HALIFAX – Nearly 40 university leaders met in Halifax yesterday to share strategies to reduce students’ high-risk drinking and explore ways to work together to curb the problem.
The day-long workshop, co-hosted by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and Acadia University, looked at the possibility of launching a new cross-Canada collaboration among universities and colleges to reduce high-risk drinking on Canadian campuses.
The workshop brought together university presidents, vice-presidents and directors of student services as well as representatives of community colleges. They laid the groundwork for a collaborative initiative among postsecondary institutions to decrease high-risk alcohol use and identified next steps – both immediate and long-term – to move this effort forward.
Participants heard from Ann Dowsett Johnston, public policy advocate and author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship between Women and Alcohol, and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer. A video keynote address by Jim Kim, president of The World Bank and former president of Dartmouth College which led the National College Health Improvement Program’s learning collaborative on high-risk drinking in the United States, opened the event.
This was the latest in a series of AUCC workshops for Canada’s university presidents aimed at taking action to improve students’ well-being and educational success. Other ongoing efforts focus on addressing mental health challenges on campus and the strengthening the role of university leadership in student-led orientation activities.
The workshop was co-sponsored by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services as part of its annual conference in Halifax, June 8-11, 2014.
“Universities are taking positive steps to cut down high-risk drinking on campus. We increasingly understand the damage alcohol can cause students – from jeopardizing their educational experiences to putting their safety at risk. This workshop allowed university leaders to begin developing a made-in-Canada solution to learn more about solutions for a complex problem.”
Christine Tausig Ford, vice-president, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
“High-risk drinking cannot be accepted as a traditional rite of passage for university students. There are serious – and very often harmful – impacts related to alcohol consumption on our campuses. As university presidents, we care about our students and want them to be safe. We are therefore committed to finding a way forward that reduces the probability of harms among our student population.”
Ray Ivany, president, Acadia University
AUCC is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, representing the interests of 97 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities and university degree-level colleges.
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The Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) join the Royal as partners to promote free mental wellness app on campuses across the country
OTTAWA — The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, along with its partners, has launched the HealthyMinds app to foster healthy minds and provide students with a problem-solving tool to help them better manage their emotions and cope with the stresses they encounter on and off campus. The goal of HealthyMinds is to emphasize the importance of taking care of one’s brain health as part of overall physical well-being.
Through a donation from D.I.F.D. (Do It For Daron), The Royal developed the app in response to requests from students who participate in their successful Is It Just Me? mental health awareness program. A great number of youth asked for ways on how to better cope with day-to-day pressures, stressful situations and how to keep their emotions in check.
“You can’t have health without good mental health” said George Weber, President and CEO of The Royal. “By taking care of our brain health, we enhance resilience and the ability to face life’s challenges. A needed skill in today’s fast-paced society where the need to stay connected is high,” added Weber.
HealthyMinds features a daily mood tracker to help stay mindful of emotions, as well as a journaling feature with photo entry capability. A problem solving tool linked to iCalendar also guides users step-by step through the process of identifying, reframing and developing a plan to address challenges in life based on a problem solving approach used in mental health treatment. The app also features coping and stress buster strategies, information on mind and body and a video breathing exercise to help calm the mind.
The Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) have joined as partners to help promote the app and the message of mental wellness and healthy minds on campuses across the country. ACCC and AUCC will promote HealthyMinds to their member institutions to help generate awareness among students about getting this free mental health tool.
“We are pleased to support the HealthyMinds initiative because students need awareness of their mental health, as well as their physical health to succeed,” said Denise Amyot, President and CEO of ACCC. “In an increasingly mobile world, student access to mental health support on-the-go is a great idea and we hope it has a positive impact on learning.”
“Canada’s universities offer many services and programs aimed at mental wellness on campus,” notes Paul Davidson, President and CEO of AUCC. “We’re pleased to see the launch of HealthyMinds as a promising tool to help support students’ mental health wherever they are.”
HealthyMinds is now available for free for iPhone, iPad, iPad mini and iPod Touch through the App Store or through healthymindsapp.ca, theroyal.ca, and difd.com, where printable promotional materials are also available.
About The Royal
The Royal is one of Canada’s foremost mental health care and academic health science centres. Its mandate is simple: to get more people living with mental illness into recovery faster. The Royal combines the delivery of specialized mental health care, advocacy, research and education to transform the lives of people with complex and treatment resistant mental illness. For more information, visit theroyal.ca.
The Association of Canadian Community Colleges is the national and international voice of 131 of Canada’s publicly-funded colleges and institutes, with 1.5 million learners of all ages and backgrounds at campuses serving over 3,000 urban, rural and remote communities.
As the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada represents 97 public and private not-for-profit universities and university degree-level colleges. It is a membership organization providing university presidents with a unified voice and a forum for collective action. AUCC has represented the interests of Canadian universities since 1911.
Do It For Daron was created by friends and family of 14-year-old Daron Richardson, who died by suicide in 2010. D.I.F.D. is inspired by hope for a future where young people will reach out for help without fear or shame and supports programs and initiatives aimed at transforming youth mental health. Visit difd.com to learn more.
Vice President, Communication & Stakeholder Relations, The Royal
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Director of Communications, ACCC
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This op-ed was published in a special insert in the Toronto Star September 20, 2013
President of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
Today’s university students are preparing for the world of work in new and innovative ways. From hands-on research opportunities to internships and global study, Canada’s universities are preparing students for meaningful careers through non-traditional learning opportunities.
Universities and their students recognize the importance of connecting studies with the needs of the labour market, and that’s reflected in what’s happening on campus. Students prepare for rewarding careers through growing opportunities for experiential learning. Today, half of all undergraduate students in Canada will have a co-op or internship experience before they graduate.
Employment data confirms that a university degree remains the best protection against unemployment. In fact, just 3.7 percent of 25 to 64 year-olds with bachelor’s degrees earned in Canada were unemployed in 2010 to 2011.
It’s not just the ‘how’ of learning that has evolved; it’s also the ‘what’. New programs have been added to address the needs of our changing economy, emerging areas such as health science policy, non-profit leadership, community relations in extractive industries, palliative nursing, health industry management and design engineering.
“Regardless of subject area, a university degree gives students skills that are sought by today’s employers. And despite media criticism to the contrary, graduates in the social sciences and humanities also enjoy a significant income premium.”
Students are aware of which disciplines are in high demand and are gravitating to these areas in growing numbers. From 2005 to 2010, enrolment has grown fastest in high-demand disciplines such as business, law, various health professions and engineering.
As a recent CIBC report highlights, the most in-demand jobs in Canada today require a university degree. These include managers in health, education, social and community services; human resources and business service professionals; and supervisors in manufacturing and processing.
Awareness about the value of a university degree is reflected in growing enrolments. More than 1.2 million Canadians are currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Canada – a new record.
University students know there are income level differences related to field of study. They are also aware of the significant income premium of a university degree across disciplines. Regardless of subject area, a university degree gives students skills that are sought by today’s employers. And despite media criticism to the contrary, graduates in the social sciences and humanities also enjoy a significant income premium. For example, full-time workers with undergraduate degrees in history earn, on average, around $60,000 annually – the same as graduates with degrees in biological and biomedical sciences.
Employment data confirms that a university degree remains the best protection against unemployment. In fact, just 3.7 percent of 25 to 64 year-olds with bachelor’s degrees earned in Canada were unemployed in 2010 to 2011. This compares to 6.9 percent unemployment for all others in this age group and to 6.6 percent for high school graduates in this age range.
Awareness about the value of a university degree is reflected in growing enrolments. More than 1.2 million Canadians are currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Canada – a new record. In the last dozen years, Canadian universities have made space for a 50 percent increase in full-time enrolment.
Why such an increase? Because the labour market has demanded it. Because students and their families see university as the surest path to prosperity. And because, as a nation, we need the continued advantage of a well-educated population.
Paul Davidson, President
OTTAWA – Recent university graduates from across Canada are sharing their experiences in the transition from studies to work on a new website, UniversityWorks, launched today by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. The short videos on UniversityWorks highlight how a high-quality undergraduate experience leads to rewarding careers.
“These personal stories reinforce what the data has been telling us: even in a tough economy, a university education pays off,” says Paul Davidson, AUCC president. “Canada needs more postsecondary graduates, including those with university, college, polytechnic and trade credentials, to achieve its economic prosperity in the years ahead,” he added. “The testimonials on the UniversityWorks website show how beneficial university experiences such as hands-on-research, study-abroad opportunities, and co-op placements are preparing students for fulfilling careers.” With today’s launch, 10 videos (English and French) are being shared, with more testimonials to be added in the weeks ahead.
Canadians are also encouraged to share their own stories about their study-to-work transition by submitting videos to the UniversityWorks site.
AUCC is the national voice of Canada’s universities, representing 97 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities across the country.
Follow the discussion on Twitter #universityworks.
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Earlier this week, CIBC World Markets released a report that questions the economic pay-off for a university degree. The data in the report can easily be misinterpreted by commentators. We’d like to put the numbers into context.
CIBC says the unemployment rate for university graduates is only 1.7 percent lower than the rate for those with a high school education. In fact, just 3.7 percent of 25-64 year-olds with bachelor’s degrees and 3.8 percent with master’s degrees earned in Canada were unemployed in 2010-11. This compares to 6.9 percent unemployment for all others in this age group and to 6.6 percent for high school graduates in this age range. Unemployment rates fluctuate far less for university graduates than they do for those who have completed only secondary school, so in more difficult economic times, the gap is often much wider.
CIBC says students are not gravitating towards disciplines with high labour market demand. Students are aware of which disciplines are in high demand and are gravitating to these areas in growing numbers. From 2005 to 2010 (a more recent period than that used in the CIBC study), enrolment has grown fastest in high-demand disciplines such as business, law, various health professions and engineering. 
University students know there are income level differences related to field of study. There is also awareness that, regardless of discipline, a university degree gives students skills that are sought by today’s employers. The analytical and critical thinking skills graduates acquire through arts degrees are in demand and help grads adapt to changes in the labour market. Graduates in the social sciences and humanities also enjoy significant income premiums. For example, full-time workers with undergraduate degrees in history earn, on average, around $60,000 annually – the same as graduates with degrees in biological and biomedical sciences. 
CIBC suggests that many university students aren’t adequately considering labour market needs when choosing their course of study. Universities and their students recognize the importance of connecting studies with the needs of the labour market. In addition to the analytical and critical thinking skills acquired through a university education, students are prepared for rewarding careers through growing opportunities for experiential learning, such as internships and co-ops. Today half of all undergraduate students in Canada will have a co-op or internship experience before they graduate.
CIBC points out that Canada has the highest postsecondary attainment rate of any OECD country. While true, it is sometimes incorrectly stated in media reports that Canada ranks first among OECD countries in university attainment. In fact, Canada ranks first in college attainment, but drops to 15th in university attainment. As a previous CIBC report shows, the most in-demand jobs in Canada today require a university degree (in fields such as health management, social services, human resources and business services). Even in the face of economic uncertainty, the demand for university-educated employees is growing. Between July 2008 and July 2013, 810,000 net new jobs were created for university graduates, while 540,000 jobs were lost for those with no postsecondary education.
Not all countries report their employment and income data to the OECD in exactly the same manner, so the comparison of the share of graduates with relatively low income is somewhat misleading. In its reports to the OECD, Statistics Canada included people whose main activity for the year was not work – i.e. students; people taking time away from full-time work to care for their children, parents or other relatives; or choosing to work part-time for other reasons. Including those who are choosing alternatives mostly outside of work inflates the share of grads with low income to 17 percent. When only university graduates who reported working for an employer as their primary activity are considered, only five percent were in the lower earnings category used by the OECD.
In fact, the income advantage between university graduates and high school graduates continues to widen. The weekly average incomes for bachelor’s graduates increased by $203 between 2002 and 2012 while the income for high school graduates increased by $164. Given the lower base salaries for high school graduates, this translates into faster income growth for high school grads, but not an actual closing of the gap.
As a trading nation in a knowledge economy, it is increasingly important that Canada has highly educated people with skills needed to compete globally, such as language and cultural knowledge. Canada needs more university graduates – in all disciplines – to build prosperity and thrive in the coming decades. When data is misinterpreted, it affects the decisions Canadians will make about their futures.
 Statistics Canada National Household Survey, 2011
 Adapted from Statistics Canada, Postsecondary Student Information System, 2012. This does not constitute an endorsement by Statistics Canada of this product.
 Statistics Canada’s 2006 Census of Population
 Canadian University Survey Consortium, 2012 CUSC Survey of Graduating Students
 OECD, Education at a Glance 2012
 CIBC World Markets, The Haves and Have Nots of Canada’s Labour Market, December 3, 2012