No to Navitas — Carrie Dawson, president-elect of Dalhousie Faculty Association, & Terry Mitchell, the association’s president, distributed an open letter to the university community denouncing the Navitas deal. [Photo: David Tindall]
A for-profit education corporation is facing stiff opposition in its bid to set up a private college offering academic modules and English language training on the University of Windsor campus.
After hours of internal debate last month on a proposed joint venture with Study Group International, the university’s senate voted against part of the plan to create “degree pathways” for international students.
The vote is a blow to SGI’s ambition to establish a greater presence in Canada, but a victory for faculty and students who campaigned against what they called the “outsourcing” of education.
James Winter, a communications, media and film studies professor at Windsor, says the proposed partnership would compromise the quality and reputation of the university. In a January op-ed piece in the Windsor Star, he cautioned against the university’s ambition to tap into potential new revenue streams, stating that “our concern for international students and balanced budgets must not lead us to abandon academic integrity.”
Despite the rejection by senate, the Windsor-SGI deal isn’t dead yet. February’s vote was on establishing SGI programs in business. Proposed deals for the faculties of science and arts and social sciences are reportedly to be considered by the university senate this month.
Brian Brown, head of the university’s faculty association, said measures are being taken to ensure members in each of the affected faculties are aware of the negative impacts of the deal.
Dalhousie University in Halifax, meanwhile, is exploring a public-private partnership with SGI’s competitor, Navitas.
Navitas, a for-profit company that has already established prep colleges for international students on two Canadian campuses — the Fraser International College at Simon Fraser University and University of Manitoba’s International College Manitoba — is now looking to contract with Dalhousie to operate a similar venture at the university.
In an open letter to the Dalhousie community, the faculty association says negotiations on the proposed partnership should be abandoned and that the administration should consult with faculty and students about building capacity for recruiting and supporting a more diverse student body.
“Instead of putting our reputation in the hands of a profit-driven corporation like Navitas, we should be working together to foster and support in-house programs that are taught by our faculty and taught to our standards,” the letter says.
Opposition isn’t new to SGI or Navitas. The two companies, along with competitors INTO and Kaplan, are aggressively seeking growth partnerships with universities in other countries, and in most cases, education trade unions are fighting back.