Navitas Update

John Ciriello, President

As you know, Western is engaged in negotiations with Navitas, a for-profit education provider, about creating a college for international students linked to Western. In brief, Navitas and Western would sign a 10 year agreement during which Navitas would recruit international students who Western may not otherwise admit. These students would complete a one-year program at the college, based at Western, and then be eligible for admission into Western undergraduate programs as second-year students. 

UWOFA has serious concerns about any agreement with Navitas. As a legal matter, it is concerned that the outsourcing of the teaching of these students violates the bargaining certificate between UWOFA and Western.  On principled grounds, UWOFA is concerned about the working conditions in such a college, where the instructors would likely be on precarious short-term contracts to teach specific courses.  Endorsing an agreement with Navitas would be inconsistent with UWOFA’s commitment to secure, full-time employment in the education sector. 

UWOFA has had communications with other Canadian universities who have rejected the opportunity to enter into a similar agreement with Navitas. Those Ontario universities that are in discussions have made clear that any agreement would have to include the provision that any teaching would fall under existing faculty collective agreements. At minimum, we expect no less of Western’s administration.

In any event, UWOFA opposes outsourcing teaching to a private corporation. Western is a public institution and our faculty takes pride in our Canadian education system.

I would also caution that Canada’s universities must not lose their credibility and risk their international standing to instead be seen as a means to bypass immigration laws through misleading promises that are so prevalent among some private colleges and universities.

An agreement with Navitas raises many other issues.  How would Western’s undergraduate programs and campus resources handle the increase in the number of students in each of years two, three and four of the undergraduate programs?  Would there be economic pressures to relax academic standards for admission of the college students into Western?  Is such an agreement compatible with Western’s goal of being known as one the world’s leading research universities?

Finally, I would urge the administration to be fully transparent throughout any negotiations, including ongoing dialogue with the various campus unions prior to entering into any 10 year commitment and contract.

If you have concerns or questions about an agreement with Navitas, we encourage you to raise them by e-mail with your Dean and with Western’s President and Provost.  We also encourage you to join UWOFA in pressing the administration for a commitment that no agreement is reached without more debate and final approval in the Senate.

John Ciriello