On Campus

Meritus University brushes off CAUT criticism

Private university denies receiving public funds

An emerging online university in New Brunswick has denied outright that it is benefiting at all from post-secondary funding dedicated to public universities, the school’s president said yesterday.

John Crossley told The Daily Gleaner that his private, for-profit schoolexpected to roll out courses this fallhas never even applied for funding from any level of government.

Just one day earlier in the Daily Gleaner, Canadian Association of University Teachers executive director James Turk called New Brunswick’s public funding of the private institution “irresponsible.”

“They make a pitch to government for various kinds of financial support and assistance,” Turk said of Meritus Univesity, “and every penny that goes to them is a penny that should go to the cash-strapped public universities. It is irresponsible for the government of New Brunswick to be putting money into private, for-profit universities.”

But Crossley told the paper that no such requests for funding were ever made.
“It was suggested by the (CAUT) that Meritus is somehow taking away from public universities, but in fact, none of that is true,” he said. “No money has been diverted from support of public universities because no money was given to Meritus.”

Meritus is owned by Apollo Group Inc., a Phoenix, Arizona-based company that is one of the world’s largest providers of private education. It’s most important property is the University of Phoenix, which describes itself on its website as “the largest private university in North America, with nearly 200 convenient locations, as well as Internet delivery in most countries around the world.” Turk accused the organization of having “a murky past” thanks to two cash settlements it was forced to make in 2004 that both involved recruitment policies. The settlements totalled almost U.S. $290 million.

Crossley again denied that those cases had any bearing on the quality of education provided by Meritus.

“Bringing up two old and debatable court decisions does not say anything about Apollo Group or Meritus University,” he told the Daily Gleaner.

Meritus will offer several business-related degrees: a master’s in business administration and bachelor’s degrees in business administration and information technology management. It is headquartered in Fredericton’s Knowledge Park.

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