League-Table Rankings, Sumo Style

Posted in Governance and administration on September 28th, 2018 by steve

“Most university rankings (U-Multirank is the big exception) take a league table format originally used by esteemed psychologist, eugenicist and baseball enthusiast James McKeen Cattell in his early rankings early 20th century (for more on Cattell see back here). One effects of borrowing league tables as a metaphor is that there is an implicit assumption that the inhabitants of that table are able to move up and down the league table as baseball or football teams do …” (more)

[Alex Usher, HESA, 28 September]

Tags: ,

‘University Discipline in the Age of Social Media’

Posted in Legal issues on February 5th, 2016 by steve

CanadaAbstract: In the wake of two high-profile scandals involving misconduct by university students on social media, this article explores the administrative and constitutional law dimensions of university discipline of online behaviour. Using the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision in Pridgen v University of Calgary as a guide, the author examines how the characteristics of social media impact the jurisdictional, procedural, and substantive aspects of student discipline. Specifically, he explains that while universities may legitimately discipline students for online misconduct, their comments must amount to harassment of members of the university community, or threaten the learning environment. In addition, the author describes how social media raises the stakes for both accused students and victims, which militates in favour of broader and more extensive procedural fairness. Furthermore, he observes that the open and communal nature of social media interaction may lead to ‘guilt by association’, which is both unreasonable and unnecessary to combat online harassment. Finally, the author argues that a student’s Charter rights are engaged in disciplinary proceedings involving social media activity, but this does not unduly interfere with the traditional autonomy of universities.

[SSRN, 5 February]

Tags: , ,

Who Wins and Who Loses in the ‘Top 100 Under 50’ Rankings

Posted in Governance and administration on May 20th, 2015 by steve

International“The annual Times Higher Education ‘Top 100 Under 50’ universities came out a few weeks ago. Australians were crowing about their success, and a few people in Canada noticed that Canada didn’t do so well – only four spots: Calgary 22nd, Simon Fraser 27th, UQAM 85th, and Concordia 96th. So, today, we ask the question: why do young Canadian universities not fare well on these rankings? …” (more)

[Alex Usher, HESA, 20 May]

Tags: ,

Bill 100

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on May 6th, 2015 by steve

Canada“A couple of weeks ago, the government of Nova Scotia introduced a very strange bill in the legislature. Though nobody directly describes it this way, Bill 100 is effectively an academic Chapter 11: a set of rules under which a university can, in effect, declare bankruptcy and re-organize itself …” (more)

[Alex Usher, HESA, 6 May]

Tags: ,

University protests around the world: a fight against commercialisation

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on March 25th, 2015 by steve

International“Academics and students in Canada, the Netherlands and the UK explain why they are taking a stand against their institutions. Students at University of the Arts, London, took over their university’s reception area last Thursday to protest against proposed cuts to some of its course programmes …” (more)

[Rebecca Ratcliffe, Guardian, 25 March]

Tags: , , , ,

Performance funding: The burden of proof

Posted in Governance and administration on March 20th, 2015 by steve

Canada“When a policy is proposed, the burden of proof lies with the people making the proposal. They need to explain why the new policy is better, and they need to provide evidence to support their claim. This is how sensible policy gets made …” (more)

[Graeme Stewart, Academic Matters, 19 March]

Tags: , ,

Some Thoughts on TA Strikes

Posted in Governance and administration on March 6th, 2015 by steve

Canada“At the time of writing (Thursday PM), Teaching Assistant Unions at both the University of Toronto and York University are on strike, as is the union representing sessionals at York. Since Toronto is indeed ‘The Centre of the Universe’, I’m sure everyone across the country is just riveted by this news. At the risk of irritating those readers still further, I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts on the matter …” (more)

[Alex Usher, HESA, 6 March]

Tags: ,

Academia has to stop eating its young

Posted in Governance and administration on March 6th, 2015 by steve

Canada“In the short term, the contract faculty who teach the majority of courses at York University are striking for higher wages. In the long run, contract teaching needs to be abolished …” (more)

[Showey Yazdanian, Globe and Mail, 5 March]

Tags: ,

Performance-Based Funding (Part 2)

Posted in Governance and administration on February 18th, 2015 by steve

Canada“So, as we noted yesterday, there are two schools of thought in the US about performance-based funding (where, it should be noted, about 30 states have some kind of PBF criteria built into their overall funding system, or are planning to do so). Basically, one side says they work, and the other says they don’t …” (more)

[Alex Usher, HESA, 18 February]

Tags: , ,

Performance-Based Funding (Part 1)

Posted in Governance and administration on February 17th, 2015 by steve

Canada“I was reading the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association (OCUFA)’s position statement on a new funding formula for the province. Two things caught my eye. One, they want money to make sure Ontario universities can do world-class research and teaching; and two, they demand strict opposition to any kind of performance-based funding formula …” (more)

[Alex Usher, HESA, 17 February]

Tags: , ,

Meetings vs. Management

Posted in Governance and administration on February 13th, 2015 by steve

Canada“It’s always difficult to make accurate observations about differences in national higher education cultures. But one thing I can tell you that is absolutely not true is the perception that Canadian universities are suffering under some kind of unprecedented managerialist regime …” (more)

[Alex Usher, HESA, 13 February]

Tags: , , , ,

US and Canadian academics demand changes to Confucius Institutes

Posted in Governance and administration on June 29th, 2014 by steve

China“University professors in the US have joined Canadian counterparts in urging universities to cut ties with Confucius Institutes unless the agreements that bring them to campus are re-worked to guarantee academic freedom …” (more)

[South China Morning Post, 25 June]

Tags: , , ,

Dispute Over the Future of Basic Research in Canada

Posted in Research on February 17th, 2014 by steve

Canada“Canada’s National Research Council is the country’s premier scientific institution, helping to produce such inventions as the pacemaker and the robotic arm used on the American space shuttle. But last year, its mission changed …” (more)

[HT: Brendan Guilfoyle]
[Karen Birchard and Jennifer Lewington, New York Times, 16 February]

Tags: ,

York Defends Allowing Student To Snub Working With Women

Posted in Governance and administration on January 11th, 2014 by steve

Canada“An official with York University in Toronto says although a male student asked to be excused from a group project with women for religious reasons, that’s not why his request was granted — a decision that has stirred widespread controversy …” (more)

[Huffington Post, 10 January]


Canadian universities vow to end ties with Confucius Institutes

Posted in Research on December 27th, 2013 by steve

Canada“The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has passed a resolution last week to end all ties with Confucius Institutes that it said were supported by the Chinese government in various universities around the world to facilitate ‘cultural exchanges’ …” (more)

[Universities News, 25 December]

Tags: , ,

Where have all the academics gone?

Posted in Life on June 12th, 2013 by steve

Canada“Writing in today’s Ottawa Citizen, Lawrence Martin observes that Canada’s academic are ‘missing in action’. That is, almost totally silent on the critical issues facing the country …” (more)

[Graeme Stewart, Academic Matters, 11 June]

Tags: ,

Canada puts commercialisation ahead of blue-sky research

Posted in Research on March 22nd, 2013 by steve

Canada“… ‘There is a consistent pattern of steering money away from basic research’, says Turk. ‘More and more of it is being directed to company needs’ …” (more)

[Brian Owens, Nature News & Comment, 22 March]

Tags: ,

Why universities shouldn’t change to suit industry needs

Posted in Governance and administration on March 18th, 2013 by steve

Canada“Last week, David Naylor, the president of the University of Toronto, made a speech to Empire Club of Canada members about what he describes as educational zombies — government and industry calls for more job-specific education at universities and more research aligned with industry needs …” (more)

[David Naylor, Financial Post, 13 March]


Puppy Room At Dalhousie: University Brings In Dogs For Stress Therapy

Posted in Life on November 29th, 2012 by steve

“… And we know, there are plenty of ways to fight stress — but Dalhousie University is trying out a new way: Puppies. The Halifax university is creating a puppy room for on December 4th, 5th and 6th to help students cope with the stress of exams and end-of-term assignments …” (more)

[Huffington Post, 28 November]

Tags: ,

Final Observations of Canadian University Rankings: A Misadventure Now Over Two Decades Long

Posted in Governance and administration on November 20th, 2012 by steve

“In November, 2012, Maclean’s published its 21st annual rankings of Canadian universities. Indeed, the ranking of universities has become a popular exercise with which to assess and promote higher education in North America …” (more)

[Stewart Page, Academic Matters, 20 November]

Tags: ,