Current News In BC PSE


Weekly News Roundup



Week of June 14 – June 18, 2021

UBC Response: Return to Campus Town Halls

UBC host town hall series, summarizes preparations for a safe return, addressing the questions from three town hall listening sessions held earlier in June. These answers will be supplemented by a fourth town hall on June 15, where subject matter experts will offer further insight on questions previously raised and those arising from the panel discussion.



BC Supreme Court denies Proctorio’s application to include new filings in lawsuit against UBC staff member

Proctorio’s application to allow for further cross-examination and to include an additional exhibit and two new affidavits has been denied following Proctorio v. Linkletter’s first day before the BC Supreme Court in late April. In order to get the lawsuit dismissed, Linkletter’s legal team will have to prove that Linkletter’s tweets were an expression and were in the public interest, under BC’s PPPA. The Association of Administrative and Professional Staff (AAPS) at UBC has agreed to fund Linkletter’s legal defense.

BC | Ubyssey


BC Universities turn to online convocations, announce honorary degrees

Remote celebrations and virtual ceremonies will mark this year’s spring convocations at the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University. Due to ongoing restrictions on public gatherings, both institutes of higher learning have suspended in-person events. Royal Roads University is hosting an online event this month, while UVic graduates can return within the next three years to take part in another convocation.

BC | Times Colonist


STEM program debuting at UNBC this fall for Indigenous high school students

This fall, six high school Indigenous students will have the opportunity to gain experience inside a research lab that will prepare them for university and the real world. The program aims at expanding STEM knowledge of the students, but they can also expect a lot of fun.

BC | CKPG Today


Major investment in post-secondary studies in French at Simon Fraser University

Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Member of Parliament (Burnaby North–Seymour), announced that the Government of Canada is providing more than $3.3 million through Complementary funding in education to help Simon Fraser University respond to the growing demand from Francophone and Francophile students to receive their postsecondary education in French in British Columbia. Mr. Beech made this announcement on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. The Government of British Columbia will invest $5 million to enable Simon Fraser University to continue to play its role as a leader in postsecondary education in French in the province.

BC | Canada SFU


Queen Victoria statue vandalized at BC legislature: Phillip Steenkamp weighs in

A statue of the monarch whose name graces B.C.’s capital city is the subject of a police investigation. Last year, Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp created a video offering perspective on the growing chorus of criticism over statues honouring colonial figures. Steenkamp, who was a historian before becoming a senior civil servant and university administrator, disagrees with those who argue that anti-statue demonstrators are somehow erasing history. “Statues are not history lessons,” Steenkamp said. “They are meant to shape our perception of history for particular purposes—usually to reinforce the existing order and the position of the rich and powerful.

BC | Straight


BC Government to launch compulsory skilled trades certification system

The British Columbia government is launching a compulsory skilled trades certification system that it says will strengthen economic recovery by addressing labour shortages and supporting higher-paying, more stable jobs. The government is aiming to introduce legislation next spring to support the implementation of the new certification system, with the first changes expected in the electrical and mechanical trades by 2023 and in automotive sector by 2025. There are thousands of trade workers with no formal recognition of their skills, and certification recognizes their professionalism and knowledge, while attracting more people to the work, said Advanced Education Minister Anne Kang.

BC | BC Gov News | Times Colonist | The Globe and Mail | CBC


SFU Labour Studies: Should a just recovery include a basic income for B.C.?

SFU Labour Studies partners with SFU Public Square for the fourth webinar in their series Just Recovery? Organizing, Labour and the Future We Want. This panel takes place on June 25h and will look at the recommendations and analysis of the Final Report of the British Columbia Expert Panel on Basic Income to ask: should a just recovery for all include a basic income? Speakers will also discuss the report’s recommendations, including improved wages for low-paid workers and a more just labour market for B.C.



TRU’s Alan Shaver gets President Emeritus title

Former Thompson Rivers University president Alan Shaver has been awarded the title of President Emeritus by the university’s board of governors. The recognition was made because of Shaver’s “forward-thinking leadership” and initiatives that shaped the university under his eight-year tenure from 2010 to 2018.



Government of Canada announces major investment in NSERC and SSHRC

As part of a major research announcement, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced that approximately $200 million in federal funding for SSRHC has been awarded to 1,315 researchers working in social sciences and humanities disciplines and more than $635 million in science, research and engineering to support more than 4,800 lead researchers and their teams.

National | NSERC SSHRC | University Affairs


Allegations of ‘Playing’ Indigenous at QueensU

Queen’s University in Canada is blasting an anonymous report alleging that some of its faculty members are faking being Indigenous. Late Monday, a group of Indigenous scholars released a statement on identity and institutional accountability. This is far from the first time that white academics in Canada or the U.S. have been accused of adopting other ethnic identities, presumably to increase their clout in certain disciplines or access resources available to historically underrepresented groups, or both.

ON | Inside Higher Ed | Queen’s


Leading black rights activist sees hope emerge in Canada

After years of watching Canada and its academy start to make amends for the historical mistreatment of its Indigenous population, Professor Afua Cooper sees the same reckoning finally coming along colour lines. Now, both inside university campuses and beyond them, a societal shift appeared imminent, prodded by a steadily increasing black population that is making clear its demands for change. For Canada’s Indigenous population, the centrepiece focus for racial repair has been the TRC. That began as a national examination of the horrors of the Indian residential school system and led to sweeping policy changes affecting Indigenous peoples throughout society. Such improvements are slowly starting to materialise for black Canadians, Professor Cooper said, as part of a broad uprising by a black population that now accounts for nearly 4 per cent of the country and is expected to exceed 5 per cent by 2036.

National | IHE


OCUFA: Micro-credentials briefing note

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has developed a comprehensive briefing note that explains what micro-credentials are, the Ford government’s plans for their use in Ontario, and how they have been used in other jurisdictions. The briefing note also details the many problems with micro-credentials and describes how they undermine the value of a university education.

National | OCUFA | See also CUFA BC Micro-credentials White Paper


Panel: Performance-based funding (PBF) of post-secondary education continues to gather steam in Canada

Co-hosted by the Canadian Federation of Students National Graduate Caucus (CFS-NGC) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), join us on June 16, 2021 at 11:30 AM [EST] for a panel discussion on performance-based funding models in post-secondary education. You’ll hear from experts, students, and academic staff about how performance-based funding might affect post-secondary education in Canada.

National | CAUT


Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) Annual Conference 2021

The Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) 2021 conference is a professional development and networking opportunity happening virtually from June 15–17, 2021. The conference will include all the dynamic, relevant, and thought-provoking content you have come to expect from this event, including plenty of time for active engagement and networking with your peers and colleagues from across Canada. Check out the full conference program.

National | CAUBO


Post-Secondary Truth and Reconciliation Updates

HESA’s Alex Usher surveys what Canadian institutions have committed to doing with respect to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.

National | HESA


Canadian University Instructor Survey

Instructor input wanted for 10-15 minute survey: The purpose of this study is to determine what approaches university instructors use to develop and update their course curricula. Researchers are trying to understand the influences, tools and resources, motivations, and barriers that are involved in both the creation and updating of individual course plans. 

National | Survey


Will graphic novels ever be taken seriously as research outputs?

A professor at Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies, Dr. Jenny White Jenny White carried out a series of interviews about the ferocious political factionalism that tore apart Turkish society – and universities – in the 1970s. She initially planned to use the material for “a standard scholarly monograph”. Since academic analysis “flattened these stories into discussions of abstract issues”, she decided to try to “retain the nuances and contradictions of history as it is lived” by producing a graphic narrative. Turkish Kaleidoscope: Fractured Lives in a Time of Violence, illustrated by Ergün Gündüz, has just been published by Princeton University Press. It is part of a growing wave of graphic novels or narratives in which academics seek to make their research widely available. Though the book opens with a brief historical essay, it also makes use of composite characters. Yet Professor White was emphatic that the book was just as rigorous as conventional scholarly writing: “The images, clothing, actions, setting, as well as every word, were painstakingly chosen [and] checked for accuracy…My book is fiction, but it’s also true.”

International | Times Higher Ed


Faculty evaluation after the pandemic

On what is hopefully the downhill side of the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s a lot of discussion across higher education about “getting back to normal” or “navigating a new normal.” But “back to normal” is an airy fantasy, not a strategic plan. Academe stands at an inflection point. Decisions made now will echo not only in academic 2021-22 but for years to come, shaping much of what becomes “normal” in the higher-education landscape. Faculty members who find themselves somewhere in the contract-renewal and/or tenure-and-promotion pipeline understand this truth in a visceral way. We could choose to ignore all that we’ve learned in the past year and return to “business as usual.” Or we could take all of those key traits that sustained us and our students through this crisis — flexibility, empathy, innovation, experimentation — and apply them to our badly outdated process of faculty evaluation.

International | Chronicle