Prep college would 'jeopardize Dal's reputation': Faculty

Dalhousie Faculty Association criticizes university's plan to outsource the education of international students.

A proposed prep college for international students at Dalhousie University would put students at a disadvantage and jeopardize Dalhousie’s reputation, the school’s faculty members say.

The university’s Faculty Association sent an open letter to the Dalhousie community on Tuesday morning criticizing the school’s proposal to let Navitas, a private academic recruiting company, open an international college at the university.

“We’re worried that Navitas’ standards may not be the same as ours,” says Carrie Dawson, president-elect of the association.

The college would admit international students whose marks and English standards don’t meet regular Dalhousie standards.

If they pass those courses students can then take regular university classes.

Unlike Dalhousie, the company is private, which means it has a different focus than the university, Dawson says.

“To succeed, Navitas has to keep its costs as low as possible and has to pass as many students as possible,” Dawson says. “So for us, that raises concerns with the ways that Navitas could put a strain on academic standards at Dal.”

The Faculty Association says it is not against increasing the number of international students at the university, Dawson says, but it does not want to rely on a private company to do so.

“We feel really strongly that the way to do that is not through outsourcing it but rather though developing in-house programs that use our own faculty and set out own standards,” says Dawson.

The association also cites problems the University of Manitoba has had with its own international college, managed by Navitas. The Manitoba Faculty Association complained in September 2008 of difficulties communicating with Navitas.

It alleged the university administration and Navitas had gone behind U of Manitoba professors' backs to let Navitas offer courses the faculty had declined to oversee. Faculty supervision is required in the program.

For example, it alleged the university’s administration hired a retired professor to oversee an economics course when the department refused. Dawson says those problems could also carry over to the relationship between faculty and students.

Professors and students at the school have also found facicities, such as classrooms, have been taken over as the last minute by Navitas classes, Dawson says, which can cause tension between the two groups.

“We’re very worried about the ways in which Navitas could divide faculty and students, divide both those groups," she says.

Comments on this story are now closed