Eduvation Blog

Insider Archive – June 2020

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This archive reproduces our email updates in reverse-chronological order for the month of June 2020.

Friday June 26, 2020

Crazy Budgets, Americans, and Canada Day!

Some #CdnPSE institutions are already winding down for the Canada Day holiday next Wednesday, so we’re swamped with announcements… from some more tough budget news in Atlantic Canada, to more detailed plans for Fall, and the optimism of more researchers and students returning to campuses!

But first, speaking of Canada Day…

Those Crazy Americans…

As we approach our national holiday, Canadians can be truly thankful they live north of the 49thparallel (more or less). To the south, COVID19 is still gaining momentum with new cases skyrocketing…

US Heading for COVID Disaster…

Although Canada and the EU have successfully flattened the curve, the US has seen a surge of new cases, its second-highest day ever, thanks to the Memorial Day weekend, and state governors insistent on reopening their economies no matter the human cost. Hospitals fear they will be overwhelmed in Arizona, Mississippi, Nevada and Texas. The US has become the global epicentre of the disease, with 2.3 M confirmed infections and more than 120,000 deaths. Globe & Mail

And yet, astoundingly, 63% of US colleges plan to have students back on campus this September! Chronicle

McGill’s Dr Don Sheppard released a helpful 6-min video to explain how we can manage risk and coexist with COVID19 going forward. Micro-outbreaks will continue to arise, and unfortunately the risk of infection will be about 10 days before the outbreak is detected. However, the typical person likely needs to inhale several million intact viral particles to receive an infectious dose, so duration and proximity determine your risk. Passing someone in a hallway or passing them in an elevator will in most cases be perfectly safe. Youtube

No wonder 71% of Canadians want to keep the border closed to Americans until the end of summer, and 31% want to keep it closed until there is a COVID19 vaccine, according to a recent Nanos poll.  CTV


Enrolment & Budgets

Bishop’s reports that confirmations for Fall term continue to increase, but almost all categories are behind last year at this time. The deadline has been extended from Jun 1 to Jul 17, and personal outreach, info sessions and scholarship funding will all be increased. The exception is Quebec undergraduates, where the number of applications, offers and confirmations are all higher than last year. Overall, Bishop’s projects an 8% enrolment shortfall, and a loss of $5M. Bishop’s

Mount Allison U has reportedly laid off 35 employees and reduced the hours of 16 others, in anticipation of fall enrolment drops. (None were faculty members.) Registration numbers currently look “positive” but the pandemic has heightened uncertainty. CBC

Saint Mary’s U (Halifax) is expecting international enrolment declines costing about $30 M in tuition (not counting associated ancillary income lost). Non-salary operating expenses have been reduced 25%, all travel is suspended, hiring and administrative salaries are frozen, and some layoffs were made. Nonetheless, SMU is making strategic investments in additional staff for instructional design/educational development, IT support, and lecture production; hiring a team of full-time summer students as “digital TAs,” and a student team of peer coaches to support new students throughout the summer and upcoming academic year. “There will be more tough decisions ahead.” SMU


Returning to Campus

Centennial College will bring “stranded students” back to campus beginning Jul 6, for hands-on lab work they must complete to fulfil their programs requirements for the Winter 2020 semester. Labs for Summer semester students will (hopefully) be offered in August. Centennial

Fleming College will welcome “stranded” students back to campus shortly, and limited campus housing will be available for short-term, weekly stays, starting in July and running through October. Fleming previously announced that the Fall semester will commence online, so residences will become available in the second half of the semester, starting Oct 22. Fleming

Memorial is proceeding to open up more on-campus research in phase 2, based on an updated Framework for a Phased Approach. Academic and non-academic units need to develop building-specific health and safety plans before a return is possible. A flowchart explains the forms and approvals required. MUN

Red River College shared a preview of its socially-distanced campus, with new signage, floor markers, physical barriers and areas blocked off with caution tape. RRC

St Lawrence College will begin the summer pilot in August for “stranded students” who were near graduation in March. SLC

uWaterloo has plans for a 4-phase return to campus for employees: 1 Essential employees (until Jun 30), 2 Research Ramp-Up (Jul-Aug), 3 Selective Expansion (Aug-Nov) and 4 “The Next Normal” (Nov and ongoing).  Final decisions regarding which roles return to campus, which WFH, and which continue in hybrid form will be made towards the end of July. uWaterloo

Western’s “phased return to campus” will allow some employees a “gradual, rotational, and periodic presence on campus as we ramp up for the fall.” Phase 2 (and “research recovery”) begins Jul 2. Western


Fall Delivery

BCIT released a 5-min video to clarify their approach to delivering programs this fall, which is “a little bit more complicated” than other BC colleges and universities. 55% of BCIT programs can be delivered fully online, 34% in a blended model, and 8% are still under review. Cleaning and disinfecting, with spray hoses and robot scrubbers, will be increased in frequency. YouTube

Bishop’s reports that all programs will include a combination of online, in-person, and hybrid courses, experiential learning and co-curricular opportunities. Under 2m social distancing, seating capacity in rooms with fixed seating falls to 15%, and 30% in rooms with moveable seating. Webcams and mics are being installed in all classrooms, and 5 classrooms will pilot test lecture capture tech. An instructional designer has been hired for the summer, along with 25 student online learning and technical associates, to support faculty in preparation. The Maple League of universities also launched a virtual TLC in early June, with seminar series and resources for faculty. Bishop’s

Confederation College has suspended intake for 2 programs this Sept (Digital Media Production and Tourism – Travel & Eco-Adventure) and will “further review” the programs in the coming months. The Sept intake for 2 other programs (Aerospace Manufacturing Engineering Tech and Embedded Systems) will be deferred until January due to pandemic restrictions. Confed

Laurentian U will be able to “communicate the fate of our winter semester’s academic delivery methods” by October at the latest, to allow more time for planning. Laurentian

MacEwan U offered some reassurances about its primarily online Fall term on Wednesday. Most decisions about course delivery will be finalized by mid-July. Some courses and course components (such as labs) will need to be offered F2F. MacEwan

Redeemer U has published a full course list for Fall including modes of delivery. Students in “dual delivery” programs will need to choose either in-person or remote bu Aug 1. By default, those who do not respond will be registered as in-person students. Residences will be open this Fall. Redeemer

Ryerson has provided more details about its “mostly virtual” Fall term. Arts, Science, Engineering and Architecture programs will be offered by online remote teaching. Communication and Design programs will “build on FCAD’s robust virtual infrastructure,” although a few select programs may offer limited on-campus experiential opportunities as an option. Community Services will be taught online (asynchronous), although some classes will be in real time. Management courses will be delivered “virtually.” Ryerson

St Lawrence College plans to welcome back 20-25% of the student body back to campus this Fall, starting with those in programs “with a heavy lab component.” A full list of programs includes details on delivery. SLC


Happy Canada Day!

Since many Canadian institutions will be closing down (officially or unofficially) between now and next Thursday, I’ll be playing it by ear for the Insider. There are certainly plenty of surveys and reports I want to digest for you – but I will probably stick to 2 or 3 issues next week.

I’m looking forward to presenting (virtually) to the Ara Institute of Canterbury board of governors in New Zealand, early next week!  Kia Ora to all my subscribers there – I’ll be thinking about you this weekend.

Enjoy some time to rest and recharge, this weekend and/or next week! But be safe about it!

Thursday June 25, 2020

Revenues & Rhodes Must Fall

While much of the world is experiencing a second wave of COVID19 and inching towards 10 million cases, Atlantic Canada gets to live in a bubble starting next week, and New Zealand students get to have their convocations back!

Less happily, Dalhousie is bracing for a $50 M drop in revenue, and Australia’s education minister seems intent on defunding the humanities (even though he himself is a grad).

Marketers may be inspired – or alarmed – that US for-profits are outspending them by 3000%, or that Dalhousie is investing millions in strategic priorities including outreach, enrolment and recruitment. (Either way, you should know!)

And perhaps most significantly: recent protests that #BlackLivesMatter, #RhodesMustFall, and we must #DefundthePolice seem to finally be having an impact on campuses, starting with statues, building names, and campus police forces!


The Global Picture

Convocations are Back in NZ

Now that New Zealand is back at pandemic alert level 1, postponed graduation ceremonies can get back to normal, starting in August with Auckland University of Technology. In September, Victoria University will hold 2 parades and 7 ceremonies, and in early October, Auckland University will hold 3 “mega-graduations.” Stuff

Australia to Double Humanities Tuition

Not only have Humanities research projects been vetoed by the Australian government, but now the education minister is proposing to radically reform university tuition fees and grants to reflect “21st century values and conditions.” The proposals are to “shepherd” students into “economically important” areas through course-level fee differentials. Annual fees would be lowered 20% for STEM courses, 46% for teaching, nursing, and psychology, and 62% for Agriculture and Math. However, fees for Law and Commerce courses would increase 28%, and Humanities and Social Science fees would more than double, increasing 113% (from $6,804 to $14,500). Current students would be grandfathered, so none would be worse off. Cuts in the government subsidy would reduce margins on domestic students to just 3%, from which universities support research. THE (1)  THE (2)  |  THE (3)

Boom Times for Online For-Profits

While public and non-profit institutions face catastrophic finances amid the abrupt shift to online learning, the “winners” in this pandemic appear to be America’s massive for-profit online universities, whose stock valuations are surging. Normally they spend 30 times as much as publics on paid advertising ($400 vs $14 per student), but the 2008 recession boosted their enrolment 24%, and the lockdown makes their online approach ideal. Capella U and Strayer U were quick out of the gate with COVID19 campaigns emphasizing that “Great things can happen at home.” (Strategic Education, their parent company, saw profits rise 27% in Q1.) Ashford U is hiring 200 more “enrolment advisors” to handle incoming queries. American Public Education Inc. (which ironically is not public) saw its Q1 net income double over last year. Hechinger


#CdnPSE Finances

Dal Braces for $30 M Shortfall

Dalhousie U’s fiscal update, released yesterday, assumes the potential of a decline in tuition revenue of up to $37.8 M for the 2020-21 year, and $12.1 M lost from specialized programs and ancillaries. Enrolment scenarios forecast anywhere from a 14-29% decline in enrolment, but ‘the full impact of the pandemic will only be fully realized at tuition payment deadlines in the fall.” (Enrolment declines will continue to be felt for several more years, as those students are missing from upper-year classes too.) To cover the $30.5 M shortfall for next year, Dal plans to reduce operating expenses by $20 M, and use $12.2 M from its reserves. It has frozen senior admin salaries, restricted hiring, and is negotiating collective agreements and potential changes to pensions and benefits. Notably, a pool of $6 M will nonetheless be invested in strategic priorities, including international outreach, enrolment and recruitment. Dal

Quest Struggles with its Primary Lender

Quest U president George Iwama wrote last week that “Quest is at a turning point,” which seems an understatement. In addition to the COVID19 challenges faced by all institutions in North America, Quest’s primary lender, Vanchoverve Foundation, called its loan late last year and sought control of the board. Quest is under creditor protection “until the end of September,” and in negotiation with “several proponents” to pursue “options for long-term financial stability.” No word on who the “academic partner” might be – although Capilano University is also a secured creditor. Quest



Calls to Defund Campus Police

Thousands of American students and faculty have signed petitions and held protests to urge universities to sever ties with law enforcement agencies and defund campus police departments, diverting resources to mental health services, crisis response, and affordable housing. #CareNotCops. Particular targets include the police departments at Harvard, Yale, the University of California system, and uChicago (one of the largest private police forces in the country). Guardian

Time to Stop Honouring Racists

For years, student protests and petitions have been largely ignored, and storied institutions have insisted on retaining the names of historical figures on campus buildings, colleges, plaques and statues. In the past month, though, the #BLM protests seem to have finally reached a tipping point around the world. The Clemson U board finally dropped Calhoun College and voted to rename Tillman Hall. uAlbama has removed 3 confederate plaques. James Madison U is renaming Jackson, Ashby, and Maury Halls. Monmouth U is renaming Woodrow Wilson Hall. uOregon is renaming Deady Hall. uVirginia has renamed Ruffner Hall in honour of its first African American PhD grad. uCincinnati is removing Marge Schott’s name from the baseball stadium. Even many HBCUs have buildings named for slavers or slave-defenders; Alabama State has begun to remove the names of KKK members from their buildings. And hundreds of other institutions have struck committees to consider building and college names, like the 26 institutions in the University System of Georgia. UNC Chapel Hill has lifted a moratorium on name changes that was imposed in 2015 and was supposed to last until 2031. In Canada, UNB is renaming Ludlow Hall. In Britain, uLiverpool is renaming Gladstone Hall. London Metropolitan U is renaming the Cass School. Even Oxford’s Oriel College is finally removing the statue of Cecil Rhodes. (In 2015 they argued that they would lose Ł100 M in donations should the statue be taken down.)

We may never see Yale or McGill change their names, but at least removing offensive statues and plaques is a symbolic gesture that eliminates some of the daily, passive microaggressions for students of colour. More significant will be efforts at affirmative action in faculty hiring, research centres, curriculum and student financial aid.

Wednesday June 24, 2020

Layoffs, Loughborough & Luxie!

If you missed me yesterday morning, it wasn’t your imagination! (Nor your spam filter.) That was the first hiccup in about 14 weeks delivering this daily synopsis. I’m neck deep in report writing, and sometimes my day job has to take priority.

As a result, naturally, today is mainly catch-up! Sad to say there’s plenty of negative news to share… a COVID case at UoGuelph, plenty of deficit budgets, layoffs in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. But Algoma talks about their recruitment plans, uToronto talks about virtual engagement, and SFU has a handy colour-coded COVID impact scale on their website now. I also share a few videos, if you need something a little more upbeat…



Acadia U has approved a “difficult” $6.8 M deficit budget due to a steep drop in revenue this spring and projected declines in enrolment and income throughout the rest of the year. They are also considering “more severe” scenarios, lobbying government and negotiating with unions. For now, some salaries, all non-essential hiring, and most travel are frozen, and the 10% cut in budgets continues from April. “As the university’s difficult financial reality comes more closely into focus in the coming weeks and months, additional measures may be required.” Acadia

St Lawrence College has approved a $2.7 M deficit budget, which will be covered by reserves. (SLC has $20 M in accumulated surpluses and about $60 M in current assets.) President Glenn Vollebregt says, “I am proud to say that SLC is currently in the best financial position our college has been in since our inception 53 years ago.” SLC

uWinnipeg expects revenues to drop $11.3 M this year, which has led it to hike tuition 3.75% (about $118 for the average student). UofW will also leave job vacancies open, and cut back on discretionary travel, supplies, security and campus services. CBC


Cape Breton U is considering a deficit budget for 2020-21, with monthly recalibrations, and is looking for “creative, innovative ways to cut costs.” CBU has already cancelled all travel, reduced operational expenses by $2 M, discontinued almost 60 term employees, temporarily laid off about 40 staff, and frozen or rolled back wages by up to 10%. CBU

Saskatchewan Polytechnic is reportedly laying off 37 staff and suspending its programs in addictions counselling, cytotechnology, and dental assisting. SaskPoly is “preparing for a decline in enrolment and an anticipated revenue shortfall,” and will “continue to review its staffing levels,” likely announcing some temporary or permanent layoff notices in the coming weeks. CBC

uSaskatchewan has laid off the equivalent of 14 full-time positions in its research office, as part of achieving a 37% reduction in the portfolio’s budget. Apparently UofS faces a “sudden loss of significant revenues from technology transfer royalties.” Since April, UofS has made 315 temporary and 40 permanent layoffs. Star-Phoenix

Fall Updates

uCalgary shared more details about their Fall courses. About 23% of grad courses, and 14% of undergrad courses, will have a F2F component. The rest will be purely online. No more than 30% of students are scheduled to be on campus on any given day. uCalgary

Lakehead U has released details of Fall term delivery by discipline. Most courses will be provided online, synchronously (Zoom) or asynchronously. (For first year students, it looks as though Nursing, and some courses in Chemistry, Physics, and Outdoor Rec have some on-campus expectation.) Lakehead

Queen’s will operate its residences at 50% capacity this Fall, with social distancing, restrictions on gatherings, a no-guest policy, and buildings set aside for self-isolation. Priority will be given to students with on-campus classes (such as Nursing), learning needs, or who require access to on-campus supports. Whig-Standard

uSaskatchewan has developed a draft Fall Implementation Plan “which provides the process for determining the details of” a primarily remote/hybrid  term. uSask

Trent U has published its course list for the “multi-access” 2020-21 academic year, indicating courses with in-person on-campus requirements. “At this point” most Winter term courses are being scheduled as in-person “to assist with our planning processes.” Trent

Other Updates

Algoma U is working to diversify its international enrolment from a heavy reliance on India, to focus on 5 other countries including China and Nigeria. Algoma also hopes to attract greater Indigenous enrolment, and to draw 20% more students from its pathway agreements with Sault, Cambrian, and Northern Colleges this Fall. Sault Star

UoGuelph reports that a grad student conducting essential, time-sensitive research on campus tested positive for COVID19. The student started showing symptoms 3 days after his or her last visit to campus. UoGuelph

SFU has added a 6-level colour-coded “COVID19 impact scale” to its website, with implications for 10 areas of the university at each level. Currently at “High (H1)” is still largely essential teaching, meetings, and services, with on-campus research. The library has shifted from “curbside” to “contactless” pickup. SFU

uToronto reports that >100 educational technologists are “working around the clock” with faculty and staff to ensure 6,000 courses this Fall offer a high-quality experience, “with an increased focus on online learning and virtual engagement.” UofT is also working to ensure all support services, co-curricular activities and community-building opportunities are available remotely. uToronto


Just to lighten the mood a bit, here are a few notable videos from the past few days…

BCIT has a new video showcasing the social distancing, physical barriers and PPE precautions being taken to return automotive students to the School of Transportation.


Loughborough U has a pretty effective video tour of their Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering labs, from motion simulators, wind tunnels and echo chambers to racecars and drones. (And apparently they’ve designed every World Cup “football” since 2006!)

uLethbridge’s mascot, Luxie the Pronghorn, receives his “convocation in a box” celebration kit, and performs an unboxing for us (with plenty of selfies for social media, of course).


Monday June 22, 2020

Twitter Fails & Bagpipe Wins!

As many institutions were focusing on convocation, or winding down with the first weekend of summer, about a dozen institutions made announcements, with some pretty wide variation across the country.

Some had more than their share of excitement: on Friday, uRegina launched its new Strategic Plan on Zoom, and StFX announced an ambitious plan to deliver most courses in-person and on-campus this Fall. On Saturday, UBC’s board chair resigned after controversy erupted over some tweets he liked on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Brandon U president David Docherty has been piping away the pandemic from his driveway…


Campus Leadership

The work of long-term planning and strategy continues on many campuses, albeit virtually (including some who have invited me to present to their leadership on the global higher ed landscape, future trends, and pandemic impacts). But this week we’re also reminded that campus leadership is challenging, often subject to scrutiny, and in an online world every mis-step is part of the public record…

The Price of Leadership

The COVID19 pandemic is “the purest test of leadership” in our lifetimes, blending public health uncertainties, longstanding issues of equity and diversity, and intensely partisan politics. Higher ed requires leaders who are “innovative, nimble, highly collaborative, forward-looking, and, perhaps above all, courageous.” “Battle lines” have been drawn between faculty and administrators, and leaders will have to make extremely unpopular decisions to keep their institutions afloat. “Good leaders know they may pay a price for making difficult decisions in hard times. But each institution must ensure that the price is reasonable, or it will attract fewer and fewer good leaders.” Chronicle

Another UBC Board Chair Resigns

UBC board chair Michael Korenberg, a prominent investment banker and adjunct law professor for 24 years, announced Saturday that he was stepping down, effective immediately, after controversy over his “likes” on tweets supporting Donald Trump and condemning Antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement. “To be clear, I support Black Lives Matter and I support the de-racialization of our educational institutions.” Apparently he was unaware that his liked tweets were publicly visible. (You may recall that John Montalbano stepped down in late 2015.) CBC

uRegina launches new Strat Plan

The University of Regina launched its new 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, “kahkiyaw kiwȃhkomȃkȃninawak – All Our Relations,” via Zoom on Friday. The plan identifies goals in 5 areas of focus (Discovery, Reconciliation, Well-being, Environment, and Impact) to be accomplished by 2025 (“5×25”). These goals include experiential learning opportunities for all students, and a 25% reduction in the university’s ecological footprint. uRegina


Fall Plans

Manitoba’s ACC is keeping its blended options fairly open this Fall, while Nova Scotia’s StFX has taken the country’s most optimistic approach to reopening campus…

Assiniboine CC has published program-specific details for this Fall. Aside from purely online programs, many blended programs seem to indicate that students should “expect to be on campus” for anywhere from 40% to 60% of their time. ACC

StFX announced Friday that classes will resume largely on-campus on Sept 14, with some classes offered online. This is the most ambitious return to campus announced to date in CdnPSE. Plans have been carefully developed for social distancing, disinfecting and new mandatory “behavioural standards” both on and off campus. StFX


Stranded Students

More institutions are operationalizing Ontario’s plan to bring selected students in essential programs back to campus this summer as a pilot test for the Fall, and Red River College in Manitoba is doing likewise…

George Brown is “planning and preparing to provide limited access to a very specific group of students this summer at the Centre for Health Sciences,” in accord with the Ontario government’s directive to prioritize “stranded” students. GBC

Humber College has announced that limited facilities will reopen for about 350 “stranded” students and apprentices starting July 6. Prioritized students are in the Commercial Driver, HVAC, Electrical, Woodworking, Pharmacy Tech and Paramedic programs. Humber

McMaster will allow more than 100 Rehabilitation students and 70 Nursing students to return to campus starting July 2, to ensure they meet graduation requirements and complete practica, in-person training “boot camps,” and clinical placements. McMaster

Red River College is progressing through phase 1 of its re-entry plan, which focuses on “very limited, essential hands-on learning… for students who are close to graduation.” No more than 25% of the campus population will be permitted until Aug 31, when phase 3 permits up to 40%. Phase 4 is expected to commence Jan 1 2021. RRC


Campus Updates

On the east coast, MUN is gradually reopening buildings to faculty, while on the west coast, VIU is shuttering them. The “new normal” of essential services and WFH is leading to new policies (such as at McMaster, uVic and York) and “curbside pickup” for campus libraries (at uAlberta, York, and previously we mentioned SFU)…

uAlberta libraries are preparing to offer “curbside pickup” by the end of June. UofA launched a new Remote Teaching website for instructors, and a refreshed Campus Life webpage, last week. uAlberta

McMaster has expanded the list of reimbursable WFH expenses to include office equipment and accessories, long-distance charges, printer consumables, and computer equipment. McMaster

Memorial is reopening 8 buildings on its Saint John’s campus for access by individual faculty members (at their discretion), starting today. MUN

Vancouver Island U will be “shuttering” 13 campus buildings, some indefinitely, to reduce energy consumption and custodial services. VIU

uVic provost Valerie Kuehne reminded faculty and instructors last week that they are asked to waive medical documentation requirements for the Summer and Fall terms, at the request of the BC government. uVic

York U shared details on its phased return to campus last week. York will continue WFH for most departments “until at least September,” although over the next few months it will gradually ramp up research (starting this week), introduce curbside library pickup (by Jun 29), and offer “selected in-person smaller classes and tutorials” in the fall term. Residences will remain open with reduced capacity. York




Brandon U president David Docherty has been playing the bagpipes in his driveway every Friday evening since the pandemic began, to help honour frontline workers. His repertoire includes some Scottish classics, and everything from Jesus Christ Superstar to the theme from the Flintstones. But sadly he will play his finale on Canada Day. Brandon


Friday June 19, 2020

Jet Ski Graduations and Geese Run Amok!

Naturally there’s still some sobering news to share about COVID19 and campus layoffs, details about Fall programming and physical distancing measures. UoGuelph is arranging courses so most first-year students will not need to be on campus at all this Fall, while uToronto is handing out a quarter-million branded face masks. Dalhousie shares some interesting details about the virtual student experience they have planned, and I share a reminder about National Indigenous Peoples Day.

But as always, this Friday edition winds up with some fun too: digital swag and memorable video performances at Humber’s convocation yesterday, graduation ceremonies on jet skis, mountain top, and at the Indy finish line, and geese running amok at uWaterloo!


Sobering News

A Vaccine will Likely take Years

A 12-month timeline for a COVID19 vaccine is completely unrealistic and risks the integrity of scientists, say two UoGuelph immunologists. The process typically takes “a minimum of 10 years,” and they have concerns about the science behind some vaccines currently being fast-tracked. To have any impact on the current pandemic, a vaccine would need to be deployed within the first half of 2021 – which they consider highly unlikely. “The fact is, no vaccine against a coronavirus has successfully navigated the rigours of clinical testing, despite having up to 17 years to do so.” The Conversation

Layoffs at RDC

Alberta’s Red Deer College, faced with a $5.3 M government cut and anticipated COVID19 losses, has reportedly laid off 85 employees (cumulatively) and reduced hours for others. Red Deer Advocate


Fall Programs

College of the Rockies announced yesterday that it will offer a “full slate” of programs this Fall. Most students will be learning online, with some socially-distanced hands-on learning on campus where required, such as in trades shops, nursing and dental labs, practica and co-ops. COTR

UoGuelph clarified last week its plan for hybrid course delivery this Fall. Most first-year programs will not require any F2F delivery of core courses. Upper-year undergrads may have some F2F labs or seminars, PHO guidelines permitting, but most courses will be delivered in an alternative format. More details to come in the coming weeks. UoGuelph

Olds College announced yesterday that courses this Fall will be predominantly remote, with some exceptions for F2F classes and/or labs. Specifics from an academic delivery model review will be shared by Jun 30. Phase 1 of the campus re-entry plan (Jul 6) will involve managers and facilities staff. Phase 2 (Aug 24) will gradually return operations and support staff to campus, although WFH will be encouraged where it is effective. “Our hope is that we will all be back on campus for January 2021.” Olds

Trent U announced yesterday that 26 research labs have reopened, and a return-to-campus working group is developing guidance for phases 2 and 3 of the Trent Forward plan. Trent will pilot a small number of F2F classes at each campus this summer, and will post a list of Fall/Winter courses and delivery formats in the coming days. Several dozen frontline healthcare workers stayed in the Gzowski residence this spring, which can now be prepared for student use again. Trent


Physical Distancing

uLaval announced Wednesday evening that new public health directions will allow 1.5 metres between people on campus this Fall, with a maximum of 50 people per classroom. Priority for F2F will be students with essential practical labs, and first-year students. Course delivery modes have now been published to the student portal (subject to change). uLaval

uToronto is preparing its campuses to support enhanced sanitization and physical distancing this Fall. Classrooms will be reconfigured so students sit at least 2 metres apart, and entrances and halls designated for one-way traffic where possible. Libraries and classrooms will be cleaned 5 times per week, while high-touch surfaces, doorknobs and elevator buttons will be disinfected twice daily. Thousands of touchless hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipe dispenses will be installed across all 3 campuses. UofT will provide 250,000 fabric face masks to staff and students (2 per person). UofT



uLethbridge is working to ease public access to shared recreation facilities, while respecting provincial directives to minimize people on campus. The outdoor Community Stadium will open Jun 24 for drop-in use, and group bookings will be accepted starting Jul 6. Select summer campus will be offered outdoors, and UofL hopes it can offer all summer camps in August. uLeth

MacEwan U Sport & Wellness announced earlier this month that they have moved forward with a planned expansion of the fitness facility, with expanded cardio and stretch areas and new equipment. Until the reno is complete in mid-August, the entire facility will not open. MacEwan


Virtual Student Life

Dalhousie ­­­revamped its COVID19 information pages yesterday, with an upbeat theme, “Forward. Focused.” Dal is “spending more than $1 M” on new technology, including “new online environments… so students can connect with classmates from where they are.” “Together@Dal” matches new students with upper-year mentors, one-on-one and in groups, and “Dal Student Life” is a hub gathering stories, events and announcements, created by students on the “Dal Student Life Street Team.” Dal has also “doubled the amount of financial aid” with an additional $3M for undergrads. Dal



Since Sunday is National Indigenous Peoples Day, I’ll also remind you of a couple of episodes of “Ten with Ken” focused on Indigenization (back when Vianne Timmons was at uRegina)…  




More than 2 months ago, I published a collection of intriguing approaches to virtual or socially-distanced “COVID Convocations,” both as a blog and then later as an Eduvation Bulletin. Now we can augment some of those examples…

Humber Virtual Grad 2020

Humber College launched its virtual grad celebration yesterday, including video greetings, a poem for grads, alumni shout-outs, and musical performances. The website includes a grad list, social media links, “words of wisdom,” and a Grad Shop with diploma frames, class rings, and gift combos. Oh, and a collection of “digital swag” including giphy stickers, frames, banners and stories for Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and more. Humber

Graduates Go Out with a Splash!

Some US high school graduations were particularly creative this spring. One Florida prep school handed out diplomas to graduating seniors riding jet skis. High school graduates near Daytona International Speedway got to drive a lap with their families, and cross the finish line as their names were announced. New Hampshire grads got to ride a mountain chairlift for a high-altitude ceremony. And a Texas high school used a supersized football stadium, which they could occupy at just 25% capacity. Edu Dive



Running A-Fowl at uWaterloo

6 Deans at the University of Waterloo participate in a fun, 38-sec video speculating about “what our geese have been up to on campus.” YouTube

Thursday June 18, 2020

Empty Wallets & Closed Wallets: Advancement Trends

The relative calm of campus COVID19 announcements continues today, giving us a chance to focus on fundraising trends.

Canadians are clearly pessimistic about the economy and their own financial prospects, and planning a permanent shift to a more frugal and less materialistic way of life. Fundraisers are lowering their expectations, extending campaigns and emphasizing student aid and racial justice causes, while donor cultivation visits, events, and football games fall victim to the pandemic. Institutional advancement may not fully recover until 2022, leading some institutions to borrow against their endowments, or to “unrestrict” designated funds…


The National Mood

Self-Isolation & Self-Reflection?

COVID19 rose from obscurity to become the top (unprompted) national issue in Canada in late March, according to ongoing Nanos polling – yet public concern faded somewhat in May as concerns about jobs and the economy rose. Canadians are more than twice as stressed post-COVID, and twice as likely to report their finances are worse off than they were a year ago. Just 15% believe the economy will improve in the next 6 months, while 69% expect it to get worse. But the pandemic may be fundamentally shifting our values: 33% report a greater appreciation for friends and family, 24% an interest in “returning to a simpler life,” and 14% less materialism. Positive views of the federal government have doubled, thanks to programs like the CERB. Only 12% of Canadians think we will return “to our prepandemic ways of life.” Globe & Mail


Advancement Trends

Adjust Your Campaign Expectations

COVID19’s impact on fundraising means leadership should be reconsidering staffing and structure, current and future campaigns, and long-term goals. Hiring freezes and furloughs may mean focusing on shifting advancement roles towards the highest ROI activities, like frontline fundraising and advancement services. The pandemic and recession may mean it is wise to extend campaign timelines, and postpone wrap-up celebrations until they can be held in person. You may want to back-burner new building initiatives in favour of direct student support. Bear in mind that during the 2008 recession, the “top 3 gifts” dropped by a third for most institutions. EAB

Financial Aid & Racial Justice Causes

As the pandemic wears on, PSE fundraisers are either gaining confidence or lowering their expectations. In April, just 35% had some confidence they would meet their fiscal 2020 fundraising goals; in June, 54% felt the same about their 2021 goals (which were established during the pandemic, for the year beginning July 1). 98% have cancelled travel, 92% have suspended on-campus events, and 84% have barred in-person donor meetings. Many believe it will take as much as a year to make up the revenue lost since COVID19 hit. 85% are focusing more on raising money for student financial aid, but many also report they are responding to #BlackLivesMatter protests by raising funds to hire diverse faculty or establish new research centres.  Chronicle

2021 Fundraising Pessimists

A survey of 110 higher ed chief advancement officers found that 41% of institutions are anticipating fundraising declines of 10% or more this year, and an even steeper drop next year – particularly for major gifts of $1 M or more. “Large gifts are inherently volatile.” 75% of institutions currently in the quiet phase of a campaign may delay their public launch date, and 55% have decided or are considering delaying their closing date. Almost 20% are anticipating a decline of 30%+ in donor visits this year, which means fundraising may take until 2022 to recover.  Edu Dive

Sports Fans will Wait for a Vaccine

For those institutions that count on homecoming football to maintain alumni affinity, that may also have to wait a while yet. Although 76% of Americans say they would watch broadcasts of major league sports, 72% would not feel safe attending games until a COVID19 vaccine is developed. Even if social distancing could be maintained, just 12% would attend games, and 70% think the NFL should not begin play if social distancing is still required. 84% feel the IOC acted appropriately in postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics until 2021. NY Post

Recessionary Patterns

Donors will likely “close their wallets to wait out the pandemic and resulting economic downturn,” likely for the next 2 years. Athletics, which attracts many wealthier donors to US colleges, may suffer, particularly if games and championships are suspended due to public health restrictions. Some analysts predict that unrestricted giving will decline, as it has in previous recessions, and that fundraising will improve rapidly as the economy recovers. Then again, “if you’ve seen one recession, you’ve seen one recession.” IHE

Tapping the Endowment

When institutions face dire financial pressures, even the heftiest endowment can’t help the operating budget if it is comprised of many donor-restricted funds. Some institutions borrow against their endowments, as Princeton ($500M), Stanford ($750M) and Yale ($1.5 B) are doing. Others are proposing that colleges systematically ask living donors and heirs to suspend the constraints on designated funds during the pandemic. Institutions in California and Massachusetts have asked state attorneys general to lift restrictions on gifts from deceased donors. Chronicle


Campus Updates

Memorial is reopening faculty access to the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation, Engineering and Earth Sciences buildings starting today. All should complete COVID19 awareness training, available daily via Webex.  MUN

NBCC announced 15 program suspensions for Fall (back on Jun 4, but not on the COVID19 page). Some in construction trades, welding and French were suspended based on historical trends, whereas others in Child & Youth Care, Electronics Engineering Tech, Energy Systems Tech, Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Tourism are being suspended due to uncertainties created by COVID19. NBCC

Ryerson advises that WFH will continue until at least September, and therefore is encouraging employees to assess home office ergonomic needs and office supplies.  Ryerson

Wednesday June 17, 2020

China & Internationalization

Good morning — and a special good morning to the student affairs team at uVic, with whom I’ll be speaking this morning about virtual student supports!

I can’t remember the last time there were ZERO updates on the 90 college and university websites I check every evening – but today’s the day!

So instead, let’s take a deep dive into some recent developments about international student recruitment, both to and from China. And #ICYMI, a lovely positive video from uVic!



As one of two key source countries for international students, China has disproportionate sway on enrolment and budgets for higher ed institutions around the world. Tensions with Australia, the US and even Canada have been increasing, as study permits drop, and China may become a key competitor for enrolments from across Asia…

Canadian PSE is Over-Exposed

There are 140,000 Chinese students in Canada, spending about $4 billion annually. The Chinese government could order them home, perhaps as a negotiation tactic over the detention of Huawei heiress Meng Wanzhou. (Much as it threatened Australia earlier.) That could represent “an existential issue” for some Canadian colleges and universities, compounding financial stresses from the pandemic. “If a country loves Chinese money but doesn’t like Chinese people, China surely is not willing to do business with it.” Global

Chinese Study Permits Drop 44%

Canadian study permits to Chinese nationals dropped 44% in the first 4 months of 2020, thanks to the pandemic, the economic recession, and geopolitical tensions. By comparison, study visas from India and France dropped just 29%. Out of about 150,000 Chinese citizens studying and working in Canada, 53,000 live in the Toronto region, 34,000 in Vancouver and 4,000 in Victoria. Vancouver Sun

White House Wages War of Words

Anti-China sentiment in the Trump administration has led to statements and policies that undermine international student recruitment and research partnerships. Trump reiterated conspiracy theories about COVID19 originating in a Chinese lab, and the NIH cut funding for a study into bat origins of the disease. In May, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security were given authority to deny entry or deport students or researchers with any connection to China’s military. The US has pursued investigations into its own universities, charging several professors with foreign interference and fraud. Republicans are trying to limit postgraduate work permits, and prohibit Chinese students from studying in STEM fields. The US has formally accused China of attempting to hack COVID19 research data at American universities. EAB

China Warns Students away from Australia

China’s ministries of education and tourism have issued travel advisories about so-called dangers of travelling to Australia because of a “significant increase in racist attacks on Chinese and Asian people.” Australian officials say the claims are false. Many suspect China is retaliating against Australia for refusing to permit Huawei to participate in its 5G mobile network build, and for pushing to launch an international inquiry into the emergence of COVID19 in Wuhan. Chinese students are worth $12 B to the Australian economy each year.  UWN

The “International” Loophole

The Chinese government is cracking down on “international” applicants whose parents are actually Chinese citizens. Millions of domestic students compete in the Gaokao exams for a few thousand university places – whereas international applicants face lower entrance requirements, and get better accommodations and scholarships. Starting next year, international college applicants will need to have held a foreign passport for more than 4 years, and have evidence of residing in a foreign country for half that time. PIE

Foreign Students Locked Down

Meanwhile international students in China are frustrated that they remain in strict lockdown, even though the rest of Chinese society is reopening post-pandemic. International students are not allowed to leave campus unless accompanied by a staff member, and many who were away from campus when the lockdown occurred have been told they cannot return to campus – sometimes also meaning their scholarship payments were withheld. Domestic students and university staff are apparently not subject to the same restrictions. PIE

Zoom Unsafe for Chinese Students?

Zoom has become a popular platform for emergency remote teaching, but for international students with ties to China, it could pose a major threat. Apparently Zoom suspended several accounts of dissidents located in the US and Hong Kong, when the Chinese government objected to their meetings to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre. Zoom reports it is developing technology to allow it to block illegal activity by region. Students have expressed concern about the potential that classroom discussions might be monitored by the Chinese government. UWN

Asian Universities More Competitive

Numerous internationalization experts have observed that post-COVID19, intraregional Asian student mobility may continue to rise, making China and Malaysia major higher ed destinations in their own right. Institutions in the UK and other English-speaking countries may become destinations for online learning and semesters abroad instead of full degree programs, and may need to grow transnational education programs on the ground in Asia. THE



Positivity for Incoming Frosh

Kudos to Moira, a student and campus tour guide at uVic, for a polished, compassionate and entertaining 2-min video to address incoming student anxieties about safety, boredom, and student supports in the Fall. “This is temporary, and the things you learn now, both in your classes and about your own strength, will change your life.” YouTube

Tuesday June 16, 2020

Student Wellness & Racial Justice

Sad to say, Canada has now surpassed 100,000 COVID19 cases.

Today we look at student anxiety and wellness initiatives, racial controversies and affirmative action on campus, and a number of detailed plans for returning to campus and delivering specific courses this Fall.  (It may not be entirely coincidental that the student wellness initiatives today come from Art and Design Universities: ECUAD and OCADU.)


Student Wellness

Students wrestled with increasing challenges to their finances and mental health even before a pandemic and the COVID19 recession hit. This week 2 national surveys try to quantify those concerns, and institutions are finding innovative ways to bring wellness programming into a digital student experience…

Canadian Students remain Anxious

A CASA survey of 1,000 Canadian PSE students (May 14-23) found that >70% have felt stressed, anxious, or isolated and 60% are worried about COVID19 (although less in Atlantic Canada and, surprisingly, Quebec). Two-thirds report the pandemic has impacted their finances, and 75% say it will have a lasting impact on their future finances. 52% say they are receiving good support from the federal government, although 28% either are ineligible or unsure. 41% have considered or already delayed/deferred their fall semester, and 31% have considered or already switched to part-time study. The majority do not believe online learning offers equivalent value, learning experience or support. CASA

US Students are Hungry and Homeless

When the COVID19 pandemic closed campuses, millions of students lost access to campus housing and food pantries – but those living off-campus were in fact impacted even more. A survey of 38,602 students at 54 US institutions (Apr 20 – May 15) found that 58% were experiencing food insecurity, housing insecurity, or homelessness because of the pandemic. The numbers rose to 71% of African American students and 65% of Hispanic or LatinX students. About half of students scored moderate or severe on the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale, and 63% of university students said they could not concentrate on their studies. The survey’s methodology makes it likely that the scope of the problems are understated. Hope Center

Virtual Student Wellness

Emily Carr University of Art + Design is piloting new weekly student wellness groups online, including “Cook & Connect Live, Small Space Gardening Club, Mindfulness Meditation, Time Management Workshops, Craft & Connect, and Skillshare Workshops facilitated by students.” Individual wellness coaching is also available by phone, on navigating university policies, COVID19 benefits, loneliness, new technologies, and more. ECUAD


Black Lives Matter

Since the appalling murder of George Floyd on May 25, and the ensuing protests against police brutality worldwide, issues of systemic racism and historical oppression have managed to break through the all-COVID19 news cycle. In Canada, many thoughtful statements and op-eds have been published on the subject, but some developments underscore the potential impacts on institutional brands in the longer term…

James McGill, Slave-Owner

McGill U founder James McGill owned Black and Indigenous slaves, making his statue on campus a “lightning rod” for criticism. An online petition calling for the statue’s removal has >3,200 signatures. “This is not a connection that our University is proud of, but it is a fact that neither should nor can be ignored.” Global

Fraser Clan vs The Klan

Simon Fraser University prides itself on its Scottish heritage, globally-recognized pipe band, and of course its namesake. (Full disclosure: I am myself from Clan Fraser.) But as Canada’s first NCAA school, when SFU’s varsity athletes compete in the US, their nickname “the Clan” seems to spark tensions in a country where the Ku Klux Klan openly marches in the name of white supremacy. Petitions have circulated since 2017, and a survey found that 77% of SFU athletes were in favour of changing the name, perhaps to “The Tartans.” Global

Diversity Hiring at OCADU

At a time when many institutions are laying off employees and avoiding permanent hires, OCADU has hired 5 new tenure-track faculty members who self-identify as Black peoples of African Descent, in support of the Academic Plan’s commitment to decolonization, diversity and equity. (Effectively doubling the number of black full-time faculty members.) “OCAD University is working towards structural change and to find ways to address the longstanding underrepresentation of Black faculty.” OCADU is also prioritizing the hiring of Black and Indigenous student wellness counsellors in the coming weeks. OCADU

Fall Updates

Centennial has released a “4 Rs of Stability” plan for stability and restoration during and post-pandemic, through 4 phases of recovery, guided by 12 task forces, committees and groups. Centennial

uLethbridge has published an interim list of Fall courses with details about delivery modes. Some students will even have the opportunity to complete experiential learning components of courses in a future term. Some courses cannot be offered this Fall, in Kinesiology, Drama, Music and Art. uLeth

MSVU reportedly directed department heads to cut 30% from salary budgets for part-time faculty this Fall, potentially equivalent to about 100 part-time instructors who will not be rehired. CBC

NAIT apprenticeship training will resume in September via blended delivery, “where virtual learning will be maximized and in-person shops will be offered when learning outcomes cannot be met through virtual delivery and where safety guidelines can be followed.” NAIT

UNB has released a course timetable indicating Fall courses that will be delivered in-person, remotely, or by a combination of the two. Residences and libraries will be open, with restrictions. UNB

Redeemer unveiled yesterday its framework for reopening this Fall, to “maximize the potential for on-campus, in-person learning while providing the most enriching virtual experience for those participating remotely.” Redeemer has opened a new health clinic, and will provide everyone with face masks, face shields, and a “personal, portable barrier.” The “vast majority” of courses will be offered on campus, but students will have the choice to register for in-person or remote versions. Townhouse residences of 8 will be treated as a “household.” Redeemer

Ryerson confirmed yesterday that remote work will continue “until at least September,” although managers are beginning to plan for a future return to campus. Academic planning is “well underway” for Fall, “regardless of the format of fall courses and programming.” Ryerson

StFX has reportedly laid off all its casual employees and has cancelled typical summer hiring. CBC

uWinnipeg has announced that it will deliver “the bulk of its educational instruction through alternate modes of delivery for the fall term.” uWinnipeg



Glimpses of Online Science at UBC

UBC Science has released a series of high-quality videos to welcome incoming first-year students and introduce the online experience they can expect this Fall. Karen Smith describes the breakout rooms, lectures, clicker questions and ultimately the real people teaching Biology. Elisa Baniassad describes informal social connections and boundaries at home with her students in CompSci. James Charbonneau shares his passion for explaining ideas in Physics, and some online demonstrations, simulations, chat and interactions.


Monday June 15, 2020

Pandemic Risks and Anxieties for Faculty

This morning I’ve got a plethora of campus updates about summer returns to campus, plans for the Fall term, and most impactfully, budget challenges and approaches. But first, let’s take a deeper dive into the stresses and uncertainties facing academic staff… from formal policy positions to the anxieties revealed in particularly dark humour.


Academic Labour Relations

In the past few weeks, a great deal has been written by and about higher ed faculty during and after the pandemic. Around the world, there are growing concerns about equity, precarity, intellectual property, physical and mental health, and collegial governance.

Myriad Faculty Concerns

In a new policy brief, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations expresses concern about faculty workloads, grading, student evaluations of teaching, research projects, tenure files, sabbatical leave, mental health and job security for contract faculty in a time of ongoing remote teaching – and observes that collegial governance and collective bargaining suffer when consultation is superficial or nonexistent. Women and racialized or Indigenous staff are disproportionately impacted by caregiving responsibilities, disabilities, underlying conditions, or limited internet access. OCUFA urges the ON government to replace lost international tuition and cancel the SMA3, with metrics that are “a useless and potentially destructive distraction from the important work universities must do coming out of the pandemic.” They also recommend tuition waivers for graduate students, and the elimination of the “student choice initiative,” so that student associations can be fully funded. OCUFA

Intellectual Property Rights

In the rush to emergency remote instruction, as faculty have put lectures and other course materials online, they generally retain intellectual property rights – at least for now. Under US law, classroom professors have generally been exempted from “work for hire” terms, but if institutions want to scale up online courses this may change. Purdue, for example, adopted a controversial new IP standard in October specifically covering courseware and online modules. The line between remote coursework and online courses is getting more blurred. IHE

Job Security Anxieties

The US higher ed workforce is feeling strain over COVID19. Particularly at public colleges, jobs are at risk: >250 job actions have been announced, particularly for furloughs (58%) or layoffs (35%).  More than 30% of PSE employees are over age 55 and therefore more vulnerable. More than half of non-tenure-track instructors have no access to paid sick leave. Risk is calculated as higher for faculty in Nursing, Drama, Music and Architecture than in lecture-based disciplines. Chronicle

Coerced to Risk their Health

Although the majority of US colleges are insistent that they will return to in-person instruction this Fall, some faculty members are concerned about health risks. At Notre Dame, 140 signed a petition demanding the right to make their own decisions about teaching in-person. “Faculty members are not soldiers. Faculty members are… civilians with basic civil rights to protect their lives and their health in the workplace.” Reasonable accommodations are available to at-risk populations, with medical documentation, but critics say the process is “coercive,” particularly for contract faculty. Grad students, who often lead small labs and seminars, and are comparatively young, are most likely to be put at risk in a return to campus. Chronicle

Minority Academics Bear the Brunt

If UK universities face financial struggles, the pain will be felt most amongst Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic faculty (BAME). Already an underrepresented group in the academy, and disproportionately impacted by the health effects of the pandemic, BAME staff are typically at the most junior levels, on fixed-term contracts, and therefore most vulnerable to layoff or non-renewal. BAME academics also disproportionately work for teaching-intensive institutions which will struggle most with declining enrolment – and are getting the least pandemic funding from government. The momentum of #BlackLivesMatter and decolonization of the curriculum will be lost if a generation of BAME scholars disappear. The Guardian

Worst-Case Scenarios

If the pandemic continues into 2021, futurist Bryan Alexander anticipates layoffs and furloughs may mean heavier teaching loads for the faculty members who remain. Class sizes may expand in subjects like Nursing and Gerontology, while support for research unrelated to COVID19 may wane. Budgets will be tight for library acquisitions, staffing, and conference travel, and some students may continue to prefer remote participation in hyflex courses. Traditional governance may be supplemented through some form of emergency management body. Faculty will need to work more closely than ever before with IT staff, mental health counsellors, residence life staff, instructional designers and more. Chronicle

Nervous Laughter

Dark humour has also taken note of campus labour relations. A satirical memo from a fictional VP Academic thanks everyone for their cooperation “during the unprecedented crisis of this past semester,” before observing that “our adjuncts were euthanized in an orderly fashion,” and “as predicted, a new crop of unemployed PhDs is already applying to take their places.” Most darkly, he observes that “by a happy coincidence, the population of our highest-paid faculty overlaps with the demographics of those most at risk for COVID-19,” and therefore the institution will not be instituting any social distancing precautions this Fall. McSweeney’s


Budget Updates

uAlberta held a virtual town hall on Jun 2 (it just took me this long to find an hour to watch it) in which president-elect Bill Flanagan outlined his proposed structural changes to address a $110 M budget cut (although the province has since softened that a bit). “I did not take this job to manage… the decline of a great university.” There is already an “incredible sense of loss” at the university over the layoffs of >1,000 employees. Flanagan proposes a restructuring to save $120 M by streamlining the 18 faculties by spring, reducing low-enrolment courses, and rationalizing and centralizing services. Data suggests UofA should rank higher, considering its research budget, and he believes redirecting administrative costs and encouraging more interdisciplinarity could address that. 57% of staff are administrative and 43% of those are generalists. UofA has a 50% larger physical footprint than its Canadian comparators, driving up maintenance costs. He proposes UofA exit some leased premises to reduce that footprint. YouTube

Brandon U president David Docherty wrote staff on Friday to assure them that they will not be asked to take pay cuts or unpaid days off, despite a 1% budget cut from the province. The budget has reportedly found savings “that don’t involve people.” So far, Fall enrolments look promising, although first-year is down slightly. Brandon Sun


Fall Updates

Acadia U will push back the start of classes until Sep 21, to allow time for students to self-isolate upon arrival, and to undertake preparatory programming to ensure their success in a virtual/hybrid model. Acadia

Algoma U announced that classes will be online this Fall, due to concerns of a possible second wave of COVID19. In-class instruction will be delayed until the Winter term at the earliest. Domestic enrolments are up this year, and particularly from local students. Overall enrolment is expected to decline due to border and travel restrictions: international enrolment is currently down 7%. Campus housing will operate at 50% capacity. Sault Star

BCIT president Kathy Kinloch’s Friday update explained 3 key themes to retaining and recruiting students: academic quality, clarity about delivery, and confidence in health and safety. Recruiters are active in virtual information sessions, recruitment fairs, extended phone hours, and chat technology. YouTube

Capilano U is making progress on its plans for Fall, and details of the 4 modes of delivery for courses (Online, In-person, Mixed, or Off-site) will be published when course registration opens Jul 6. CapU

UBC president Santa Ono shared his weekly update, indicating that details regarding orientation, residences, and academic course delivery will be shared soon. YouTube

StFX will be announcing its plans for Fall on Friday, Jun 19. StFX

St Lawrence College published program details for this Fall. A quick review of Kingston programming suggests that one-third of programs will include on-campus components, and about 5% have not yet been confirmed to be active. SLC

uWindsor administration hosted a one-hour virtual town hall last week, outlining plans for virtual Welcome Week activities, a 4-phase return to campus, and the “zone and flow analysis” to prepare for it. uWindsor is currently forecasting a $20M shortfall, and developing budget measures and reviewing HR needs to ensure a balanced budget. The hope is that it may be possible to switch from “primarily online with rare exceptions F2F” in the Fall term, to “primarily F2F with rare exceptions online” in the Winter term – depending on the PHO, of course. YouTube


Returning to Campus

McMaster U is preparing to allow faculty and instructors to return to campus to prepare for online lectures, in a phased approach over the next few months. A booking system launched last week, to ensure physical distancing. Access to offices for purposes other than research or course preparation is not yet available. McMaster

Memorial U is poised to welcome individual faculty to return tomorrow to the Science, Chemistry/Physics, and Arts & Administration buildings. Doors remain secured, Deans are monitoring density, the return to campus is at the discretion of individual faculty, and WFH continues to be encouraged where possible. MUN

Mohawk College reports that 1,100 students will have the option to return to campus in July and August, to complete the practical portion of their courses. Mohawk

Red River College interim president Christine Watson announced Friday plans for a 4-phase “re-entry” to campus, moving through restricted access, limited access, and ultimately full access. The Academic Re-entry Team (ART) will work with each program individually, with a priority on stranded students and critical industry training and research. At all RRC campuses, directional signage, floor markings, physical barriers, designated entrances and more will be in place by the end of June. Where’s Watson?

UNBC advises that some student services employees will return to campus in September, but people are expected to continue working remotely wherever possible. UNBC

UPEI begins Stage 2 of its operational ease-back plan today. Campus operating hours are extended to 8am-5pm, meetings of up to 15 people are again permitted (with physical distancing), and employees with individual offices or adequate space can return to work on campus. Campus fitness centre and summer campus will also be opening shortly. More students will return for research and clinical practice. Details on fall course delivery, which will be hybrid, will also be shared later today. UPEI

Friday June 12, 2020

Promising Signs of a Bumper Crop this Fall?

It’s been another busy day of campus announcements across Canada. Many institutions are pleased with the prospect of a bumper crop of students enrolled this Fall. Others have clarified plans for Fall delivery or a summer return to campus for researchers or “stranded” Winter term students.

And last but not least – I’ve got a couple of pretty effective commercials to share with you, from Western Australia and Northern Ontario!


Enrolments in Ontario

Over the past few weeks, plenty of institutions across the country have been delighted to report higher than usual spring and summer enrolments, despite courses being moved online. (Of course, this could be driven by student unemployment, the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, and the desire to pick up an online course or two in order to take a lighter course load in the Fall.) Now, many institutions are announcing with great relief that their application volumes are on target for the Fall, and in some cases even that their confirmed offers are on track.

Of course, the numbers don’t look nearly as rosy for small northern institutions, or for colleges overall – whose applications are down 9% across the province.

The next challenge will be that many students are still optimistically hoping for a return to normal, and the majority who have indicated they would defer if forced to take online courses might still do so before September. (Some institutions have made it clear that deferrals are available.)

As well, many students would be well advised to take a part-time online course load, instead of full-time – so the impact on full-time equivalent students may not become clear until actual course registrations are complete. (Or in the case of institutions offering a money-back guarantee, the impact won’t be clear until after October 9.)

Ontario universities overall report 103,426 confirmed offers of admission – about a 1% increase over last year’s 102,289 at this time. Globe & Mail

Fanshawe College reports they have received 27,000 first-year applications, a decline of less than 2% in domestic, in-province applications – and international applications are actually up from last year. So far, 7,000 domestic students have confirmed (26%). Many international students will be studying online from home for the Fall term. London Free Press

Laurentian U, where the first on-campus COVID19 cases were reported in the province, indicates that Ontario confirmations are down 14% compared to last year at this time. Globe & Mail

Ontario Tech reports confirmations are down about 10% over last year at this time. (That may have prompted the student experience guarantee, announced last month.) Globe & Mail

uToronto reports that confirmations from Ontario high school students are down 9% from last year, but overall numbers are up 4%, thanks to increased applications from outside Ontario and a nearly 20% jump in international confirmations. Globe & Mail

Western U reports that domestic applications from within Ontario have held steady for this Fall, declining only by 0.2% over last year. Western anticipated some students might defer due to uncertainty, and “made more offers.” Out of province applications dipped 8.4%, and international applications dropped 13%. HS confirmations are up 28% from last year, while international confirmations are down 10%. London Free Press

And outside Ontario…

McGill U reports a “very strong signal from our newly admitted students confirming their acceptance to join the thousands of already-registered returning students in the fall.” McGill is working on virtual welcome and orientation activities, peer networking, mentoring, virtual student interest groups, community engagement and work experiences. McGill


Campus Updates

Algonquin College announced yesterday that it will be offering 94% of its planned programs this Fall, largely remotely or a combination of remote and select on-campus activities. Unfortunately 16 returning program levels cannot be offered, impacting 134 students. Algonquin

Camosun College president Sherri Bell observes that the big challenge will be bringing employees and students back to campus safely. “Safe Start Camosun” allows instructors to make the case for part of their courses to be done on-campus, where necessary. As for finances: “no matter which way we look at it, we’re going to be facing financial pressures.” YouTube

Centennial College is “ready to proceed” with on-campus labs next month for stranded students, and childcare services. Labs

Concordia University of Edmonton president Tim Loreman explains in a new video that CUE’s Fall delivery will remain “predominantly remote,” despite Alberta’s move to phase 2 of reopening. As measures ease, some on-campus social activities may be possible. YouTube

Dalhousie shared more details about Fall yesterday. In-person instruction will be offered only when required to fulfil accreditation requirements, such as in Medicine, Dentistry, selected Health and Veterinary professions. “Every online class will be different” depending on the instructor, but will be primarily asynchronous and based on principles of access, flexibility, interactivity, etc. Residences will be open in a limited capacity this Fall. Dal

Fanshawe College launched an “FAQ” interview video series yesterday (“Fanshawe Answers Questions”), by tackling some key student questions about fees and tuition, student services, and program delivery this Fall. Fanshawe has extended the fee payment deadline to Jul 22, and is encouraging online payment by credit card or Flywire. Students will have the option to defer enrolment to the January intake. YouTube

Fleming College announced yesterday that it is “currently determining when we can schedule selected short-term boot camps to enable stranded students to complete their studies from the Winter and Spring semesters. We are developing plans to run a small number of programs related to essential services during the summer.” Fleming

UoGuelph announced that in-person summer camps and all on-campus events are cancelled until September, that the Fall varsity athletics season is cancelled. The Gryphon Clubhouse will offer online children’s programs this summer. UoG

McGill U reports that Phase 2 of the “research ramp-up” has gone well over the past 2 weeks, and that Phase 3 will begin the week of Jun 22. Only “approved necessary activities” are currently allowed, but the EOC is “beginning to look at selectively authorizing some on-campus operations and practical teaching activities that cannot be carried out remotely.’ Directives and criteria have been published to the site. McGill

Mount St Vincent U announced yesterday that new students can “get a jump start on their studies” in summer session 2 (starting Jul 6). MSVU

Trent U expects “upwards of 50” faculty and researchers to resume critical research operations in 22 labs by next week, in Phase 1 of the “Trent Forward” plan. In the next phase, campus tours will resume with new protocols, and some nursing labs will begin to open in July. Course delivery details will be available by mid-July. Larger common areas will be reopened “to support students participating in summer online classes.” Trent

uWindsor outlined plans for a “primarily online” Fall this week at a virtual town hall. Ten working groups are developing plans to ensure health and safety, analyze traffic flow and establishing protocols for social distancing, cleaning and PPE. UW is bracing for a $20 M shortfall. Windsor Star



As usual, I try to share some noteworthy marketing examples with you on Fridays.  Today, a couple of brand new, moving and effective spots, and a visual history of COVID19 on a campus…  

U Western Australia released several new spots this week in the “Seek Wisdom” campaign, like this 1:00 min ad, “What is Wisdom?” “Boy, do we need some right now… While the smart are talking, the wise are listening… Wisdom is our shared journey…” YouTube

Sault College released a moving :30 sec recruitment spot this week: “The World Needs You. Now, More than Ever.” YouTube

Centennial College has published an infographic depicting the college’s “Journey through COVID19” (so far). Infographic

uWindsor has launched a comprehensive news and FAQ page for the Fall term at


Thursday June 11, 2020

Chomping at the Bit, with Restraint

The general public in Alberta and Ontario are chomping at the bit (to use a “Stampede” metaphor) to get on with stage 2 of reopening their economies tomorrow. (Despite the fact that Ontario’s COVID19 cases have plateaued more than declined, and the Premier and two cabinet ministers went in for testing yesterday.)

In the past day or so, announcements from Alberta institutions have been emphasizing caution, continuing WFH, online learning, and procedures for very gradual returns to campus.

In Ontario, on the other hand, the government just announced that select students will be able to return to campus next month, prompting a flurry of excited announcements from 6 Ontario colleges who want to help their “stranded students” complete their programs.

Except for Sheridan, whose president was warning yesterday about enrolment challenges, and unveiled some aggressive initiatives to recruit students, including a money-back guarantee like Ontario Tech’s


Rescuing Stranded Students

The Ontario government announced yesterday that “stranded students” unable to graduate from “essential” programs would be allowed to return to campuses in July, prompting a flurry of college media releases and announcements – although the decision seems to affect universities too…

Ontario Students can Return in July

Ontario’s Minister of Colleges & Universities announced yesterday that winter term PSE students who were not able to graduate due to campus closures can return to campus starting in July for “limited in-person education and training.” The first phase emphasizes essential frontline students such as those in Nursing, PSW, and Engineering programs. “Our students, researchers and postsecondary community in Ontario have stepped up in a big way to support our frontline health care workers,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Now, we have to have their backs and make sure our students can keep learning, in class or virtually, and become the next generation of frontline heroes, innovators and community builders.” Detailed health and safety guidance will follow “in the coming days.” Ontario

Algonquin was one of the first to issue a media release “praising” the decision as “tremendous news.” Students will return in July in Massage Therapy, Cardiovascular Technology, Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Welding and Fabrication Technician, Automotive Service Technician and Forestry. Algonquin

George Brown summarized the announcement. GBC

Humber explained that the pilot project will be available to “academically stranded” students, close to graduation except for “a limited number of hours of in-person/hands-on instruction or experience.” Humber

Mohawk warned that “while this is encouraging news, it is important to note that the college is not resuming full operations at this time… The college will be gradually opening up labs and classrooms during the months of July and August for students who were unable to complete the in-person components of their programs during the Winter [and Spring/Summer] 2020 semesters.” Top priority will be given to health care, community services, engineering, skilled trades and apprenticeship programs. Mohawk

St Lawrence echoed the province’s “exciting news,” but cautioned that select students from the Winter term will return to campus only as a “pilot,” and that several more weeks’ preparation will be required to put social distancing measures in place.  SLC  

Seneca observed that “fewer than 300 students” are affected by this announcement, “in programs with significant in-person components that can only be done in labs.”  Seneca


Moving Forward Cautiously

Announcements in Alberta over the past day or so have emphasized that PSE campuses are not affected by tomorrow’s move to Phase 2, and that the goal remains to bring as few people to campus as possible…

uAlberta announced yesterday that, although the province is lifting some restrictions Jun 12, the UofA will move into its own Phase 2 “likely starting in July,” when it will lift some restrictions regarding libraries, indoor recreation, and gatherings on campus. Remote work will remain the norm. uAlberta

Athabasca U announced on Tuesday that it “will not be reopening any of its facilities to the public at this time… As a digital university, Athabasca University is fortunate to have the infrastructure in place to help learners complete their studies from home at their own pace.” AthabascaU

uLethbridge is preparing to gradually ease restrictions for campus access this summer, although the province has directed PSE to “limit in-person attendance on campus as much as possible.” UofL published criteria on Tuesday for faculty members to apply for campus access, starting Jun 12, for critical or time-sensitive research. UofL is also attempting to measure faculty demand for office work “where the home space is not optimal or causes undue hardship.” uLeth

SAIT finally announced yesterday that it will “deliver the majority of Fall 2020 programming online… Classes will be delivered remotely, supported by virtual meeting technology and simulations. We are looking at delivering a limited number of in-person labs and classes on campus, with start dates yet to be determined.” Individual program details will be finalized by the end of June. SAIT


Recruiting Aggressively

Sheridan is budgeting based on a potential 21% decline in domestic enrolment this Fall, and 42% decline internationally. They have identified 4 enrolment recovery strategies: 1) launching flexible microcredentials and grad certificates; 2) engaging stakeholders “to co-create a forward-thinking vision for what higher education needs to become”; 3) creating an array of supports for faculty, staff and students to thrive in remote environments; and 4) establishing a “Fall Promise” or “experience guarantee” and “aggressive marketing and communications campaign.” Students will be offered reduced fees, half the deposit, flexible payment plans, and the option to withdraw without financial penalty until Oct 9. Sheridan


Clarifying for Fall

UoGuelph has “refined” its hybrid approach to Fall, explaining that “the majority of our classes [will] be delivered online or in an alternative format. Nonetheless, we have the capacity for up to 25% of our courses or partial course material to be taught in a face-to-face format.” Residences will only be available to international students and those in special circumstances. UoGuelph

McMaster has published a detailed rationale about “Tuition in the Age of COVID19,” explaining that fees for online learning are not being reduced because of the significant investment in “instructors, technology and experts.” Each Faculty will be assigned educational developers “to provide training and consultation on pedagogy, course design and educational technologies.” McMaster

Saskatchewan Polytechnic president Larry Rosia wrote yesterday that, despite the province’s plan to resume K-12 classes in-person this Fall, PSE will continue with a combination of online/distance instruction and limited in-person teaching. SK’s CMOH explains, “anything that can be done remotely or virtually is better… I think that recommendation will remain as long as there is a pandemic in the world.” SaskPoly


Wednesday June 10, 2020

Fall Videos & Falling Rankings

As we pass 7 million COVID19 cases worldwide, it’s reassuring to know that some 62 million cases were prevented or delayed by swift government actions. That being said, the pandemic is still far from over…

UK universities are slipping in the QS world rankings, more than a third of international students say they will defer study abroad, and I’ve got a collection of recent #cdnPSE videos about the Fall, from BCIT’s carpentry shop adapted for social distancing, to McGill’s ventures into online hands-on learning, and more!


It’s Not Over Yet…

Reminders that COVID19 Isn’t Over

As some provinces reopen for business, here are some sobering thoughts. Worldwide, we set a new record for the biggest spike in COVID19 cases on Sunday. New Brunswick has twice announced that all known cases were resolved, but they have seen a resurgence this week. In Hamilton, about 40% of recent cases were young people in their 20s. Canada has tested far fewer people than dozens of other countries, including the US, so the actual number of cases in circulation is likely “many times higher” than we think. And the combination of an over-hasty reopening and “quarantine fatigue” may lead to an “explosive” second wave. “This pandemic is only over for people who don’t survive it.” CTV

Epidemiologists wouldn’t Risk It

A survey of 511 epidemiologists finds that half would vacation overnight this summer, but many would wait until Fall to get a haircut, attend a small dinner party, send kids to daycare, or eat at a dine-in restaurant. Many would wait more than 12 months to exercise at a gym, attend a wedding or funeral, attend church, shake hands or stop routinely wearing a face mask – and 6% will never shake hands again. 64% would wait more than a year to attend a sporting event, concert, or play – and 18% would wait a year before working in a shared office. NYT



UK Universities Losing Prestige

Thanks to Brexit and budget cuts, declining research impact and student:faculty ratios, and declining international student numbers, three-quarters of UK universities have slipped in the QS World University Rankings for the fourth year running (since the Brexit vote). MIT, Stanford, and Harvard held on to the top 3 spots, but other US institutions have lost ground. 26 Asian universities (in China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan) have risen into the top 100, contributing to the dislocation of others. Guardian

International Deferrals – An Update

QS has released updated results from their survey of 30,000 prospective international students, as of the end of May, with 4 months of trend data on some questions. Although 61% claimed COVID19 had notaffected their plans back in February, by May only 12% could say the same. The latest stats show that 64% of prospective international students have changed their study abroad plans because of COVID, and 60% of those plan to delay/defer a year. 40% are “not at all interested” in studying online, while 46% would be willing to start online – but largely they would expect a 20-50% discount on tuition fees. QS


Campus Updates

Dalhousie published guidance yesterday for the gradual return of staff to campus, starting with Phase 1, tentatively to begin Jul 2. Phase 1 will return a maximum of 25% of university-wide personnel. Future phases will be determined by the public health situation. Dal

JIBC launched a “dynamic and informative” new website on Monday, with a responsive, modular, mobile-friendly design, streamlined navigation, and colourful images of diverse students in training scenarios. ENC

Trinity Western plans to double its healthcare staff on campus this Fall, and will set aside some dorm rooms for quarantine and isolation. 12 COVID19 task forces are reimagining programs and delivery, facilities, finance, and more. TWU was fortunate to enter the pandemic with zero bank debt, but did have to resort to layoffs to prepare for a challenging year. YouTube



Institutions are starting to produce videos to help their students imagine what classes may be like this Fall, online or under social distancing restrictions. A couple of them are really helpful for us all:

One of the most helpful videos shows how BCIT Carpentry students have already returned to the campus with enhanced social distancing, hand hygiene, sneeze guards, outdoor shop classes, and smaller projects to be built in 8×8′ cubicles. YouTube

Last month I shared an illuminating 6-min video from McGill demonstrating a range of remote hands-on learning experiences. YouTube

And if you’re looking for some other examples:

NBCC seemed to announce its Fall semester plans for blended delivery first via a slick 1-min video. YouTube

Mount Allison provost Jeff Ollerhead describes 3 types of flexible Fall 2020 course delivery in this 5:30 min video. YouTube

Trinity Western U president Mark Husbands spoke with student union president Daniela Diaz Lombardo to clarify details for “Fall expectations.”  YouTube



Tuesday June 9, 2020

Scapegoating Scientists & Celebrating in NZ

Today I’ll be (virtually) in Victoria, speaking to the WESTSSAA meeting about “Postsecondary Post-COVID.”

Yesterday was a day of well-deserved celebration in New Zealand, while in the UK, higher ed grows increasingly anxious about multi-billion-dollar losses in international student enrolments. Worldwide, >136,000 new cases of COVID19 were reported on Sunday, breaking a new record. And around the world, concern is growing that the pandemic is making scientists into populist scapegoats. Plus a raft of varsity athletics announcements, cutbacks at MSVU, and NSCC is only the second institution in the country to make a decision about program delivery in the Winter 2021 term…


Pandemic Victory in New Zealand?

Everyone outside New Zealand can be forgiven for wishing Jacinda Ardern were our prime minister: she has addressed public health crises swiftly and successfully, from banning semiautomatic weapons in less than a week, to locking down the country and successfully eradicating the last case of COVID19. After 17 days without a new case, and the recovery of the last patient, she announced yesterday that NZ can return to unfettered public and private events, retail, hospitality and domestic travel. The borders remain closed, impacting the tourism and higher ed sectors, and quarantine will be a key issue as they reopen.  Global


UK Trends

$700 M Loss from East Asian Students

Based on a new survey, the British Council projects at least a 20% decline in East Asian students coming to the UK this year. 14,000 fewer students from China, Singapore, Malaysia and 5 other countries would result in a Ł460 M loss for universities in tuition and other fees next year alone (about $700 M Cdn). That doesn’t even include continuing students, or the 40% of Chinese students who have yet to decide: in the worst case, the loss could be Ł2.3 B. The survey of 15,536 students found that 29% of prospective international students were likely to delay or cancel, and the majority would rather postpone than begin online this Fall.  Guardian

Asian PostGrads Most Likely to Defer

The British Council details the results and analysis of their survey in a 12-min video. The survey of 15,536 prospective students in 8 key Asian markets finds that about 40% of Chinese respondents are “on the fence,” and have been so since late March.  Students in Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam are most likely to cancel or delay study abroad, particularly those interested in 1-year postgrad programs. Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore applicants are more likely to be undergraduate, who are somewhat lesslikely to defer. New East Asian enrolments may decline anywhere from 12% to 61% – and that is likely an underestimate, because of response bias. Among students likely to change their plans, 48% would study in their own country, while 4% would likely choose Canada. YouTube


Public Trust in Science

Will the pandemic increase or undermine public trust in science, research and higher ed institutions? We can hope, of course, but so far the evidence is discouraging…

Germans Now Trust Science More

Back on May 8, I reported that at least in Germany, a positive side-effect of the COVID19 pandemic was that public trust in science and researchers seemed to be rising. Four times as many Germans “wholeheartedly” trusted science and researchers this year compared to last (although it was still just 36%). A possible explanation for the shift is public anxiety for information about COVID19 has led them to pay closer attention to scientific explanations and methods. THE

French Believe Scientists are Hiding Truth

Surveys in France have found that confidence in scientists has dropped from 84% in mid-March, to 74% in late May, driven in part by policy reversals about wearing face masks (which also caused frustration and confusion in Canada). Moreover, 36% of respondents believe scientists are “hiding information about the coronavirus from the public,” in part because of ongoing debates about the merits of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID19 treatment. Didier Raoult, a populist researcher in Marseilles, has been a vocal advocate in French media, and a study in The Lancet which debunked the drug was retracted last week.  THE

US Democrats Trust Science More

This year, Americans are expressing greater confidence than ever in scientists, doctors and medical researchers to act ethically and in the best interests of the public – but attitudes differ along partisan lines. Those who lean Democrat have increased from 37% to 53% with a great deal of confidence in medical scientists, while Republicans have dropped slightly from 32% to 31%. Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to believe in the importance of social distancing and COVID19 testing, that the US has a higher infection rate than other nations, and that scientists should take an active role in science policy. Some of the difference can be explained by higher levels of education among Democrats. PEW Research

Trusting Science, Scapegoating the Scientists

A new study from the London School of Economics, “Revenge of the Experts,” observes that confidence in science is usually maintained, but trust in scientists themselves is often undermined, for 18-25 year-olds who live through an epidemic. The result is driven in particular by those with “little or no science education,” and influenced by politicians who scapegoat scientists. Those who experience an epidemic before or after their “formative years” do not significantly change their perceptions, based on data from 160 countries since 1970. (FWIW, trust in science and scientists is highest in Canada, the US and Australia.)  THE

Coronavirus Backlash against Scientists

Because politicians find it convenient to “hide behind scientists” as they announce unpleasant news or unpopular restrictions, international policy experts warn of a potential backlash. “Scientists have become the face of a set of policy decisions that have profound implications for people’s freedom.” Scientific advisors have been “subject to death threats, newspaper exposés, and online hate.” Conspiracy theorists blame Anthony Fauci for undermining Donald Trump, who himself likes to suggest that COVID19 originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In the UK, Neil Ferguson resigned his advisory position after The Daily Telegraph revealed he had broken his own lockdown restrictions. THE



Yesterday, AUS, OUA, U SPORTS and Canada West announced the suspension of competition until Jan 2021 in their conferences, prompting several institutional announcements…

Acadia U reaffirmed its commitment to supporting student-athletes and “developing solutions to address the competition hiatus.” “Acadia Athletics is committed to delivering an alternate sport model that allows student-athletes to develop, train, and compete within parameters provided by public health authorities.” Acadia

Bishop’s U announced yesterday that it “plans to offer varsity sports in 2021-21,” despite the suspension and cancellation of most athletics championships this fall. AUS, OUA, Canada West and U Sports have cancelled national competitions, although RSEQ and CUFLA remain scheduled. Bishop’s will honour scholarships regardless. Gaiters

uCalgary shared the Canada West decision, observing that decisions about individual sports (golf, cross-country, swimming) will be made by Jul 15. Dinos

uSask has cancelled the first term seasons for Huskies football and soccer. “It is important to make this decision now to give Huskie student-athletes certainty as they begin to plan for the fall, including whether they plan to relocate based on the delivery model of their respective colleges. All Huskie student-athletes will continue to receive the supports necessary for their success even without the fall season, including physiotherapy, nutrition, strength and conditioning, mental health supports, access to training facilities as well as academic and coaching supports.” uSask

uWaterloo shared the OUA decision, indicating, “while this provides clarity for the fall competitive season, we will now focus on supporting our student-athletes as they digest the impact of this announcement, and continue to work on their academic success, while preparing next steps, once permitted, to allow student-athletes to return to train, and prioritize their wellbeing.” uWaterloo


Campus Updates

uCalgary launched a new Fall 2020 Term FAQ page. uCalgary

MSVU is cutting part-time instruction by 30% for the Fall term, in anticipation of an expected decline in enrolment. “We’re attempting to balance a high-quality academic experience and student supports with a sustainable and prudent response to our changed operating context.” Chronicle Herald

NSCC announced yesterday that its 130+ programs will be offered either fully online (synchronous or asynchronous) or through a blended format, throughout the entire 2020-21 academic year. (So far only the second Canadian institution to announce plans for Winter 2021 term.) NSCC

Yukon U has approval from the CMOH to proceed with summer kids’ camps starting Jun 15, in groups of eight, with appropriate health and safety measures. YukonU


Monday June 8, 2020

Paradigm Shift for Student Supports & Libraries

Today I want to highlight a series of articles about students: the historic challenges faced by the class of 2020, how we need to adapt our services and pedagogy to recognize the trauma of the pandemic, how to keep students engaged, encourage resilience and provide a range of services virtually. Speaking of which, also some interesting ideas about a paradigm shift for campus libraries, and a new national OER initiative.

Plus, of course, a weekend’s worth of campus updates… Note in particular that Conestoga has projected $65M in COVID19 costs, and laid off 60 staff to start addressing budget challenges.


Supporting Students

The Class of COVID19

The class of 2020 were in preschool on 9/11, entered college with the election of Donald Trump, missed half their final semesters and convocations, and graduated into the worst employment market since the Great Depression. “We stepped into the world as it was starting to fall apart.” Roosevelt’s “New Deal” launched government programs that employed 3 million youth in the 1930s, and those young people grew up to be the selfless “Greatest Generation” who fought in WWII. Gen Z want to see government step up again now. Time

The Challenge of Equity

The COVID19 lockdown and resulting campus closures have underscored the way in which a residential campus can act as a leveller, equalizing some of the disadvantages of less privileged students by providing them with equal housing, internet access, dining, fitness, and social opportunities. Under months of enforced remote learning, students with private study space, reliable wifi and less household stress have immense advantages in learning. If online learning continues, inequities may be exacerbated: institutions need to find new ways to support at-risk students. IHE

Trauma-Informed Teaching

Even before the pandemic, half of students felt “very lonely” and 40% were depressed. Now, they are experiencing stress, anxiety and even trauma, which hijacks the brain’s capacity to learn. To teach effectively in a crisis, instructors need to help students feel safe, ensure clarity and transparency, encourage peer support, normalize their feelings, share power and decision-making, be sensitive to racial and intersectional issues, and impart a sense of purpose and hope. IHE

Keeping Current Students Engaged

Institutions have moved the academic experience online, but need to focus on student experience, campus traditions, celebrations and milestone moments for displaced students. If they don’t return to campus, bring experiences to them virtually, like Texas A&M’s “Aggie Muster,” Juilliard’s remote “Bolero” performance, USC’s online workouts, or Dartmouth’s virtual meditation. Video messages, social media templates, and campus livestreams can maintain connections while students are apart. IHE

Post-Traumatic Growth

In the name of student resilience, campuses have launched wellness programs, campaigns, and courses to promote meditation, yoga, reflective writing and stress management. Now, faced with a global pandemic, do we promote grit and encourage students to bounce back from hardship, or do we focus on compassion and empathy? Anxiety, loneliness, financial setbacks and relocation have negatively impacted the mental health of at least 80% of college students. Uncertainty and needless confusion are the stressors we can minimize through regular, clear communication. Grit and resilience are not personality traits; they are developed with practice. “While post-traumatic stress is one possible outcome… there’s also the possibility of post-traumatic growth.” Chronicle

Meeting Student Expectations

Institutions must take a holistic approach to the “increasingly expansive expectations” of students, beyond academics and employment outcomes. Enrolment should be personalized, course registration should be “frictionless and Amazon-like,” VR and wayfinding apps should simplify the physical campus, and big data can be mined to identify outstanding instructors, or to provide timely “nudges” toward the resources a student needs. EAB


Libraries & Resources

Paradigm Shift for Academic Libraries

In the wake of COVID19, the Dean of Libraries at Clemson predicts print collections will become even more “irrelevant” and a “barrier to access,” mass digitization efforts will redouble, OERs and open-access research will grow, and journals will be purchased à la carte. Campus libraries will focus on touchless interactions and self-serve options, librarians will be “embedded” into the LMS, will “co-teach” and hold virtual office hours. The website is now the library’s “front door,” while social distancing will change collaborative study spaces, and public computers may become “a thing of the past.” Librarians will be actively involved in addressing key issues like copyright, open access and the digital divide.  IHE

OERs in Time for Fall

The McConnell Foundation has provided start-up funding for a consortium of Canadian universities to rapidly curate, develop and deploy OERs for high-priority first-year courses in time for Fall. The goal is “to create the widest possible selection of discrete, shareable, open resources to be made available to faculty members” without duplicated effort. Participating institutions include uWindsor, York, uOttawa, Carleton, CUE, uAlberta, uManitoba, NSCAD, and CBU.  McConnell


Campus Updates

Conestoga laid off about 60 full-time support staff, effective Jun 15 – about half the number originally projected. They hope to bring Winter and Spring students back on campus as early as mid-July to complete hands-on components. President John Tibbitts writes, “Decreased revenue expectations combined with increased costs and an uncertain future create an ongoing sustainability challenge that must be carefully and proactively managed. This is not a short-term issue: the current situation could persist for as long as 18-24 months.” Conestoga estimates the COVID19 budget shortfall will be at least $65M. Conestoga

Fairleigh Dickinson U Vancouver will deliver the majority of courses remotely this Fall, with “selected face to face instruction.” The campus will be open with staff onsite “on a rotating and necessary basis,” and social distancing, PPE and symptom monitoring as required by the PHO.

uManitoba has launched “UM Café,” an online platform powered by Ten Thousand Coffees, to network students, alumni and industry partners, and connect mentors and mentees. (The platform is free for #CdnPSE sponsored by RBC FutureLaunch.)  UM

Memorial has released guiding principles for a phased resumption of campus activity, under NL’s 5-level approach. (The province is scheduled to move to Level 3 today.) “We are cautious, but happy to anticipate resumption of some semblance of normalcy on our campuses.” More details to follow this week. MUN

UPEI has shared details of Stage 2 of its Operational Ease-Back plan, to come into effect Jun 15. Campus operating hours will extend to 8am-5pm, indoor meetings of up to 15 people will be permitted, and employees with individual office space are permitted to return to campus. Some Nursing and Veterinary students will be on campus for small-group teaching. UPEI

Saint Mary’s U (Halifax) announced Friday that all courses will be delivered online from Sept through Dec, but “it may be possible to have safe and responsible in-person social experiences… from student life programming, campus activities to interactions with researchers and peers.” SMU

Nipissing clarified on Friday that “Fall term classes will be delivered online in asynchronous and limited synchronous (real-time) formats. …Courses will not have set meeting days or times, however some labs and/or tutorials or other course based activities may have scheduled online meeting times.” Nipissing

Western has postponed Phase 2 of its return to campus, originally scheduled for Jun 9, until Jul 2, due to Ontario’s extension of its state of emergency. To recognize the Canada Day holiday, Western will be taking a 4-day “extended weekend” Jun 26-Jul 2. UWO

Friday June 5, 2020

Bleak Predictions, Bold Ideas, and Fun Videos

I’ve been accused of being a pessimist, or even a “prophet of doom,” when it comes to COVID19. I admit, I expect the pandemic to disrupt normal campus operations until December 2021, and I don’t expect the economy or international enrolments to return to normal until about 2024. But if you think MY forecast is gloomy, check out the first two items below!

Also today: good and bad news in Asia, 3 “Big Think” reads for your weekend, some more campus updates, and an assortment of videos #ICYMI!


Brace Yourself

Warning: If you’re having a rough day, or struggling to stay optimistic right now, you might want to skip these next 2 stories…

A Virologist’s Bleak Predictions

Retired Harvard medical professor and cancer/HIV researcher William Haseltine correctly predicted in 1986 that an AIDS vaccine was unlikely. His perspective on COVID19 is also unwelcome news: a vaccine may never be possible, and likely won’t provide lasting immunity. A number of firms are prematurely announcing experimental vaccines, which may prove ineffectual and will likely do little to help older, at-risk populations. “SARS-CoV-2 can play tricks with the immune system,” making a vaccine difficult (like SARS and MERS before it). Even herd immunity is “dubious” if reinfection is possible, as it is with the coronaviruses that cause the common cold. – Oh, and any time now, expect a more lethal and contagious coronavirus or influenza pandemic to kill 1-2 billion people worldwide. (Whether this pandemic is resolved soon or not, we need to adapt to a new normal that will persist for years.)  The Tyee

COVID19 and Canadian Suicides

Two uToronto psychiatrists calculate that pandemic-caused unemployment could trigger up to 2,100 extra suicides in Canada this year and next, based on evidence that each 1% rise in joblessness is associated with a 1% rise in suicide. The paper’s lead author argues that Ontario needs to reopen its economy. “You cannot actually protect someone’s physical health and just go ahead and destroy their mental health.” Others argue that the paper’s model is overly simplistic, and that government support programs like CERB have effectively mitigated the psychological fallout of the lockdown. National Post



Colleges and universities in Asia face bad news demographically, and good news politically – both of which may be bad news for international recruitment OUT of Asia…

Asia’s “Demographic Cliff”

PSE institutions have proliferated in East Asia in the past 70 years. (Taiwan, for example, had just 7 in 1950, but by 2012 the total was 163.) But demographics in the region are posing a significant challenge, with growth rates around 1% in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. Even in China, lifting the “One Child” policy did not boost fertility as many had hoped. “Already fierce” PSE competition will become even moreso, and mid-tier institutions face “dire prospects.” Many colleges and universities in Japan and South Korea have already merged or closed. Institutions may need to enroll more women in STEM programs, cater to more mature students, and improve quality of life for international students. THE

Rising Optimism for Asian PSE

On the other hand, some experts believe that the COVID19 pandemic could usher in a more human-centred approach for Asian PSE, with greater emphasis on access for disadvantaged students and humanities programs. Post-COVID, more Asian students may stay closer to home, thanks to political unrest in the US and UK, while the region’s universities have been climbing in international rankings. THE


Big Thinks

Online, On-Demand PSE

RBC predicts that PSE will become more competitive now that nearly every institution worldwide has invested in online delivery. “Online education has the potential to be a great leveler… It is borderless, scalable, and untethered to the traditional academic calendar.” Canadian institutions may want to collaborate to achieve the scale necessary to compete, integrating AR/VR and AI to personalize learning, and should pursue flexibility in experiential learning, and blockchain microcredentials. The real challenge is whether the socio-emotional skills in highest demand among employers can be developed online. RBC

4 Modest Proposals for PSE

Steven Mintz observes that higher ed is at an inflection point, facing some significant opportunities like creating “a truly immersive online or low-residency option,” recreating the sense of connection, soft skills and supports virtually. Instead of allowing potentially hundreds of small US colleges to collapse, there might be an opportunity for public systems to absorb them. Perhaps institutions could also experiment with “new models of course and content sharing and expanded collaboration with cultural institutions.” Finally, tuition could be reduced in a recession through dual credit and credit transfer programs. This is an opportunity to “redefine” college, and move toward a more “flexible, affordable, and resilient” system. IHE

Colleges Need a “Growth Mindset”

If the Fall term will be largely online, institutions need to substantially improve the academic, extracurricular, and social experience for students, and recreate essentials of the campus experience. Online best practices for working adults are insufficient for 18-21 year-olds. Pedagogically: flip the class, reduce the readings, downplay high-stakes exams, insist on live debate, use peer-driven discussion boards, and leverage OERs, MOOCs and virtual simulations. For extracurriculars, consider eSports, local volunteer initiatives, videoconferencing choir or theater performances, political engagement, virtual internships, and online clubs. Socially, consider buddy systems, peer mentoring, opt-in virtual cohort groups, and of course a lively schedule of online events, speakers, etc. Eduventures


Campus Updates

Yesterday was a slow day for institutional announcements related to COVID19. MTA and Seneca released more detail about Fall delivery – which is 95% online, in the case of the latter. uVic announced that it is deactivating its EOC and returning to a “new normal” governance model. And I picked up an announcement I missed previously from uWaterloo…

 Mount Allison provost Jeff Ollerhead released a 5-min video yesterday explaining Fall term course delivery (a mix of asynchronous online, synchronous online, or blended).  The objective was to be flexible for international or domestic students who cannot get to campus. MTA may still have online courses in the Winter term, but is planning a robust schedule for Summer 2021 and Fall 2021, to allow students to catch up on missed content.  YouTube

Seneca College provided more details about Fall term, “a mix of online program delivery with some on-campus activities for programs that have significant in-person components.” A colour-coded list of 167 programs shows 90% will be delivered online, 7% “online, with some courses on-campus,” 2% will not be offered this Fall, and 1% remain TBD. Seneca

uVic president Jamie Cassels explained yesterday that the institution is winding down its emergency response management by EOC, moving to a “new normal” until at least the end of 2020, and a return to normal planning and decision-making processes.  “This ensures decisions at the university are well-informed, accountable and transparent.” uVic

uWaterloo is hiring >300 co-op students this summer as Online Learning Assistants, largely funded by the federal Student Work Placement Program. WatPD will run a week-long digital training course for the students, in an unprecedented “virtual barn-raising.” uWaterloo



If you’re looking for some work-related viewing this afternoon, here are a couple of videos that stood out from thousands in my feed this week:

Tyndale University’s director of distributed learning, James Robertson, discusses “Online Learning at Tyndale” – and in the process, mocks typical shortcomings of remote teaching (and even includes a gratuitous TikTok reference).  YouTube

Vancouver Island U’s recruitment officer Jordan Werezak describes his educational journey with self-deprecatory humour and irreverence. YouTube

Study Texas released a beautiful spot this week to attract international students to its 40 member colleges and universities. It has stunning cinematography, great drone footage of cities and farmland, action shots of galloping horses and a long-horn steer in the sunset, but somehow the script falls a bit short. YouTube

Thursday June 4, 2020

Work Placements & Worker Layoffs

COVID19 has now infected at least 93,000 Canadians, and killed more than 600 nurses worldwide. It has also killed a third of student work placements this summer, laid off more than 50,000 US higher ed staff, and underscored the precarity of many early career and contingent faculty. On the brighter side, it has also postponed Alberta’s performance-based funding regime, and sparked some innovative approaches to virtual career services.

This morning, let’s look at recent developments in work placements and worker layoffs…

Work-Integrated Learning

For years now, work-integrated learning (WIL) and career supports have been increasingly important at colleges and universities alike. When COVID19 shut down campuses, companies, and the economy, considerable momentum could have been lost.

Cancelled Placements and Summer Jobs

StatsCan crowdsourced data from >100,000 CdnPSE students between Apr 19 and May 1, and found that 57% reported some academic disruption. For 35% this was a delay or cancellation of a work placement, and for 26% it was cancelled or postponed classes. The employment rate of 20-24yo students dropped from 53% in Feb to 30% in April. StatsCan

Business Internships Go Virtual

Although Canada lost 2 million jobs in April, and 7 million have applied for CERB, some large employers (like Unilever, P&G, and PepsiCo) are continuing to onboard interns and recent grads from Canada’s top business schools. McGill reports similar placement rates to last summer, although Queen’s says employers are hesitating before committing to recruiting this Fall. Interns are being interviewed and onboarded virtually, and mailed laptops to work from home. Of course, WFH also means that companies can recruit talent globally, making it a more competitive job market. Strategy

Career Services Offices Step Up

A survey of >100 career services leaders (May 1-6) found that a top concern was supporting students whose job offers were rescinded due to COVID19. Some, like Carnegie Mellon U, are developing a summer PD series for students, in partnership with employers. Others are sourcing “micro-internships” or organizing virtual job shadowing. Career fairs, presentations, and networking events all have to go virtual. Alumni who graduated during the 2008 recession may be able to provide ideas and hope. UT Scarborough hosted a 3-day virtual conference for 500 graduating students and recent alumni. EAB

Canadian WIL Grants Competition

The Business + Higher Education Roundtable and Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada, with funding from the Government of Canada, have launched a $1 M grant competition for employers or employer associations to create more WIL opportunities. “BHER and CEWIL are committed to deepening collaboration among students, employers, and post-secondary institutions to support the entire WIL ecosystem through these unprecedented challenges.” CEWIL


Layoffs & Furloughs

In Canada, we’ve seen some announcements of temporary layoffs and early discussion of redundancies and furloughs, as approaches to address what may be significant budget shortfalls this year. Internationally, we can catch a glimpse of what may be in store…

Trends in Higher Ed Furloughs

Most US colleges furloughed staff in the wake of the Great Recession, requiring up to 15 days unpaid leave. The UC System saved $184 M this way in 2009-10. In the wake of COVID19, institutions are furloughing staff whose work cannot be performed remotely, in some cases for a few weeks or months, and in other cases indefinitely. (Plans for reopening campus are the key variable for these staff.) In other cases, university systems in Wisconsin and Georgia are already announcing furlough plans for the next fiscal year, affecting all employees. EAB

>50,000 at 190 US Institutions

The Chronicle of Higher Ed is tracking US announcements of employee layoffs and furloughs. So far, they count at least 48,000 employees at 190 institutions affected by layoffs, furloughs, or contract nonrenewals – but warn that it is “a significant undercount.” Major furloughs include uArizona (15,000), uWisconsin Milwaukee (3,700), uIdaho (2,600), and Penn State U Park (2,000). Chronicle

Contingent Faculty Frozen Out

The pandemic is revealing inequities among students, staff and faculty members. At least 300 US institutions have announced hiring freezes, sometimes rescinding offers already made. Contingent faculty, who account for up to 75% of academic staff in the US, are being refused contract renewals. “We are imminently expendable and infinitely replaceable.” Hundreds of prominent academics are boycotting institutions that do not cut the salaries of senior leaders and faculty as well. THE

Sacrificing the Most Vulnerable

Around the world, universities are shoring up their finances at the expense of their most vulnerable employees: those on short-term and casual contracts. The problem is particularly acute where institutions depend on international student revenues: in Australia, an estimated 30,000 employees are at risk. “Adjunctification” and “endemic casualization” is propping up a system with highly-paid administrators and tenured faculty members.  THE


COVID Updates

Alberta has postponed the implementation of performance-based funding (originally scheduled for April 1) for at least a year, due to the pandemic and uncertain enrolments. The province nonetheless is cutting funding 20% during the next 3 years. CBC

UBC Okanagan announced yesterday a new 80,000 sqft mixed-use campus in downtown Kelowna, potentially to include office and residential space. The site was purchased from the city for $7.4 M. “It only makes sense that we would create community-facing academic space in the heart of Kelowna, in close proximity to many of our community partners working in health, tech, business, and arts and culture.” Global

Brandon U announced that the Fall term will be mostly online. “We will limit in-person instruction to where it is necessary, and avoid potential mid-term disruption from any resurgence of infection or second wave of cases.” Residences are expected to be open, with limited capacity, and most services will be offered largely online. Details to be shared in early July.  Brandon

uCalgary is one of the few institutions to announce that it is proceeding with summer camps on campus, albeit with “significant revisions” and social distancing precautions. uCalgary



Wednesday June 3, 2020

The Calculus of Uncertainty, Budgets, & Blackouts

Whether you’re interested in strategic planning, finance, recruitment, marketing or media relations, this morning’s Insider has something for you!

Several institutions provide budget updates, including summer camp cancellations and residence capacity reductions. NBCC is planning a blended Fall, and uSask is actually LOWERING tuition. A third of domestic applicants, and half of international ones, remain unconvinced about an online term – causing ripples that may capsize many small international agents.

The news media still isn’t ready for non-COVID news. Social media is “blacking out” to demonstrate solidarity with George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protesters. And Deloitte explores scenario planning as a way for institutional leaders to cope with times of incredible uncertainty…



I know better than to apply business strategy directly to academic institutions, but there are some kernels to be gleaned from a couple of recent articles on responding to the pandemic…

The Calculus of Uncertainty

No strategy will survive COVID19 intact, says Deloitte. “The time frame for making choices shortens, even as the contextual uncertainty makes decision-making commensurately harder.” The biggest dangers are “over-confidence, procrastination, and incomplete or biased data.” Rather than paralysis, complacency, or “misinformed bullishness,” scenario thinking can help leaders through uncertainty by anticipating shifts in markets and input factors, supply chains, consumer expectations and technological change. Weigh opportunities and risks across a range of time horizons, and scenarios can help “stress-test” strategies in a range of potential futures. Deloitte

Time for a Strategic Pivot?

Higher ed needs to reassess its value proposition, now that online courses are being unbundled from traditional campus offerings. Layering online services atop existing campus infrastructure pits “two vastly different business models and their resource needs against each other.” Students expect online learning at a lower price, “just as consumers are accustomed to paying less for a physical book’s digital version.” Institutions need to find a distinct combination of online and F2F ideal for a range of student markets, explore microcredentials and interdisciplinary appointments, embrace experiential learning and reinvigorate the humanities. IHE



Budget and risk discussions are doubtless taking place on every PSE campus in North America. What I share in this newsletter is drawn from public sources, and can serve only as a representative selection…

Acadia president Peter Ricketts advised staff that declines in spring and summer revenues necessitate budget revisions. Acadia has “curtailed all non-essential spending until further notice and launched a review of Acadia’s more complex structural costs. We are also in the process of engaging with employee groups to propose and discuss ways of mitigating costs as we plan to work through this crisis and get through the 2020-21 fiscal year.” Acadia

Bishop’s announced yesterday that its residences will have reduced capacity this Fall, because of social distancing and single-only rooms, therefore any further applications cannot be guaranteed campus housing. Priority will be determined by the date residence deposits are received. Bishop’s

uOttawa has announced that in-person Gee-Gee camps have been cancelled for the summer, in part due to delays in sports facilities maintenance. Virtual camps programming will be expanded, and will be available free of charge in both official languages. uOttawa

uSask has announced that average undergrad tuition fees will drop 0.2%, or $18, this Fall, while the average grad student tuition will increase $21. The numbers are negligible, but at a time when students across the country are protesting tuition increases despite predominantly online course delivery, the reduction will be welcome. Star-Phoenix


Back to School

Ontario’s College Application Service surveyed domestic applicants (May 14-27) and found that just over 10% of confirmed applicants were “unlikely” to enroll for online courses this Fall, and just over 20% were undecided. Centennial

NBCC announced its Fall semester plans in a video yesterday (I still haven’t found an announcement on the website). “All hands-on learning will continue on campus and in person,” following social distancing guidelines or face coverings. Classes will be a blend of “instructor-led online,” “connected classrooms,” and traditional classes (depending on the program). YouTube

Queen’s has allowed >300 personnel limited access to research labs on campus over the past month, based on Priority 1 needs (negative impacts by end of summer). Priority 2 requests can now be considered (negative impacts by the end of 2020), subject to physical distancing. Researchers should anticipate that facilities “could again be shutdown at any time.” Queen’s

York U has announced that some grad students, whose research must be conducted in-person or on-campus, and has been unavoidably delayed, will receive a free one-term extension, on part-time status, bearing no tuition or fees. York



International recruitment is in some turmoil this summer, as institutions worry about half of their incoming students opting to defer, government policies prove volatile, and small agencies are vulnerable…

Collapse of International Agents

A major consolidation of the international agent sector is expected in the wake of the pandemic. These small businesses manage their cash flow all year, anticipating commissions in the Fall. Now, many are expecting declines of 65-100% in revenue. STB, a Brazilian company, expects mass closures of smaller agencies, and is prepared to buy up 40 more offices within the next 6 months. Agents representing US and UK institutions in particular will be hit hard because of COVID19. PIE

US may Expel Chinese Academics

The Trump Administration is reportedly planning to cancel the visas of up to 3,000 Chinese grad students and researchers with ties to military-affiliated universities in China. Recently Washington has demanded details on financial ties between US universities and foreign governments, and pushed to fire or arrest researchers who failed to disclose those ties. There are 360,000 Chinese students in the US. THE

Centennial College reports that its survey of 2,500 accepted international applicants (Apr 14-24) found that 51% were willing to take classes online, while the other half would rather delay until in-person classes are possible. Centennial




Yesterday social media was flooded with solid black photographs and the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday or #TheShowMustBePaused, and I’m hearing that some PSE accounts will be suspending paid social advertising all week. The movement originated in the music industry, to take a stand against “racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard,” and artists including Quincy Jones and Mick Jagger jumped aboard. USA Today

When Can We Promote Non-COVID Stories?

For 3 months now, news media and consumers have been fixated on gathering up-to-the-minute news about the health and economic impacts of the COVID19 pandemic, and have had little patience for anything else. PR officers may need to hold back on “normal” stories about research funding, donations, etc. if there is no connection to the pandemic. People may be open to “inspirational, positive news” so long as it isn’t “self-serving.” Internal campus audiences in particular need to hear the positive stories now, as distraction, and hope for a return to normalcy (eventually). IHE


Tuesday June 2, 2020

Liability Minefields and Student Supports

Around the world, we can only look on in dismay as the US struggles with the COVID19 health crisis, compounded by economic recession, racial inequality, and political polarization. More African Americans were dying from the coronavirus before – and now mass protests against police brutality may become “super-spreader events,” sparking a second pandemic wave.

Obviously the civil unrest will further damage the appeal of US colleges to international students, but higher ed leaders also have to cope with more immediate crises. In Atlanta, 2 college students were tasedand pulled from their car by police officers who were summarily fired. Spelman College president Mary Schmidt Campbell wrote in dismay: “to say ‘this has got to stop’ would be tantamount to shouting into the wind.” And of course, the White House’s threats to deploy the military against protesters whom Trump calls “domestic terrorists” will only make things worse…

But this morning, let’s focus on some smaller problems, and some solutions. Various organizations have released guidelines for reopening campuses this fall, lawyers weigh in on the liability issues, we take a look at the student support challenges of a pandemic and some examples of summer orientation initiatives, and 5 more institutions have announced a hybrid Fall term.

Reopening Guidelines

A range of stakeholders are weighing in with guidelines for reopening campuses, from a variety of perspectives and (of course) with a variety of concerns…

Alberta released detailed COVID19 public health guidance for PSE last week. Institutions are to limit in-person attendance on campus as much as possible, to a maximum of 50 persons, maintaining 2m physical distance at all times or implementing barriers or PPE, and taking attendance each day. Everyone must self-screen prior to entering campus. Institutions must develop plans and online instruction for physical distancing, enhanced disinfection, testing, tracing and quarantining staff and students. (Alberta has a voluntary tracing app, ABTraceTogether.) Alberta

CAUT insists that academic senates, faculty associations, and joint health and safety committees must be actively involved in all discussions about reopening campuses, and has published its own guidelines. CAUT’s emphasis is on academic freedom and IP rights, workplace health and safety, physical distancing and sanitation protocols, PPE, and mental wellness supports. Staff should be permitted to WFH, and decisions about program delivery and workload should rest with academic senates. CAUT

Career Colleges Ontario has released guidelines too. They emphasize that the sector needs a blended synchronous and asynchronous teaching model, with some hands-on components requiring extended timetables, and flexibility to accommodate at-risk students and family members. They encourage career colleges to prepare for a second wave, and revise hygiene, sanitation, social distancing, PPE, WFH and accommodation policies. Airflow and ventilation should be increased where possible, signage should direct traffic flow, and large assemblies must be avoided. CCO


Legal Issues

Obviously US legislation differs, but liability issues for Canadian higher ed institutions are quite similar. Here’s some useful insight…

Hundreds of Spring Lawsuits Bloom

More than 100 class-action lawsuits have been launched across the US to demand partial tuition refunds after the transition to emergency remote teaching this spring. Obviously this wasn’t the experience students expected, but is it a breach of contract? Official enrolment documents seldom explicitly promise in-person classes, although recruitment messages that emphasize campus life could constitute part of the contractual relationship. The courts may have to decide whether online learning is “a pale substitute,” or if in fact the education and credits are still being earned. MarketWatch

Fall will be a Liability Minefield

Protecting students, faculty and staff from asymptomatic carriers of COVID19 this fall, in classrooms, labs, residences, athletic and extracurricular settings, entails “mind-boggling public-health logistics.” Collaborative approaches to planning, in a few short summer months, with incomplete and evolving data, add to the challenge. A dozen higher ed lawyers warn that no waiver will eliminate institutional liability, particularly for employees and underaged students, and in circumstances governed by other legislation. Student and employee handbooks need to be updated, and decisions made about enforcement. (Failure to enforce policies could be construed as negligence.) Transparency and clear communication are the best legal defense. Chronicle


Student Supports

Much attention has been lavished on the migration of classroom teaching online, but the entire spectrum of student services has also gone digital, and often needs to provide more emotional connection than intellectual content.

Low Income Students Struggling

When the pandemic hit this spring, low-income students had to cope with academic disruption, lost service-sector employment, internet access and computer access issues, food insecurity and overwhelmed food banks. Those with children lost childcare services and often had to teach young children at home, while trying to keep up with their own studies. Emergency student bursaries, campus food pantries, wifi hotspots, and flexible asynchronous approaches to classes were all critical. Texas Tribune

Measuring the Digital Divide

The COVID19 pandemic “has turned the cracks in our education system into an abyss that threatens to swallow our most vulnerable kids.” A Facebook poll of 1,500 US families found 13% of low-income K-12 students lacked a device or internet access (compared to 1% in households earning $50k or more) and 36% said remote learning was going “poorly or very poorly.” 39% of students on an IEP apparently are receiving no support. Across the US, some 9 million students have no reliable broadband internet at home. A number of non-profits are lobbying for government and telecom companies to step up. Edu Dive

Enhancing Student Supports

Supporting students in pandemic and recession is a growing challenge. Emergency grants and food pantries, loaner laptops and hotspots are just the start. Medically-vulnerable students need access to equivalent learning online, and those with disabilities will still need their accommodations (such as Zoom sign language interpreters). More students may bring support animals to the dorm. Many campuses will ramp up their use of early alert systems and proactive prompts to advising and tutoring. Demand will likely increase for group, individual and online counselling. Virtual learning communities, clubs and activities will be essential to mitigate loneliness and isolation. Chronicle

Virtual Orientation at Brock

Brock University has launched “BU4U,” a series of “virtual orientation activities” with opportunities to meet other incoming students, an upper-year peer mentor, and free academic skills resources like an online “SmartStart” program in July, and a BrockU101 non-credit course in August. BU4U

Thriving Foundations at Western

Western University has unveiled “Thriving Foundations,” a 3-part optional transition program for incoming students. “SmartStart” and “Summer Academic Orientation” programs focus on academics in a series of online modules and virtual workshops. “Community Connections,” an optional day on campus (July 21 – Aug 10), gives students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the campus, meet professors and make friends in their program. In the Fall, the “Peer Leader Program” will match upper-year student mentors with groups of students in large first-year courses, to help them “build friendships in digital spaces” and succeed academically. UWO


Fall Announcements

5 more CdnPSE institutions have announced a blended delivery approach for the Fall term:

Acadia has announced a “hybrid approach” for Fall, including “a mix of in-person, online, and remote course delivery.” Further details and consultations are required “before we make a final decision.” More details later in June. Acadia

Alberta U of the Arts announced Friday a “modified mode of remote instruction” this Fall, with “limited access to campus studio facilities and equipment.” Educational Art Technicians are developing protocols for health and safety in home studios. AUArts

Humber College announced yesterday “both interactive online and limited in-person education” for the Fall term, and released a detailed list by program. 60% of programs, and all electives, will be entirely online. Online learning will include “virtual experiential activities” and “opportunities for students to engage meaningfully with their professors and each other.” Winter/Summer students may have the opportunity to complete in-person requirements on campus in July or August. Humber

Mount Royal announced yesterday a “definitive decision” that the Fall semester will be “primarily using alternative delivery… with limited exceptions.” Residence will open with occupancy restrictions and physical distancing. Libraries, theatres and recreation facilities cannot open until Alberta’s Phase 3, which will likely not be in September. MRU

UNB announced yesterday “a blended learning model that includes alternative delivery methods and in-person classes and labs” for the Fall. In Fredericton, in-person instruction will occur where it is required for labs. In Saint John, in-person classes will be offered wherever possible. Most grad and undergrad courses and labs will be adjusted to accommodate off-campus students, but some programs will have mandatory in-person labs. Residences and food services will be open with strict physical distancing and/or limited capacity. More details Jun 15. UNB


Monday June 1

Top Skills for 2020-2030, and Fall Microsites

Welcome to June! It’s hard to believe we’re entering the Insider’s FOURTH month as a daily newsletter. That, combined with blogs and bulletins, has delayed several episodes of Ten with Ken that are still in post-production – but if you miss hearing me talk about the future of higher ed…

I had a great chat with Appleby College economics teacher Dave Suchanek on his podcast, “Perspective,” about the future of higher education. (You can listen on PodBean or Apple Podcasts.)

This morning, let’s look at how researchers and students are already beginning to return to some campuses, how institutional plans are shaping up for the Fall, and some insights into the labour market our students will be entering. (Also some new PSE microsites that shift the focus away from COVID19.)


Labour Market

COVID19 may Accelerate Automation

The pandemic has introduced risk to interpersonal interactions, encouraging the adoption of touch-free checkouts and doors, web-based shopping and transactions, and more use of robots for long-term care homes and meat processing facilities alike. Europe’s biggest meat processor, Danish Crown, uses laser scanners and robotic production lines to process thousands of animals with minimal human intervention. US meat producers who have been able to stay operational despite COVID19 are also highly automated. Wired

Top 15 Skills for 2020

Based on data from 660M professionals and 20M jobs, LinkedIn Learning says the 5 most in-demand soft skills for 2020 (and for several years now) are creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. (The list pre-dates COVID19; likely adaptability has risen now.) The 5 top hard skills are blockchain, cloud computing, analytical reasoning, artificial intelligence, and UX design. LinkedIn

Top 5 Skills for 2030

Ryerson’s Brookfield Institute has released a new Forecast of Canadian Occupational Growth (largely completed pre-COVID). 19% of existing jobs are projected to grow, largely in healthcare, natural and applied sciences, and jobs that are service oriented, creative, or highly technical. 15% of existing jobs are projected to diminish, particularly in manufacturing, construction, agriculture and resource extraction. Future workers will need strong social acuity, communication, creativity, judgement and problem-solving skills. Educators are urged to embed 5 foundational skills more widely in curricula: fluency of ideas, memorization, service orientation, instructing and persuasion. Brookfield


Returning to Campus

Across the country, researchers and even some students are starting to return to campus in BC and PEI, while GTA institutions will be WFH until at least September. Ontario is starting to recognize that there are vastly different contexts within the province. Sadly, NB has discovered how easily a new outbreak can be sparked by one careless individual ignoring quarantine.  

BCIT welcomed 7 Joinery students back to the Burnaby campus for a week of socially-distanced work, in a shop class designed for 64 students. Sneeze guards, one-way floor markings, additional disinfection, dedicated workspaces and tools, and hand sanitizer stations have all been added. BCIT

McGill will initiate phase 2 of reopening research activities today, adding labs in Life Sciences, Engineering, Physics and Biology under strict COVID19 precautions. McGill

Mohawk is planning for a phased reopening. Throughout Jun/Jul/Aug (Phase 1) access to buildings is by approval only, to retrieve items or prepare for Phase 2. In early Sept, the campus will reopen for staff and students only while required for labs or work. Enhanced screening, cleaning, disinfecting, and social distancing will be in effect. “There is still a long road ahead of us and it is important not to let down our guard.” Mohawk

UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz celebrated a week since stage 1 of the return to campus, anticipating stage 2 beginning on Jun 15. “PEI is one of the safest places to be in Canada. If this success continues, UPEI will be an attractive destination for our students’ educational journeys, and our scale will enable us to offer high quality in-person and/or virtual face-to-face experiences, along with world-class education and research opportunities come September.” UPEI

uRegina reports that minimal field and lab work has resumed under health protocols, but in general WFH continues. The University Recovery Planning Group (URP-G) will inform the re-opening process over the coming months. uRegina

York president Rhonda Lenton reports that GTA institutions UofT, Ryerson, York and several colleges are supporting the City of Toronto’s request to continue WFH until September. York


Prepping for Fall

Of the 90 CdnPSE institutions I’ve been monitoring, the last one still promising F2F delivery this Fall seems to have backed down. The “blended” consensus is becoming inevitable, with the recognition that it leaves the ultimate decision in the hands of PHOs.

NSCC president Don Bureaux wrote Friday that the College is preparing a reopening plan for PHO review. Program delivery plans for the Fall will be shared within 10 days. NSCC

Laval plans to “double our co-modal teaching capacity,” in which classes are simultaneously taught F2F and online, and this summer “an extensive training program for teachers to ensure that they have all the tools and knowledge to create the richest and most interactive distance learning experience possible.” Course specifics will be posted mid-June. Laval

Ryerson has cancelled all university-sanctioned international activities and exchanges through Dec 2020. Ryerson

StFX president Kevin Wamsley sounds like the institution has shifted from the “F2F” plan for Fall, to a position of “still deciding”: “We will make the decision about in-person or online delivery by mid-June. This provides us with the time necessary to continue our conversations with the province while still permitting the campus community ample time to continue preparations for the September term once the decision is announced.” StFX

Western anticipates that 25-30% of courses this Fall will have an on-campus experience, because “we continue to believe in the deep value of engaging each other face to face when we can.” Campus spaces will be changed to support social distancing, and there will be “new rules” about gathering – but Western plans to honour its first-year residence guarantee. UWO


New Microsites

Several institutions have shifted from health and safety COVID19 microsites to “Virtual University” or “Fall 2020” sites instead.

uAlberta has launched a COVID19 page specifically for grad students, aggregating news and updates for domestic and international grad students, courses and research. uAlberta

Brock has launched a “Fall 2020” microsite with 6 key points “at a glance,” welcome videos from senior administrators, and links to student resources and the Fall 2020 plan. Brock

Saint Mary’s (Halifax) launched a “Virtual University” landing page back on April 1, with audience-based navigation to further information. SMU

uToronto has launched a new “UTogether2020” microsite to replace its COVID19 page, with updates, a “full roadmap,” and FAQs about the Fall term. UofT


Back Issues

You can now find monthly archive pages on the Eduvation website for March, April, and May. If you’re specifically interested in stories about marketing, communications, branding and student recruitment, check out the focused Marketing archive page. (It’s still a bit cumbersome, but will have to do for now!)


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