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CAUT Bulletin Archives

September 2001

CAUT Condemns Recognition of Newest For-Profit University

At a time when Canada's & New Brunswick's public universities are badly underfunded, any public money going to private universities is too much.

Just months after the government of Alberta's decision to recognize the DeVry Institute of Technology as a private university, the province of New Brunswick has followed suit with its first for-profit degree-granting institution. In June, Internet-based Lansbridge University was given degree-granting status by the province's Ministry of Education.

The university, owned and operated by Ottawa-based Learnsoft Corporation, currently offers both a Master of Business Administration program and an Executive Master of Business Administration program via the Internet.

CAUT has called on the government of New Brunswick to reconsider its decision to officially recognize the privately-owned and for-profit university. In a letter to Premier Bernard Lord, CAUT president Tom Booth expressed "strong opposition" to New Brunswick's accreditation of Lansbridge University.

"This decision has negative implications for the people of New Brunswick and for all Canadians," Booth said. "Already, Lansbridge and Learnsoft have received more than $600,000 in public grants and loans. At a time when Canada's and New Brunswick's public universities are badly underfunded, any public money going to private universities is too much."

Booth also warned that additional public money will likely flow to Lansbridge."Given that the federal and provincial governments guarantee student loans and offer interest relief, the student loan program subsidizes private post-secondary institutions," he said. "In fact, the highest rate of default on student loans is among students at private institutions."

Students at Lansbridge will be eligible for tuition fee and education tax credits and those who graduate with student loans will be eligible to claim a tax credit for interest paid. And, according to Booth, "staff at Lansbridge will likely be able to apply for public research grants from federal and provincial sources."

The association also warns about the potential implications the accreditation of Lansbridge will have with regard to Canada's international trade obligations.

"Public services like education are generally protected from trade agreements as long as they are provided by governments, on a not-for-profit basis, and not in competition with other providers," Booth said. "Given that Lansbridge is a for-profit enterprise, we fear its accreditation could expose post-secondary education to the disciplines of trade agreements."

CAUT has asked the Premier to rethink the decision to recognize Lansbridge and to focus energy and resources on supporting New Brunswick's public universities.