International News Desk – At Home and Abroad

At Home: The Best City for Innovation and Education? Waterloo
Metro is reporting that Waterloo, Ontario, has been picked as the top city for innovation and education by the Conference Board of Canada. The reasons for this pick include the various universities in the area, the number of high-tech start-up firms, as well as the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Tim Anderson, chief administrative officer for the city of Waterloo claims that the academic institutions are the “drivers of our overall economy.”

The Conference Board of Canada ranked 50 cities on various criteria, including economy, education, environment, health, housing, innovation, and society. Waterloo was one of five cities that scored at the top position in two categories. The others included Calgary, Ottawa, Richmond Hill, Vancouver and St. John’s.

Around the Globe:”Traditional” Academics Endangered
A policy note released by the Group of Eight, a group of research intensive universities in Australia, notes that while once academics were employed full time for teaching and research, those positions are fast disappearing. The document points out how the two positions are becoming increasingly separated, with most employment growth occurring in specialist researcher positions and casual teaching positions.

Reported by University World News, the National Tertiary Education Union responds to the policy note by pointing out that not only is the growth concentrated in these two areas, but that the growth is typically for short-term or project based contracts, and points out that “Cutting-edge research that seeks to solve the big issues is impossible when researchers have to look over their shoulders and write research funding submissions on the basis of achievable outcomes rather than pursuing the hard questions.”

They also note that this causes further problems in that the people who write the courses are not the ones teaching them, and those who are teaching the courses have no say in course reviews