The following article continues the discussion by CUPE members from a previous article entitled Private for-profit education grows in Canada. This article provides more information and addresses concerns about the growing trend of private, for-profit programs on Canadian university campuses.
U.S.-based corporation EduMetry now has a toehold in Canadian universities and colleges, using outsourced labour from countries including Singapore, Malaysia, and India to grade post-secondary exams and assignments through its Virtual TA services. Virtual TA is just one example of how post-secondary education has become commercialized and globalized. There is one western Canadian institution already partnered with EduMetry, however, the CEO-Emeritus of EduMetry Inc. declined to identify the partner.
New Brunswick is a hub for virtual profit universities in Canada. It is the Canadian base for MeritusU, a subsidiary of the Apollo Group. Recently, Apollo has underwent scrutiny when the U.S. Government Accountability Office report (August 2010) found that staff at some controversial colleges encouraged potential students to fudge their income on loan forms and give misleading information about costs.
New Brunswick was home to Lansbridge University, a Canadian company. The university, previously located in British Columbia, was ordered closed in 2007 due to serious questions about administration, admissions standards, credit transfer criteria and other issues.
According to the fact sheet provided by the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education regarding the Lansbridge closure, the company failed to maintain financial security as required by the degree authorization regulations and the terms and conditions of consent. The school also failed to comply with the condition that limits a student’s financial obligation to 12 months and several other infractions.
On August 20, 2010, the Province of New Brunswick announced that Lansbridge University would no longer be able to operate as a post-secondary degree-granting institution. As stated in the news release, “Following two failed institutional reviews, a subsequent onsite inspection found that Lansbridge University was still non-compliant and significantly sub-standard, and as a result, did not meet the standards outlined in the Degree Granting Act and regulations.”
Another school with a troubled past is University Canada West, a private institution owned by the Eminata Group in British Columbia. The university was teetering on bankruptcy when the company sold it in 2005. It was one of B.C.’s first for-profit universities and offered on-line programs, as well as a physical campus.
Enrollment pressures are great on Canadian post-secondary institutions. Student numbers have grown faster than campus infrastructure, so class sizes are often too large. Providing access to post-secondary education while ensuring its quality remains a major challenge. The growing evidence from the U.S. indicates the for-profit virtual university is no solution and Canadian universities, faculty and potential students should be more aware of the potential pitfalls of privatized post-secondary education.
For more information:
- Read the article For-Profit Colleges Misled Students, Witnesses Say published by Bloomberg.
- Watch the PBS documentary entitled College Inc. about for-profit universities in the U.S., which focuses on the Apollo Group.