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CAUT Bulletin Archives

November 2004

CUFA-BC Replies

David Strong's letter presupposes that the process and criteria used by the B.C. Degree Quality Assessment Board (DQAB) are sufficient to judge the quality of a degree program or of a new university.

The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of B.C. has worked on the issue of private degree programs for nearly a decade, and has engaged in an ongoing debate with the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education for two-and-a-half years on the specific criteria used by the DQAB. To date, we are still not satisfied the criteria are sufficiently rigorous to ensure students enrolled in private programs will receive a high-quality education.

We might have given Strong the benefit of the doubt had he been more forthcoming about the details of his proposals. But he rebuffed every opportunity we gave him to further explain his intentions. Moreover, the DQAB has declined to provide us with more information about why it recommended approval of University Canada West and its two degree programs.

Strong evokes the names of great private educational institutions to justify his enterprise, but given the information he has made public, we think that comparisons might be better made with DeVry University, University of Phoenix or ITT Educational Services.

Although the business degree programs University Canada West will start offering in January appear acceptable, the institution is still a long way from being worthy of designation as a university.

If Strong were committed to the evolution of his institution into a real university, then he might better have started it as a college (like the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia were) and earned the right to call it a university. This would be more in keeping with Canadian educational history than what has happened in this case.

Robert Clift
Executive Director, Confederation of University Faculty Associations of B.C.