Today's Top Ten

September 2, 2014

Provinces sign apprenticeship mobility agreements

4 provinces have signed 2 separate agreements that will enhance labour mobility for apprentices. Alberta and Nova Scotia announced that their agreement will improve the recognition of in-province training, and enable recognition of apprenticeship work experience hours, making it easier for apprentices to achieve certification. Apprentices taking pre-apprenticeship training at Nova Scotia Community College will have their training recognized in AB, saving them from repeating courses and exams. An agreement signed between British Columbia and New Brunswick, meanwhile, will accelerate the certification of NB apprentices in their trades via employment with BC employers; in turn, the agreement will help BC meet demand for skilled labourers beyond the supply of its existing workforce. It is also hoped that the agreements will contribute to the development of a national apprenticeship mobility strategy. AB News Release | NB News Release

AUCC launches new online resource for students planning PSE

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) has released a new website, universitystudy.ca, designed to help students, parents, and guidance counsellors find information about Canada’s PSE institutions and PSE programs. The online resource includes profiles of institutions and AUCC’s searchable program database, as well as articles and tips for students on PSE planning. In addition, the new site contains dedicated information for Aboriginal students, and information for international students considering studying in Canada. “With this new website, AUCC is pleased to help students navigate the breadth of high-quality universities and programs offered across Canada,” says AUCC President Paul Davidson. AUCC News Release | universitystudy.ca

Dal launches new Nova Scotia Product Design and Development Centre

Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Engineering last week celebrated the official opening of the new Nova Scotia Product Design and Development Centre (NSPDDC). The new centre represents the merging of two existing groups, the Innovation in Design Lab (iDLab) and the Product Research and Design Group (PRDG), in order to maximize the work being done individually by the 2 groups while further supporting research and development (R&D) and innovation in NS. The province supported the creation of the NSPDDC with a commitment of $85,000. “Finding ways to connect the private sector with the expertise and creativity of our universities will help make our businesses more competitive and profitable,” said Michel Samson, NS Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. “This centre can help our young, ambitious engineers gain valuable connections to local businesses and our small businesses reach their highest potential.” Dal News

4 Canadian universities among top 50 universities for VC-backed entrepreneurs

A venture-capital (VC) research firm has recognized the University of Waterloo, McGill University, the University of Toronto, and Queen’s University as being among the top universities in the world for VC-backed entrepreneurs. The schools in the list are ranked based on the number of graduates who went on to launch venture-backed companies over a 5-year period, the number of startups founded by alumni, and total capital raised. uWaterloo finished in 16th place; McGill, uToronto, and Queen’s finished in 31st, 33rd, and 48th, respectively. US schools dominated the rankings, with Stanford University; the University of California, Berkeley; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology taking the top 3 spots on the list. The highest ranking non-US institution was the Indian Institute of Technology, which came in 7th. Entrepreneur | Full Rankings

Canadian MBA programs look beyond disciplinary, institutional boundaries

Canadian MBA programs are looking beyond their own discipline to enhance students’ experiences. Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business recently concluded a pilot program on surgical innovation that brought together as a team MBA students from Concordia, surgical students from McGill, and engineering students from L’École de technologie supérieure de Montréal. Together, the team worked on developing a product with an eye toward building a new company. Sandra Betton, Director of the MBA program at Concordia, says that the university plans to expand the concept to other projects. “The goal is to come up with something that can be patented, sell the idea, and manage a startup. Working with a cross-disciplinary team helps them gain a very different perspective and makes innovation practical,” she said. Other universities are also looking to build bridges between programs. The University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business is working with uCalgary's School of Public Policy to offer a joint MBA/Master of Public Policy degree, while the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business has joined the Global Network for Advanced Management, which unites 27 global institutions to foster international experiences for students. Financial Post

Loyalist SMA highlights support for economic development and technology-enabled learning

Ontario has released the strategic mandate agreement (SMA) it signed with Loyalist College. The SMA identifies as Loyalist’s areas of institutional strength its support for community economic development through the Quinte Business Development Centre, the infiniteSpaces Virtual World Design Centre, and the Loyalist Training & Knowledge Centre, as well as the college’s support for commercialization and applied research. The SMA also cites the variety of education delivery methods available at Loyalist, including experiential learning and technology-enabled learning options, as well as the school’s innovative Simulation Lab in Health Sciences. The SMA notes Loyalist’s support for improving education access for Aboriginal students, students with disabilities, and lower-income students. The college’s close partnership with the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte is also identified as a strength. 5 proposed program areas are identified as proposed areas for growth: business—international trade/logistics; health sciences—practical nursing/personal support worker; applied sciences—biotech; welding and fabrication, and manufacturing technician; and media—fine arts. Loyalist SMA

uOttawa SMA focuses on community and global connections, health, and bilingual education

The strategic mandate agreement (SMA) signed between Ontario and the University of Ottawa emphasizes the institution’s role as Ontario’s flagship bilingual university in the comprehensive/research-intensive category, as well as its research strengths in the areas of health, Canada and the World, molecular and environmental sciences, and e-society. The SMA highlights as areas of institutional strength uOttawa’s economic impact on the Ottawa-Gattineau region, its promotion of entrepreneurship, its focus on health, and its engagement with local and global communities. uOttawa is also recognized for its support for experiential and technology-enabled learning, with particular mention made of uOttawa’s co-op program, its support for blended learning, and its use of simulation scenarios in language education. Medicine and health, science and technology, and government and management are identified as areas of research strength, and the SMA notes uOttawa’s strong performance in international rankings. The SMA lists 5 proposed program areas of growth: management and communication, science and engineering, environment, public policy, and health. uOttawa SMA

International students come to US for business, STEM education

The majority of international students studying in the US enrol in business and STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), according to a new report that examined more than one million student visas between 2008 and 2012. One in 3 international undergraduate students go to the US to study business, management, or marketing, as do almost 30% of all international master’s degree students. The top source cities of these business students are Beijing, China and Seoul, South Korea. Hyderabad, India was the top source city for students studying STEM fields. The study also found that more than one quarter of international doctoral students were taking an engineering program. Other notable programs that attract international students to the US include the visual and performing arts, theology, and homeland security. The data also reveal specific locations in the US that have high concentrations of international students in certain program areas, as well as areas that retain a large number of international students after graduation. The Chronicle of Higher Education

New Florida university has a library without books

Students at Florida Polytechnic University won’t have to worry about misplacing the books they sign out from the institution’s library. That’s because the library’s collection is entirely digital. “We have access to print books through the state university system’s interlibrary loan program. However, we strongly encourage our students to read and work with information digitally,” said Kathryn Miller, Director of Libraries. Instead of shelves, the 11,000 square-foot library features an open floor plan, computers, desks, and seating. Students will be able to access approximately 135,000 e-books, and the FPU has a budget of $60,000 that will be devoted to automatically purchasing books that are viewed twice on its system. This approach, Miller said, “allows for many more books to be available for the students, and the university only has to pay when the student or faculty member uses the book.” Miller adds that the bookless library also supports the university’s mission to prepare students for the high-tech workforce. Memorial University implemented a similar purchasing program in 2013. The Guardian (UK)

Textbook publishers slow in responding to industry change

Some textbook publishers are learning the hard way that many students prefer to buy books used or, in some cases, to find pirated copies of their required readings. Data from Student Public Interest Research Groups indicate that as many as two-thirds of US PSE students opted not to buy a course textbook due to costs. The Book Industry Study Groups, meanwhile, found that 25% of US students admitted to borrowing and copying textbooks from other students, while 19% said they acquired textbooks from a pirate website. Sales of new printed textbooks have suffered as a result of rising prices and changing habits, while sales of faculty-designed, “customized” textbooks and software programs are climbing. Some publishers have shifted focus to e-books, but are finding that many students still prefer physical copies. “Our business is having to shift,” said David Levin, President of McGraw-Hill Education. “It was probably slow in shifting. And the last couple of years have seen a radical transformation.” Wall Street Journal (subscription required)