Volume 93, Issue 46

November 19, 1999


Admin may face review

Government announces cuts

Province may find itself home to private universities

Reform policy may harm UN friendship

The mysteries of medicine revealed


Province may find itself home to private universities

By Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

Ontario's educational landscape could be in for a change, as Premier Mike Harris' government considers letting private, for-profit universities plant themselves in Ontario soil.

"We're looking at the possibility of privately-funded universities as we try to come up with the best possible method of delivering post-secondary education," said Kerry Delaney, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Delaney confirmed while the Ministry has heard a presentation from an American firm specializing in private universities, it has not made any commitments. "There has been no decision yet. At this point, it's just an option on the table," she said.

Apollo Group, the American-based corporation which made the presentation, already owns the University of Phoenix, North America's largest for-profit university, said Craig Swenson, the university's senior regional vice-president.

Swenson explained an Apollo Group private university is a unique one which focuses on managerial and professional fields.

However, Henry Mandebaum, executive director of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, said he believed there are many evils inherent in the idea of private post-secondary education.

Mandebaum said while private schools claim to operate without any financial aid from the government, they are still a drain on government resources. "They're private in name only. Students going there would still be eligible for [student loans] and the schools would also get grants."

Although Ontario's system is flawed, Mandebaum said it is still manageable and can be improved. "Education in Ontario is a financially plagued system right now and what's been proposed is an intrusive measure. It's a troubled system, but it can still meet the needs of Ontarians."

Jerry Paquette, professor of education at Western, said he was also skeptical. "The only way I can see a private university making a go of it in the Ontario context is by charging a big buck for its services," he said.

However, Delaney said private universities would not siphon funds from government coffers. "They would not be supported by Ontario taxpayers," she said.

Swenson reiterated her view. "We receive absolutely no funding from the U.S. government. Our students do get access to guaranteed students loans, but they have to eventually pay those back, so the money follows the students. In Canada too, we would receive no government funding at all," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999