President Addresses For Profit Education Provider Seeking Western Foothold

John Ciriello

Members of UWOFA,

As some of 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 foreign students who Western would not otherwise admit. These students would complete a one-year program at the college, based at Western, and then be eligible for admission into a Western undergraduate program as a second-year student.  For more details, see the online information about the program linked to the University of Manitoba called the International College of Manitoba or the Fraser International College at Simon Fraser University that are also run by Navitas.

UWOFA opposes an 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. 

An agreement with Navitas raises many other issues.  How would Western’s undergraduate programs and campus resources handle an increase of 750 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? Could Western’s objectives be met through better development of our own internal resources and capacities rather than by outsourcing to a for-profit corporation?

UWOFA has heard that several other Canadian universities, including in Ontario, have rejected the opportunity to enter into a similar agreement with Navitas.

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 will be reached without debate and approval in the Senate.

John Ciriello