13 avril 2013

Who will hire all the PhDs? Not Canada’s universities

Go to the Globe and Mail homepageBy Melonie Fullick. A persistent theme in current discussions about graduate education and its outcomes is the question of whether Canada is “producing too many PhDs.” While enrollments (and numbers of PhD graduates) have increased with the encouragement of policy, more of these grads now struggle to find employment that matches the level and nature of their education – particularly employment in universities, as tenure-track faculty. The situation in Canada is not as dire as in the States where just this week it was reported that three quarters of faculty work as adjuncts, but accounts of under-employed PhDs working as waiters and cab drivers have become more common. Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 19:26 - - Permalien [#]


The future of the university? Tell me about it…

By Melonie Fullick. On Thursday March 28th, I participated in a panel titled “The Future of the University in Canada”, at the University of Toronto. The discussion was hosted by Drs. Emily Greenleaf and Pamela Gravestock, who organised it as a part of their undergraduate course on “The University in Canada” (which looked like something I would love to have done as an undergrad). The other participants were Dr. Ian Clark from the School of Public Policy and Governance, U of T; Dr. Harvey Weingarten, Director of HEQCO; and Dr. Suzanne Stevenson, Vice Dean of Teaching and Learning, Faculty of Arts and Sciences at U of T. Before the day of the panel, we were presented with a set of questions to respond to in our opening remarks:
    On what issue should universities focus in the next five years?
    What should their response look like?
    How would this affect undergraduate students?
I always find it very difficult to pick a single issue in the way that is often required in debates or structured discussions (see “the blog vs. the book” for another example). Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 19:24 - - Permalien [#]

On selecting a graduate supervisor

By Jo VanEvery. I’ve been following the discussion about Big Labs (Nicola Koper) and Small Labs (David Smith) with interest. I suspect many humanities and social science folks have skipped it altogether, assuming that it doesn’t apply to them. I encourage you to read those posts anyway. They raise some important points.
Is it a zero sum game?

One of the key issues in both pieces is the amount of time and attention your supervisor can give your project and your career development. While Nicola Koper makes a good case for economies of scale in terms of equipment, field work, and conference travel, this may be less relevant to those in fields where equipment and field work are not so central, whether in the humanities or more theoretical scientific fields. Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 19:22 - - Permalien [#]

The crisis literature in higher ed, revisited again and again

By Léo Charbonneau. According to a survey last fall, 89 percent of U.S. adults and 96 percent of senior administrators at colleges and universities said higher education is in crisis, and nearly 4 in 10 in both groups considered the crisis to be “severe.” More fodder for the crisis literature in higher education. In Canada, I’d say there isn’t quite the same sense of foreboding doom, but we do certainly have our own home-grown examples of the crisis literature. This comes to mind because of a stray comment I heard recently from Glen Jones that it has been ever thus. Dr. Jones, professor of higher education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, said one of the first papers he ever had published, nearly a quarter century ago, was an editorial on the crisis literature in Canadian higher education. Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 19:20 - - Permalien [#]

Interlibrary loans constrained by licences for e-books

By Rosanna Tamburri. Publisher licences make it difficult for libraries to share books by interlibrary loan, hampering small universities most of all. Electronic books, for all of their convenience and versatility, are threatening to put an end to a longstanding and cherished tradition at academic libraries: interlibrary loans. As libraries try to grapple with the problem, some are experimenting with new ways to share electronic monographs. “With e-books we are in a whole different world,” said Brent Roe, executive director of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries. When purchasing a print version of a book, libraries own the copy and are free to lend it to whomever they wish. But electronic books are most often licensed to, rather than purchased by, libraries. Licensing agreements usually permit a specified number of multiple users to view an e-book at once, giving libraries more flexibility to lend books to their own students and faculty while alleviating some of the space crunch that libraries face. Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 19:18 - - Permalien [#]


Survey asks: Who is the Canadian postdoctoral fellow?

By David Kent. Lack of data makes it difficult to craft good policy to meet postdocs’ needs, say organizers. In 2009, the newly created Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars undertook its first survey of postdoctoral fellows, or PDFs. The results revealed that the average fellow in Canada was between 30 and 35 years of age, earned under $40,000 and had limited access to extended health coverage or other benefits.
This workplace snapshot was taken at a time of great unrest for PDFs, as the federal government had recently changed its taxation policy to make student scholarships – but not postdoctoral fellowships – tax-exempt. As a result, a substantial cohort of PhD graduates who continued in academic research as PDFs now earned less pay than they received during their graduate student years. In an effort to see if the situation has changed, CAPS has launched a new survey of PDFs and is encouraging all postdoctoral fellows in Canada to take part. Jeremy Mitchell, former chair of CAPS and leader of the current survey, said there is a pressing need for more complete and up-to-date data. Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 19:16 - - Permalien [#]

A flexible plan to help grad students finish their degrees

By Brenda Brouwer. The overarching principle at Queen’s is to support students in completing high-quality work in a reasonable time frame. As noted in the column “Queen’s plan to change its graduate policy needs more study,” published on March 27, the Graduate Studies’ Executive Committee (GSEC) at Queen’s University recently approved revisions to our policy on time-to-completion for graduate students. I would like to respond to some of the issues that were raised in that piece.
The old policy, which had not been updated in many years, stated that students had five and seven years from the time of registration to complete Master’s and PhD degrees, respectively, with no mention of mechanisms to safeguard that students were progressing to completion prior to these time points. The revised policy reflects the standard program lengths approved by the province for full-time registration, which is two years for a Master’s and four for a PhD. It also acknowledges that many factors contribute to the time in which a degree is completed. Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 19:13 - - Permalien [#]

Universities and rural communities

By Ryan Bullock, Gayle Broad, Lynn Palmer and Peggy Smith. Joining together to assert control over forests. There is a rich and romantic cultural history associated with natural resources and communities in Canada, one reinforced by images and narratives of self-reliant white northerners eking out an existence in isolated communities and rugged landscapes, surrounded by pristine and endless resources. A more modern and less positive view of resource communities is that they are antiquated, marginal settlements, wrought with social conflict and racial tension, whose glory days passed when the last resource industry left town.
However, municipal leaders, Aboriginal and government representatives, academics, businesses and community groups recently came together at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario for an interdisciplinary conference on building resilient communities through community-based forest management. The goal was to learn about new cross-cultural networks and grassroots collaborations that are initiating transformative change by rethinking rural economies, cultures and landscapes. As the meeting organizers, we contend that universities and natural resource-related departments, in particular, have much to learn from communities about the changing nature of resource sectors, societal needs and the role of universities in partnered research. Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 19:09 - - Permalien [#]

Capital gains in the knowledge market

By Jonathan Thon. One way of recovering costs for federally funded research is by having governments proportionately included in intellectual property agreements resulting from their angel investments. While not all projects are ultimately profitable, funds allocated to university investigators for basic research should be regarded as a diversified investment portfolio from which successful ventures offset risk. As lab-bench discoveries are translated to bedside technologies, funding agencies can earn profits from their grants, encouraging further funding through re-investment. Crafting a mutually beneficial relationship of this sort would keep politicians from having to choose between funding basic research (popularly believed to be a welfare practice) and supporting economic growth; which is a false dichotomy. Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 19:05 - - Permalien [#]

Career Sense signs off – the last post

By Carolyn Steele. On September 26, 2008, we launched Career Sense as a conversation, or as a forum among academics across Canada about professional issues unique to them. For University Affairs, Career Sense was an experiment of sorts. Online technologies have provided a valuable way for a community with shared interests to come together and share their thoughts. Career Sense was to be one such resource.
Indeed, over the past 19 months or so some good conversations have emerged through reader comments. For instance the open forum on reference letters and the discussion on making the best of a dismal job market each generated some interesting, and sometimes contentious comments. The post which was e-mailed out most often was my open letter to John Milloy, the Minister of Training Colleges, and Universities. And 407 people responded to polls about various topics in the posts. Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 19:02 - - Permalien [#]