Eduvation Blog

Friday Pains & Wishes

Good morning, and TGIF!

Whether you’re burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes or a Lawyer today, celebrating Fountain Pens or Red Hair, don’t forget that today is also the UN’s World Tsunami Awareness Day. (Considering how many CdnPSEs are located along the coasts from Vancouver to Halifax – and on the floodplains of mighty rivers like the Fraser, Red, and Thames – extreme weather events deserve our attention.)

Whenever I sum up an emergent trend, I invariably find the need for postscripts immediately thereafter. Today, some quick follow-ups…



Labour Pains

On Tuesday I summarized numerous examples of labour unrest and governance concerns across CdnPSE (see “Liminal Moment for Labour Relations”, Nov 2). In the few days since then…


uLethbridge in Mediation

On Tuesday, uLethbridge and its Faculty Association reached an impasse, after 15 bargaining meetings since January, and the UL negotiating team has filed a request for informal mediation with the Alberta Labour Relations Board. In response, the ULFA has requested formal mediation: “Given that we’re almost 500 days since our collective agreement expired, we should just get into the process that will lead us to a conclusion.” Unresolved issues include a retroactive 4% rollback to faculty pay, and “academic freedom” (whatever thatmeans).  Global


Crossing “Lines” at UM

uManitoba faculty hit the picket lines on Tuesday, and within hours a car hit the picket lines too. (A faculty member was hit by a vehicle which then fled the scene, says the union, but the picketer “was able to walk away” and “does not want to press charges.”) On the virtual picket lines, UM vice-provost students Laurie Schnarr advised students that if their course is taught by a UMFA member who is on strike, “your access to that course on UMLearn, and the associated learning materials, will be suspended.” Naturally, students were “dismayed” to be locked out of the LMS that was “supposed” to let them continue their studies, and the UMFA was quick to disavow the move. Within hours, UofM “bowed to pressure” and reinstated the online course content, including texts and lab manuals, and advised grad students their courses were reactivated, and they are “expected to continue teaching.” UM is emphasizing that students must check an online list “often” to determine whether or not their instructor is on strike, and therefore whether or not they are responsible for course work, assignments or exams in that course, until the strike is completed. The UMFA said yesterday it had tabled a new contract proposal with ~6.5% salary increases over 3 years. (UM was offering 2.75% over 2 years.) Both parties were to meet with a mediator yesterday.


Higher ed campuses have been enduring a rising number of student protests, along with the rise in labour unrest, and it seems to be a global phenomenon…


An Era of Protests?

A new study published yesterday concludes that the worldwide number of protest movements each year more than tripled between 2006 and 2020, and included some of the largest ever recorded. 54% of the 900 “protest movements or episodes” they examined, across 101 countries, were prompted by “a perceived failure of political systems or representation.” Key concerns include rising inequality, racial or ethnic justice, corruption, labour conditions, and political inaction over climate change. The US has seen protests from Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Tea Party, and Stop the Steal.  Washington Post



Laurentian Pains

Yesterday, I summed up events of the past 2 months at Laurentian U (“Lost Souls in Sudbury,” Nov 4), so naturally more happened within hours…


Defending Enrolment

LU proudly announced yesterday morning that its “student enrolment exceeded planning forecasts” by declining only 14% from 2020. (LU had budgeted on a worst-case scenario of a 30% drop in enrolment.) The announcement also emphasized that 20% of students were enrolled in French-language programs. “As we march on the path toward a more sustainable future, it’s incredibly encouraging to see that the demand for Laurentian University is still strong,” said president Robert Haché.  Laurentian


Coalition Strikes Back

Denis Constantineau, spokesperson for the Northern Ontario Coalition for a French Language University, took issue this week with president Haché’s selective use of statistics from an Association of French Students survey that achieved only a 10% response rate. The same survey, he claims, found that 82% of respondents supported the idea of creating a Francophone university in Sudbury, compared to just 69% who said they would prefer a bilingual university.


NOSM is out $14M

At a town hall forum on Tuesday, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM U) discussed the fate of its $14M endowment, which has gone “missing” in the LU insolvency proceedings. Although the funds were intended for NOSM, they were deposited with LU prior to the CCAA proceedings. NOSM has submitted a claim along with all the other LU creditors. The provincial legislation making NOSM a standalone university was passed last summer, and will be proclaimed into law in December.



Winter Wishes

Ten days ago I noted that 15 CdnPSEs had recently announced their optimistic plans for the Winter 2022 term (see “Winter Term Wonderland”, Oct 26). Since then, 13 more have crossed my desk, most promising more on-campus classes and activities – although Booth UC is an outlier…  

Algonquin College VP Academic Chris Janzen elaborated on plans to lift capacity limits and distancing requirements in all indoor instructional spaces, “inviting even more activity back to our campuses” and increasing on-campus student supports, “from food services and campus services to student services and events.” (Masks will still be required.)

Booth UC announced this week that “all fully vaccinated employees… are encouraged to return to campus” starting Jan 4, “on a rotating work schedule.” Booth will continue with virtual delivery in the Winter term, but F2F instruction may take place for fully-vaccinated students “at the instructor’s discretion.” (Vaccinations, masks, and self-screening will continue to be required. The campus will remain closed to the public.)

Brandon U announced yesterday that the Winter term “will look a lot like the current term,” with classes of 25 or fewer held in person and larger classes online. (Masks, distancing, and vaccination will continue to be required on campus.) “We’re on the more cautious side, and we are not apologetic about that,” says president David Docherty.

“There’s been enough uncertainty and our goal is to deliver another safe term of learning and working with no surprises.”David Docherty, President, Brandon U


Brock U is planning for classes to take place “primarily” on campus, with “some online offerings.” (Vaccines, masks and daily screening will remain mandatory.) Brock notes that it “cannot confirm whether the vaccine mandate or any other health measures will last beyond the Winter Term and into the 2022-23 academic year.”

Carleton U president Benoit-Antoine Bacon shared Senate’s decision to continue the “safe and gradual return to campus” with “a mix of in-person and online courses to ensure maximum flexibility for students.”

Fleming College will welcome students back to all 3 campuses for classes and activities in January, and residences will return to 100% occupancy. (Masks and vaccinations will continue to be required.) See the celebratory video below, #ICYMI…

NAIT says “there is a reasonable expectation that if public health measures allow, staff may be required to be on campus for in-person work” starting Jan 2. (Proof of vaccination will be required.)

uRegina confirmed on Monday that it is “preparing for a return to near pre-pandemic operations and activities” starting Jan 5. (The past 4 semesters have been largely online.) In the Winter semester, close to 80% of classes will be delivered in-person, although 163 courses will be offered in hybrid or hyflex formats. (Masks and proof of full vaccination, or 3x weekly testing off-campus, will be required.)

Ryerson U president Mohamed Lachemi announced that “our gradual return to campus this fall has gone well, and we are excited to broaden that return with increased classes, programming, services and supports offered on campus beginning in January.” The majority of classes are expected to be offered in-person. (Full vaccination and masks continue to be required.)

St Lawrence College confirmed yesterday that 80% of programs will have “an in-person, on-campus component” when classes begin in January. (Masks and full vaccination will continue to be required.)

Saskatchewan Polytechnic announced yesterday that “in collaboration with the Ministry of Advanced Education and all Saskatchewan post-secondary institutions,” it will be “safely reopening campus to more students and employees in Winter 2022.” Students should expect to be on campus “for the majority of their learning.” (Full vaccination will be required.)

uSaskatchewan president Peter Stoicheff shared last week that proof of full vaccination will be required in the Winter term, to allow more in-person instruction and campus activities. (Rapid testing will no longer be an alternative. Masks will continue to be required.) Moreover, proof of a third booster shot, once eligible, will be required to continue to be considered fully vaxxed.

“We remain firmly committed to the published science that vaccinations are the clearest path towards defeating COVID-19 and its dangerous variants, and an overwhelming percentage of USask community members have agreed and made the choice to ‘Protect the Pack’ through vaccination.”Peter Stoicheff, President, uSaskatchewan


Seneca College president David Agnew announced Tuesday that “more learning options” and “in-person activities” will be available to students in the winter term, although services will continue to be offered virtually. Programs will be offered in 4 formats: online, in-person, hybrid and flexible. (Masks, full vaccination and daily screening will continue to be mandatory.)




Although many CdnPSE leaders have recorded heartfelt weekly or monthly “updates” and “fireside chats” to the campus community throughout the pandemic, Fleming College released a snappy commercial this week that doubles down on its return to campus in January…


Some Things Are Better IRL

Fleming College proudly declares that “some things are better in real life,” in this :30-sec spot that showcases plenty of vivid examples of hands-on and experiential learning, from glass blowing and carpentry to culinary arts, outdoor recreation and environmental studies. “Thankfully, we’re back IRL. Apply now for January 2022.”  YouTube



I’ll be back Monday with my weekly Pandemic Précis. (If I had written about it today, it would have spoiled BOTH our weekends!)

I hope your Friday goes quickly – and your weekend doesn’t! (Don’t forget to enjoy that extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning.)

Stay safe and be well!


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