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Ex-provincial bureaucrat hired to run private school at U of M

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A former provincial government bureaucrat has been hired to run an Australian-based private school on the U of M campus.

Susan Deane left her job two weeks ago at the Council on Post Secondary Education, where she was the manager of university relations, and took over on Monday as director and principal of the International College of Manitoba.

The for-profit, private school is owned by the Australian firm Navitas Limited, which operates a string of similar colleges around the world, recruiting non-English speaking international students and preparing them for second-year university by providing small classroom settings for intensive English language classes and first-year prepatory courses.

Deane did not return calls from the Free Press.

The International College of Manitoba has a website (www.icmanitoba.ca) that prominently features a photograph of the U of M administration building on its main page, entitled ‘Your pathway to the University of Manitoba,’ and states in its opening paragraph that “ICM guarantees you entry into second year university.”

The confidential deal between Navitas and the U of M administration has drawn criticism from members of the university’s board of governors and senate and from faculty and students, who are upset that the university administration negotiated the deal without informing the campus community.

The issue came up at Wednesday’s meeting of senate, where members debated a motion requiring the administration to reveal portions of the Navitas deal that concerned academic matters. The motion was defeated.

“There are major concerns that remain by students and faculty,” Brad McKenzie, vice president of the faculty association and a professor of social work, said following today’s senate meeting.

McKenzie said the faculty association believes portions of the Navitas deal must be brought to the senate, adding the association will meet soon to discuss its next move.

Navitas set up its first Canadian college a year ago on the campus of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, where its school is known as the Fraser International College. Navitas is also negotiating a similar deal with McMaster University in Hamilton.

U of M critics point out that the administrations at the other universities brought the deals to their boards and senate for approval.

The U of M’s vice president academic, Robert Kerr, described the Navitas deal as strictly a business arrangement that did not need to be reviewed or approved by either the board of governors or the Senate.

Campus critics said that since Navitas students will be taught courses that have been reviewed by U of M academic departments and that those courses will be recognized by the U of M, then the deal should have been brought to the senate and board of governors for approval.

Critics pointed out that the name of the private school violates the University of Manitoba Act, which prohibits any school, college or any other institution of learning from using the word “Manitoba” as part of its name.

A spokeswoman for the provincial department of Advanced Education said senior department staff were at this afternoon’s senate meeting and not able to comment on the dispute.

A spokesman for Advanced Education Minister Diane McGifford said the campus dispute has to be settled by the University of Manitoba.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 6, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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