Elections Canada should let students vote where they study

Source: Montreal Gazette via Academica

In an op-ed for the Montreal Gazette, Vanier College professor Mark Cohen argues that Elections Canada should allow students to cast their ballots from campus. He points to an Elections Canada survey in which most students cited “access barriers” as their main reason for not voting, and says that Quebec’s Bill 13—which allows students to vote on-campus for a candidate in their home riding, even if their school is outside of that riding—provides a possible model. Cohen says that a similar move on the federal level would demonstrate to students that they have an important role to play in the electoral system and that their input is valued.

CIEC Endorses: Pradeep Sood

Pradeep Sood is seeking the Federal Liberal nomination for the Markham-Unionville riding. “I am a strong believer that if given the chance, I can contribute positively to Canada and the riding that I have lived in for over 21 years. I have a proven track record of job creation, fighting for small and medium businesses and supporting our health care through my work with both the Business Chambers and many not for profit organizations.”

Please e-mail pradeep@pradeepsood.com to find out how you can support his election campaign.

Governor General to Undertake State Visit to the Republic of India

Source: Consulate General of Canada News Release | February 19, 2014

OTTAWA—At the request of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston will conduct a State visit to the Republic of India, from February 22 to March 2, 2014.

“Sharon and I are looking forward to our State visit to India, which will be centred on the themes of innovation, entrepreneurship and education, with a special focus on the contributions of women and girls,” His Excellency said. “This visit is a reflection of the importance Canada attaches to its relationship with India. Both of our countries are committed to strengthening our partnership and co-operation. The Canada-India economic relationship is strong and holds tremendous potential for broader and expanded collaboration. During our time spent in New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, we will meet with government officials, representatives from the business and education sectors, and those from non-governmental organizations with the aim of advancing our economic, academic and cultural ties with our Indian counterparts.”

His Excellency will be joined by parliamentarians and an accompanying delegation of Canadians who will enhance business, academic, cultural and people-to-people ties with their Indian counterparts. These exchanges will further develop the wide-ranging and multi-faceted relationship with India, a major economic player and priority market for Canada, and will provide greater impetus to bilateral initiatives in various sectors, particularly in strategies promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and education.

State Visit to India: New Delhi (February 22 to 25)

In the capital city of New Delhi, Their Excellencies will be officially welcomed by the President and Prime Minister of India during a welcoming ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan, the Presidential Palace. To underscore the important friendship and co-operation between both countries, and on behalf of the people of Canada, Their Excellencies will present an inuksuk to the people of India.

During this visit, His Excellency will meet with Canadian and Indian business leaders to discuss our nations’ economic relationship at a business meeting with the Chambers of Commerce hosted by the Government of India, and at the Canada-India CEO Forum. The Governor General will also discuss the role of innovation in addressing global health challenges during the Grand Challenges Global Health Innovation Roundtable, organized by Grand Challenges Canada.

Her Excellency will discuss the opportunities and challenges faced by women researchers supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and also by women entrepreneurs. She will also visit non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing education to underprivileged children, and free services to children diagnosed with cancer.

State Visit to India – Bangalore (February 26 and 27)

In Bangalore, Their Excellencies will meet with the Governor of Karnataka. They will visit the All India Coordinated Small Millets Improvement Project—created by IDRC and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) at the University of Agricultural Sciences, in Bangalore—as well as inaugurate the new consulate general, which will oversee Canada’s expanded presence in South India.

His Excellency will discuss the importance of skills development in further building connections between Canadian and Indian institutions during a panel discussion, and participate in a Canada-India discussion on innovation hosted by the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada and the National Innovation Council of India.

Her Excellency will visit NGOs dedicated to helping children with HIV and to supporting Indian women entrepreneurs.

State Visit to India – Mumbai (February 27 to March 2)

While in Mumbai, Their Excellencies will meet with the Governor of Maharashtra, and pay their respects at a memorial to the 32 victims of the November 2008 terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. During a visit to Dharavi, one of the largest slums in Asia, Their Excellencies will see, first-hand, examples of India’s deep-seated entrepreneurship and various micro-businesses. They will also discuss the future of audiovisual co-production between Canada and India at Film City, one of the largest shooting locations in India.

In addition, His Excellency will have the opportunity to open the stock market at the Bombay Stock Exchange, and witness the inauguration of BIL-Ryerson DMZ India Ltd., an incubation centre for entrepreneurs supported in partnership with the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute, Ryerson University and Simon Fraser University. He will also address innovators and entrepreneurs at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay; business leaders at the Indo-Canadian Business Chamber Annual Convention; and the heads of various educational institutions to exchange views on skills development and the future of education in India.

Her Excellency will meet with women leaders from the private and public sectors, civil society and academia on the status of women in India, and visit a strategic philanthropy NGO co-founded and co-managed by an Indo-Canadian. She will also meet with social workers and volunteers who prevent second-generation trafficking among the children of sex workers in Asia’s largest and oldest red-light district.

Visits abroad by a governor general play an important role in Canada’s relations with other countries. They are highly valuable as they help broaden bilateral relations and exchanges among peoples.

Members of the public can follow the Governor General’s State visit to the Republic of India online at www.gg.ca, where speeches, photos and videos will be posted.

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The detailed itinerary and a list of accompanying delegates will be published at a later date.

Media information:

Marie-Ève Létourneau                                               Rideau Hall Press Office 613-998-0287 marie-eve.letourneau@gg.ca

New Multiple-Entry Visas to Benefit Foreign Students

Source: Canada News Release | February 3, 2014

The Canadian government has announced that visitors to Canada will be automatically considered for a multiple-entry visa for 6 months at a time, for up to 10 years, without having to reapply, which will make it easier for international students to visit home. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) applauded the move. “CASA has been calling on the government to provide multiple-entry visas to students and we’re happy these changes are being made,” says CASA Chair Amanda Nielsen. “Improving the clarity of visa applications will help government reach the goal of increasing Canada’s international student population.” Canada recently launched its new International Education Strategy, sparking considerable discussion within the PSE sector.

TCS Insights: In the Government of Canada’s new strategy for international education it is explained that visitors to the country, international students included, will be able to travel to and from Canada with more ease than before. By granting students opportunities to return to their home countries while attending post-secondary institutions, the government aims to convince more international students to choose Canada as an educational destination.

Canada Seeks Input for New Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy

Source: Government of Canada News Release, Courtesy of Academica | January 8, 2014

The Canadian government is seeking public input on a new federal Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy, with the launch of a discussion paper to guide the dialogue. The paper asks how Canada can “continue to develop, attract and retain the world’s top research talent at our businesses, research institutions, colleges and polytechnics, and universities” as well as “Is the Government of Canada’s suite of programs appropriately designed to best support research excellence?” Submissions will be accepted until February 7, and then the government will release an updated strategy “in the months following the consultation phase.”

TCS Insights: The Government of Canada indicated in 2013 that it would update their Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy while continuing to invest in research. This revision will be finalized after reviewing public input and is expected to continue the trend of recent achievements that have lead to greater funding of research.

Only 10% of Students Have Access to Higher Education in Country

Source: Times of India via Newswatch India | January 5, 2014

NEW DELHI: Access to education beyond higher secondary schooling is a mere 10% among the university-age population in India. This is the finding of a report “Intergenerational and Regional Differentials in Higher Education in India” authored by development economist, Abusaleh Shariff of the Delhi-based Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy and Amit Sharma, research analyst of the National Council of Applied Economic Research.  
 
The report says that a huge disparity exists — as far as access to higher education is concerned — across gender, socio-economic religious groups and geographical regions. The skew is most marked across regions. Thus, a dalit or Muslim in south India, though from the most disadvantaged among communities, would have better access to higher education than even upper caste Hindus in many other regions. Interestingly, people living in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal — designated as the north central region — and those in northeast India have the worst access to higher education. Those in southern India and in the northern region — consisting of Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Haryana and Delhi — are relatively better placed in this regard.  
 
In the age group 22-35 years, over 15% in the northern region and 13% in the southern region have access to higher education. In the north-central region, the number is just 10% for men and 6% for women whereas in the northeast, only 8% men and 4% women have access to higher education.  
 
The report, brought out by the US-India Policy Institute in Washington, is based on data from the 64th round of NSSO survey 2007-08. It throws up quite a few other interesting facts. For instance, among communities, tribals and dalits fare worst with just 1.8% of them having any higher education. Muslims are almost as badly off, with just 2.1% able to go for further learning. Similarly, just 2% of the rural population is educated beyond higher secondary level, compared to 12% of the urban population and just 3% of women got a college education compared to 6% of men.  
 
South India offers the best opportunities for socially inclusive access to higher education including technical education and education in English medium. For instance, the share of Hindu SC/ST in technical education in south India is about 22%, and the share of Muslims 25%. These were the lowest shares among all communities in south India. But this was higher than the share of most communities including Hindu OBCs and upper caste Hindus in most other regions. South India also has the highest proportion of higher education in the private sector at about 42%, followed by western India where it is 22%. The northeast has the least privatized higher education sector and is almost entirely dependent on government-run or aided institutions.  
 
Not surprisingly, government institutions are the cheapest places to study at, with annual expenditures ranging from less than Rs 1,000 to around Rs 1,500, except in north and south India, where the average is above Rs 2,000. Both private and private-aided institutions are quite costly, making them difficult to access for the poor. With little regulation of the quality of education and cost differentials, the poor and deprived are often trapped in low quality education, the report points out. It adds that although free education is provided at school level, it is almost non-existent at higher levels.  
 
The report also compares India’s low 10% access to higher education with China’s 22% enrolment and the 28% enrolment in the US. Since the early 1990s, China’s post-secondary enrolments grew from 5 million to 27 million, while India’s expanded from 5 million to just 13 million, says the report, while emphasizing that higher education has the potential to enhance productivity and economic value both at the individual and national levels.  
 
“The government has to urgently address the geographical skew in the availability of higher education facilities in the two regions of north-east and north-central,” says Shariff. “The central region, comprising Chhattisgarh, MP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha, too needs attention. There is so much talk about a Harvard in India. I say, give two hoots to Harvard. What we need are thousands of community colleges that can offer professional courses so that youngsters can improve their skills and become employable.”

TCS Insights: In regards to the ability to access a higher education, disparities are apparent across a various groups in India. Due to a lack of regulation, in terms of the quality of education provided, not being able to afford a private institution can lead to individuals earning a poorer education because of where they are from, in addition to factors such as religious beliefs and gender. It is thought that increased enrolment in higher education has been linked to both individual and national improvements.

Canada Announces $43 Million in NSERC Grants

Source: Canada News Release, Courtesy of Academica | January 9, 2014

Canadian Minister of State (Science and Technology) Greg Rickford today announced that the most recent round of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) funding will provide $43 million to 77 research teams at universities across the country. The funding will go towards 2 grants: the Strategic Network Grants and the Strategic Project Grants. The funds will help researchers work with companies and other organizations on long-term projects to address industrial and societal challenges.

TCS InsightsThe Canadian government aims to use these grants to increase research and training in areas that influence the Canadian economy and environment over the next decade. Additionally, this funding will go towards research that involves interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers and institutions such as solar power and cloud-based computing projects.