On Campus

New Brunswick shuts down private online university

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

A private online university based in New Brunswick will close by the end of the year after questions arose about its administration and finances, but the school says the shutdown is unfair. The province’s Department of Post-Secondary Education ordered Lansbridge University to close after three reviews found problems with the school’s operations.

The concerns over Lansbridge date back to December 2007, when a review by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission was launched. It found that Lansbridge had failed to meet 10 of 16 benchmarks for post-secondary schools, including dispute resolution, student protection and financial stability. In February 2009, the post-secondary education minister ordered that Lansbridge comply with four conditions: inform its students that it had failed the assessment, address the commission’s concerns, implement a student protection agreement, and pay for a second review.

Rene Boudreau, New Brunswick’s director of post-secondary affairs, says the department did not immediately shut down the school after the first assessment because it believed the university had potential to improve.

Lansbridge underwent the second review, which concluded the school had not made sufficient progress. The department then ordered an investigation conducted by academic governance experts, which confirmed the findings of the first two reviews. The department ordered the school effectively shuttered.

Lansbridge president Ernest Smith did not return calls seeking comment. But in a statement, the school disputed the department’s decision. “We are stunned as to why the (degree-granting) license was revoked. Our programs have been deemed by our students and faculty as above average,” Lansbridge said in a statement. The school said it will prepare a response to the department.

Mireille Duguay, CEO of the commission that carried out the first two reviews, said 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 business school had been offering MBA programs to more than 150 students, most of whom are Canadian.

The Canadian Press

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