B.C. government to review private school regulation
Investigation will look at how to protect students and universities' reputations
Erin Millar, Macleans.ca staff | Jun 26, 2007 |
The B.C. government is set to investigate whether laws regulating private career training institutions are effective. Advanced Education Minister Murray Coell announced that an independent review will be conducted by a former assistant deputy minister of education to determine whether students are being protected from education scams and whether the “overall goal of public confidence in private post-secondary education in B.C.” is being achieved.
The review comes as the B.C. government continues to struggle with a number of private institutions that have been operating in B.C. illegally. The government shut down two institutions, Lansbridge University and Kingston College, in the past few months because of multiple violations of the Degree Authorization Act.
The review announced this week will look at the effectiveness of various provincial bodies that regulate and monitor private institutions, whether English as a second language schools should be regulated, and how to protect B.C.’s post-secondary institutions’ reputations.
Most recently, the government announced an investigation into allegations that Rutherford College is granting degrees illegally. Rutherford University was ordered to cease advertising as a BC institution in March 2006. At the time, the school denied soliciting or enrolling BC students. However, Rutherford College continued to advertise that it operated in BC. The university previously operated in Wyoming until its license was revoked for failing to meet state regulations.
Vancouver University Worldwide was also ordered to stop granting degrees last month, bringing a 15-year dispute over whether the degrees are granted in B.C. to an end. Despite their downtown Vancouver address, the university’s president Raymond Rodgers still maintains that the school does not operate in B.C. and says that it will not respect the Supreme Court ruling.
The sudden closings that have left students stranded have not gone without notice overseas. China released a statement late last year advising students to avoid studying at private institutions in Canada, after reports of separate education scams in Ontario and BC. The warning, entitled “Don't Apply to Canadian Private Schools Blindly”, complains about substandard programs and a lack of support for international students victimized by these institutions.
Education scams at private colleges damage the public system’s reputation, said Dr. Greg Lee, president of Capilano College. “There is not a huge distinction made between [the public and private system] in other places.” He believes a national set of standards for all institutions may also be necessary to uphold Canada’s reputation internationally.
Dr. Franklin Gelin, executive director of the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer said, “International students want to know that when they are thinking about coming to Canada, that they have assurance of the quality of the institutions that they plan to enroll in.”
The B.C. government seems to be taking action with the announcement of the latest review.
Some changes to policy have already been made. Coell said the new rules announced this month will take effect this September and provide better protection for students and make the institutions more accountable. The measures include an online registry to show which institutions have had their accreditation cancelled or suspended, and a mechanism students can use to raise concerns about schools.
The institutions will also have to report on their advertising in B.C. and abroad, and there will be an annual performance review to check if the schools' programs match their approved education plans.