Private universities get the nod

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By Natalie Alcoba

Despite strong CFS opposition, Bill 132, which allows private universities and colleges to apply for degree-granting status in Ontario, was passed by the provincial government Dec. 20.

Erin George, president of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, said she’s disappointed with the outcome, but said her organization did the best it could.

“We’ve been as successful as we could be with a majority Tory government.”

George said the pressure CFS put on the government forced Dianne Cunningham, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, to hold three public consultations on the bill in November.

The CFS made a 30-minute presentation during a meeting on Nov. 29, but the bill went ahead unchanged.

Dave Ross, senior media relations coordinator for the ministry, said private universities will offer students alternative access to postsecondary education.

“The other [public] universities are open to the idea,” Ross said. “They like the competition.”

Judy Fraser, director of communications and marketing at the DeVry Institute of Technology in Ontario, said having degree-granting status in the province will keep Canadian students from going south of the border to get degrees.

“A lot of kids go to the U.S. to finish their degree program and never come back, so we’re losing a lot of our best minds,” Fraser said.

Although the bill has passed, George said the CFS will continue to voice its opposition as private universities move into the province.

The next step for the ministry is to form a quality assessment board to evaluate the private programs. Ross said once the board is formed, the new institutions should start appearing within a year.

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