Current News In BC PSE


Weekly News Roundup



There will be no newsletter for the month of August to accommodate staff vacations. We will return to your inbox in early September.

Week of July 26 – July 30, 2021

UBC Faculty Association: Message from the President on the return to campus

Dr. Alan Richardson, President of the UBC Faculty Association, wrote Monday that, while he has “sympathy” for those who believe mask and vaccine requirements would be appropriate this Fall and acknowledges that “a moral argument can be made,” the UBCFA cannot responsibly advocate for them at this time. UBCFA is demanding a transparent and detailed risk-benefit analysis, considering the increased workload of student accommodations, intellectual property in online or hyperflex teaching, sick days for sessionals, and faculty health vulnerabilities. “It would be unconscionable for the University to send its faculty and its students into the classroom in the fall without substantial guidance on fundamental issues such as these.”



Staying safe and supporting students despite the “vaccination gap”: Four recommendations for UBC’s return to campus

Professors Karen Bakker and Joanna McGrenere discuss a key issue that provides further support for faculty concerns on the “vaccination gap”, make four recommendations relevant to enhancing campus safety for those teaching and learning this fall: follow the recommended provincial restart plan steps in accordance with campus vaccination rates; commit to a minimum standard of ventilation; support faculty in creating transparent, fair, and inclusive options for online coursework; engage faculty in collegial discussions in their departments to create appropriate teaching modes and modalities, clear policies to guide real-time classroom management responses.



UBC student union pushing for mask and vaccination mandates

As UBC prepares to welcome students back to in-person learning, the vice-president of the UBC student union says students still feel uneasy about the return in the midst of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter to the UBC board of governors and executives on July 22, the AMS says 82 per cent of the students it surveyed would be “in support of a policy to mandate vaccinations in student residences.”

BC | City News | CTV | CBC


BC post-secondary institutions taking lessons in post-pandemic preparedness

B.C. post-secondary institutions will be able to deliver some semblance of normalcy this September as students head back to school. The fall semester won’t look like it did in 2019, but it won’t look like it did in 2020, either. B.C.’s vaccination rate and COVID-19 containment, along with the possibility of welcoming international students back to B.C., will help reboot campus life at universities and colleges. By September 7 at the earliest, they will be allowed to switch back to delivering education primarily in-person, with fully reopened common spaces, classrooms and buildings at capacity and normal social contact.



SFU improves ventilation across campus to reduce COVID-19 transmission

As SFU prepares to reopen campus in the fall, Facilities Services is improving the university’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. This is to meet indoor air quality standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Developed with guidance from the Provincial Health Office, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, WorkSafeBC, and ASHRAE, SFU’s new ventilation measures include: regularly reviewing standard ventilation measures and maintaining HVAC systems; replacing centralized HVAC system filters with the highest filter compatible with the building’s existing infrastructure; reducing pollutants by air flushing in buildings two hours prior to occupancy each day; circulating fresh air whenever possible.

BC | The Peak


Why was UNBC’s board chair fired?

NDP government blames ‘racist and discriminatory’ comments. But Aaron Ekman blames performative politics. “I think [the minister] probably does have the power to dismiss me because she finds my tweets to be unprofessional. That’s not what I’ve ever taken issue with. It was being called a racist.”

BC | The Tyee


Health insurance provider for UVic international students suffers security breach

UVic is warning students that they may have been affected by a security breach of Guard.me 一 the health insurance provider for UVic international students. The university is working with Guard.me to determine the exact cause of the breach and what data was impacted. UVic estimates that 3170 current students were impacted.

BC | Martlet


New student housing complex prepares for September 1st move-in date

Veda Student Living is preparing for UNBC and CNC students to move in on September 1st, according to Norman Russell, Resident Community Administrator. The building will consist of 205 single units, which will each cost $995 per month including utilities, internet, and furniture. 46 indoor and outdoor parking will be available at the site, which is about a 10-minute drive to both CNC and UNBC campuses.

BC | My PG Now


Quantum Algorithms Institute receives $2.2M boost from Canadian government to support BC as world leader in quantum technologies

The Quantum Algorithms Institute, hosted at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus, will benefit from $2,210,000 million in federal funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) to help it accelerate the innovation and commercialization of quantum technologies. The institute is led by its founding members, including academic partners: SFU, UBC, UVic.

BC | SFU | Canada


$89.6 million UVic engineering, computer science expansion aims to foster innovation

The University of Victoria’s engineering and computer science building is being expanded and a new research and structures laboratory equipped with a gantry crane will be built as part of the $89.6-million project. The province is spending $64.8 million and UVic is contributing $24.8 million for the development, set to break ground early in 2022 and be completed by 2024. The university’s share will include a fundraising campaign.

BC | BC Gov News | Times Colonist


BCIT welcomes newly elected chair and vice chair to board of governors

BCIT announces Dan Reader has been elected Board Chair by the Board of Governors, Anne Harvey has been elected Vice Chair.



China paid $3.2 million to now-cancelled BC police academy program

A B.C. government-sanctioned program that trained Chinese police recruits has been cancelled after taking $3.2 million from entities associated with China’s Ministry of Public Security. JIBC took $2.2 million in fees, giving it a boost to staffing and ultimately netting $810,000. It also took in $1.1 million for rental fees for a facility in Chilliwack it revamped for the program. JIBC took money from over two-dozen Chinese institutions, such as the People’s Public Security University of China and the National Police University, according to records provided to Glacier Media.

National | NS News


BCCDC report says young people disproportionately impacted by pandemic

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 saw the highest unemployment rates of any age group during the pandemic, according to a new report. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control released a report Friday on the impacts the pandemic has had on the health and wellbeing of young adults. The report was commissioned by Dr. Reka Gustaffson of the Provincial Health Services Authority with contributions from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer. Additionally, the report suggests sweeping disruptions to post-secondary education in 2020-2021 may have long-term impacts on career trajectory and employment.

BC | Energetic City | CTV


StatCan: Financial information of universities and colleges, 2019/2020

Data for the 2019/2020 financial year from the Financial Information of Universities and Colleges (FIUC) Survey are now available. The survey provides annual information on the financial position of all universities and degree-granting colleges in Canada, outlining their expenditures and income, including the nature and extent of government support.

National | StatCan


Tri-Council agencies to pay postdoctoral fellows through Canadian host institutions

Effective April 1, 2022, new postdoctoral fellows of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) will be paid through their eligible Canadian host institutions. Postdoctoral fellows holding their awards outside of Canada will continue to be paid directly by the agencies. This new approach to payments will apply only to postdoctoral fellows who start their awards at an eligible Canadian host institution on or after April 1, 2022, and will not affect current award holders.

National | NSERC


CSIS warns Canadian universities to be on alert for international espionage

A little more than a year ago, Canada’s spy agency went into overdrive in an effort to warn universities and researchers that they could be the targets of international espionage. Starting in April, 2020, CSIS met with more than 230 Canadian research and industry groups and briefed more than 2,000 individuals, according to the organization’s tally. The aim was to sound an alarm about potential threats to Canadian research, from partnerships that could compromise intellectual property to the possible presence of foreign agents in labs. One of CSIS’s primary concerns is the potential theft of dual-use technology, which could have a military application in addition to its civilian uses. Sectors such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing, which have myriad applications, require high scrutiny.

National | The Globe and Mail


Why Seneca College became the first post-secondary institution in Canada to require vaccinations as a condition of coming on campus this fall

David Agnew, President of Seneca College, discusses why the college will require vaccinations for those on campus this fall.

ON | The Star


CSEU Annual congress 2021: Academic, justice and the workplace

The Coalition of Student Employee Unions (CSEU) has organized a three-day conference from August 12 to 14 on Academic, Justice, and the Workplace. The pandemic, successive economic crises and further austerity measures have brought what was already a precarious situation for many of us at our workplaces to a breaking point. Particularly in academia, we see these events translating as a shrinking job market, increasing student debt and loss of pay and benefits to workers, with no prospect of improvement. This conference offers a way to fight back by bringing together researchers, activists and unions from all over North-America and beyond to discuss how we can advance justice in our workplaces and academia, with a special focus on the central problems that academic workers struggle with today.

International | CSEU


The pandemic hit female academics hardest

Scholars of all kinds and across ranks have had their careers disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. But a substantial body of social-science evidence suggests that women, who were already disproportionately burdened, have been hit especially hard. How should institutions of higher learning respond? How can tenure and promotion procedures adequately reflect gendered disparities in Covid impact? How can the amplified demands of child care and elder care be addressed? Can evaluation criteria — including expectations around leave — be made more transparent? These and other questions were on the table when The Chronicle’s Liz McMillen spoke with five leading thinkers about the pandemic’s differential impact on female academics.

International | Chronicle


U.S. Shared governance, then and now

New survey data from the American Association of University Professors offer a snapshot of the faculty role in shared governance, now and through a historical lens. Unionization appears to have little influence on faculty power, even though some in higher education believe that faculty unions tend to weaken shared governance. Across 22 of 29 separate measures of shared governance, the AAUP found no significant difference between unionized and nonunionized campuses.

International | Inside Higher Ed