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CAUT Bulletin Archives

November 2004

Private Universities Legitimate

Thank you for your recent coverage of University Canada West (Bulletin, September 2004). However, I feel compelled to set the record straight.

To say that UCW was approved "despite criticism from B.C.'s academics" ignores the fact members of the province's Degree Quality Assessment Board and its expert panels are themselves academics (and members of CAUT) from major B.C. universities. Public comments on our applications were invited for 30 days, with few received, and our responses to public comment were satisfactory to the board. Furthermore, we have the support of many academics in B.C. and elsewhere. As well, outstanding members of Canadian academia have joined us as professors, administrators and advisors.

To state that "a university should offer a wide range of instructional programs" ignores the Canadian historical pattern that our big universities grew from very small ones with initially limited offerings. We anticipate a similar evolution.

To suggest that "allowing the expansion of private universities is a failed vision" may in itself be a failure of vision, considering the success of so many — names like Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford come to mind. With B.C. in the forefront, one day Canada, too, will have great private universities.

The generalization that "these private universities are notoriously expensive and . . . do not address the access problems for students" ignores our reality and intent. Our tuition fees are about double the Canadian average tuition because we receive no subsidies from government. The compensation for our undergraduates is that they can graduate in three years after meeting the same standards as public universities. UCW students will actually be better off financially by working in Year 4. The positive impact this approach will have on accessibility should be obvious.

Unfortunately the space allowed here prevents me from addressing other issues raised in your article, so I refer your readers to our website,, for further information.

David Strong
President, University Canada West