing the provincial government for not stepping up to compensate for the changes in federal funding. Vancouver Community College announced in June that it would be forced to lay off more than 70 instructors as a result of changes to federal funding of BC’s ESL programs. Karen Shortt, President of the VCC faculty association, told participants in the rally that “there’s no plan at this point for the 2,300 students who will have nowhere to go on January 2. I hear the ministry saying we can’t afford to fund ESL. And I say, you can’t afford not to.” BC’s Minister for Advanced Education Amrik Virk said that ESL students will still have an opportunity to study at more than 80 not-for-profit providers across the province, but others say that colleges provide a better opportunity for ESL students to move on to other academic and career-training programs. Times-Colonist

Camosun launches largest-ever capital fundraising campaign

Camosun College has launched its largest capital fundraising campaign ever—the "TRADEmark of Excellence Campaign"—with the goal of raising $5 M over the next year to fund new trades equipment and facilities for the new Trades Education and Innovation Complex, currently under construction at Camosun’s Interurban Campus. The BC government committed $30 M to the project, with the remaining $5 M to be raised by the new campaign, led by co-chairs Murray and Lynda Farmer, prominent Victoria construction leaders. "We are looking for support from community, labour, business and industry to enrich our programs and put the most current classroom materials and teaching technology into the hands of our students before our new facility opens in fall 2015," says Joan Yates, VP of Communications, Advancement and Planning. "With the latest resources and facilities at hand, we will excel at preparing students who embrace technology and are highly skilled.” Camosun News Release | Victoria Times-Colonist

Durham, UOIT partner to create pathways for international students

Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology have signed a new pathways agreement that will help international students complete diploma and degree requirements more quickly. Under the agreement, eligible international applicants to Durham College will receive a letter of admission that states that they will be eligible for direct enrolment with advanced standing in a relevant UOIT undergraduate program. “The Pathways agreement further strengthens our partnership with Durham College and our collective commitment to providing seamless access to high-quality, industry-driven and career-oriented programs,” said UOIT’s VP Research, Innovation and International Michael Owen. Nevzat Gurmen, VP Corporate Services at Durham, added, “we look forward to working with UOIT to provide new international applicants with access to academic pathways that will enable them to earn both a diploma and a degree in several different areas right here in Durham Region.” Durham News Release

uCalgary students, administrators team up to support open-access textbooks

Students and administrators at the University of Calgary are joining forces to generate a dialogue about open-access textbooks and other academic publications. The university recently hosted a forum on open-access publications, following up on a provincial government commitment of $2 M to explore opportunities associated with using free educational resources. Jarret Henry, President of the uCalgary Students’ Union, said that adopting free resources can make a big difference for cash-strapped students. “Tuition is easy to budget for, but you don’t know what the cost of your textbooks is going to be. When you’re a high-school student and you’re looking at your postsecondary costs, you just look at tuition and maybe the cost of your residences, but there’s a lot of ancillary costs—textbooks, parking—and that’s a huge concern.” uCalgary's VP Library and Cultural Resources Tom Hickerson added that faculty authors like open access, as well, though they may not earn anything in royalties. “What they really want is to have an impact with their research and writing—that’s a real prize,” he said. Metro News

Study suggests experiential learning provides increased student engagement along with higher workload

A new report released by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has found that courses that incorporate experiential learning with community organizations resulted in higher student engagement and better outcomes, but they also created more work for students and instructors. The study, conducted by researchers at York University, examined a variety of introductory and upper-level courses that made use of community service learning (CSL), community-based learning (CBL), and other in-course learning activities (ICLA) such as role playing, skits, guest speakers, case studies, and laboratories. Students reported improved engagement with the materials and a recognition of strong educational outcomes, but they also rated CSL and CBL courses lower than ICLA courses due to “increased workload and a lack of clarity on the goals and standards of the course.” Faculty involved in the study reported increased workloads, but recognized that the courses “offered a deeply rewarding and personally transformative student learning experience.” The report’s authors suggest that institutional supports and incentives for faculty can help alleviate some of the increased workload and can help them establish and maintain community partnerships. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

4 Canadian schools in top 100 of US News global university rankings

4 Canadian universities appear in the top 100 of US News’ inaugural ranking of global universities. The University of Toronto was the top Canadian school, coming in at 14th overall. UBC ranked 30th, McGill University 44th, and Université de Montréal 96th. The University of Alberta finished just out of the top 100 at 108th. The US News rankings methodology favours global reputation and research volume; global research reputation and regional reputation together account for 25% of an institution’s score, with number of publications making up an additional 12.5%. Harvard University came in at the top of the global ranking with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California – Berkeley rounding out the top 3. The highest ranked non-American university was Oxford University, in fifth. Princeton University, which US News identified as the top school in its most recent ranking of US colleges, came in 13th in the global rankings as a result of the different ranking methodology. Full Rankings | The Chronicle of Higher Education

Survey sheds light on faculty attitudes toward online education

Inside Higher Ed has published the results of a survey of US faculty members on their attitudes toward technology. One-third of the 2,799 faculty members surveyed said they had taught an online course; among those who hadn’t, the most commonly cited reasons were not having been asked, not being interested, or not believing that online courses had educational value. Nearly all faculty members, as well as most technology administrators who were also surveyed, believed that meaningful student-teacher interaction is missing from most online courses, and most faculty members believe that online teaching produces inferior results compared to in-person courses. 48% of faculty members who had never taught an online course felt that online courses should have a lower tuition than face-to-face courses, compared to 20% of those who had taught an online course. Less than half of faculty and technology administrators felt that their institutions offered strong support for instructors teaching online classes. Faculty were also strongly opposed to the hiring of outside parties to help manage online course operation in any capacity. Inside Higher Ed