The New Brunswick government is shutting down Lansbridge University, a Fredericton-based online for-profit university, over administration and finance irregularities.
The move follows a recommendation from the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, which provides the province with quality assurance for degree-granting private institutions.
The private school, which billed itself as Canada’s premier online business university, has been under review by the commission since 2008.
In 2009 the school was ordered to comply with four conditions: inform its students that it had failed the assessment, correct the areas identified as deficient by the commission, implement a student protection agreement and pay for a second review.
A second assessment concluded earlier this year found that the problems persisted, so the government ordered an inspection by academic governance experts, who verified Lansbridge still hadn’t corrected the issues found in each of the reviews.
“Following two failed institutional reviews, a subsequent onsite inspection found that Lansbridge University was still non-compliant and significantly sub-standard, and as a result, did not meet the standards outlined in the Degree Granting Act and regulations,” said an Aug. 20 statement from the province’s department of post-secondary education.
Mireille Duguay, the commission’s CEO, told the Globe and Mail that Lansbridge lacked credibility.
“If you’re going to be granting degrees in this province, the institution that will grant those degrees has to be credible in the pan-Canadian perspective,” she said. “As such, (there) are certain standards that have to be abided to that are not the same standards as you may have for a little convenience store.”
The New Brunswick school, which had about 170 students, is part of a for-profit education empire owned by Vancouver businessman Michael Lo.
Two more of Lo’s schools — Lansbridge University and Kingston College in Vancouver — were shut down by the BC government in 2007.
The provincial government suspended operations at BC Lansbridge after an independent inspector concluded it had advertised programs illegally, provided misleading information to government, exposed students to financial risk, offered inadequate services and kept sloppy student files, including transcripts printed on the back of recycled e-mails.
Similar charges led to the shut-down of Kingston College.
“We protested the government’s decision to license Lansbridge back in 2001 because we anticipated these kinds of problems and because we didn’t want to see our badly underfunded public universities and colleges having to compete for public funds with for-profit degree-granting institutions,” said James Turk, CAUT’s executive director.
“It’s time that governments across Canada learn from the scandals that have plagued so many of these private schools and recognize that no-one except the owners and shareholders are benefitting from these kinds of enterprises in the long term — not the students, not the staff, and certainly not Canada’s public post-secondary education system as a whole.”