On Aug. 30 the B.C. government quietly posted a discussion paper on a new private training policy framework on its website.
Using the language of deregulation and cutting red tape, that are the hallmarks of the B.C. Liberal government, the proposed new policy framework would effectively remove many institutions from any regulatory oversight.
The current Private Post-Secondary Education Act was passed in 1991, creating the Private Post-Secondary Education Commission and requiring that all private training institutions in the province be, at a minimum, registered with PPSEC. The 1991 legislation responded to widespread concern that the regulatory framework for private training institutions was lax and that student or consumer protection needed to be improved. As the province with the largest number of private institutions (currently more than 1,100 private training institutions are registered with the Commission), this was an important issue for B.C.
The proposed new framework would focus on consumer protection only for those students in career-related training programs that exceed 40 hours of instruction and $1,000 in tuition. The narrowed scope of protection would remove many English as a Second Language programs from licensing requirements. The framework document is also vague as to the mechanism for tuition protection - leaving a decision about such protection to be dealt with by a new industry-appointed and funded board.
The B.C. government has requested feedback by Sept. 27.
The B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education document "Proposed Features of the New Private Training Policy Framework: Discussion Paper" is available at www.aved. gov.bc.ca/branches/privateinstitutions.