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A crucible and a catalyst : private post-secondary education policy in British Columbia Culos, Gregory Petrangelo 2005

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A CRUCIBLE A N D A C A T A L Y S T : PRIVATE POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION POLICY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA by GREGORY PETRANGELO CULOS  B.A., Simon Fraser University (1989) P.D.P., Simon Fraser University (1993)  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL F U L F I L L M E N T OF T H E REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E D E G R E E OF M A S T E R OF ARTS in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES  HIGHER E D U C A T I O N  T H E UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A April 2005  © Gregory Petrangelo Culos, 2005  ABSTRACT  The study provides an analysis of why and how private post-secondary education  policy and regulation were implemented for the first time in 1990. Ostensibly, it was a result of losses incurred by students and the need for the provincial government to  establish mechanisms for consumer protection. Evidence suggests, however, that the development of this policy was equally, if not more, a result of public and private  interests, political objectives, and changing economic realities. The coincidence of these created a decade of private port-secondary education regulation that proved both  inconsistent and ambiguous. A t the same time, however, the public post-secondary  education system in the province commercialized significantly.  Using a socio-economic model, this research focuses on the external forces of internationalization and commercialization and the growth of a global market economy. Economics based on global trade for products and services was essentially a postwar phenomenon that in the 1970s displaced the preceding economic order based more upon socialist ideology. This research, grounded in literature from global, national, and provincial levels, centres on data collected from twelve experts on private post-secondary education in British Columbia. The shared experiences and knowledge of these individuals provides an historical perspective of development and intention that would not otherwise exist. The research establishes that there was a distinct interplay between the rise of a  regulated private post-secondary education sector and the commercialization of British  Columbia's public post-secondary system. In the late 1980s and in the 1990s, the private  post-secondary education sector established patterns of commercial development that  enabled it to grow. It found markets and it prospered from them. Subsequently, the public system began by degrees to demonstrate similar behaviors, and in many regards it  followed pathways the private sector had carved.  n  T A B L E OF CONTENTS Abstract  •  «  Table of Contents  »•  List of Tables  v  List of  vi  Abbreviations Acknowledgements  CHAPTER I  CHAPTER II  CHAPTER III  CHAPTER IV  viii  Preamble  1  Introduction  2  Statement o f Problem  2  Research Focus Thesis Statement and Research Questions Thesis Structure  2 4 4  Literature Review  5  Existing Literature Post-secondary education and policy development in B C Post-secondary education provision in Canada Socio-Economics and Private Post-Secondary Education Global Economics and the N e w Right  5 6 8 12 14  Methodology  19  Grounded Theory Data Sources Application o f the Methodology  19 20 23  Evolution of EC's Post Secondary Education Sector  24  The Influence o f Globalization Historical Overview o f B C ' s Public Post-secondary Education Sector The Rise o f the Private Post-Secondary Sector The Allure o f Commercialization The Private Post-secondary Education Sector in 2004  24  iii  31 33 36 41  CHAPTER V  CHAPTER VI  CHAPTER VII  CHAPTER VIII  CHAPTER IX  Origins, Opportunities, and a Regulatory Framework  46  Origins o f the P P S E C The Catalyst Regulation and Economics Decline o f a Traditional Economy Financial Pressures and Federal Initiatives Regulation and the Commission  46 46 50 54 55 59  Expectations, Growth, and Restrictions  62  Paths to Legitimacy Scope o f the Sector The Issue o f Quality Commission Mandate  62 63 67 76  Issues of Quality and Intention  79  Accreditation Articulation and Transfer Institutional Closure  79 85 88  Politics, Revisions, and Open Doors  93  Political Environment Revisions and the P C T I A Intention and Cause  93 95 98  Conclusions and Directions ..  102  References  106  List of Appendices  116  Appendix 1  Letter o f Initial Contact (To Interviewee)  116  Appendix 2  Letter o f Consent (Interviewee)  118  Appendix 3  Interview Guide  120  iv  LIST OF TABLES  Table 1  Categorization o f Interviewees  22  Table 2  B C ' s Shifting Policy Environment 1970-2004  24  Table 3  B C Provincial University Operating Grants 1977-2003 per F T E i n 2003 Dollars  32  Table 4  Private Post-secondary Institutions in 1992: Approximations  34  Table 5  P P S E Growth 1993-2003  34  Table 6  M a i n Programs o f Study—Registered Private Institutions i n B C  35  Table 7  Public (1988-1999) and Private (1993-2003) P S E Enrolment Growth (BC)  35  Table 8  Corporate A r m s o f Public Institutions (abbreviated list)  38  Table 9  Foreign Student Population by Level o f Study  39  Table 10  Foreign Student Population by Province  39  Table 11  Private vs. Public Non-Degree Comparable Program Costs  42  Table 12  Major International Providers o f Commercial International Education  44  Table 13  Individual Institutional and Branch Registrations under P P S E C (1999)  52  Table 14  Intermediate S k i l l Provider Groups—BC 1992  57  Table 15  Numbers/Enrolment o f Private PS Institutes 1993-2003  66  Table 16  Public and Private Student Outcomes (2000)  69  Table 17  Non-Degree Private Post-Secondary Enrolment (1993-2003)  70  Table 18  Non-Degree Public Post-Secondary Enrolment (1988-1998)  70  Table 19  Claims Due to Institutional Closures from 1992 to 2003  89  v  LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS Australian National Training Association  A  N  T  A  B  C  C  A  T  British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer  B  C  G  E  U  British Columbia Government Employees Union  C2T2  Centre for Curriculum, Transfer and Technology  C  A  U  T  Canadian Association of University Teachers  C  E  C  N  Canadian Education Centres Network  C  I  C  Citizenship and Immigration Canada  C  I  E  College Institutes Educators Association  A  C  M  E  C  U  C  U  D  A  A  D  Q  A  Council of Ministers of Education, Canada  C  F  College and University Faculty Association  A  F  A  /  B  C  College and University Faculty Association of British Columbia Degree Authorization Act Degree Quality Assessment Board  B  E  S  L  English as a Second Language  F  S  L  French as a Second Language  F  T  H  J  Full Time Equivalent  E  R  U  D  A  A  V  M  B  A  O  E  C  C  T  Japan University Accreditation Association  A  M  P  Human Resources Development Canada  C  E  D  Ministry of Advanced Education Masters of Business Administration Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development  D  I  A  Private Career Training Institutes Agency  vi  PPSEA  Private Post Secondary Education A c t  PPSEC  Private Post-Secondary Education Commission  PSE  Post-Secondary Education  PTIB  Private Training Institutes Board  SOCRED  Social Credit Party  TUPC  The University Presidents' Council of British Columbia  UCC  University College of the Cariboo  VCC  Vancouver Community College  WFTE  Weighted F u l l Time Equivalent  WCPPAA  Working Committee on Public-Private Articulation Agreements  vii  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  The writing of this paper would not have been possible without the help of many people. M y special thanks to: Dr. Hans Schuetze, my professor, my advisor, my mentor and my friend, for his steady encouragement and guidance. My parents and brothers, Ermes and Ida, Stefan and Andrew, for the ropes they kept tossing, even in the roughest moments, to secure my upward climb. The people I interviewed for this study, for providing me with invaluable information; as well as the members of my committee, for their support, feedback and encouragement. I give my warmest thanks to my wife Yukie. From her I have received the love, the patience, and, gratefully, the belief that has allowed me to achieve something that only a short time ago I did not feel to be within my abilities. She believed in me, and so this is for her.  Greg Culos (April 21, 2005)  vin  1  Preamble In 1989, when education was yet a hurdle and not a career, I woke up on tatami mats in a northern suburb o f Tokyo. The next four years taught me about a foreign culture rich in honor, procedure, and meaning. I learned to be a teacher, and I learned that the world was a diverse place. Tokyo was less a city o f temples than it was a locus o f neon and incandescence where on every block schools competed with Sony, MacDonald's, and Mitsubishi for visual attention. Japan was electric with education in all forms. What to me seemed incredible amounts o f money were liberally exchanged for all forms o f learning. This was as alien to me as I was to the Japanese. Contextually, however, it made sense. M y own students were thankfully happy with what I provided, and I was gratefully awed by the way their happiness translated in financial terms. In retrospect, I am equally grateful now for the insight the experience provided regarding an aspect o f education I did not know existed. The idea that education could be a commercial enterprise outside Japan occurred to me in 1992 when I returned to Canada to find, in my absence, my own world had changed. The same notion had evidently occurred within those same years to those shaping education in British Columbia. The shift of education from a public service to a profit-motivated enterprise w i l l be the subject o f much o f the discussion o f this thesis.  2  Chapter I—Introduction Statement of Problem This thesis focuses on the legislation and regulation that has governed private post-secondary education in British Columbia since 1990 and the highly publicized collapse o f A l p h a College in 1987. While touted as a mechanism for consumer protection, the policy framework appeared instead to stimulate the growth o f the sector. However, while the regulatory framework motivated growth within the private sector, it also promised benefits that did not transpire. Instead, the public sector itself grew along commercial avenues blazed by private enterprise, but without restriction. This research proposes that the policy framework bears significant responsibility for the commercial growth o f both the public and private post-secondary education sectors of the province.  Research Focus British Columbia's private post-secondary education sector grew and diversified in the 1980s. Indeed, by the end o f the 1980s it had become a distinct and profitable industry. British Columbia's venture into commercial post-secondary education followed a discernible pattern, and my fascination for this led me to make the growth o f commercial initiative i n the province's post-secondary education the focus o f my research. M y thesis focuses predominantly on the regulatory framework applied to private post-secondary education sector from the 1980s to 2005—the reasons for its establishment, the benefits promised, the conditions fostered, and, ultimately, the changes it encouraged. These policy developments have, in the past two decades, led ultimately to the growing commercialization o f the province's post-secondary education system as a  3  whole, and, by cause or correlation, more noticeably within the public sector itself. I w i l l argue that the 1980s and 1990s witnessed growth and legitimization o f private for-profit initiative in post-secondary education, and within the same timeframe commercial initiatives within the public sector outpaced those within the private sector. Since 1990, private post-secondary education policy decisions have acted as a stimulant for commercial initiatives within the province's post-secondary education system, especially regarding the commodification o f non-degree programs. In 1990, the Private Post-Secondary Education A c t ( P P S E A ) was passed to regulate the activities o f private institutions. On November 22, 2004, the provincial government replaced the P P S E A with the Private Career Training Institutes A c t ( P C T I A ) . Due to these formal regulatory developments and particularly because o f the competitive environment they helped foster, commercially motivated ventures that in 1990 were characteristic of private sector institutions became commonplace within the public post-secondary education system. With the Degree Authorization A c t ( D A A ) o f 2003, the doors opened for the same processes o f commercialization to occur within the degree-granting sector itself.  Thesis Statement and Research Questions Ultimately, the goal o f this thesis is to substantiate the argument that the enactment o f the P P S E A in 1990, the establishment o f P P S E C in 1992, and the 2004 revision o f the A c t and Commission generated growth and provided greater legitimacy to B C ' s private post-secondary education sector. Since the mid-1980s, the consequences o f these policy decisions have demonstrably motivated B C ' s public post-secondary education system to develop commercial mechanisms. The thesis w i l l attempt to support this central argument by analyzing each o f the following questions:  4  •  D i d an inconsistent regulatory framework and ambiguous directives lead to inconsistent application o f the regulatory framework defined by the P P S E A ?  •  Was the provision o f governmental sanction and accreditation responsible for the private post-secondary education sector's growth in the 1990s?  •  D i d the P P S E A apply unfair restrictions to the private post-secondary education sector that led to a competitively unbalanced environment?  •  D i d the public post-secondary education sector adopt and use strategies developed by its private counterpart, but without the restrictions that the private sector faced under the P P S E A ?  •  Has government policy led to the commercialization o f post-secondary education within both the public and the private sectors?  Thesis Structure Following the introduction in Chapter I, the Literature Review in Chapter II, and a discussion o f the Methodology in Chapter III, Chapter I V analyzes the commercialization o f post-secondary education at the global level. This discussion identifies the theoretical framework that best explains the past, present, and potential development o f B C ' s private post-secondary education sector. Following that, Chapter V turns to an historical overview o f private post-secondary education in B C and a detailed analysis o f the evolution o f the private post-secondary education sector under the policy framework o f the P P S E A since 1990. Chapters V I , V I I , and VIII focus on particular elements o f the policy environment that should have provided clear benefits to the private sector, but in the end did not. Consequently, this thesis argues, the 1990s witnessed commercial public sector development that outpaced that o f the private. In this regard, the emergence o f commercialization within the public sector was an outcome o f policy—equally so, a consequence o f external socio-economic forces too powerful to avoid.  5  Chapter II—Literature Review  Existing Literature Though relatively little research has been conducted on the rise of the private post-secondary education sector in British Columbia, there has been frequent reference made to it. However, the attention attracted has typically overlooked its significance, derided its legitimacy and worth, or failed to see connections between its emergence and the rise of similar structures in other nations. No studies have been conducted that focus on the rise of the private sector and its influence on the development of commercial initiative within the public post-secondary system. The literature reviewed for this study provides the framework for the discussion to follow, and it comes from the following five categories:  1. Post-secondary education and policy development in B C 2. Private post-secondary education provision in Canada 3. Socio-Economics and Private Post-Secondary Education 4. The Global Emergence of Private Post-Secondary Education Provision 5. Global Economics and the New Right  Though it may yet be too early in the development of the province's post-secondary education sector for studies to have been conducted extensively on the impact of the private post-secondary sector on the system as a whole, this thesis will perhaps help to open doors to such inquiry. This research will establish that there was causality between the rise of the private sector and the commercialization of the province's overall postsecondary system.  6  Post-secondary education and policy development in B C Few researchers have conducted studies dedicated to analyses of the private sector in the context of British Columbia. Indeed, none has conducted research with regard to the influence it has played in the commercialization of provincial post-secondary education as a whole. One study discusses the importance and role of government policy 1  in private post-secondary education in B C .  There is a significant private market for educational services in British Columbia.... However, the private market for educational services is subject to failures which reduce its efficiency. Government policies are directed at correcting these failures, and at achieving equity in access to training and employment. (Cleveland, 1995, p. 18)  This analysis considers the private sector to be one that responds to a need-base different from that of the public sector, and the role of policy is to provide as much stabilization as possible to the sector. Another discussion provides a comprehensive institutional "sketch" o f private post-secondary education and training as it existed in B C at the close o f the 1990s.  It is striking that the number of individuals trained in private post-secondary institutions in this province appears to be greater than the number of students in career, technical, and vocational programs in public institutions in the province. (Gallagher, 1999, p. 16)  The conclusion, while not delving into the concurrent commercial trends occurring within the public sector, does indicate that the private sector was satisfying a considerable provincial post-secondary education need. Other research provides tangential references to private sector post-secondary education in B C in the context of discussions that focus on the privatization of public  Besides the discussions of Cleveland and Gallagher I have been unable to find any other research with the private sector as its focus. However, the frequency with which tangential reference is made to the private post-secondary education sector in B C is high, and in the preceding decade has noticeably increased. 1  7  sector post-secondary education. One study looks at the reshaping of British Columbia's economy due to post-industrial pressures, and within the discussion indicates that the role o f the public sector was, to that point, more and more influenced by the private sector initiative: "These roles have been more overlapping than complementary" (Gallagher and Sweet, 1997, p. 181). Further research on the growth o f the province's system o f higher education refers to the rising importance o f the private sector:  These private colleges, now formally regulated, seem poised to play an important role in higher education. It is an issue which the public sector will be forced to accommodate in a systematic manner. (Dennison, 1996, p. 13)  Additional research conducted in 1994 (Fisher, Rubenson, and Schuetze, 1994) observed the role o f the university in preparing B C ' s labour force. Though the private sector was not part o f the research, the implication was made that it did play a role: " A persistent view is that training is not a suitable activity for the university" (Fisher, Rubenson, and Schuetze, 1994, p. 43). Research that followed also indicated the need for an overall plan for the future development o f a post-secondary education system that included the private sector: "Our definition o f post-secondary education system includes all public and private institutions operating in British Columbia" (Fisher, Rubenson, and Delia Mattia, 2001, p. 5). These findings acknowledged the central role commercialization would play at all levels from that point onward: "British Columbia educational institutions are active in the educational market and compete directly and indirectly for market shares" (Fisher, Rubenson, and Delia Mattia, 2001, p. 34). A study conducted i n 2001 assessed the interplay and impact o f policy and financing on post-secondary education in B C . It made reference to the rise o f the private sector in the 1990s and the growing role it occupied in the province's post-secondary  8  education system: " B C has... allowed and encouraged the growth o f a private training sector" (Schuetze & Day, 2001, p. 58). The authors agreed growth led to friction between public and private sectors: "Increasingly the public option is being challenged by the competition from the private sector" (Schuetze & Day, 2001, p. 59). A more recent work (Schuetze and Dennison, 2005) provides an overview o f events which culminated i n the emergence o f private degree granting institutions in B C . Within this discussion, reference is made to the role played by the P P S E A policy framework in helping lay the groundwork for the emergence o f private access to higher education:  There was a private training sector that grew rapidly in the 1980s. This emergence of a sizable private training sector had been driven by the policy shift of the Federal Government toward a "free market" system of contracting-out federal training programs for which both public and private providers were eligible to bid. This development was supported by the provincial government. (Schuetze and Dennison, 2005, p. 14)  With the growth o f the private sector, the provincial government began to realize the economic benefits that commercialization o f post-secondary education might foster— including the regulatory effects that a competitive environment would have on tuition rates.  Private post-secondary education provision in Canada A comprehensive study o f the Canadian market suggests the viability o f private for-profit instimtions in Ontario (Davey, 2004). Other research speaks to the size and relevance o f the sector and its economic impact on the national economy in the late 1990s:  Within the past five years, postsecondary proprietary education has been transformed from a sleepy part of the economy, best known for mom and pop trade schools, to a $3.5 billion a year business that is increasingly dominated by companies building regional and national franchises. (Strosnider, 1998, p. 1)  9  Typically, the Canadian perspective on private post-secondary education is derisive and, more often than not, points to its limitations:  Regulators persist in believing that consumers of educational services—even intelligent, well-educated adults—cannot adequately judge the value of the services they receive. They also address the ethical probity of those who operate the enterprise. For many regulators, one of the most important indicators of ethical probity is a non-profit status. (Sperling and Tucker, 1997, p. 53)  This position is reinforced by public associations and union bodies such as the B C College Institute Educators' Association ( C I E A , 2003), the Council o f University Faculty Associates ( C U F A , 1999), and the Canadian Association o f University Teachers ( C A U T , 2000:  Private education will not meet the real needs in terms of demand for quality...and in terms of what most students can afford. The sector lacks accountability to the public despite receiving significant public subsidies both in terms of student assistance funding and direct grants from the B C government. (CIEA, 2003, p. 7)  The former president o f C U F A / B C is perhaps the bluntest in his assertion about the establishment o f foreign private degree-granting institutions in B C :  We would prefer that these institutions not exist at all, as they undermine the excellent system of public university education that already exists in Canada. (Gaskell, C U F A , 1999, p. 1)  Similarly, others claim private schools have abysmal records with regard to student loan default rates:  Students in proprietary schools were found to default at twice the rate of students in other sections, causing a firestorm of criticism and scrutiny of private career schools that continues to the present. (Lee and Merisotis, 1990, p. 45)  10  Other authors claim, there is nothing positive about private sector post-secondary education. They claim neo-liberalism leads to a downward spiral in the ability of a system to provide quality:  Neo-liberal political economy of education will create an education system with lower overall standards and lower morale—precisely the kind of system appropriate to a low trust, low skill economy. (Brown and Lauder 1997, p. 273)  One study in 1993, however, regarded the private post-secondary education industry as one within which existed a tendency to innovate and diversify:  The defining characteristic of this industry may not be the profit motive but rather a more general entrepreneurial attitude which views the student as a consumer...a PVTS can design, develop, and deliver...courses an individual or business is prepared to buy. (Sweet, 1993, p. 47)  While this did not necessarily imply quality, much research holds fast to the notion diversity is something to be encouraged. In 2002, the British Columbia Chamber o f Commerce offered the provincial government a series of recommendations about how to vitalize the provincial economy:  A viable, diverse and extensive education industry is vital to the community's growth and development. This diversity supports the variety of learning needs as defined by the community.... The Chamber recommends that...[fair recognition be given] the contributions made by the private and not-for-profit sectors are viable solutions to educational needs. (British Columbia Chamber of Commerce, 2002, p. 38)  Central to the Chamber's recommendations included the benefits o f private sector training in enabling diversity and choice. In this vein of thought, much of the research that exists concerning private postsecondary education comes from the United States. Numerous studies claim the private sector is a catalyst for diversification, strength, and quality within post-secondary  11  education. Competition spurred by an increase o f private sector participation leads to a stronger overall system:  For-profit competition will do what privatization is supposed to do—push toward a wider range of products at lower costs and toward the elimination of inefficient and inappropriate schools. While the new information technologies may play a significant role in that push, I suspect that as large a part of it will come from the break with emulated traditions. (Winston, 1999, p. 19)  Other studies claim that the private sector, managed by individuals with keen understandings o f what is required to succeed in business, is better able than its public counterpart to affect growth and diversification:  Businesses usually are directed by professional managers who pride themselves on their market sensitivity, customer orientation, innovativeness and productivity. Universities are frequently coordinated by professional scholars who have received their on-the-job training as amateur managers. Businesses focus on the bottom line, while colleges and universities are criticized for appearing to be insensitive to economic realities. (Birnbaum, 2000, p. 8)  The private sector motivates development o f quality and diversification in post-secondary education:  The proprietary approach would make it possible for market factors to induce efficiency and reduce educational cost. The profit motive would force institutions to provide strong, effective programs, since weak programs would be rejected by the public. (Wilms, 1987, p. 18)  Other research supports this notion. Since private schools provide services in exchange for payment, they must please consumers i f they wish to prosper. This motivating factor is a precursor to the establishment and maintenance o f quality:  Diversity arises naturally within private sectors from the very purposes for which these institutions were founded, and from the independence that private control allows in the pursuit of these ends. It would be difficult to argue that these greater educational opportunities do not, in the aggregate and overtime have positive effects upon the personal development in occupational chances of their students. (Chubb and Moe, 1997, p. 241,243)  12  Yet another finding claims the private sector enables greater educational opportunities and increases access to employment (Geiger, 1986). A subsequent inquiry (Altbach, 2000) acknowledges the importance o f diversification and the greater educational opportunities that are fostered by the private sector. However, it provides a cautionary perspective and indicates that while variety and specialization may be important, the private sector must exercise control, or be controlled, in order not to be drawn by purely profit-driven intentions:  The private sector needs to have an effective mix of autonomy and accountability. It needs to be encouraged to provide new models and approaches to the delivery of higher education, ensuring cost effectiveness and an experimental approach. At the same time, accountability is needed to ensure that these new approaches deliver a quality educational product.... Accreditation and quality control is integral to the growth of private higher education. (Altbach, 2000, p. 81)  The private sector is capable o f providing innovation and diversification that cannot be fostered as readily by a monolithic public system. However, this does not represent a call for a deregulated system o f private post-secondary education. Consistent with the views of neo-Liberalism, government control and the imposition o f policy works to provide assurances that the private sector adheres to a level o f quality that it might otherwise neglect to maintain.  Socio-Economics and Private Post-Secondary Education Internationally, substantial research exists regarding the greater international social and economic changes that took place across the 2 0 Century and the th  corresponding effects that those changes have had on post-secondary education systems. A comprehensive overview o f educational markets from the Australian context provides a framework based on political discourse and global socio-economic change (Marginson,  13  1997). Other research uses this same framework to demonstrate how, since the Second World War, national post-secondary education systems have become progressively more commercial in their operations and international in their competitive reach:  The entrepreneurial response offers a formula for institutional development of its economy on the self defined basis: diversified income to increase financial resources, provide discretionary money, and reduce governmental dependency; develop new units outside traditional departments to introduce new environmental relationships and new modes of thought and training; convince Heartland departments that they can look out for themselves, raise money, actively choose among specialties, and otherwise take on an entrepreneurial outlook. (Clark, 1998, p. 146)  Neo-Liberalist sentiment provides a framework for understanding the global emergence of private avenues in post-secondary education as corollaries o f the emergence o f globalization and international trade. Central to this framework is the notion that government regulation and control is essential in the marketization o f education (Marginson, 1997; Brown and Lauder, 1997). Highly articulated private sectors are typically the most highly regulated. Hayekian thought, or Fordism, has further evolved into neo-Fordist and post-Fordist camps that differ with regard to the amount o f governmental control nations apply to their systems o f post-secondary education (Brown and Lauder, 1997).  Despite the international consensus concerning the importance of education, strategies for education and economic development can be linked to alternative 'ideal typical' neoFordist and post-Fordist routes to economic development which have profoundly different educational implications. (Brown and Lauder, 1997, p. 172)  Indeed, the degree o f commercialization within post-secondary education systems around the world is contingent upon the degree to which they are formally regulated by their respective governments.  14 Globalization and neo-liberalist economic planning does not imply deregulation or a lessening o f governmental control. Rather, neo-liberalism heightens the state's control o f education, but does so systematically to fulfill the mandate o f increasing the movement from the social provision o f post-secondary education.  Far from being weakened, the state's role in the control of education has actually been strengthened, if transformed; however, one very serious consequence of the change in the state's role in education is that the public-good functions of education, of which the state is the only reliable guarantor are being withdrawn. (Dale, 1997, p. 273)  In this view, the ideological commitment o f neo-liberal governments rejects the view that the state has a significant responsibility in supporting the public good. However, the state does have a significant responsibility to provide policy that nurtures effective economic growth. Postwar neo-Liberal initiatives have often faced the challenge o f the more traditional Keynesian social edifices. Shifts in ideological economic paradigms succeed only i f introduced incrementally in order to desensitize—in order to convince a public that positive economic benefits w i l l follow.  Global Economics and the New Right In the postwar era, socio-economic theories shifted their emphases from principles favoring the common good to principles espousing individual competitiveness. In terms o f the growth o f modern systems o f education, a debate emerged following World War II regarding the role o f education in relation to economic growth and development. This debate was waged essentially between two camps: the Keynesians espoused government intervention to enable employment to all individuals with the perceived benefit o f national economic growth; the Hayekians, on the other hand,  15  championed capitalist sentiment, individual achievement, and economic growth (Rose, pp. 283-300). Marginson (1997) summarizes the socio-economic narratives that led to the rise o f commercialized avenues o f education at the global scale. It linked those narratives to the debates o f socio-economic theorists who contested the tenets o f Marx and his followers on the ultimate demise o f capitalist systems. In particular, from Hayek came the contention that "the struggle for relative advantage was essential, not only to evolution but to social order. People who no longer struggled to dominate each other were no longer controlled" (Marginson, 1997, p. 88). Hayek was most critical o f egalitarian educational programs designed to diminish the role o f competition itself (Hayek, p. 13), and he claimed that social progress was contingent on the acquisition o f knowledge that inspired and enabled competitive individualism:  After private property, competition was the second fundamental. Hayek called competition the principle of social organization. To retard competition was to retard evolutionary progress. In the ideal world workings of market competition were unmodified by social planning or social justice policies. Institutions developed by process of elimination of the less effective. People must face uncertainty and stress, argued Hayek, or they would not learn to prevail. To suffer disappointment, adversity and hardship is a discipline to which any society most must submit. Marginson, 1997, p. 62)  However, Hayek's ideas did not espouse absolute laissez-faire economics. Though he believed that state monopolization was detrimental, he felt that the absolute freedom o f laissez-faire economics should be tempered by government intervention to ensure inequality and anti-libertarianism. In order for competitive individualism in a marketdriven society to function for the growth o f the state, Hayek believed government played an important role in providing guidance, but also in maintaining discontent, inequality, and the drive to compete.  16  Postwar western nations committed themselves to social orders in which full employment and extensive social program development were considered paramount (Brown and Lauder, p. 176). The socio-economics o f the time were more inclined to socialist theories requiring nations to provide as many resources as possible into stimulating the creation o f employment and social services to as wide a spectrum o f their populations as possible. This was attributable to the Keynesian model:  Keynesian economics endorse the calculus of individual interest on which neoclassical economies were based, but had joined up to more interventionist policy, on the grounds that the market, unaided, could not guarantee full employment. (Marginson, p. 55)  Keynesian theory remained appealing to politicians since it espoused free spending in order to provide opportunities to all citizens. Coinciding with the Great Depression, it offered direction to nations wanting to invigorate their economies by generating employment and industry (Landry, 1998). Keynesian discourse was enticing in moral and liberal implications; however, it ultimately led national economies to stagnate:  Inflation, high unemployment, economic recession, and urban unrest all stem from the legacy of Keynesian economics and an egalitarian ideology which promoted economic redistribution, equality of opportunity, and welfare rights for all. (Brown and Lauder, 1997, p. 176)  Where Keynes' theories were based upon principles requiring state intervention to generate employment and participation for all, for Hayek, economic growth and the development o f a strong global economy was contingent on state intervention to maintain a competitive social sphere:  Hayek foreshadowed the mission of the market liberals within the New Right: the reconstruction of the social order as a market competition, grounded in competitive individualism. (Marginson, 1997, p. 54)  17  This sentiment was at the core o f what was later referred to as the counter-revolution in economics (Heald, 1983). Later economists further subdivided the Hayekian vision: "neo-Fordism" (or "Right Modernism") referred to commercial activity energized by the reduction o f social overhead, and "Alternative post-Fordism" (or "Left Modernism") referred to formal State guidance o f commercial development through direct investment into particular economic sectors. Where during postwar times the U S has followed a path inspired by neo-Fordist principles, nations such as Japan have pursued Alternative post-Fordist economic policies (Brown and Lauder, 1997). In the postwar years, globalization and neo-Liberal initiative have played a major role in the development o f post-secondary education systems. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ( O E C D , 1996, 1998, 2001, 2004) provides significant research and statistical documentation to support this. Significant research is available that attests to such growth around the world. The private post-secondary sector has grown significantly in Russia (Johnstone and Bain, 2001) and throughout most all other Eastern European nations, especially Estonia, Romania, M o l d o v i a , and Poland (Kweik, 2003). This is equally true within the Czech Republic and in Hungary (Giesecke, 1999). China's post-secondary education system has, since 1995, opened wide to privatization ( M o k , 1996). Within Japan, the postwar years saw the growth o f a massive and articulated private post-secondary education sector that parallels in both size and legitimacy the public system (Oba, 2004). Private post-secondary education has expanded in South-East A s i a , and within countries such as the Indonesia the private sector significantly outsizes the public (Welch, 2004). Findings from 2005 illustrate  18  changes in Austria defined by a shift to Alternative post-Fordism and significant state intervention (Pechar, 2004). This base o f literature provides the foundation for this thesis. What follows is a discussion o f the methodology used for this research. Then, beginning with Chapter I V , this thesis w i l l show that Canada, and particularly British Columbia, has in the postwar years been drawn inexorably, although in retrospect, hesitantly, along an Alternative post-Fordist path towards the establishment o f private sectors in post-secondary education.  i  19  Chapter III—Methodology Grounded Theory This paper uses a methodological approach best described as Grounded Theory and first described by Glaser and Strauss (1967): "Grounded Theory is derived from data and then illuminated by characteristic examples o f data" (Glaser and Strauss, 1997, p.5). Grounded theory seeks to understand the nature o f a particular experience, to offer additional insight, and to do so v i a simultaneous data collection and analysis (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). From the outset, this research revolved around a process o f data collection from multiple sources from which I derived and continually tested my thesis statement and hypotheses. Those hypotheses were constantly weighed against the synthesis o f the data, and ultimately, from that process, my conclusions emerged. This approach most closely aligns itself with Glaser's "emergent" methodology (1992). Grounded theory begins with a research situation. For me, that situation involved a correlation between public and private post-secondary education sectors in B C and the significant commercialization o f non-degree post-secondary education since 1990 and enactment o f the Private Post-secondary Education A c t ( P P S E A ) . In particular, there appeared to be a correlation between the growth o f the private sector and the emergence o f commercial initiative within the public system. Within this situation, my task as researcher was to understand how and why this was happening. Grounded Theory best describes my methodological approach as it accommodates for the notion that the data analysis is a dialectic between the researcher and participants. It is open to continued development and refinement (Charmaz, 1994).  20  Initially, I set out to test my hypotheses via informal "note-taking" during observation, a process central to the development o f Grounded Theory (Glaser, 1998). This process involved organizing my own experiences in the field. It also involved conversation with colleagues and associates to discover whether the correlations and relationships that I detected were substantive enough to suggest whether further inquiry was warranted. This initial process o f collecting and verifying data helped me generate the list o f experts I believed it important to interview. During my research, I followed a process o f "constant comparison" that is central to Grounded Theory (Glaser, 1998) by cross-referencing the emerging theory with data from the field. This helped to generate my hypothetical questions, and it has ultimately led me to conclusions that are now open to further inquiry. The application o f Grounded Theory was appropriate since it provided a mechanism that helped counterbalance my own preconceptions.  Data Sources The existing literature helped to construct the theoretical framework upon which this thesis is grounded: the privatization o f education in B C is contingent upon global neo-liberal forces that have eroded a social edifice that until 1990 rejected the commercialization o f public services. From the literature, four broad themes arose that bore heavily on the development o f British Columbia's private post-secondary education sector since the middle 1980s. Those included the interplay between government funding and the need for increased access to post-secondary education; how policy and regulation are used to steer the development o f post-secondary education systems; the effects o f global forces on regional social systems o f post-secondary education; and the benefits and pitfalls o f public and private post-secondary education alternatives.  21  A s discussed in the preceding chapter, researchers have conducted significant studies on B C ' s post-secondary education sector (Gallagher, 1997; Fisher, Rubenson, and Schuetze, 1994). However, there has been little reference made to the growth and contributions o f the private sector. Others studies have made occasional references to the private post-secondary education sectors in other Canadian jurisdictions, and particularly in Ontario (Strosnider, 1998; Sperling and Tucker, 1997; Lauder, 1997; Sweet, 1993). However, those references are limited to acknowledgements o f sectoral size, diversity, and inherent inferiority when compared to public systems. The only trenchant and extensive analysis on the merits o f private sector post-secondary education that I have been able to uncover provided a procedural comparison o f public and private non-degree institutions in Ontario (Davey, 2004). A t the global level, far greater attention has been provided to private postsecondary education. The literature suggests what happened in B C since the 1980s followed commercial post-secondary education developments far more advanced within other countries. Internationally, Canada has remained a minor player in private sector post-secondary education. This seemed particularly the result o f a national culture entrenched in the pursuit o f the public good. Yet the public system itself, since the establishment o f the P P S E C , diversified and commercialized in ways more characteristic of private enterprise. W i t h the existence o f little academic discourse in this regard, I was required to turn to experts in the field to find the answers I sought. I drew field data for this study from individuals involved professionally and politically with the province's private post-secondary education sector since the mid1980s. The representation I sought included individuals from the Ministry o f Advanced  22  Education ( M A V E D ) , the Private Post-secondary Education Commission ( P P S E C ) , and public and private post-secondary standards boards, associations, and institutes. It was my goal to select individuals who met one or more particular criteria: understanding o f the private post-secondary education policy environment in B C ; knowledge o f the sector at the national level; knowledge o f the sector at an international level; and experience in the economics o f private post-secondary education in B C . In the end, I was able to interview twelve people, and they participated candidly. This group of interviewees provided a good balance o f knowledge and experience as represented in Table 1.  Table 1—Categorization of Interviewees Category Ministry of Advanced Education The Private Post-secondary Education Commission  Number of Interviewees 3 3  Post-Secondary Standards Boards, Associations, and Institutes (Public) Post-Secondary Standards Boards, Associations, and Institutes (Private) Total  3 3  12  Each o f the twelve interviewees was asked questions (Appendix 4) similar in nature but with specific reference to his or her experiences with regard to the private post-secondary education sector in British Columbia. Those questions were modified over time and across interviewees based upon the progression o f the developing theory, and based upon each interviewee's position relative to the private post-secondary education sector. While some were more involved with the application o f the P P S E A regulations, others were more involved with development o f commercial post-secondary programs. While some were involved in the development o f international education markets, others were more involved with government and policy development.  23  Application of the Methodology Each individual was interviewed on tape for a period o f ninety minutes sometime between M a y and August o f 2004. The interviews were transcribed in full, and data analyzed according to the following categories:  • • • • • • •  P P S E A Origins and Determining Factors P P S E C Mandate and Operations Intended and Unintended Policy Outcomes Internationally and Regionally Derived Economic Stimuli Opposition to Private Post-Secondary Education Public Adoption o f Commercial Post-Secondary Education Activities Implications for Future P S E Landscape  In this thesis, the interviewees are coded as Experts 1 through 12 (e.g. E l , E 2 , etc). Their opinions, beliefs, experiences, and knowledge o f events regarding B C ' s private postsecondary education sector since the late 1980s are used for providing data, facts, figures, and interpretations that is not available within the existing literature. Their contributions help with the verification, validation, and strengthening o f the arguments this thesis presents. In combination with the literature, their assertions help fill gaps and provide a continuum o f events that led to, defined, and now follow the policy environment under the Private Post-Secondary Education A c t ( P P S E A ) from 1990 to 2004.  24  Chapter IV—Evolution of BC's Post-secondary Education Sector  The Influence of Globalization The evolution o f British Columbia's private post-secondary education sector was influenced heavily by the late 1970s collapse o f global regulated exchange rates—a collapse that signified the end o f global Keynesian economics. Since then, in British Columbia, the two decades that followed saw the emergence o f Hayekian economics, but without clear commitment to either neo-Fordist or post-Fordist tendencies. Table 2—BC's Shifting Policy Environment 1970-2004 Decade  1970s  Provincial  Ideological  Government  Stance  N D P : Barrett Government S o c r e d : Bennett  Social Democrats Neo-Liberal  Year  1973  Initiative/Policy Development  Introduction of student grants Constrain system growth  Government 1980s  S o c r e d : Bennett  Neo-Liberal  1978 1982-1983  Creation of Open Learning Institute Constrain all spending  1984  Eliminate student grants Reinstate student grants  1987 1988  Introduce loan remission Create university-colleges Increased system capacity Further increase in system capacity  1990 1990  Enactment of Private Post-Secondary Education Act (PPSEA) Creation of University of Northern B.C. Further increase in system capacity  1992  Establishment of Private Post-Secondary Education Commission (PPSEC) Student financial aid / barriers review Creation of community skills centres Creation of Royal Roads University Creation of Technical University of B.C. Extension of B.C. loans and grants to private institutions Tuition freeze  Government S o c r e d : Vander  Neo-Liberal  Zalm Government  1990s  S o c r e d : Vander  Neo-Liberal  Zalm / Johnston Government  N D P : Harcourt Government  Social Democrats  1992 1995 1995  2000s  N D P : Clark Government  Social Democrats  N D P : Miller/ Dosanjh Government  Social Democrats  Campbell Government  Neo-Liberal  Liberal:  1996-2001  Further increase in system capacity Further increase in system capacity Dissolution of community skills centres Further increase in system capacity  2002 Removal of tuition freeze 2002 Dissolution of Technical University of B.C. 2002 Creation of legislation to allow private degrees / universities 2002 Phase out of Open Learning Agency S o u r c e s : Clift, R. (2003), "Presentation lo CFS/CAUT [the Canadian Federation of Students/the Canadian Association of and University Teachers] ACCESS Summit"  25  A s Table 2 demonstrates, the ideological shifts in British Columbia since the 1970s can be bisected by these two leanings. The province's political right and left followed a pattern o f oscillation with regard to regulation, deregulation, fiscal restraint, arid spending (Table 2). Globally, from the 1950s onward, the theoretical underpinnings o f Hayekian neoliberal economics were congealing, and economic power elites began to recognize economic benefits would follow a shift from Keynesian to Hayekian principles. With the exchange rate collapse in 1971 and the recession that followed: "Keynesian strategies were discarded; and it was programs o f Hayek... and others that filled the v o i d " (Marginson, p. 54). A new international business-class saw the market as global rather than regional, and it perceived property to be fluid rather than as fixed and stationary. This new elite's mode o f operation was dominated by fiscal efficiency, frugal expenditure, and competitive positioning (Marginson, 1997, p. 57). In the final years o f the 1980s, this economic sense became the modus vivendi by which, wittingly or not, the British Columbia government deemed it necessary to draft the Private Post-secondary Education A c t ( P P S E A ) . Towards the end o f the 1980s, the provincial government faced the opposing pressures o f fiscal restraint and calls for massive increases for access to post-secondary education. Perhaps there was, at some level, understanding that without alternate funding sources the province's post-secondary education needs would soon become unsustainable. There was clear economic reason for enabling commercial initiative within the public sector. The P P S E A was tabled as a safeguard against private  26  school failures, but the exercise lent credence to the notion that the commercialization o f post-secondary education was viable and legitimate. Globally, the shift to market liberal political dominance stimulated an increase in globalization. N e w technologies, new modes o f production, new resource bases, and cost effective modes o f transportation worked to establish the widest venue for commercial activity the world had ever seen (Waters, 1995, p. 3). Cultural divides and geographical boundaries receded, and in their wake lay opportunities that fueled opportunism and competitiveness. The most successful national economies were those able to stretch consumer dependency far past its traditional limits. In this new milieu, modes o f production shifted to meet growing international market demands. In turn, the skills requirements o f individuals changed to meet evolving industry needs.  Global competition leading to modifications in the worldwide division of economic and industrial power has created conditions in many respects very different from the situation at the beginning of the 1970s. New technologies have profoundly changed the production process in manufacturing industries as well as the nature of job skills while creating entirely new occupational categories that require different qualifications. These changes occur parallel to, and face a process of internationalization, whereby national economies, once fairly separate, have become increasingly interrelated and are now economically interdependent. (Fisher, Rubenson, and Schuetze, 1994, p. 9)  The most successful participants in this global economy were those nations, such as the U S and Japan, within which politics, social structures, and the provision o f education aligned themselves in the pursuit o f commercial and industrial need and opportunity. Within British Columbia, left-wing ideology has traditionally been dominant, and until the 1990s, the provision o f post-secondary education was almost exclusively based on principles o f universality and common good. This was true when the P P S E A was  27  conceptualized, and a lot o f people perceived the regulatory framework a harbinger o f efforts to commercialize education at every level:  Convince me that we can clean up our own back yard, that we can regulate the private institutions that are already operating in this province, like Alpha College. The minister knows that what's being embarked upon here is an unprecedented move whereby we have public boards now incorporating one or more companies for profit. ... it seems to me that we are dealing with a proposal inconsistent with the public school system. (A. Hagan, Hansard, 1987, p. 2990)  Proponents o f the political Left believed allowing education to fall victim to the processes o f globalization and free enterprise would erode its social, moral, and ethical imperatives. In countries where private education had by the 1980s already been well established, such as in the United States, Japan, Korea, and Australia, analysts differed in their opinions on the social impacts. Lauder (1997) claimed the marketization o f education leads to a decline in educational standards where only a few private institutions offer programs o f quality far too costly for the most. The majority is forced to choose between cheaper and less successful schools. Opponents claim the commercialization o f post-secondary education has led to systems that do not provide equally to all participants. Private post-secondary systems have led to social stratification, quality problems, the inculcation o f commercially driven worldviews, and the absence o f liberal education. Indeed, public post-secondary education systems are held almost without question to be superior i n these regards. Proponents claim that private institutions offer what the public system cannot— choice. The ability to choose better from worse motivates the private sector to create the best and most relevant educational experiences for students. The goal o f private education is to prevent clientele from exercising "exit options," and the schools' ability to  28  do so is hinged upon their quality (Chubb & M o e , 1997). Other supporters o f commercial avenues in post-secondary education claim that public systems lack the innovation and flexibility more characteristic o f the private sphere:  System responsiveness and stability are strengthened by permitting and indeed encouraging new structures and programs in higher education.... To protect diversity it would be better for the marketplace rather than the state to make such decisions....centralization of academic power is a serious threat to diversityf, and] the natural selection perspective suggests the long-term cost-effectiveness would be better served by decreasing, rather than increasing state control. (Birnbaum, 1983, p. 151,153-4)  Birnbaum subscribes to neo-Fordist sentiment. For him, centralization o f academic control is contingent upon lessening o f state control. Other authors support the Alternative post-Fordist position that state control itself can be geared to promote economic diversity. Whatever the case, diversity is key to enhancing a system o f postsecondary education. Encouraging the growth o f private post-secondary education v i a decentralization is inherently dangerous—a private sphere entices unscrupulous behavior low quality programs; however, and perhaps more importantly, diversity also inspires the best educational opportunities. According to Hayekian principles, where economics are geared to the common good, and where post-secondary education is not geared to individual economic growth and positioning, there is no inherent market value. Within such systems, education is commonplace, diversity does not exist, competition is absent, and economic growth is stagnant (Brown & Lauder, 1997; Marginson, 1997; Birnbaum, 1983). Instead, global neo-liberalism has been growing in momentum since the early 1970s, and governments have been adopting economic policies and practices that nurture the processes o f marketization. To varying degrees, the onus for high-quality services,  29  including the provision o f post-secondary education, has been shirting from governments to private enterprises. Under neo-liberalism, there are no guarantees but those provided by individual initiative. Individuals compete to achieve ever-higher rungs on the ladder o f social stratification in attempts to achieve levels that w i l l secure their own employability over that o f others. Geiger (1986) claims this upward spiraling conception o f post-secondary education has led to the emergence o f lifelong learning, continuing education, recurrent education, and extension studies. These structures increase participation in education. A s well, they establish the likelihood that individuals w i l l pursue multiple avenues o f postsecondary education across their lifetimes to maintain competitiveness (Marginson, 1997, p. 42). Within a system that motivates individuals with negative pressure and antilibertarianism, the growth o f educational credentials reduces the relative status gained by each credential. This gives rise to "credentialism." Credentials are commodified and 2  subject to the worth ascribed to them by supply and demand:  When education expands faster than the number of jobs for educated labor, employers intensify the screening process. By doing so they raise the required levels of credentials, and force even higher levels of investment in education. Similarly, professional groups band together and raise the educational threshold of entry to the profession. (Marginson, 1997, p. 42)  With credentialism, the post-secondary education market grows. The levels o f potential attainment rise. The baseline for employability spirals higher. Costs rise in response to an ever-increasing scarcity o f "difference;" and system diversification creates pathways to excellence that are—by design—unattainable to most. The ultimate effect is an upward  2  Refer to Appendix 1, "Definition of Terms," on page 119.  30  spiral o f rising requirements, expectations, hopes, and aspirations and a society-wide pursuit o f the carrot at the end o f the stick. The ability to provide skills, abilities, and aptitudes also becomes a measuring stick for the value o f post-secondary education programs themselves. For instance, within the neo-liberal framework, times o f economic downturn work to motivate growth in commercially driven post-secondary education. Instability and stagnation raise the bar demarking entry into the marketplace, and this intensifies the drive to obtain the credentials necessary to occupy a reduced number o f opportunities (Hirsch, 1976, pp. 29, 48). The relative value o f post-secondary programs increases, as does the prestige o f the particular institutions offering them. Education is commodified, and the system stratifies. Evidence o f this effect began to appear in British Columbia's post-secondary education system from the time the P P S E A was enacted. B y 1987, the global economy had grown tremendously, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development argued the attainment o f knowledge through education was more important than i n the past (Marginson, p.60). T o further global economic growth, the O E C D indicated increases in educational participation were necessary to ensure nations maintained highly educated workforces. The O E C D ' s vision of an interconnected global economy was sweeping—deregulation and marketization at all levels, abandonment o f universal public provision and social programs, a shift in financing from governments to individuals and corporations, and a general change in traditional public-private balance o f provision. "[T]he task was.. .to transform funding and provision, moving away from the universal nonmarket systems o f the previous era" (Marginson, 1997, p. 61). The O E C D ' s recommendations coincided with demands for  .  31  increased access to the B C post-secondary education system. A t the end o f the 1980s, what was taking place at a global level was just beginning in British Columbia. B y the late 1980s, the privatization o f education was well underway in many nations. In Australia, efforts to marketize post-secondary education provision were introduced in the second half o f the 1980s. This was apparent especially with regard to harnessing the revenue potential o f international student markets (Marginson, 1997, p. 85). In terms o f enrollment, Japan's system was characterized since the turn o f the century by a dominant private sector. B y the late 1980s, its system was on a par with the American in diversity, access, and participation (Geiger, 1986, p. 8). B y 1980 in the United States, almost 2.5 million students were enrolled in some 1500 private colleges and universities (Geiger, 1986, p. 1). B y 2004, the private provision o f post-secondary education was entrenched, and it had become a global industry contributing significantly to the gross national products o f nations (See Table 12, p. 44). The transformation o f British Columbia's post-secondary education sector, to which the discussion now turns, is no exception.  Historical Overview of BC's Public Post-Secondary Education The structure o f B C ' s post-secondary education system is a result o f the MacDonald Report released in 1960 that stressed the importance o f diversification and accessibility o f post-secondary education across the province. The Report concluded the province needed both new universities as well as a college and institute system, and it initiated British Columbia's first major reform o f post-secondary education development. The 1960s witnessed the creation o f university transfer programs and expansion o f the college system. A t the same time, the Technical and Vocational A c t was passed and  32  institutions such as the British Columbia Institute o f Technology began operations. The most recent major public system expansion occurred i n 1988 with the release o f the Provincial Access Committee Report—"Access for A l l . " That report recommended that the public degree-granting system expand by 15,000 spaces, and the University Colleges system was created to help fill this need. The inadequacy o f public post-secondary education funding became apparent in the later 1970s. B y the mid 1980s, institutions began falling short of being able to meet the growing demands for access to post-secondary education (Clift, 2003). This trend continued to 2003 and beyond. Table 3 illustrates how government funding to universities declined from 1977 to 2003.  Table 3—BC Provincial University Operating Grants 1977-2003 (per FTE in 2003 Dollars) Year  |  1977-1978  |  1981-1982  |  1985-1986  |  1989-1990  |  1993-1994  |  1997-1998  |  2002-2003  0.347  0.507  0.635  0.728  0.860  0.911  1.00  FTE Enrollment  38,034  41,081  41,966  47,1130  52,988  60,709  70,845  Weighted FTE Enrollment  69,550  77,289  81,340  91,327  109,467  124,127  144,484  Grants per WFTE  $2,676  $3,743  $3,480  $4,284  $4,528  $4,207  $4,552  Grants per WFTE (2003 $)  $7,709  $7,376  $5,485  $5,881  $5,267  $4,617  $4,648  Consumer Price Index (2003=1.00)  -Consumer Price Index (CP!) is for British Columbia using the 1996 classification—CANS1M (1979-2000) and CANS1M II V738856 (from 2001 On) (Except for 1977 and 1978 which is for Vancouver—CANSIM 9970) -Data sources: The University President's Council website and institutional budget fetters; Annual Report of the University Presidents Council; the Universities Council of British Columbia Annual Report for the year ended March 31, 1986; Annual Report for the University Presidents Council for the year ending March 31, 1992; Appendix A in "University Financing in British Columbia: an Equity Study of Provincial Operating Grants." Source: C U F A / B C 04/02/13  While the dollar value o f grants per weighted full time equivalent ( W F T E ) student increased after 1977, the value o f those grants in 2003 dollars has in fact decreased from $7,709.00 to $4,648.00. This signifies a drop o f 40% with which the public system must now claim. Since 1977, this drop has coincided with continued pressure for overall  Besides BCIT, the 1970s witnessed the establishment of a number of changes and additions to B C ' s postsecondary education system: the Open Learning Agency was established and the University of Victoria subsumed Notre Dame University (changing its name to David Thompson University Centre). The College and Institutes Act in 1977 led to the creation of a number of additional vocational institutes: the Emily CanInstitute of Art and Design, the Pacific Vocational Institute, the Justice Institute, the Pacific Marine Training Institute, and the Open Learning Institute were established.  3  33  system growth. The gap between demands for system expansion and the ability o f public funding to maintain growth suggested that, without unconventional solutions, the system would become unsustainable. Institutions found they could not maintain quality and at the same time expand their operational bases. For instance, according to one expert interviewee, for a period o f at least one academic year at U B C , lab access for first year science students was discontinued ( E l l ) . To compound these challenges, while the encouragement and pressure to expand and offer greater access continued, in 1996 the provincial N D P government froze tuition fees at 1995-1996 levels (Schuetze & Day, 2001). The freeze continued until the N e w Democratic Party lost the provincial election in 2001. From the mid-80s, enabled by emerging market opportunities and the financial motivations o f a provincial government seeking cost efficient solutions, a formerly insignificant private post-secondary education sector began to grow. B y some accounts quickly. "From the late 80s onward there was 'explosive growth' i n non-public, nonuniversity education in B C " (Clift, 1999, p. 12).  Rise of the Private Post-Secondary Sector Throughout the 1900s, initiatives to establish private post-secondary education in B C were spasmodic (Dennison, 1996, p. 6): Whetham College for university preparation (1890); Columbian College (1892); Pitman College (1894) and Sprott Shaw Community College (1903); vocational schools within the B C Electric Company and British Columbia Telephone Company (1900); and, among others, Notre Dame University in Nelson (1950). However, the history o f private education in B C is scant and i l l recorded. The  34  absence o f systematic initiatives and clear regulatory policy for private post-secondary education until the P P S E A in 1992 makes it clear that the provincial government never considered it worthwhile or necessary. Significant growth, diversification, and importance o f the private sector began to occur in the later half o f the 1980s and coincided with both provincial and federal calls for increased access to post-secondary education. The demand for increased access to postsecondary education came also from the global level with recommendations made at the same time by the O E C D . B y coincidence or otherwise, this timeframe culminated with the enactment o f the P P S E A in 1990. A t that time, private post-secondary institutions numbered in the order o f 300 (Table 4).  Table 4—Private Post-secondary Institutions in 1992: Approximations High Low 1 1 . 300 250 Registrations under the PTIB 100 Unregistered Private Post50 Secondary Institutes 30 60 Existing ESL Schools' 100 Non-Profit Training Centres 30 20 Corporate Training 10 Organizations 30 60 Branch Campuses 400 640 Total Sources: the Private Post-secondary Education Commission (PPSEC), the Private Training Institutes Board (PTIB),the Canadian Education Centres Network (CECN). the Vancouver Economic Development Commission (VEDC), E9, E10. Estimations of expert interviewees and data from Ministry of Advanced Education. Estimations of expert interviewees. Approximations based on "Perspectives" (CECN) and "Vancouver's English Language Schools Sector" (VEDC). Approximations based on PPSEC data for 1999 (see Table BB). 1  2  4  5  6  1  3  B y 1996, the number o f registered private post-secondary providers in B C had doubled (Table 5). B y 2003 they numbered in excess o f a thousand.  Table 5—Private PSE Growth 1993-2003 Private PSE Schools Private ESL Schools Number of Private PSE Institutes (PPSEC 2003 Annual Report)  (Private Post-Secondary Education Sector 1993-2003) 1993 1996 1999 358 567 827 30 388  80 647  140 967  2003 839 190 1029  35  In the 1990s, official public policy under the P P S E A caused a formerly unimportant sector o f post-secondary education to increase in size, variety, legitimacy, and importance. B y 1993, the variety o f non-degree specializations o f study available within B C ' s private institutions outnumbered those within the public system (Table 6).  Table 6—Main Programs of Study—Registered Private Institutions in BC M a r c h 3 1 , 1994  Percentage  Academic/General Interest Arts Computers & Business Health Care Hospitality & Tourism Job Entry/Life Skills Language Schools Miscellaneous Native Schools Personal Grooming Trades & Technology  30 35 169 79 29 144 70 32 43 76 109  3.7 3.1 21.0 9.8 3.6 17.9 8.7 4.0 5.3 9.4 13.5  Total  806  Programs of Study  Sources:  100  Cleveland, 1995; PPSEC 1994, p.8  Today, the number o f students enrolled within private post-secondary institutions appears to exceed that within the public system by a magnitude in excess o f 200% (Table 7).  Table 7—Public (1988-1999) and Private (1993-2003) PSE Enrollment Growth (BC) Year  Private Sector  Total F T E  E n r o l l m e n t b y type o f Institution  1992-3 1995-6 1998-9 2002-3  enrollment  1993-2003  for year  Private PSE FTE Enrollment  Private ESL School FTE Enrollment  IntT Students in Private Career Development PSE  45594' (72809)  2850 3800  400 750  Total Int'l Student Pop. In Private PSE 3250 4550  (94844) (103732)  7600 16,625  1,500 3,000  9100 19625  2  Public Sector E n r o l l m e n t b y type o f  2  enrollment for year  Institution 1988-1998  Voc/Career/ Tech/ Apprenticeship  Univ. Undergrad Professional  48,844  28878  10403  39281  (77359)  _  _  _  (112,832)  39684  14847  54531  (114,469)  _  No enrollment data on the private sector can be found beyond the 1993 figure presented by Gallagher in his 1997 study. The figures in brackets represent conjectural growth relative to increases in institutional numbers. Data Source: PPSEC 2002-2003 Annual report; Gallagher, 1997; Schuetze & Day, 2001; Clark, 2003 1  Total F T E  _  36  The Allure of Commercialization The government's involvement in private post-secondary education provision in B C was abrupt and occurred with other influencing factors. The rise followed similar initiatives elsewhere in the world. In B C , the appearance of legislation for private postsecondary education coincided with the first international commercial activities of private B C post-secondary education providers. In the 1980s the private sector played the greatest role in establishing the processes, networks, systems, and opportunities that enticed fee-paying international students to British Columbia:  The private schools, and most particularly the language schools, have been in this game for long time. In some cases, I think their contribution has been overlooked by the fact that many of the big publics, including the universities, got into this in a big way. I would say the private institutions have been doing this for 25 years whereas on the public side serious initiatives, and now very large initiatives, have only been taking place for the past decade. (E10)  The Canadian Education Council Network ( C E C N ) acknowledges this:  In 1978...we were pioneers. Strong public sector support existed for our immigrant population, and university extension programs hosted "exchange" students, but the concept of attracting international students on a larger scale, as an industry... was unknown in Canada.... Canadian private language schools [broke] into international markets and, as a result of their efforts, Canada is a well-respected source of private education. ( C E C N , 2001, p.8)  International education and overseas students in B C were not new. Public institutions had for many years been involved in such activities, but only through international development programs not intended to be revenue generating. A s one interviewee claims, such activities were based on long standing models o f Western socio-cultural expansion:  I think the larger universities were always interested in internationalization. This goes back to the Colombo Plan in the postwar days. At that time, systems were set up for wealthy countries to help developing countries in terms of skills development. Canada was a big player in the Colombo Plan. I guess that was in the late forties and early fifties. There was very much a developmental focus. That got many universities interested in the whole area. I think it is fair to say that only in the last decade have universities per se been interested in  37 the whole concept of internationalization, and that meaning the economic side of it. (E10)  Discussions within the B C legislature referred to the "potential" profitability of privatized education and emerging international commercial opportunities. In 1987, a proposal to invest public money in an offshore B C private for profit school received significant attention:  Can you give me some idea of your long-range perspective in this regard? Is it to expand a sort of entrepreneurial set of activities into a number of public schools? Is it cultural exchange with the emphasis on the foreign student, the Hong Kong student, having the advantage of our educational expertise? Is it to make some money for our public schools to offset the cost of running our public school system? I haven't heard from the minister a very clear idea of where he's going, although I do hear from him good intentions about what he thinks this - if I can use the term - pilot project may achieve. (A.Hagan, Hansard, 1987, 2998)  For those concerned about issues surrounding funding shortfalls and insufficient access to B C post-secondary education, the financial implications of a vast international market were becoming clearer. B y the end of the 1990s, the province's post-secondary institutes were well established in this highly commercial activity:  British Columbia educational institutions are active in the educational market and compete directly for market shares. This can be in the form of increasing the number of international students who pay full cost to attend the home institution, offerings delivered at sites outside the country and to an increasing extent using e-learning technology to offer courses and programs online for an international market. (Fisher, Rubenson & Delia Mattia, 2001, p.12)  Institutions such as U B C were beginning to demonstrate significant initiative and willingness to participate commercial ventures. This became clear with the institution's investment in a project called Universitas 21 in 2000. The project represented a consortium of 17 universities in 10 countries that together with Thomson Corporation set up U21 Global, a mechanism for providing online degree programs (Fisher, Rubenson & Delia Mattia, 2001, p. 34).  38  In 2004, B C ' s public post-secondary education system has commercial characteristics that did not exist prior to the enactment o f the P P S E A . Public postsecondary schools have commercialized many activities: continuing education, M B A programs, and English as a Second Language ( E S L ) , among others. Further, school boards and post-secondary institutions have set up their own profit generating corporate arms geared specifically to fee-paying international students (Table 8).  Table 8-—Corporate Arms of Public Institutions (abbreviated list) Educational Focus  Institute Name  Secondary Education North Vancouver School District West Vancouver School District Maple Ridge School District Victoria School District  North Vancouver School District International Student Program  •  Inleniational Student ESL Program  West Vancouver School District International Student Program  •  International Student ESL Program  Ridge Meadows College  •  Adult Vocational  School District #42 International Education  •  International Student ESL Program  #  Victoria International High School Program  •  International Student ESL Program  #  Powel! River International Education  •  International Student ESL Program  Vancouver Training Institute  •  Vocational Skills Training  VSB International Education  •  International Student ESL Program  Richmond International Education  •  International Student ESL Program Adult International Student ESL Program  #  #  #  •  Powell River School District Vancouver School District  ^  Richmond School District  • s  Coquitlam School District  s  Canada International College  •  Langley School Board  #  Langley International Education  •  International Student ESL Program  Gateway College  •  Adult International Student ESL Program  Langley Continuing Education  •  Vocational Skills and General Interest Programs  Surrey College  •  Vocational and Skills Training  Surrey International Education  •  International Student ESL Program  School District No. 40 Business Company  •  Occupational Skills Training, International Education, and Online Education  Surrey School District  New Westminster School District  • • #  • #  1  Post-secondary Education UBC  #  The English Language Institute  •  Adult International Student ESL Program  VCC  9  V C C International  •  Adult International Student ESL Program  UCC International  •  Adult International Student ESL Program  The English Language Centre  •  Adult International Student ESL Program  Kwantlen International  •  Adult International Student ESL Program  Thompson Rivers University University of Victoria  m  9  Kwantlen College  #  Camosun College  #  • Adult International Student ESL Program Camosun College International 'Langley continuing education was fully privatized in 1988, and is no longer affiliated with the district. It operates as a private post-secondary education facility. Gateway College, on the other hand, is a profit-generating arm of the Langley School District. Sources: Institutional websites and other promotional materials.  Perhaps these developments are due to governmental initiatives that sought ways to generate cause and encouragement for the public system to buy into commercialization. One expert, himself a representative o f the private sector, claims the federal government  39  was encouraging precisely this:  In the early 1990s, Ottawa decided to cut back money to public institutions, and mainly to universities. They encouraged universities to put into place cost recovery and revenuegenerating programs. In 1995 or 1996, there was a three-day workshop in Ottawa to which I was invited as one of the keynote speakers. Private industry was increasing at an incredible rate in this field, and Ottawa wanted the private industry to teach the public universities how to do the same. They wanted public institutions to take on revenuegenerating international students. (E9)  The lucrative global trend toward marketization, the growth o f B C ' s private postsecondary education sector, and the overall decrease in public funding provided the financial incentives and competitive cause for the public sector to soften toward the commercialization o f its services. Iny doing so, the public sector found new avenues along which to grow and diversify. Public sector profit-based initiatives in international education were minimal at the end o f the 1980s. B y 2005, the public sector far outpaced its private counterpart (Tables 9 and 10).  Table 9—Foreign Student Population by Level of Study Student Visa-based International Student C o u n t s  2001 Num. % Secondary or Less 31,273 24.10 17,977 13.85 Trade 45.42 University 58,932 Other Post-Secondary 13,702 10.56 6.06 Other 7,869 100 Total 126,395 S o u r c e : Stats Canada, CIC Facts and Figures 2003 ("Annual  2002 2003 Num. % 21.85 29,957 19.78 31,616 13.43 19,030 13.15 20,340 73,962 48.84 67,347 46.55 21,051 13.90 19,475 13.46 7,196 4.97 6,135 4.05 100 100 151,450 139,460 Flow of Foreign Students by Gender and Level of Study")  According to the Canadian Education Centre Network ( C E C N ) , the total annual revenues from Canadian international education initiatives now amount to $3.5 billion ( C E C N , 2001). Considering that, in 2002, almost 70,000 foreign students participated in Canadian university level studies, public sector activities account for well in excess o f 60% o f that total.  40  Table 10—Foreign Student Population by Province Province  Year 1994  1995  1997  1996  1998  2000  1999  2001  2002  2003  Numbers Newfoundland and Labrador Prince E d w a r d Island  662  565  520  504  583  623  630  663  735  856  112  120  145  135  145  185  216  247  249  278  N o v a Scotia  1,917  1,842  1,918  1,960  2,177  2,557  2,894  3,495  4,225  4,953  New  856  866  880  911  1,006  1,175  1,570  2,073  2,582  2,978  11,775  11,808  12,919  13,981  15,192  16,891  19,482  22,199  22,832  23,898  24,244  24,565  29,345  36,015  44,809  51,407  56,763  2,492  2,927  3,436  3,929  Brunswick  Quebec Ontario  22,012  21,285  23,012  Manitoba  2,381  2,132  1,992  2,078  1,987  2,182  Saskatchewan  1,562  1,748  1,895  2,031  2,089  2,306  2,443  2,862  3,141  3,382  Alberta  5,673  5,766  6,519  7,094  7,031  7,470  ' 8,484  9,751  10,199  10,879  British C o l u m b i a  14,444  17,115  21,466  23,079  22,257  24,726  29,451  37,086  40,460  43,360  30  33  43  23  46  33  39  39  47  28  29  51  0  0  0  2  7  4  Yukon  18  21  21  32  Northwest Territories  22  27  30  47  Nunavut  0  0  0  0  Total Source:  61,526  63,336  71,444  76,511  77,685  88,138  104,092  126,395  139,460  151,450  Stats Canada, C1C Facts and Figures 2003 ("December 1 Stock of Foreign Students by Province or Territory and Urban  Area")  Also of note is the number o f non-visa students who enter Canada for terms less • than six months specifically to study E S L . In Canada, i n 1998, there were in the order o f 300,000 short-term (six months or less) non-visa international students enrolled i n English or French as a Second Language Programs ( E S L / F S L ) . 125,000 o f those students were enrolled within the public system while 165,000 were enrolled in private institutions (Statistics Canada, 1999). In 1998, the public sector enrollment accounted for 43% o f these students (New Canadian Perspectives, 1999). In 2004, the total was likely higher and revenues in excess o f those collected from visa-bearing students. The total revenues from international students in Canada are in the order o f six billion dollars annually. In 2005, it is likely that public post-secondary institutions collect more than 50% of those revenues.  41  In B C , without the legitimizing effects o f the P P S E A opposition to the commodification o f public sector post-secondary education would have been more severe. Instead, in the 1990s, public institutions increasingly adopted commercial strategies:  Some see the private education and training sector in terms of simple competition: for funding dollars and student enrollment numbers. Indeed, private providers are receiving a growing share of the "pie," and public educators are being pushed to create private entrepreneurial divisions to supplement declining government funding, thus blurring the distinction between 'private' and 'public' educational institutions. (C2T2, 1997, p.22)  This trend was perhaps further encouraged by reduced public expenditure and the tuition freeze from 1996 to 2000. In Hayekian terms, the tuition freeze provided a challenge to a system that would otherwise have continued to rely completely on public funding. The combination o f insufficient government funding and frozen tuition fees required the public system find alternatives to traditional revenue sources—leading perhaps to, as Birnbaum claims, transformation: "public institutions can be made more like private ones by increasing their tuition levels, and by decreasing public subsidies" (Birnbaum, 1983, p. 177). Intentionally or not, the N D P government exacerbated commercial forces by doing three things. It decreased the public finding available to the system. It prevented the system from raising its revenues. It demanded increased access. These obstacles required that the public system innovate and acquire a spirit o f entrepreneurialism— previously unthinkable within the public sphere.  The Private Post-Secondary Education Sector in 2005 B y 2005, the landscape o f private post-secondary education in B C had significant new geographical features. Students could enroll in private sector institutions with  42  programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees, to vocational diplomas and certifications, to transfer options to existing public degree-granting institutions. In terms of physical barriers to private training, there were few. While individuals were required to remain vigilant, most private institutes offered training met specific career requirements. The reputations o f the best schools (e.g. Vancouver F i l m School, The A r t Institute, Pacific School o f the Culinary Arts, and others) stemmed from their ability to satisfy the requirements o f industry. Further, though in the past private institution tuitions may have been higher than for similar programs within public colleges, as Table 1 1 illustrates, this was no longer the case. This did not mean private schools lowered tuitions in order to compete. Rather, public institutes adjusted their own to meet market costs.  Table 11—Private vs. Public Non-Degree Comparable Program Costs  Private  School  Program  Vancouver Film School The Art Institute of Vancouver Corporate Communications The Centre for Arts and Technology The Institute of Advanced Media  Digital Design Interactive Media Design Web Production and Programming Rich Media Applications Specialist Applied WebStep Developer  Public  Internet Professional Electronic Media Design New Media Design & Web Dev.  Public Sector A v e r a g e Cost Sources:  12 12 6 12 9  Cost  26,250 16,000 9,000 16,980 10,000  1,392.45/ m o n t h  Private Sector A v e r a g e Cost  UBC Continuing Education Langara College British Columbia Institute of Technology  Duration (months)  9 12 12  16,500 16,210 13,000  1,385.15/month  Current program details taken from websites of listed institutions (12/12/04)  Although there were poorly equipped private schools, many institutes had facilities exceeding specific requirements o f the training they provided. Further, in most cases, instructors at private institutions were qualified within their fields. In many cases, instructors hired by these institutions were the same individuals, teaching within continuing education departments o f public institutions. In the experience o f the author as an administrator at two private post-secondary institutions, core instructors always met the qualification standards for similar programs within public institutions. Although pay  43  rates were typically ten to thirty percent less than within the public system, instructors were willing and capable to invest themselves to the degree they would within the public system. Depending on the degree o f specialization required by courses within programs (e.g. chefs, 3D animators, and film specialists), instructors were often part-time contractors with obligations that included up to five different institutions, both public and private. A s an example, one instructor employed at the author's home institution split her instructional duties with the U B C Continuing Education facility in downtown Vancouver. A t private institutes, turnover of instructors was on average more frequent than within the public system. Capable instructors typically remained in their positions from three to five years before moving on. In this regard, new blood vitalized the community and brought fresh approaches to training. The instructors were practitioners who brought with them industry involvement and networking opportunities that helped students in their own quests for employment. Together with the policy frameworks in place in 2005, the potential existed for private post-secondary education to continue to gain in legitimacy and in presence at all levels, from vocational certification to academic post-graduate degrees. Among the most interesting features and current events surrounding private post-secondary education provision were the enactment o f the Private Career Training Institutes A c t ( P C T I A ) , the Degree Authorization A c t ( D A A ) , and the absolute deregulation o f the E S L industry that spurred the creation o f the P P S E A in the late 1980s. These initiatives w i l l be discussed in more detail in subsequent chapters. In the 1990s, public institutions began to commercialize aspects o f their own  44  operations, in part by delving into international education. In doing so, Canada's market share in global international education increased—a consequence that did not escape the government. Table 12 illustrates the relative position Canada occupied in 2000 with respect to its international competitors in the provision o f education to international students. The World Bank estimates the global trade in Education in 2002 reached $27 billion U S dollars (Patrinos, 2002).  Table 12--Major International Providers of Commercial International Education Total Est. Enrollment (2000)  Country  Annual Revenue (SCI)N billions) 18 9.7 5.0 3.5 0.65 0.15  # of Foreign Based Recruitment Centres n/a 110 31 25 40 n/a  514,000 United States United Kingdom 277,000 182,000 Australia Canada 140,000' 120,000 France 35.000 New Zealand Source: CECN (2001) Perspectives These numbers represent only those students who enter Canada with valid student visas. See Table GG (p.27) 1  With the passing o f the D A A in 2003 and the P C T I A in 2004, two significant changes were made to B C ' s private post-secondary education sector. First, the D A A allowed private institutions to be sanctioned to offer degree programs. Second, the English as a Second Language Sector ( E S L ) was deregulated. B y doing so, both the degree granting and E S L sectors were opened to unlimited levels o f competition, albeit by exercising neo-Fordist influence on the one hand and post-Fordist on the other. When looked upon from the perspective o f commercialization, the deregulation o f the E S L sector and the enabling o f private degree provision appear to make more sense. These two fields are the most marketable and lucrative o f the entire field o f commercial postsecondary education. The neo-liberal global order, by degrees, has grown to define the current global  45  socio-economic status quo. Hayekian perspective provides the backdrop o f global economics that helps to situate the process o f change that has drawn British Columbia's public post-secondary education system into the greater global process o f commercialization. The next chapter w i l l provide a broader analysis o f the pressures that led to the enactment o f the P P S E A , the mandate and activities o f the P P S E C , and the effectiveness and consequences o f the regulatory regime from 1992 to 2004.  46  Chapter V—Origins, Opportunities, and a Regulatory Framework  Origins of the P P S E A The preceding chapter charted the historical development o f British Columbia's post-secondary education system and within that the origins o f the private sector. The discussion to follow focuses on the birth, life, and, yes, death too—as w i l l become evident—of the Private Post-Secondary Education A c t ( P P S E A ) from 1988 to 2004. From the outset, the policy environment was intended to provide mechanisms for consumer protection, growth, and legitimization o f the sector. However, evidence suggests that half-measures and ambiguity affected that policy environment in a way that undermined benefits the policies should have otherwise provided. The Private PostSecondary Education A c t helped desensitize a culture characterized by aversion to the privatization o f social services. Intentionally or not, the P P S E A introduced competition, revealed that markets in education were viable, and highlighted the economic benefits o f commercially driven institutional models. This shift in perspective, by cause or coincidence, saw commercial post-secondary education appear within the public sector.  The Catalyst Most experts interviewed point to a singular incident as being central to the push to regulate—the closure o f A l p h a College in 1987. The event attracted government attention almost immediately: "I'm sure the minister is well aware," asked a legislator, " o f many who are in the field o f providing educational services to foreign students, the problems created by A l p h a College" (Jones, Hansard, 1987, p. 2994). A l p h a College offered E S L and a full high-school program to an entirely international student  47  population from Hong K o n g and Taiwan. People knew that the college was experiencing problems, and this news was brought to the attention o f government: "There was a push to try to have someone within the government watch the school. Ultimately, however, the school failed and its students were displaced" (E9).  4  In the late 1980s, international students were being recruited in ever-larger numbers to attend private schools in British Columbia. A n unfortunate by-product of this was that students arrived to find schools misrepresented themselves (E5). In order to attract students, for instance, some private institutions would claim the U B C library to be part o f their own facilities.  ...the problem of misleading advertising: suggestions that there are dormitory spaces, physical education programs, support from government, regulation by government, when none of these things are accurate. [We] have all kinds of problems that I'm not aware the minister is dealing with in terms of these kinds of institutions right here in British Columbia. (Jones, Hansard, 1987, p.2994)  Although A l p h a College was the first major private school failure, it was not the only institution misleading its clientele (E5). One of the primary reasons for the introduction of the P P S E A therefore was to protect consumers: "The P P S E A was by no means intended to be exclusively an issue pertaining to offshore students and language schools, but that was definitely one of the primary motivations" (E5). In many cases, individuals refused student visas would subsequently not receive refunds from schools for tuitions they had prepaid in full. This danger was especially true  Interestingly, though by all accounts this incident led to the establishment of the PPSEA, Alpha College did not fall under the rubric of the PPSEC. It was a private for-profit high school, and had it not failed, it would have fallen under the jurisdiction of the Independent Schools Branch of the Ministry of Education as a Group 4 Independent School.  4  48 for students from China where the Canadian Immigration visa refusal rate has always 5  been among the highest in the world.  The Chinese international student market has always been particularly susceptible to this kind of abuse— far more so than, for instance, the Japanese and Latin American markets. There are a number of reasons for this. For one, there is a massive rising middle class in China with the resources and desire to find passage to and relocation in Western nations—sometimes at any cost, as is evident in the recent rash of problems involving individuals relinquishing life savings to find passage to North American ports, often dying in the transit. In this light, legal avenues into Western nations are far preferred, and one commonsensical route is via enrollment into education programs where entry can be guaranteed by a student entry visa. For a good number of study permit recipients, the ultimate goal is access, and they have little intention of returning to their home country. The following represents an exchange that took place between the author and a prospective student in 2001 at an international student recruitment effort in Fouzhou City in south-eastern China: 5  Prospective Student: Myself: Prospective Student:  Can you guarantee that I will receive a student Visa? That is not possible. (A little spitefully) Well, then 1 will do whatever it takes to get there.  To this individual, the 40,000 dollars he wished to spend on tuition in order to secure a student visa would as easily have purchased illegal passage to Canada on a freighter. In recent years, a recurring news story has involved Chinese people paying their life savings to human smugglers for passage across the Pacific Ocean in containers or decommissioned fishing vessels. This tendency has, apparently, caused Immigration Canada to be cautious with the issuance of visas of any kind, including to tourists. There is a pattern that once individuals arrive, they do not return. Since China became a potential student market for post-secondary education providers in Canada, the Government of Canada has been extremely careful in the issuance of Student Permits to those applying from China. Ironically, by doing so the government has compounded the problem: in China, many are desperate to leave. They have money, and they are targets for impropriety. This, in combination with unscrupulous proprietary interests, can lead to problems such as Alpha College, especially if there is nothing preventing the advance transfer of tuition monies. What is most interesting with regard to China has been the way that Immigration Canada has pursued its policy of caution with regard to Chinese post-secondary applicants. While the study permit refusal rate for private post-secondary providers has traditionally been in the order of 60% or greater (Maniscom, 1997), there have been very few limitations applied to individuals applying for passage to public institutions: Ottawa gave China to the public sector. They excluded private schools. There are a few private schools that have university transfer programs that have been successful in China—Columbia and Coquitlam Colleges for instance—and to their benefit. Prior to that, they were hurting. Their numbers had fallen drastically. China was the answer. Nearly all public institutions jumped on the bandwagon. If you look at any University, or any college program, their international student population is probably 90% Chinese. That is absolutely insane. It is bad for everybody. It is bad for Canadian students, it is bad for the quality of the education, it is bad for the staff, it is bad for the faculty, it is bad for the University, it is bad for the Chinese students themselves. It is an example of the short-sighted thinking of government to allow this to happen. The incentive to do this was very plainly cash. This is prostituting our postsecondary education system—nothing more. (E9).  One interviewee deems the inequity to be due to government policy determined to allow the public system to benefit from the financial rewards stemming from Chinese students. In one sense, by denying private institutions in this way, the Federal government appears to be protecting the interests of Chinese students from unscrupulous entrepreneurs. However, the interviewee's suspicions do have merit when one considers that it has particularly been those students denied visas that have lost prepaid tuitions. From this perspective, visa refusal fuels the potential of abuse, and the federal government's intent is rendered questionable.  49  Fifteen to twenty thousand study permit applications are received annually, of which over ten thousand are approved, meaning an approval rate of approximately 50-60 per cent. Applications of this nature are considered very high risk given the potential for fraud and irregular migration associated with them. Based on the information the embassy receives from CIC, those who travel to Canada on a study permit and then go on to claim asylum tend to do so one to three years after arrival in Canada and rarely immediately upon arrival (Manicom, 2004, p.l).  Situations such as A l p h a College led to international relations problems for both British Columbia and Canada (E2), and further prompted the push for a regulatory environment. The general perception was that private institutions were proliferating, the risks to the public increasing, and there were no policies in place to prevent problems (E2). The reasons for and consequences o f the Alpha College failure were twofold— misrepresentation and loss o f pre-paid tuitions. The failure o f this college, in the absence o f a government-controlled regulatory framework, left approximately 100 students without recourse or compensation. In the aftermath o f the A l p h a College closure, other private post-secondary sector schools helped the displaced student body by providing free tuitions for equivalent programs (E6). Nevertheless, media exposure turned the A l p h a College situation into an embarrassment that hastened regulation o f the private sector. In view o f this, it is odd that government in 2004 chose to deregulate the E S L sector under the new framework o f the Private Career Training Institutes Agency ( P C T I A ) . The 1990 failure o f a private radiobroadcasting institute in Victoria also influenced the call for policy. This closure affected only a handful o f students, but the failure attracted significant attention because o f the school's affiliation with the media. In March o f 1990, an entire segment o f C B C Television's "Marketplace" was devoted to the failure o f private training institutions in Canada highlighting the Victoria school in particular (E2). This national spotlight further prompted calls to protect consumers. However, the misfortune o f students, international or otherwise, was not the only factor at  50  work. There were powerful financial incentives that also influenced development o f the P P S E A . Before discussing these, however, it is important to understand the size and scope o f the sector at the end o f the 1980s.  Regulation and Economics Prior to the P P S E A , the government referred to private institutions as private trade schools and colleges, and two government bodies were involved in their administration. One o f these was the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) o f the Ministry o f Advanced Education and Training. The P T I B did not have regulatory powers, and its responsibility was to provide the means for schools to register; even in this, however, it did not have the resources to pursue its mandate and records did not accurately reflect the numbers of schools. In 1992, the P P S E C inherited several hundred schools registered under the P T I B (E5). According to one expert, there were about 250 to 300 registered schools before the new legislation came into effect in 1992 (E6). The number o f unregistered institutions was unknown. Had there been no significant increase in the size o f the private sector during this period, the notion private schools were meeting real demands for training would be difficult to validate. I f the historical record instead demonstrated that a significant increase did occur during and after the P P S E C , the sector had potential and privatization o f education offered significant benefits. Greater numbers o f students would indicate a source o f revenue the public sector had failed to obtain. Although the record is ambiguous and numbers can be determined only to a questionable degree o f accuracy (see Table 4, p.34 and Table 17, p.70), the claims range from explosive growth to no quantifiable changes at all. While P P S E C annual reports  51  indicated that the numbers o f institutions grew from 300 to 600 institutions by 1993, one expert cautions that many o f these institutions may have escaped registration under the PTIB:  The biggest mistake that people make is that they assumed that this is growth in the sector. This is not necessarily the case. Because many [schools] had not been registered before 1992, they first had to be found. The PPSEC had to find, sanction, and code them. There were no statistics, and the PPSEC simply did not know. After the first year of the PPSEC mandate, the growth looked whopping, but it did not necessarily represent growth in the sector. These numbers only represented the number of registered operations—the total number of physical sites. It represented the sector that had been designated by the PPSEA's definition of post-secondary education provision. By March 1993, which was eight months after we started, we were up to 620. (E6)  Executives from the P P S E C claim that prior to 1992 there were about 250 registered institutions under the Private Training Institutions Branch (E7). They claim they were required to track down a significant number o f other schools that operated below the radar. Indeed, discussions within the British Columbia legislature as early as 1987 indicate that the numbers were higher:  On the private sector side, we continue to promote [italics by author] and register private training institutions—now in excess of 400—which provide our citizens with a wide variety of training at reasonable prices (Jones, Hansard, 1987, p.2994) 6  Because the P T I B ' s records are incomplete, there is no way to know for certain exactly how many private institutions existed prior to the P P S E C . However, an estimation is possible that takes into account a number of different factors. Under the P T I B , English as a Second Language ( E S L ) schools had not been considered to be within the scope of the Board's administrative mandate. Adding the existing E S L schools to the P P S E C framework accounted for thirty to fifty new One note of interest in this excerpt from the parliamentary debates of 1987 is the clear reference the representative makes to the fact that the government was indeed providing intentional promotion (italicized by author in above quotation) to the sector of private schools. 6  52  registrants (E9).  The largest growth in the number o f institutions came from two other  factors: first, all private training including professional seminars and corporate training 7  sessions were included in the P P S E C mandate. A s Table 13 illustrates, the in-house training programs o f organizations such as the Delta Recycling Society and H & R Block Income Tax became the responsibility o f the P P S E C . Second, institutions that operated from multiple campuses were also required to register each o f their branches individually. For schools such as Sprott Shaw Community College this meant submitting up to 10 separate registrations. Table 13 shows the breakdown o f registrations versus the number of individual institutions in 1999, and the difference is significant. While there were over 8  1100 registrations, there were 827 schools.  Table 13—Individual Institutional and Branch Registrations under P P S E C (1999) # o f Institutes  Institution  Category  Headquarters  Registrations  proprietary non-profit non-profit non-profit proprietary proprietary proprietary proprietary non-profit proprietary non-profit non-profit non-profit proprietary non-profit proprietary proprietary  Ontario Ontario Ontario BC BC Ontario/US Ontario/US BC BC Ontario BC BC BC BC Ontario BC BC  22 21 14 10 10 • 7 • 6 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 130 256 716  I n s t i t u t e s w i t h 3+ B r a n c h R e g i s t r a t i o n s  1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.  The Academy of Learning St. John's Ambulance Community Futures Development S.U.C.C.E.S.S Sprott Shaw Community College Compucollege GDI CTI Counselor Training Institute Delta Recycling Society H&R Block Income Tax New Image Modeling and Acting Westcoast English Language School West Coast College of Healthcare Vancouver Film School Youth Employment Skills Canada Vancouver Career College Excel Career College  (Sub-total)  94 716  Institutes with 2 Registrations Institutes with 1 Registration  Total Registrations  1102  T o t a l P r i v a t e P o s t - S e c o n d a r y Institutes  827  S o u r c e : Adapted from PPSEC Institutional List - Registered and Accredited Institutions, July 5, 1999.  One expert referred to a "pie-chart" that illustrated an approximate breakdown of the types of institutions that were registered in the first years of the PPSEC mandate, but PPSEC annual reports prior to 1989 were not made available to the author. A question remains as to whether or not annual reports from the first years of the Commission indeed continue to exist. The data from the pie-chart has subsequently been located, however, within Cleveland's research (1995). This data is presented in Table 6 (p.39). Similar data for 1993 could not be found. 7  8  53  Prior to 1992, roughly 250 to 300 institutions were registered under the Private Training Institutions Branch. 50 to 100 other similar schools should have been registered but were not. There were also in the order o f 40 to 100 private language schools, 30 to 100 non-profit training centres, 10 to 20 corporate training organizations, and 30 to 60 branches campuses o f particular institutes (Table 4, pg. 34). With these numbers taken 9  into consideration, private post-secondary institutes prior to P P S E C ranged from five hundred to seven hundred. Claims the sector grew from 300 to 700 "newly established" institutions in the first two years o f P P S E C s mandate are misleading. These claims did, however, create an impression o f a sector that appeared to be a very viable part of the province's post-secondary education system. After its first year, P P S E C had found and registered most operations in the province that fell within its mandate. The 2003 P P S E C Annual Report claims 580 registrations for its inaugural 1992-1993 year. Four years later the number o f registrations jumped to 1000. Despite the lack o f exact institutional numbers, there is evidence that suggests the sector was growing rapidly in the first half o f the 1990s; and this did suggest that private post-secondary education was serving an important role in the province. With regards to the central contention o f this thesis, what was important was that potential and merit could be inferred from what outwardly appeared to be a successful example o f commercial o f post-secondary education. A p p l y i n g a regulatory framework to an industry that appeared healthy and growing would accomplish two things: it would lessen public suspicions o f private post-secondary education; and it would increase the These data represent approximations of the numbers of schools in 1992. N o concrete references have been found to exist. However, the figures are similar across different sources and provide a reasonably accurate picture of the private sector at the time the PPSEC began to regulate the sector. 9  54  likelihood public post-secondary stakeholders might themselves be enticed to adopt commercially-motivated development strategies. The discussion w i l l now turn to look at other forces that were enhancing the image o f the private sector.  Decline of a Traditional Economy In British Columbia, the 1980s and 1990s were characterized by a political shift to market liberal dominance. Indeed, each o f a succession o f provincial governments (Table 2, p.24) swayed toward market liberalization: "Over the past 20 years...there developed a remarkable convergence in the interests o f Canadian business and Canada's trade policy objectives" (Hart, 2000). In the face o f market competition and the decline o f a traditional economic base, a need for new services, products, technologies, and industries emerged. T w o things happened. While the need for specialized training grew, revenues from traditional economics declined. The provincial government was unable to allocate funding required to meet the new training demands. From 1982 to 1986, the province entered a period o f deep recession and public support for education waned relative to other policy concerns: energy, health care, social welfare, and the environment (Dennison, 1996). In addition, the business community was no longer able to maintain the usual number o f traditional apprenticeships (Gallagher and Sweet, 1997). The Federal government exacerbated financial difficulties with limits on the growth o f transfer payments (Dennison, 1996). The combination o f a declining traditional system o f apprenticeship, poor public policy, and fiscal restraint limited the provincial government's ability to respond appropriately to new human resource needs. In this vacuum was opportunity, and i n the 1980s a small private post-secondary education  55  sector was more agile and better equipped to respond to a market founded on commercial principles. Soon, the government saw the need to regulate that private sector through the creation o f the P P S E A . The stage for continued commercial post-secondary education growth was set. Experts claim that the establishment o f the P P S E A was a result o f partisan politics and government self-preservation after the embarrassment o f the A l p h a College failure. The experts also say that the P P S E A was in part an administrative exercise to determine the size, scope, and potential o f a hidden sector (E4). The key words here may well be "administrative" and "potential." It was administrative in the sense that the government wanted to control the sector and wished to provide a mechanism to protect consumers. However, there was also economic potential in that hidden sector. The provincial and federal governments shared the perception that a healthy private sector presented a solution to their financial shortfalls. Until the late 1980s, the need to regulate and account for private post-secondary institutions had never been an issue worth pursuing. However, the creation o f the P P S E A drew sudden and significant attention to the sector. The establishment o f the P P S E A and a regulatory framework was not solely a result o f international school closures and a call to provide consumer protection. Significant financial incentives also played an important role.  Financial Pressures and Federal Initiatives Although students attending private schools had access to Canada Student Loans, until the mid 1990s they were not eligible for B C Loans. Private sector schools were vocal in demands for full access. In the final years o f the 1980s, the provincial government began to look for ways to determine private eligibility to B C loans. With  56  light already cast on the need to protect consumers o f private post-secondary education with a regulatory framework, it was pragmatic to envisage piggybacking the P P S E A with formalized private institution accreditation. Accreditation would allow students to be eligible for student loans from both federal and provincial levels ( E l ) . Another economic factor that led to the P P S E A was the federal government's increasing demand for vocational training programs. In the late 1980s, Human Resources Development Canada ( H R D C ) provided funding through the Canadian Jobs Strategy, a federal initiative meant to strengthen the national base o f skilled workers. This initiative represented a sudden swing in federal funding from public to private providers (Gallagher and Sweet, 1997) and played a significant role in helping the private sector become a viable post-secondary education alternative (Dennison, 1996). The private sector became the preferred recipient o f federal retraining funds because o f its industry connectedness and because private schools were able to provide training at costs with which the public sector could not compete. One concern that this raised was that o f the quality o f programs students would receive:  At the federal level, the question always came up as to whether it was better to use the colleges or to use private providers for the purposes of funded employment training. Ottawa was always torn between funding the public overhead and enabling the maximum number of students to be trained for the money that they spent. ( E l )  The contention always remained that the private sector was not providing the quality that one would expect from the public institutions ( E l ) . W i t h the introduction o f the P P S E A , such fears were allayed and significant federal training money continued to be provided to private institutions. A s a result, the sector grew and diversified further (Gallagher and Sweet, 1997).  57 By 1993, of the total institutional registrations under the PPSEC, 358 schools were eligible for H R D C funding (Gallagher and Sweet, 1997). As illustrated by Table 14, the private sector catered to an institutional diversity and student body far greater than within the public sector, and the amount of federal funding to private schools surpassed that provided to their public counterparts.  Table 14—Intermediate Skill Provider Groups—BC 1992 Provider Groups  Institutions  Public Colleges/Institutes Career/Tech Vocational Apprentice  20  Private Training Schools Source: Adapted from Gallagher and Sweet, 1997  358  Programs/Trades  Reported FTE  331 494 201  19,635 12,575 1,630  554  48,844  One expert recalled that H R D C had expressed dissatisfaction with the capacity of the public institutions to respond in a timely manner to identified training needs (El). Since community colleges and other public institutions were not meeting federal expectations concerning training, federal and provincial governments turned to private providers. This did not please public sector stakeholders, and organizations such as the C U F A / B C and the CIEA reacted with criticism and concern:  Did this mean that they were giving up on the skills agenda for the public sector? A decision had been made and obviously it was priming the private sector. Though PPSEC was a regulatory body, it was a means by which the private industry could legitimize itself. That was causing growth in the system. The CIEA was feeling threatened and felt that its own members could be doing what was being given to the privates. The government claimed the quid pro quo to be the inclusion of the privates into the fabric of the province's overall post-secondary system. ( E l l )  Prior to the PPSEC, the federal government favored public colleges and vocational  58  institutes. However, the existence o f the Commission changed that. Instead o f buying post-secondary seats at prevailing tuition rates, the assurances o f the P P S E A framework enticed the Federal government to favour bidding within an open market where both private and public institutions competed as equals for available training dollars (Gallagher and Sweet, 1997). They sought avenues that would provide the greatest returns for the lowest costs. The playing field had leveled between the two sectors, and entrepreneurs saw opportunities and used them to their advantage. One further federal interest that meshed with the introduction of the P P S E A concerned student visas. Immigration Canada has almost always granted student visas to students intending to enroll at public schools, even from countries such as China. However, this has not been the case with students applying to attend private schools, especially in light o f such problems as those that had affected the students o f A l p h a College. In the late 1980s, Immigration Canada recommended development o f a provincially established screening mechanism that would assist in determining which individuals and institutions they could safely issue student visas. There was federal interest in having a mechanism by which Immigration Canada could generate an accurate list of eligible private providers (E2). It may or may not have been coincidental that the mechanism they were envisaging was already lying embryonic on the table. The rise o f the private sector was, to a certain degree, a consequence o f government policy at both provincial and federal levels. In terms o f the provincial government, it was policy that arose from the historical neglect o f a private postsecondary sector that long preceded the P P S E A . That neglect led to problems that proved too serious to ignore, such as school closures. In addition, the provincial government  59  failed to enough funding to meet the demands for public vocational training development. The private sector proved in many ways to be more flexible and cost-effective, and when the federal government shifted to fund private providers, entrepreneurs saw a market and an opportunity. The numbers o f private institutions grew, and the P P S E C was established to serve two purposes: consumer protection, and the assurance that the federal government's money was being allocated to trustworthy institutions. Perhaps it was intentional that the federal and provincial governments decided to favour the private sector. In an era o f restraint and recession, alternate sources o f revenue were surely attractive, and the private sector offered funding solutions that did not exist in the public system. Though the P P S E A was created to assure quality and protect consumer interests, it also served another function. Intentionally or not, the P P S E A also promoted what it was mandated to regulate, especially with the introduction o f accreditation in 1996. In this regard, both federal and provincial policy alike helped to provide legitimacy to the private post-secondary education sector.  Regulation and the Commission In 1992, the P P S E C began operations. Until 1996, the Commission concentrated on ensuring that all institutions were registered and secured. B y 1996, the function and form o f an accreditation process had been determined and the Commission began to accredit schools pursuing it. These core responsibilities continued until 2004. A s w i l l be discussed in Chapter V I , criticism o f way in which the Commission pursued its responsibilities mounted across the 1990s and this led in 2004 to the A c t being replaced in its entirety. Under the P P S E A , private providers were inadvertently— and maybe even deliberately—misled to believe that policy would shine a promotional  60  spotlight on the private sector. Why the P P S E A ultimately failed is a question best answered by understanding the ambiguities and inconsistencies that rested at its core. The P P S E A implied things that raised private sector expectations, but they never materialized. From 1992 to 1999, the Commission faced continued criticism from those it served and governed—the students and the schools. From the schools' perspective, there was a feeling that the Commission became a policing body rather than a tool for support and development of the sector (E9, E 3 , and E2). From the perspective of students, they were caught by surprise when they found themselves out of pocket and without recourse after an institutional failure—despite guarantees by the Commission. After the 2003 closure of Pitman College, the oldest Vancouver private institute, one o f the affected students had this to say:  I didn't even start before it shut down, but I paid everything. You know, it was accredited. That's what they told me. And Pitman...I mean, that school has been around forever. But according to the government [the PPSEC], we are supposed to get our money back if there are any problems with the schools. Now I'm stuck. I'm getting less than halfback, and they [the PPSEC] told me I had to wait for over a year before I can see any of it. One cool thing is another college has offered to give me a reduced tuition. (Ex-Pitman College Student)  Some interviewees claim that the establishment of the P P S E C was not based upon a realistic assessment o f the industry. The industry was not composed of schools in need o f a clean up:  The PPSEC focused on the bad bottom feeder schools and its mandate was to deal with them. It forgot the bigger picture. It certainly forgot about the good schools and programs that were tried and true. The PPSEC developed its understanding and processes based on the worst of the schools that occupied the bottom ten percent of the industry. It did this to the exclusion of the remaining ninety percent that operated as proper, concerned, and welloperated institutions. In my mind, it lost track. The top ten or twenty percent of schools were trapped into a system of rules and regulations that were developed according to the practices of the worst institutions. (E9)  61  One expert compares private post-secondary education provision to other sectors o f private enterprise: "In any industry, ten percent are o f questionable intent and quality. Eighty percent are strong along those same lines. Ten percent excel at what they d o " (E6). From 1992, the P P S E C pursued a challenging mandate in a hostile environment. Multiple interests squared off. O n one side stood entrepreneurs. O n the other stood defenders o f the public good. In between, an opportunistic federal government and a provincial government saw untapped potential in an untapped sector. That sector represented potential for the future o f post-secondary education defined by competition, individual determinism, and commercial growth and development. The inconsistencies that came to characterize the activities o f the P P S E C may have been symptomatic o f the government's indecisiveness about the course post-secondary education should embark upon. Indeed, whatever decisions they made would dictate the course that would, in whole or in part, determine the future o f the entire system. In summary, the notion to apply a regulatory framework to a private postsecondary education sector came as a result o f a number o f conditions, needs, and expectations that, perhaps by coincidence, and perhaps not, intersected in the final years of the 1980s. The regulatory framework was intended to provide consumer protection. It was also about federal and provincial drives to increase access to post-secondary training options. It was about guaranteeing levels o f quality in a sector o f education that had never before been subject to much scrutiny. Furthermore, it was perhaps an attempt to make the private sector competitive and entice the public sector into commercial activities.  62  Chapter VI—Expectations, Growth, and Restrictions Paths to Legitimacy In Chapter V , the discussion focused on the forces that led to the establishment o f the P P S E A . The chapter also provided a detailed look at how the development o f that policy was hinged on a provincial government seeking financial alternatives to education funding that had traditionally been solely dependant on the public purse. The consequences o f policy resulted in energizing a hitherto insignificant sector o f postsecondary education and enabled it to grow. Chapter V I now turns to an analysis o f that growth and its consequences. In the 1990s, the gathering strength o f the private post-secondary education sector began to challenge the public sector. Profit-driven initiatives became accepted and encouraged within the public sector itself, and the 1990s witnessed the rise o f competition between private and public providers o f non-degree training. Since the enactment o f the P P S E A in 1990, the two sectors have in many ways come to mirror one another in significant ways. This chapter w i l l look at the challenges the private sector faced i n attempting to achieve legitimacy under the P P S E A . The P P S E A was created to provide consumer protection and to determine eligibility for loans and funding. Additionally, it promised other benefits. B y its very name, the Private Post-Secondary Education A c t ( P P S E A ) appeared to give full access to the scope o f post-secondary education. The A c t promised tuition protection to students to lessen their concerns about falling victim to unscrupulous providers. The A c t , with its provision for accreditation, also promised system-wide articulation and transfer. Most importantly, the A c t seemed to provide assurances it  63  would lift the profile o f the sector, increase legitimacy, and secure the sector's role in British Columbia's overall post-secondary education system. Instead, as w i l l be demonstrated in this chapter, the private sector struggled under what became an inconsistent, ambiguous, and occasionally disabling regulatory framework . Though 10  most o f the promises were not met, the perception that commercial ventures in postsecondary education were viable did grow.  Scope of the Sector In 1992, the number o f institutions required to be registered was far higher than the Commission expected, and the P P S E A fostered a new awareness o f the size and diversity o f the sector. Generally, its institutions were small, niche-oriented, and tended to offer training toward specific areas o f expertise. The doors o f all such schools were open equally to local and foreign students, so long as they met basic entrance requirements, and so long as they were willing to pay. The schools provided individuals things not possible within the public system: flexibility in terms o f start dates, shorter program durations, individual attention, and convenient locations. Private school tuition fees were higher, but the overall financial investments and losses appeared less since students could enter the labour market more quickly. In 1992, the government placed all private post-secondary education under the regulatory umbrella o f the P P S E A . B y doing so, and by calling the sector "postsecondary," the scope o f the sector appeared inclusive o f all levels and varieties o f postsecondary education. The A c t states:  Paradoxically, the public sector itself grew to benefit from commercial initiatives, and seemingly without restriction. 10  64 post-secondary education" means training or instruction that is (a) provided to persons who are 17 years of age or older, or (b) provided to persons under 17 years of age and is designated by regulation of the minister to be post-secondary education,  (The Private Post-Secondary Education Act, 2004)  Within the P P S E A , there were no explicit references made to limitations applied to the private post-secondary education sector concerning the nature of the programs they could offer. There was one limitation implicit within the P P S E A that was specified only within the Universities Act, but not until 2003. Throughout the 1990s, the term university, and thereby the ability to grant degrees, was not available to any public or private entity except for those institutions specifically referred to by name within the Act.  11  When the provincial government enacted the P P S E A , there were only three public  institutions authorized to grant degrees, and under the Universities Act, this was clear:  (1) The following corporations continue to be universities in British Columbia: (a) The University of British Columbia; (b) University of Victoria; (c) Simon Fraser University;  (The Universities Act, prior to 1996 revision)  It was not until M a y of 2002 and the enactment of the Degree Authorization Act that the government established legislation that made specific reference to the inability of private institutions to offer degrees unless specifically permitted to do so by the Minister of Advanced Education, Training, and Technology:  (1) A person must not directly or indirectly do the following things unless the person is authorized to do so by the minister under section 4: (a) grant or confer a degree; (b) provide a program leading to a degree to be conferred by a person inside or outside British Columbia;  " The only exception was the 1985 Charter granted to Trinity Western University, a private denominational university.  65 (c) advertise a program offered in British Columbia leading to a degree to be conferred by a person inside or outside British Columbia; (d) sell, offer for sale, or advertise for sale or provide by agreement for a fee, reward or other remuneration, a diploma, certificate, document or other material that indicates or implies the granting or conferring of a degree. (2) A person must not directly or indirectly make use of the word "university" or any derivation or abbreviation of the word "university" to indicate that an educational program is available, from or through the person, unless the person is authorized to do so by the minister under section 4 or by an Act. (The Degree Authorization Act, 2002)  In 1996, the provincial government amended the Universities A c t and enabled two things: a system o f university-colleges and the establishment o f the University o f Northern B C . In 1992, and with the exception o f Trinity Western University, the authority to grant degrees remained within the public sector. A t that time there were only three such institutions in B C , and there was no clear way to categorize the rest. In terms of defining the private sector, the term post-secondary was the most convenient. During deliberations that led to enactment o f the P P S E A , there had been disputes involving semantics. Private sector interests did not wish to be bound by the term "training." A number o f them  12  had academically focused programs that led, v i a transfer,  to degree programs at the university level. The private institutions were not exclusively providers o f training ( E l 1). The government finally selected the term "post-secondary" for its ability to represent all interests involved. However, by doing this, the government also promised the road ahead would include all forms o f post-secondary education. It was a convenient name, but carried implications. Four factors motivated growth in the private sector from 1990 onwards: federal and provincial government funding, growing international opportunities, a pro-private enterprise government, and the promise o f legitimization. The sector was open to  12  Columbia College and Coquitlam College.  66  opportunism, and that led to growth. While a variety o f new institutions began operations, established schools such as the Ontario-based Academy o f Learning and C D I College became dominant private providers in the province. These institutions soon had branch campuses in major communities o f British Columbia. In addition, though some predate 1 T  the P P S E C , the number o f American universities operating in B C also increased. Sector growth in the 1990s was due also to the sudden proliferation o f English as a Second Language Schools. B y 2005 there were approximately 180 private E S L institutions in B C . Prior to 1990, there were few. Columbia College had actively sought an international E S L clientele since the middle 1980s. The Y M C A had been in operation for some time. The Canada Language Centre emerged around that time. The Pacific Language Institute started around 1990 (E9). Prior to 1990 there were only between five to ten such schools. The E S L sector burgeoned during the first years o f the P P S E C . This growth continued until the end o f the decade. While in the 1980s a school o f 100 students was considered large, E S L schools today cater to enrollments ten times that size (E9).  Table 15—Numbers/Enrollment of Private PSE Institutes 1993-2001 1993 1996 1999 827 Private PSE Schools 358 567 103732 45594 72809 Private PSE FTE Enrollment 140 30 80 Private ESL Schools 3800 7600 Private ESL School FTE Enrollment 2850 1,500 Int'l Students in Private Career 400 750 Development PSE Total Int'l Student Pop. In Private PSE 3250 4550 9100 5 7 lnt'l Students as Percentage of Total 6 FTE Enrollment 48,844 112,832 (Int'l and Local Students) 77359 Sources: PPSEC 2002-2003 Annual report; Gallagher, 1997. "Perspectives Maj,azine" (CECN, 2001)  2001 839 94844 190 16,625 3,000 19625 17 114.469  The existence of these US universities in B C opened a loophole regarding the private provision of degrees. American institutions, largely private, began to offer degree granting programs in the province; and until 2003, their only limitation has been the requirement to confer their degrees within their home jurisdictions (E3). This is a minimal expectation, and does not satisfactorily demonstrate that there was an even playing field in the province with regard to limitations applied to degree-granting status. 13  67  A s Table 15 illustrates, the international student population in 2001 represented a significant proportion of B C ' s entire private post-secondary education enrollment. The E S L school enrollment figures in this chart represent only those students who entered Canada with student permits. With the inclusion o f non-visa bearing international students in, International students in British Columbia (in 2001) numbered 37,000 (see Table 10, p.39).  The Issue of Quality Private post-secondary education has characteristically attracted derision, especially from public sector proponents. Experts interviewed for this study represent positions o f influence that helped guide the direction o f private post-secondary education policy and governance in the 1990s. One claimed that those who establish private postsecondary education schools lack the essential qualifications required to do so:  A percentage, and a small percentage at that, does a good job. However; for the majority, this cannot be said. Operators of private post-secondary institutions do not know how to design or deliver programs. They do not have the same calibre of instructors as does the public sector, and they do not have the level of depth. (E6)  Another expert acknowledged there were qualified owner-operators, but that in many instances this was not the case:  For the most part, former educators who understood what schools should be like operated the more legitimate institutions. They also benefited from having good business sense. These people in particular ran very sound operations. However, there is a real mix. Some are very sound, and very well run, but there are also the unreliable operations, providing minimal education at maximum cost. (E4)  68  A third expert claimed the range in quality was so extreme that distrust o f the system was inevitable:  The range of quality within the private post-secondary education sector is dramatic, and it varies from first to third-rate. Some institutions are primarily interested in the students' education and well-being, and other institutions are primarily interested in the dollar.... Like in any other industry, some are dishonest, and others are ethical and well intentioned. There is a massive range of quality in an equally vast variety of largely non-academic programs. (E8)  Among the experts, the range o f opinions on the merits o f private post-secondary education ranged from positive to cautious to openly negative. Since the P P S E A was enacted, this kind o f criticism influenced policy and governance. Consequently, though the P P S E A initially seemed to provide the private sector access to mechanisms such as transferability and accreditation, nothing o f substance happened. Some private institutions gained renown. Some, such as the Vancouver F i l m School, developed long-standing reputations across North America and around the world for the quality and relevance o f programs. Students graduated from such schools to find employment related to their training. Table 16 provides an overview o f the measures o f graduation, employment, and student satisfaction based on two equivalent and concurrent studies: the " B C College and Institute Student Outcomes Project" (2000) and the " O n Track: Private Training Outcomes Survey" (2000). According to this data, the differences in student outcomes were minor (Table 16).  69  Table 16—Public and Private Student Outcomes (2000) Colleges Represented: 150  Students Surveyed: 20,468 of 34,934  Students Surveyed: 4,541 of 45,594'  Average Student Age: 26  Average Student Age: 32  Trades  Computer Services  Overall Satisfaction  Visual and Performing  85  77  81.2  77  85  79  81  55  88  78.]  84  97  86  60  83  90  83.3  82  82  78  89  70  89  81.7  76  83  82  72  91  81  80.1  86  91  85  92  100  81  89.1  25  26  24.5  25  30  27.5  26.3  23  23  26.0  34.0  29.5  25. 5  26.8  Education  Education  83  Arts  Computer Services  77  Health and Sciences  Trades  76  Business Mgmnt/  Visual and Performing  89  Overall Satisfaction  Health and Sciences  Student Program Satisfaction (%) Enrollment  Private  Colleges Represented: 22  Business Mgmnt/  Measures of Student Satisfaction and Program Quality  Public  Expectations Met  (% Satisfied) Employment (PT and FT) (% Satisfied) FT Salary Level (in thousands or dollars)  This figure represents the most recent accurate figure regarding the number of students enrolled at private post-secondary education institutions (1993). Enrollment data for later years is not available. However, relative to the number of schools that exist today as opposed to 1993, current private sector enrollment may be as great as 100,000. See Table X Y on page 64. Sources: Statistics from "On Track: Private Career Training Outcomes Survey" (2000) and, "BC College and Institutes Student Outcome Project ' (2000), Ministry of Advanced Education, BC. Provincial Government 1  7  Though the results leaned slightly in favour o f public sector schools in student program satisfaction and enrollment expectations, the private sector achieved a higher ranking in post-graduate employment and salary levels. However, the validity and comparability o f the data in Table 16 must be weighed against numbers o f students surveyed. While the public sector survey included sixty percent o f the total student body, the sample size used by the " O n Track" report represented only ten percent o f the private sector enrollment in 1993 figures. In this regard, Table 17 and Table 18 provide more enrollment data for the same two sectors represented in Table 16. However, while the enrollment figures for public institutes (Table 18) are consistent with the numbers reported in the " B C College and Institutes Student Outcome Project," " O n Track" fell far short o f adequately representing the sector (Table 17).  70  Table 17—Non-Degree Private Post-Secondary Enrollment (1993-2003) 2003 1993 1996 1999 (103732) 45594 (94844) Private PSE (72809) FTE Enrollment 7600 16,625 2850 3800 Private ESL School FTE Enrollment 3,000 Int'l Students in Private Career 400 750 1,500 Development PSE FTE Enrollment (112,832) 48,844 (77359) (114,469) (Int'l and Local Students) ' No enrollment data on the private sector can be found beyond the 1993 figure presented by Gallagher in his 1997 study. The figures in brackets represent conjectural growth relative to increases in institutional numbers. Data Source: PPSEC 2002-2003 Annual report; Gallagher, 1997; Schuetze & Day, 2001; Clark, 2003 1  2  2  Table 18—Non-Degree Public Post-Secondary Enrollment (1988-1998) Program Type Voc/Career/Tech/ Apprenticeship Total Data Source: Schuetze & Day, 2001  1988/89 28878  1997/98 39684  28878  39684  If greater effort had been made to ensure the statistical populations o f O n Track and the Outcomes Project were equal, the suggestion would have been that the private sector was equal to the public. That the statistical populations were not equal prevented this from being a statistically viable conclusion. However, O n Track provided a telling glimpse o f the sector, and the high rates o f graduation, employment, and satisfaction speak to a significant measure o f quality. Concerning quality, therefore, the successes and susceptibilities o f private institutions are best considered with respect to whether or not private institutions fulfill their educational responsibilities. While some schools are naturally o f lesser calibre than others, the survival o f private schools demands they are able to meet the needs and expectations o f their students and o f the labour market they wish to enter. It is at that level that the quality o f their programs is most meaningfully discussed. In terms of quality, Table 16 demonstrates private institutions have been performing, at minimum, satisfactorily and,  71  in many regards, on a par with their public counterparts. Nevertheless, and despite lack of clear statistical substantiation, low quality is a common perception o f private post-secondary education. In British Columbia, this bias is understandable only to the extent that the public sector has long dominated the provision of education. The province has long held a deep aversion towards private provision o f any social service. However, it is hard not to see a good deal o f bias in this. It is difficult to infer deficiencies in the quality o f educational programs i f schools meet outcomes and students are satisfied to a reasonable and perceptible degree. Even i f detailed records are absent, simple ledgers o f accomplishment accompanied by general satisfaction make it difficult to assess whether a program is not achieving the results that it should. This is as true for the private sector as it is for the public. What is important is this: activities at the private level were proving to be a threat to the public sector. That threat was enough to entice the public sector into adopting commercial strategies that had formerly been more characteristic o f the private sector (see Table 11, p.42; also Table 8, p.38). Deficiencies in quality are not something specific to private education, but the consequences for the private sector are far more severe than they are for the public sector. From quality grows reputation. The loss o f that reputation can devastate a school's ability to survive. In a sector that relies predominantly on tuition fees, and where education and training are commodities, consumer expectation is extreme, loyalty fickle, and the maintenance o f quality paramount.  If...students do not like the services they are being provided, they can exit and find another school whose offerings are more congruent with their needs.... Schools that fail to satisfy a sufficiently large clientele will be weeded out...and...that in the limit can be fatal. (Chubb & M o e , 1997, p.365)  In the public sphere, problems that could devastate the reputations o f private colleges are  72  diffused by bureaucratic infrastructures, procedural protection, and the perception that public provision is inherently good. Quality is no more inherent within the public post-secondary education system than within the private. There are public sector colleges in British Columbia with programs that fall below reasonable standards o f quality (E2). Within private and public post-secondary institutions alike, quality o f instruction, program development, curriculum design, administrative operations, and facilities are equally susceptible to neglect. In fact, the substantive ground that does exist (On Track) speaks to the equivalency o f the two sectors. Further, a recent study (Davey, 2003) on the differences in quality between private and public providers o f non-degree programs in Ontario suggests private sector provision is not inherently substandard. The research focuses on the educational processes o f D e V r y Institute o f Technology (Private) and Sheridan College (Public), institutions that offer similar non-degree post-secondary education programs:  DeVry's educational processes are designed to attract, motivate, satisfy and retain targeted 'clients' whose goals are relatively homogeneous and whose needs are well defined. These goals and needs are communicated back to students as prescriptive expectations and standards, and campus resources are organized to support students as they meet these expectations. While the level of the curriculum is tied to growth and profit, the standards, along with rigorous management practices, ensure a consistent level of quality across the DeVry system and appear to be higher than those at Sheridan. (Davey, 2003, p.323)  Sheridan students are less served than those at D e V r y , and more is expected o f them. They enroll "through a self-selective and competitive process designed to get the best 'fitting' students, yet their goals and needs are more diverse than D e V r y students'" (Davey, 2003, p.323).  Davey asserts that students at Sheridan, once enrolled, must be  far more pro-active than students at D e V r y in order to obtain individualized support and  73 advice. Insofar as providing the best and most appropriate learning avenues, and the most effective systems of student guidance, Davey's conclusions support the notion that private post-secondary education may in ways be superior to its public counterpart. Market responsiveness and industry affinity are two powerful advantages of private post-secondary education. In non-degree, vocational, career, and professional training, there is an inverse relationship in affordability that aptly fits a commercial model of provision. Generally, the shorter a program, the more expensive it becomes (E2). Schools require significant and regular revenues in order to maintain the quality of what they do, and students lose significantly less time in their aspirations to enter the job market. In the words of one expert, private institutions could charge higher tuitions i f individuals could "get in, get out, and get employment" (E2). The needs of private schools and the needs of career-bound students find a balance that is not possible within the traditional structure of public education. The federal government responded to the shorter programs of private schools with generous amounts of funding. This had nothing to do with the fact that the institutions were private, or with institutional reputation. It had to do with the efficiency with which private training institutions assisted individuals who sought employment (E2):  Not only is there a market, there is a need for it. The private post-secondary education sector has always been particularly flexible, adaptable, and has always been able to meet market need quickly and efficiently, and productively. (E7)  In many ways, i f the public sector wished to compete with private career training, it was perhaps misled to remain steadfast to career skills training programs of two years or more in duration. Equally so, the opponents of private education claimed that it was precisely in the brevity of private institution programs that the problem lay. For them, that brevity  74  typified private career training and equated it to low quality and opportunistic profiteering. However, this begs the question. What is an appropriate timeframe? Conceivably, the two-year timeframe o f public colleges and institutes is itself as arbitrary as it is convenient. Perhaps this realization led public schools in the late 1990s to begin offering programs equal in duration, cost, and commercial intent to those within the private sector (Table 11, p.42). The P P S E A represented the first comprehensive and systematic government control over a system that had not been regulated to that point. The mandate o f the P P S E C was clearly one o f consumer protection. However, as has been discussed, the P P S E A was also a policy mechanism that enabled unprecedented provincial and federal funding o f the private post-secondary education sector. The A c t also provided a rationale for Immigration Canada to issue student visas more freely to students wishing to pursue studies at private institutions. Further, the creation o f the A c t included a central commitment to raise the legitimacy o f the private sector through a process o f accreditation open to all institutions who wished to pursue the status. In all, the P P S E A was crafted to elevate the status of commercial activity in post-secondary education in B C along lines o f quality, legitimacy, and public recognition. Accreditation introduced a commercially motivated mechanism of post-secondary education quality assurance. Were it to have functioned as intended, private avenues in education would have been officially recognized v i a transfer and articulation to the public system. A s w i l l be seen in Chapter 7, this was an intended outcome o f P P S E C s accreditation process. The P P S E A raised these expectations, but in the end did not meet them. The scrutiny o f the private sector under the P P S E A provided insight to the  75  potential o f commercial avenues i n post-secondary education. The inconsistent application o f the P P S E A policies was the result o f governmental and public sector uncertainty as to who should benefit from that potential. These issues raise serious questions regarding the regulatory framework. Was the P P S E A necessary? It may be that the best measuring stick for the success o f the private sector is its record o f accomplishment. Based solely oh comparative data, the record is no less solid than the achievements o f the public system.  14  One o f the experts backs this  contention with reference to employers' preferring individuals trained within the private sector. They have skills and they are job ready.  The public post-secondary career programs, those based on the more academic model of training, never had specific performance criteria. Therefore, what you ultimately had to rely on was the reputation of the graduates in the workplace. However, I would ask you to go to talk to some employers of students that had their choice of both public and private program graduates. I will almost guarantee you that you will find as much or more satisfaction with the Private Training institutions as you will find with the Colleges. (E2)  Considering that the private sector might have been equally successful without the P P S E C , other intentions—in the v i e w o f this writer—were at work behind the creation o f the regulatory regime.  One interesting note here concerns loans and loans default rates. One of the current measures of the success of the private sector is the record of students who default on their student loans. The private sector has a higher default rate than does the public. However, this default rate must be considered in light of the fact that default rates, are based on the total amount of debt that is carried by a student at his or her "last" place of enrollment. Students may proceed through years of formal university education, enter private institutions to acquire career certification, and thereafter default on their loans. The total default in such situations becomes the responsibility of the private training institution the student last attended—even if the bulk of those loans may have been used to pay for their university educations—which themselves may or may not have been complete. 14  76  Commission Mandate Established in 1992, the P P S E C was charged with the responsibility o f enforcing the Private Post-Secondary Education Act. The Minister was to prescribe the standards by which the Commission functioned, and the mission o f the Commission was threefold:  • To provide consumer protection, • To encourage integrity and high standards of educational competence within the private post-secondary sector, • To implement and supervise with fairness and equity registration and accreditation. (PPSEC Annual Report, 2003)  There is no evaluative or analytical literature available concerning the operations o f the P P S E C . Evaluation o f the P P S E C ' s activities across the 1990s is only possible based on annual reports and through the opinions and experiences o f individuals associated with the Commission. This section w i l l provide an analysis o f the regulatory framework through the experiences o f those people. The Commission required a way to assure students that their tuitions would be protected, and ultimately a pooled insurance fund was rejected in favour o f an institutionally specific bonding mechanism. Schools were required to post securities totaling seventy percent o f their annual unearned tuition revenues i n order to safeguard their students in the case o f failure (E5). However, as schools were required to post tens to hundreds o f thousands o f dollars, the effects were sometimes crippling. One o f the immediate results o f the requirement was the possibility that school owners would be enticed to provide false enrollment data. Higher enrollment predictions would necessitate larger bonds, thereby freezing valuable resources needed to improve operations. This problem arose in the 1990s when, in the event o f school closure, the  77  Commission occasionally discovered that sufficient bonds had not been placed to protect students. If the Commission doubted schools would place sufficient financial securities, its rejection o f a pooled tuition protection mechanism makes little sense and raises further questions about the intentions o f the policy framework. In addition, the P P S E A promised articulation o f private and public systems. Such was clearly stated by the policy document entitled "Charting a N e w Course" (1996). The task to enable articulation was given to a body called the Working Committee on PublicPrivate Articulation Agreements ( W C P P A A ) .  1 5  The Working Committee on Public-Private Articulation Agreements was convened as a result of policy outlined in Charting a New Course.... The Working Committee's set task was to...recommend a policy framework and criteria to guide and encourage credential recognition between public and private providers.... The current push toward accreditation of private training institutions is relatively new..., but it is a powerful tool for the protection of educational standards and therefore the proper starting point. ( W C P P A A , 1997)  True accreditation never materialized. N o formal systems o f articulation or transferability were established between the private and the public sectors, and private schools remained barred from inclusion within the British Columbia Transfer Guide. What remained was a rationale for accreditation that was singular in its intent: to provide provincial and federal funding bodies a method to establish eligibility amongst private institutions. That the government and the P P S E C chose to continue referring to the process as "accreditation" became misleading. Two explanations arise that may be able to answer the questions regarding an i l l planned regulatory framework. One, the effort may have been purely administrative and  This working group was co-chaired by staff from the Centre for Curriculum, Transfer and Technology (C2T2) and the Ministry of Education, Skills, and Training. It also included representatives from: the B C C A T , the CIEA, the B C G E U , the PPSEC, the public post-secondary college, institute and agency sector, and the private post-secondary education and training sector. 15  78  without intention beyond harnessing and controlling what was perceived to be an industry susceptible to rogue interests. T w o , there may have been a lack o f interest in the sector itself, but great interest in the potential it represented. That potential appeared to provide solutions to problems that affected the province's entire post-secondary education system—a potential that pointed to the benefits o f commercially driven avenues o f revenue generation. Indeed, as discussed in Chapter 3, this was the contention o f the W C P P A A . There were too many considerations, too many inconsistencies, and too many interests involved in the conceptualization o f P P S E C to enable one to conclude that the effort was purely administrative. A l l o f the decisions, determinations, expectations, prescriptions, and ambiguities weave together into a pattern that in its entirety suggests that there was intention that went beyond the stated purposes o f the P P S E A . O f all o f the ambiguities surrounding the application o f the P P S E A i n the 1990s, the most misleading concerned accreditation, articulation, and school closure. Chapter 7 turns to analyze these in depth.  79  Chapter VII—Issues of Quality and Intention Accreditation This thesis turns here to a discussion regarding issues o f quality and intention that arose from the P P S E A ' s mandate to accredit private institutions and from the spotlight that was directed at institutional closures. Ambiguity surrounds the way both have been handled by the government and suggests that the lack o f clarity in both regards may have been intentional. Regional and national systems o f accreditation have been refined by countries such as the U S and Japan. In those countries, accreditation enables students as consumers to make institutional choices based on clear qualitative and quantitative measures across multiple operational categories, from the best to the worst, and in terms o f costs and returns:  Regional/institutional...bodies, grant accreditation based on reviews of institutions or programmes. Among institutions accreditation results in reciprocal trust and permits credit transfer and admission to graduate programmes.... In Japan already in 1947, the Japanese University Accreditation Association (JUAA) was founded. Since 1956, the association applies the standards agreed upon by the government. (Van Damme, 2000)  W h i l e accreditation is commonplace within the post-secondary education systems o f many nations, in Canada formalized accreditation does not yet exist.  16  The P P S E A  ...except, perhaps, for MacLean Magazine's annual ranking of Canada's degree-granting institutions. This ranking has raised the ire of public system proponents for creating the perception of inequity and a competitive milieu within Canada. However, the magazine's efforts do fit with Hayekian neo-liberalism that necessitates a degree of aggravation and the stimulation of competitiveness. Though the ranking is informal and does not stem from policy or legislative direction, it has become an anticipated and, in many regards, a trusted annual snapshot of Canada's overall post-secondary education system. This may soon be changing. A draft paper entitled "Inter-Provincial Cooperation Respecting a Pan-Canadian Quality Assurance Scheme for Canadian Post-Secondary Education" is on the table and discussions are well advanced in the effort to create a formalized Canada-wide system of institutional evaluation: "In February 2004, the ministries responsible for higher education in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario co-hosted a workshop for officials across Canada, and members of quality assurance agencies from those three provinces." This indeed would have massive ramifications for post-secondary education in Canada. 16  80  introduced this mechanism for the first time within the Canadian context. However, it was a mechanism that in substance was not accreditation at all. In 1980, Birnbaum suggested that diversity and quality in a system o f postsecondary education depends upon market-driven competition. However, in order to foster competition, Birnbaum recommended the application o f a quality assurance framework and a dual track regulatory mechanism:  The dual purpose of ensuring quality while promoting diversity [with regard to private postsecondary education] might be satisfied by creating two alternative levels of state review.... The first level, ...registration, would signify that the institution was in compliance with...health and safety laws, [that] its materials and advertising were not misleading, and [that] it was not operating in an educationally or fiscally fraudulent manner.... A second level of review, perhaps called accreditation, would, at an institution's request, evaluate the school against a set of qualitative and quantitative standards.... These steps would enable individuals to make more informed choices, [and] protect the states' interest in guarding quality. (Birnbaum, p. 152)  Whether by intention or coincidence, the Private Post-Secondary Education A c t ( P P S E A ) was modeled exactly on Birnbaum's suggestion. A question that arises is whether it was also the intention o f the government to promote diversity within British Columbia's private sector. Such was, after all, a key function o f Birnbaum's model. If this was the case, the suggestion would be that the P P S E A ' s intention went beyond simple consumer protection. The application o f Birnbaum's framework would suggest planning toward the commercialization o f post-secondary education where the success o f instimtions would hinge on their ability to meet consumer-driven market demand. This chapter w i l l discuss how the existence o f the P P S E A , especially in light o f accreditation, drew the public sector into an emerging competitive milieu in post-secondary education. With the implementation o f a dual track process, the B C government borrowed a model intended to legitimize and promote the development o f private post-secondary  81  education. However, while the government provided a mechanism to raise the status o f the sector, it did not allow the institutions to grow in ways accreditation suggested: the sector was denied the ability to develop formalized lines o f articulation and transferability within the overall post-secondary system. Accreditation, by definition, promised to enhance the reputation o f the private sector. It did not. In the 1990s, the field was imbalanced. Commercialization o f public post-secondary education succeeded where the private sector was not permitted to participate. The provincial and federal governments had identified, from the outset, that some mechanism was required to determine student loans and foreign student visa eligibility. A s early as 1987, both provincial and federal governments showed interest in assessing the eligibility o f institutions for student loans and H R D C funding.  There were expectations on the part of both the provincial and federal governments that accreditation could be tied to the issuance of student loans. The government had no budgetary means and no labor to put their own system in place, so they looked outside to see what alternatives were available. When PPSEC indicated that it was developing this process, the government decided to attach it to student loan designation. However, it was never envisioned that there would be such a demand for it—not originally. Common belief was that the process would seem too onerous for most of the private schools to want to pursue. (E7)  Accreditation was an answer to this. However, although accreditation was integral to the P P S E A , the P P S E C did not begin accrediting private schools until 1997. In the interim, the expectations, suppositions, and suspicions regarding the purposes o f accreditation grew. For the opponents o f private post-secondary education, the accreditation requirement appeared to provide a barrier to student loan eligibility and to public-private articulation. The Working Committee for Public and Private Articulation Agreements ( W C P P A A ) felt accreditation would set the bar so high that it would surpass the abilities  82  of most private institutions:  The recommended policy and criteria in this report, if adopted, will...serve to encourage private training institutions to accredit in order to attract students who wish to proceed on to the college, institute or agency system. For these and other reasons, there is growing momentum toward accreditation among private providers. Even so, accreditation remains voluntary, and it is unlikely that all of the private providers wishing to negotiate articulation agreements with public colleges and institutes will soon, or perhaps ever, become accredited. ( W C P P A A , 1997, p.l)  Accreditation implied significant benefits, and it would be unwarranted to assume those involved in designing the P P S E A had not considered the anticipation with which it would be received by the private sector. "Accreditation" carries a distinctively legitimizing nuances that, internationally, pack meaning and promotional value. In this regard, there was perhaps also fear on the public side that accreditation might lead to private activity within higher education. Two private institutions, Columbia College and Coquitlam College, have had program transferability agreements with the public system for two decades. Their ability to provide students with avenues o f transfer was originally approved in the late 1970s or early 1980s by The University President's Council ( T U P C ) , and long before the 1'7  establishment o f the British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer ( B C C A T ) . Since then, no other private schools have been able to enter the system. To this day, resentment has existed among institutions that have long wished for the ability to provide their students with the same opportunities. With accreditation, formal articulation did appear to be on the horizon. Ultimately, this never happened (E4). A s a result, though Columbia and Coquitlam Colleges are proprietary and fall in the scope o f the P P S E A , they are deemed to be 17  In 1982 the B C C A T assumed the role of administering provincial transfer agreements.  83  different: "The two that most closely resemble liberal arts colleges are Columbia and Coquitlam colleges" (E2). The fact that these schools more closely resemble private liberal arts colleges is due specifically to the transferability o f their programs. Inclusion in the British Columbia Transfer Guide has allowed them develop programs that would otherwise have been commercially unfeasible in the context o f the province's private sector.  18  Following the creation o f the P P S E A , private schools were hoping to improve their public image. The combination o f the incentives that the legislation promised steered many o f them towards pursuing accredited status as soon as it became available. From 1997 onward, the number o f schools seeking the recognition far surpassed the expectations o f the Commission. Further, the number o f schools that opted to be accredited only intensified when, in 1997, the ability to grant B C Student Loans was tied to the process (E4). In 2003, Human Resources Development Canada ( H R D C ) followed suit by stipulating that private post-secondary programs required accreditation i n order to be eligible for federal retraining funds. However, while most schools sought to guarantee their eligibility for these financing opportunities, they were misled i f they felt accreditation would function to provide avenues o f articulation. The P P S E C model for accreditation was adopted from the institutional selfevaluation process o f B C ' s public Colleges and Institutes. That process was borrowed from the Pacific Northwest Regional Standards Board in the U S (E5). However, within British Columbia the process is called "accreditation" only when referring to the private  The B C Transfer Guide is the yearly catalogue of post-secondary education inter-institution transferability published by the British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer ( B C C A T ) . The Guide is exclusive to all but the public post-secondary institutions, except for the inclusions of the denominational private degree-granting institutions, and Columbia and Coquitlam Colleges. 18  84  sector.  Within the public sector, the same process is referred to as "institutional self-  study." Institutions perform self-studies once every five years, the results o f which are never publicized or used to create quality rankings that people might use to help them with decision-making. Accreditation presupposes a system o f ranking and commercial competitiveness in the field o f education. It brings to bear issues o f quality that within the public system are often blindly considered to be guaranteed. The question is, given that the process did not truly accredit private schools, why then was it called accreditation i f not to mislead? Canada maintains a myth o f equality, and supports the contention that the nation's public post-secondary education institutions are equivalent, regardless o f their locations, sizes, and financial reserves. Accreditation, on the other hand, suggests a system o f ranking where equality plays no role whatsoever. This being the case, recent discussion o f a pan-Canadian system o f accreditation is the clearest indication yet o f commercialization 19  across all levels o f post-secondary education in Canada.  We are out of tune with developments in most other areas of the world... in the context of a growing international trade in educational services in which quality assurance standards and procedures are a major marketing theme; the lack of pan-Canadian "badges of quality" may be a disadvantage for Canada. Our universities and other degree-granting institutions must compete in a global context in which other countries not only assess programs at home but also assess them when offered at foreign sites against published standards, with transparent procedures and published outcomes.... As Canada moves increasingly toward the export of its programs, it may be expected to identify standards and procedures for quality assurance. ( C M E C , 2004, p.l)  D i d the example o f P P S E A ' s form o f accreditation help stimulate this kind o f deliberation? The remaining pages w i l l attempt to answer this question.  C M E C Report (2004), The Inter-Provincial Cooperation Respecting a Pan-Canadian Quality Assurance Scheme for Canadian Post-Secondary Education 19  85  Articulation and Transfer Formal transfer has, to the present day, been a gate-keeping exercise o f the academic councils and colleges in B C that traditionally refused to recognize the legitimacy o f private sector programs (E5). Accreditation did not go that next step. This is unfortunate since it would be in the best interest o f students i f all education were to be recognized in one seamless system. It would be a perfect world i f students from the private sector could take their credits and credentials and pursue a degree. Accreditation was intended to pave the way for such a process. But, it fell far short (E7). Accreditation means that an institution does what it intends to do, trains as it intends to train, provides what students intend to learn, has appropriate facilities, and faculty to accomplish its goals. However, accreditation also raises greater expectations. The public expectation o f accreditation is as simple as it is misguided: "The program is good, and U B C recognizes it" ( E l ) . However, this is not necessarily true, and students do not understand the ramifications when they choose to enter an accredited institution. Government legislation often leads people to accept blindly what they are told. It is therefore the responsibility o f government to provide citizens with ethical consideration and direction. That is, o f course, unless there are reasons for false perceptions to be o f benefit. If students complete programs they perceive to be avenues to further study, to be denied those avenues could detrimentally affect the private sector and devastate the reputations o f its institutions. It is true that the P P S E A ' s accreditation mechanism does provide the assurance o f quality to the private post-secondary sector, and this is a clear benefit to students. However, accreditation also promises that institutions and their  86  programs are formally recognized by post-secondary education systems and governments. The fact that this is not so in British Columbia renders accreditation under the P P S E C somewhat pointless. It rings o f legislated false advertising. If the government intended to employ Birnbaum's suggestions, the conclusion might follow that the government did intend for competition to grow and commercial activity to intensify. I f the intention o f the P P S E C was not to benefit the private sector, perhaps the intention o f the government did indeed lie in a different direction. When presented with a viable commercial alternative such as the private post-secondary education sector, the public system might be enticed to adopt free-enterprise strategies itself. B y doing so, the public sector would take its first steps towards breaking from its dependency on the public purse. With the aforementioned pan-Canadian initiative gaining momentum in 2005, formalized mechanisms o f accreditation seemed likely to validate both the public and the private post-secondary education sectors equally. Such an initiative promised to open doors to market conditions that public providers had traditionally been sheltered from—competition, diversification, commercialization, and the survival o f the fittest. The P P S E A helped to desensitize the public towards the commercialization o f post-secondary education. It appeared to have been influenced by intentions and motivations other than those that purportedly led to its creation. The regulatory framework under the P P S E A promised certain things. It did not accomplish them. Instead, it did enable a degree o f equity between the public and private sectors in terms o f opportunities to succeed, or to fail. From 1992 onward, the B C government under the mandate o f the N D P pushed for  87  the implementation o f P P S E A ' s accreditation process to encourage private and public institutions to articulate and to set up transferability between their programs. But nothing happened. The authority to encourage this fell under the mandate o f the Centre for Curriculum Transfer and Technology (C2T2) (C2T2, 1997). However, though the provincial government under the N D P had established this mechanism, it was caught in a dilemma: it felt there should be articulation, but it did not really support the role o f the private sector. The C 2 T 2 predicted that private schools would receive the opportunity to become accredited with enthusiasm. Private institutions wanted recognition and credibility, and the promise o f articulation appeared to open the ceiling (E8). Private schools encouraged the P P S E C to implement the accreditation process. However, the union bodies—the Colleges and Universities Faculty Association ( C U F A ) , the Canadian Federation o f Students (CFS), the British Columbia Government Employees Union ( B C G E U ) , the College Institute Educators' Association ( C I E A ) , the University Presidents' Council ( T U P C ) , and the N D P Government itself, were not supportive. Given that these groups were ideologically opposed to avenues that might lead to the recognition o f private credentials by the public institutions, nothing in the end transpired (E8). However, the term "accreditation" was retained and continued to suggest permissions far beyond those allowed. The incomplete provision o f accreditation, although it enabled the sector to grow, restricted the private sector from improving itself. The purpose o f the P P S E C was to assure the quality o f the private post-secondary education sector, and to benefit the students within it. Instead, at every turn it created or permitted limitations to both. A n ironic twist to accreditation was that its shallowness often exposed itself to students whose expectations were set far higher than they might  88 otherwise have been. It could be argued that the ability o f the sector to succeed within the open market was severely and unfairly stymied. Instead, it was the public sector that reaped the greatest rewards—especially once it learned to borrow from the techniques that had clearly been developed within the private sector itself—short-term intensive programs, higher tuitions, and international marketing initiatives, to name a few. This perhaps lends motive to the aforementioned legislated false advertising concerning the incomplete meaning that accreditation was given under the mandate o f the P P S E C .  Institutional Closure The history o f institutional closures under the Commission provides an example of another element o f the P P S E C experience far different from the one anticipated. In the opinion o f experts, institutional failure, with rare exception, came without warning. Some institutions were monitored with excessive vigilance, yet they were not necessarily those that failed. The Commission's efforts did not result in a system through which it could predict and prevent catastrophes. One expert claimed that, contrary to common sense, financial instability does not always lead to closures.  We certainly placed our bets about the longevity of some of the schools and were often surprised...although more because they managed to stay in business rather than close. According to...financial statements there was no way they should have been able to continue to operate year after year. 1 would say that using the financial statements as a gauge for the stability and risk assessment of the business did not prove useful. In that sense, the closures could often be a surprise. Not because they books looked good but then they closed but because the schools would operate for years with unstable finances and so, it was hard to predict who or when they would close. ( E 6 )  Another o f the experts said that complaints are not sound indicators o f pending closures:  The ones that were surprises were usually smaller operations about which we had received few or even no complaints. The others were ones about which we had received a number of complaints. These closures did not come as a surprise, but then again, we had other  89 institutions about which we had a number of complaints that managed to stay open. So it is hard to say that we could have predicted the closures we had. (E4)  A third expert confirmed that predicting institutional closure is an inexact science. There are generally not any early predictors of institutional failure. There are, however, "early warning" indicators. Institutional closures are seldom a total surprise; but unfortunately, the signs of failure do not surface until the institution is already in a serious downward spiral. (E5)  Table 19 presents a review o f closures that occurred under the Commission. Considering the excessive vigilance with which the Commission governed the sector one might expect an abysmal record. Instead, the history o f closures provides a picture o f a surprisingly stable sector. Either the Commission prevented closures that might otherwise have occurred, or the sector is stable. The P P S E A and its Commission were established to prevent unscrupulous entrepreneurs from taking advantage o f students. The Commission was to provide mechanisms to ensure the intentions o f institutions could be verified, and to ensure that during closures students would receive compensation. However, an analysis o f the record of school closured across the P P S E C years suggests it did not improve the situation (Table 19). The situation may not have been dire at all.  Table 19—Claims Due to Institutional Closures from 1992 to 2003 Year  Total Claim Amount  $ 74,267.00 1993 $ 51,282.00 1994 $ 69,126.00 1995 $ 88,492.30 1996 $ 293,777.17 1997 $ 191,319.88 1998 $ 856,473.88 1999 2000 $ 103,500.80 $ 288,763.68 2001 $ 338,269.28 2002 $ 377,186.57 2003 n/a 2004 Adapted from P P S E C Annual Report 2002-2003  T o t a l Security B o n d s (millions)  $29 $42 $47 $46 $56 $58 $67 $68 $67 $67 $68 $80  C l a i m s ( % of T o t a l )  -  0.2 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.6 0.3 1.2 0.1 0.4 0.5 0.6 n/a  The numbers o f schools closing each year remained proportionally the same. Consumer  90  protection was supposed to be central to the P P S E C mandate. I f the P P S E C did not affect positive change in an area that purportedly required drastic change, then the purpose o f the Commission was lost, not pursued, or lay elsewhere. Under the P P S E C there were two categories o f closures. "Closures with claims" occurred when students were owed money. "Orderly closures" occurred when a school trained out students or reimbursed them (E6). Schools that had the highest chance o f closure were small and insignificant. They did not hit the radar. From 1992 to 1999, there were sixty closures with claims. For the most part, and except for the occasional newsworthy collapses o f institutions such as Trend College in 1998 and Pitman Business College in 2003, closures were invisible to the public.  When a school closure hits the newspapers, especially after people have been negatively affected, the industry suffers damage that far exceeds that reality of the situation. Statistically, however, closure happens rarely. When it does, the students are very seldom out of pocket or out of training. They get absorbed into the system and other institutions take them on.... Watching it as 1 did over time from when the first school went under to what happens now; it has almost been seamless. For the most part, it is all done quickly and effectively. ( E 7 )  Under the P P S E A , schools closing executed their responsibilities and followed the P P S E C requirements. They trained out their students and closed their doors. Most schools placed sufficient financial securities into the hands o f the Commission. The most highly publicized closure was A l p h a College in 1988. It was high profile, attracted media, the government was criticized, and it caused E S L schools to be labeled unscrupulous. There has not been a school o f that relative size close since. One o f the important functions o f the P P S E C was to conduct compliance audits o f private institutions. However, the Commission did not begin this procedure until 1997 (E6). This being the case, it is understandable the Commission was not able to predict  91  more o f the closures that occurred. However, the ratio o f closures did not drop significantly after 1997. Instead, once compliance audits began, the rate o f closure remained at below one percent o f the total securities bonds placed by schools in any given year. (Table 19, p.89). This implies that consumer protection via the regulatory framework o f the P P S E C might have been ineffective. The entire premise o f the regulatory regime was that unsound operations would burgeon in the absence o f regulation. Given the rate of failures was relatively static—and very low even in the absence o f inspection (from 1992 to 1996 before the Commission began to conduct formal compliance audits)—the industry was, at its core, determined to meet and surpass expectations. Once again, the exercise o f a regulatory framework appears ambiguous. Whenever an institution was forced to submit to failure, others in the sector accommodated the displaced students—in most cases for free. There was a promotional element to this. But by standing up to help one another the institutions chose to expend resources that might have been used otherwise. However, the notion o f a well-meaning and essentially honest private sector may well be, in the interests o f some, dangerous. If it were understood that the private post-secondary sector was a stable and worthwhile alternative, it would be difficult for a government to impose regulation. However, without regulation, the government would forfeit control o f a lucrative sector o f industry. The notion the sector posed a threat to the public was perhaps as convenient as it was contrived. Had the P P S E A and the P P S E C been created to protect the public and allay fears about private providers, the Commission should have offered services to raise the profile of the sector. Those might have included productive solutions to help foster growth,  92  direction, and legitimization, such as effective consumer protection, true accreditation, and official paths to articulation throughout the provincial system o f post-secondary education. Instead, the P P S E C appears to have worked to limit the private sector's ability to achieve things the A c t seemed to promise. Those limitations, however, did not affect activities o f the public sector that went on to adopt private sector strategies with great success. The following chapter w i l l focus on political influence in the interplay between public and private interests. It w i l l also shed light on revisions that private post-secondary education policy underwent in its reinvention as the Private Career Training Institutes A c t ( P C T I A ) in 2004.  93  Chapter VIII—Politics, Revisions, and Open Doors Political Environment The development o f legislation revolves around emergent problems. It is often reactive as opposed to proactive. Had problems existed earlier with regards to private post-secondary institutions, legislation would have been passed far sooner. Instead, the regulatory framework did not materialize until private education had become a highly profitable enterprise—and globally so. In British Columbia, the government pounced on that growth and applied to it a regulatory framework that, consciously or not, increased the government's awareness o f the benefits and potential returns o f commercial avenues in post-secondary education. In the 1980s, the increasing demand for post-secondary spaces from across the province was turning the provision o f such education into a lucrative business ( E l ) . With a regulatory framework in place, government was able to harness a sector o f postsecondary education profiting from its efforts. B y doing so, the government saw how this kind o f revenue-generating model could be used by the public post-secondary education system. V i a a regulatory framework, the government could control commercial ventures in post-secondary education. It could act as a gatekeeper. It could determine the extent to which it would allow that sector to grow, and to what extent it would and should apply competitive pressure to public alternatives. The P P S E A experiment began under a market oriented Social Credit government, and implemented under a more socially oriented N D P regime. The N D P had originally voted against the A c t because o f the belief among the public colleges and their public unions that development o f the P P S E A was an attempt by the government o f British  94 Columbia to privatize post-secondary education. A body of constituents thought the legislation detrimental. Dissenters did not look at what the Act was supposed to do. Instead they looked at it from the perspective o f what it might do i f misused.  We have had an awful lot of not relevant debate from members opposite on second reading o f this bill. It's clear to me, in all the argument I've heard over the weeks now on B i l l 24, that the members clearly have not read the bill. N o r do they understand what it says. We can probably make more of those specific points about the legislation-the strength o f the legislation - as we move to the committee stage. (Hon. Minister Strachan, Hansard, 1990, p. 10543)  The popular contention was it would have a negative effect on community colleges (E2) and, by extension, remove the monopoly of the sector from its traditional base o f providers: "There are occasions when the public colleges have complained when they perceive private sector trainers to be infringing on their markets" ( E l ) . This kind o f competitive retaliation is itself telling o f actions the public sector was inclined to pursue to protect the domain it perceived to be its own—thereby giving credence to the Hayekian notion that through government regulation, competitive spirit grows. However, the P P S E A was enacted with assurances made that there were no ulterior motives—the government was not initiating the commercialization o f postsecondary education as a whole. The discussions in parliament clearly stipulated that the A c t was to protect the consumer:  You may be opposed philosophically as a party to anything the private sector does, but that's not the point. The private sector is out there; it's alive and well in a very healthy industry. There are a few unscrupulous operators. The private sector wants legitimate legislation that establishes registration, accreditation and a commission to ensure that they are doing a good job, so the consumer is protected and the private sector's reputation is protected. (Hon. B. Strachan, Hansard, 1990, p. 11960)  The P P S E A was enacted and maintained as a tool to harness ambitions of private  95  providers. In this way, the N D P was able to rationalize the A c t according to its own philosophical position ( E l ) and use it to achieve its own ends. Despite growing resentment in the 1990s o f a sector that felt it was being overregulated, the N D P refused to visit the idea o f rewriting the legislation. Until the Liberal government took control o f B C politics in 2001, there was no talk o f changing anything. With the defeat o f the N D P in 2001, this new neo-Liberal government, market oriented like its Social Credit counterpart o f the 1980s, set out to eliminate what it perceived to be excessive bureaucracy established under the N e w Democratic Party ( N D P ) (E6). When English language schools requested deregulation, the government's task became easier, and they responded in favour. O n November 22, 2004 the Private Career Training Institutes A c t ( P C T I A ) was created to replace the P P S E A . The new legislation removed the government from regulatory responsibility. The industry regulated itself. Factors that prompted replacement o f the P P S E A were a reflection o f the provincial Liberal government's attitude towards business ( E l ) . When the Liberal government assumed control, it decided increased access to high quality non-public postsecondary education was desirable. This belief was in line with the Liberal disposition to favour private enterprise. The costs o f post-secondary education were prohibitive within the traditional public framework and, for the Liberal government, answers lay in financing via revenue generation. The P P S E A represented one o f many other initiatives toward the commercialization o f services since the 1980s, and i n conjunction with those, it ultimately had the effect o f desensitizing public opinion. B y 2004, the cumulative result was to open the doors to commercializing all avenues o f post-secondary education.  96  Revisions and the PCTIA In 2001, the Private Institutions Branch was created within the Ministry o f Advanced Education. Its role was to encourage development o f quality private institutions and create legislation necessary to assure quality education from private institutions. Another role was to set up a legal framework for private institutions from within B C and from other jurisdictions to offer degrees in the province ( E l ) . In M a y 2003, the Degree Authorization A c t was enacted, and the Degree Quality Assurance Board ( D Q A B ) approved the first fully private for-profit university in October 2004: the University o f Canada West in Victoria. Shortly thereafter in December 2004, Sprott Shaw Community College was granted the ability to grant degree programs, and this signified the first time an institute formerly under the P P S E A was granted access to higher education . Indeed, the past two years have witnessed startling changes in the province 20  with regard to private post-secondary education in all o f its forms and at all levels. Concerning the private post-secondary education sector, the P P S E A was replaced with a new A c t in November 2004. The sector now falls under the Private Career Training Institutes A c t and has been given the power to regulate itself. Whether or not the private sector is ready to self-regulate is an entirely different question. However, the belief that it can self-regulate reflects faith in neo-liberalist principles. It is a faith that has never been characteristic o f the economic fabric o f the province, but one that has apparently grown in acceptance since the time the P P S E C began operations in 1992.  Additionally, the former U B C president David Strangway was granted a Private Member's B i l l in 2002 for the Sea to Sky University. Since the granting of the D A A , he now faces the requirement of receiving permission under the D A A , but a strong argument could be made to the effect that the Private Member's Bill was awarded in lieu of an Act that was all along intended to be passed. A question also arises with regard to how Strangway, a private interest, was able to secure legislation prior to an all-inclusive Act was put into place. 2 0  97 There have been accusations that P P S E C should have been looking to see what worked and what did not work at the global level. The U S model o f regional accreditation would have been one obvious place to begin such inquiry. The Australian Quality Training Framework provides another strong example o f how a private sector can be successfully incorporated into a comprehensive post-secondary system ( A N T A , 2001). There are claims that such efforts never materialized, and that they are equally absent under the P C T I A . In 2005, the E S L sector, perhaps the most lucrative segment o f the private postsecondary education, has been completely deregulated. O n the other hand, avenues have been established that potentially allow massive commercialization to burgeon within the province's degree-granting sector. Perhaps there have been, across the past fifteen years, pressures applied to the system that have been leading it in directions towards a grander scheme. A s the evidence seems to suggest, these pressures have been steering policy makers unbeknownst perhaps even to themselves. The processes o f commercialization may well continue to open up the floodgates until the figurative seas level, at which point the private and the public sectors w i l l appear one and the same. The P P S E C years increasingly witnessed the public sector commercialize elements o f its operations in ways that mimicked the private sector (Table 8, p. 38; Table 11, p.42). In conjunction with the Degree Authorization A c t ( D A A ) , the future appears to promise continued legitimization and growth o f commercial post-secondary education avenues. Nep-Liberalism deems that competition and diversification within any sector o f industry enables that sector to grow and flourish. With private post-secondary education now able to compete at all levels o f post-secondary education, the public sector has  98  surely been provided with the cause to compete in order to retain its dominance in the province's overall post-secondary education system.  Intention and Cause There is a correlation between the growth o f the private post-secondary education sector, the calls for expanded access to post-secondary education, and the subsequent enactment o f the P P S E A (1990). Though there are no direct links between the Access for A l l Report (1988) and the P P S E A , the two initiatives germinated alongside one another. Access for A l l was a call to action that led to the establishment o f the university-colleges system, the University o f Northern British Columbia, and the ill-fated Technical University o f British Columbia. The market was ripe for expansion in that era because o f the availability o f training dollars, an increasing population, and an emerging necessity for greater diversity in post-secondary education. The P P S E A was part o f a greater overall movement that guided the provincial post-secondary education sector to commercialize its activities. What was required by the post-secondary system in the latter half o f the 1980s, and what is still required, were the financial means to enable system-wide growth and diversification, and to do so without starving other provincial social systems. Government at that time recognized that the private post-secondary sector was providing programs that, for the most part, were satisfying students. Schools were profiting from the exercise. International education was emerging as a lucrative enterprise. Such efforts had long been pursued by public schools, but not for revenue generation. The notion that commercial revenue generation might be a viable complement to the public system caught some educators by surprise. In the contention o f one o f the experts:  99  I phoned the dean of education at U B C and asked why they did not offer cost recovery programs in Northern BC much like Oregon State was doing with a Master's of Education in the Peace River District? He said that they never thought they could offer a program at a different fee structure. Well, that is being bound and by your own assumptions. (E2)  The private sector demonstrated that individuals from British Columbia and from other countries would participate in B C schools for larger sums o f money than had ever been required by the public system to that day. The connection required was not such a leap that it went unnoticed. There was, however, a political leaning and a public sentiment in the 1980s that was far more socially driven. Education was not a commodity to be bought and sold. N o matter what pressures might have been acting on the province from a global perspective, any attempt by government towards the privatization o f education would have meant political suicide. Instead, there had to be a mechanism put into place that would highlight the merits o f private avenues o f education and enable the endorsement o f what might otherwise have been received as heresy. The intention at that time was not to privatize education (E2). The province was not ready for it then. However, privatization of certain programs is probably appropriate now. There was probably an understanding that a period o f growth and adaptation was required along a path that might ultimately lead to greater privatization in post-secondary education within the province. In the words o f an expert: "The public postsecondary institutions were not ready for commercialized post-secondary education as a mainstream alternative fifteen years ago. However, they may be ready for some o f that n o w " (E2). When the Liberal government came to power and made a decision to discontinue the P P S E A , it did so only by name, but it left the core functions in place (E2). Though  100  the changes made are in some instances severe, as with the deregulation o f the E S L sector, there is a logic to the changes that works particularly in favour o f a commercial model o f post-secondary education provision that w i l l continue to emerge in the years to come (E2). This is furthered by the implications surrounding the D A A and the first interest group that received approval for a profit driven proprietary university in October o f 2004—the University o f Canada West, in Victoria. In the current political climate, it is definitely in the best interests o f the government to create the impression that there are full and varied avenues to post-secondary education. The enhancement and promotion o f a healthy private sector holds potential and opportunity for the government. Some argue that it is all optics; the initiatives to regulate private education were tools meant only to secure public approval with regard to the provision o f increased post-secondary education seats in the province (E6). They argue that government actions are rarely deeper than acts o f self-preservation:  The directions the government has gone recently in terms of the private education are completely reactionary. In the end, nothing can be planned because we keep changing the government power base. It is never planning, as we do not keep political powers in place long enough for there to be any kind of planning. The truth of it? It is completely reactionary. Reactionary in some weird sense, and not even to something that is true. (E6)  This contention may have merit. Nonetheless, such an explanation falls far short o f providing a more balanced assessment of the situation. Some initiatives move forward on their own momentum. It is simpler to look at changes that have taken place as part o f a grander process that has worked toward laying the groundwork for the future growth o f post-secondary education in B C — o n e which employs a legitimate and integrated private sector that offsets those costs that the public purse can no longer sustain on its own.  101  Occam's Razor cuts a clean line. It tends to suggest the most likely o f possible explanations.  102  Chapter IX—Conclusions  This thesis set out to weigh a number o f hypotheses against available data. In the end, the most concrete o f the conclusions that I have drawn is that cause, effect, and correlation have indeed been intertwined throughout the relationship between the private and public post-secondary education sectors in British Columbia. M y first question asked whether: inconsistent policies and ambiguous directives led to problematic application o f the regulatory framework under the P P S E A . A s we have seen, there is clear evidence in support o f this, and in two ways in particular. First, the Commission was to conduct compliance audits, but it waited almost four years to do so despite the urgency with which the P P S E A was deemed necessary. Second, the sector was described as post-secondary, but it was unable to develop avenues leading toward higher education. Accreditation, one o f the main thrusts o f the A c t , never in the end permitted articulation that such a process would otherwise imply. Regarding my second contention that, "The provision o f governmental recognition and accreditation was responsible for the private post-secondary education sector's growth in the 1990s," the evidence is equally supportive. Until the end o f the 1980s, while private sectors in post-secondary education were already well established in other jurisdictions around the world, in British Columbia it remained a relatively low profile industry. With the flurry o f debate and concern that arose from the A l p h a College failure, the private sector was highlighted as a sector that was attracting significant revenues from markets that the public sector had not yet tapped. The subsequent development o f the policy framework o f the P P S E A thrust the sector into the centre of parliamentary attention.  103  In addition, both the federal and provincial governments saw the private sector as a viable alternative to career training. The sector benefited from the funding that followed. In addition, where the private sector had previously appeared limited by legislated noninclusion into the full scope o f the provinces post-secondary sector, the promise o f a Private Post-secondary Education A c t coupled with accreditation implied that standing barriers would be removed and the entire field would open to proprietorship. Under the P P S E A , this did not happen. However, the combination o f financial incentives and policy promises did invigorate the sector and caused it to grow from roughly 300 to 1000 institutions within five years. M y third research question was directed at whether or not government applied unfair restrictions to the private post-secondary education sector that led to a competitively unbalanced environment. The balance o f evidence indicates that this claim too has merit beyond correlation. First, the existence o f the P P S E A elevated the public's knowledge o f private school closure to such a level that came to characterize the sector as a whole. However, similar deleterious uncertainties involved in public sector programming—program termination, low enrollment, and program cancellation—were never questioned. Second, while public schools were allowed to recruit students from foreign countries almost without question and without fear that student visas might be denied to applicants, some very lucrative foreign student markets were simply denied to the private sector—one o f which was China. The claim was that students from those countries might not in fact return home after graduation—a weak argument that applied equally to the public sector institutions. A m o n g other inequities discussed within this thesis, the issue o f formal credit transfer stands tall. N o private school, with the exception  104  of two anomalous Colleges, was included into the B C Transfer Guide. This rendered the sector incapable o f providing services for a significant educational market. There is also evidence supporting the notion that the public post-secondary education sector adopted and used strategies developed by its private counterpart, but without the restrictions that the private sector faced under the P P S E A . With regard to international students, the public sector benefited from the ability to harvest students from any nation and for any level o f post-secondary education. With regard to programming, continuing education and extension arms o f public schools began to mimic private sector programming in duration, cost, and commercial intent, without the stigmas traditionally used to deride the private sector: high tuitions, brief program durations, and the absence o f liberal education, the "moral" hallmark o f the public sector. Finally, in the 1990s, the public sector began to function like the private sector in the activities it chose to pursue with regards to international education initiatives. While in the mid 1990s private Canadian institutions were well represented in most global international education marketing activities, the public sector was not. In 2005, that trend had reversed almost completely with public schools accounting for up to ninety percent o f the participation in, for instance, Canadian Education Centre Network ( C E C N ) events around the world. Evidence also supports the notion that government policy led to the commercialization o f post-secondary education within both the public and the private sectors. The establishment o f the Degree Authorization A c t in 2003 finally provided private institutes access to degree-granting avenues in higher education and opened the doors to direct competition between the public and private spheres. In the end, the public sector w i l l likely be required to use entrepreneurial tactics to maintain its dominance  105  within the market. In addition, with the recent discussions concerning the development o f a pan-Canadian post-secondary accreditation system, Canada could soon see its first formalized commercial system o f post-secondary education ranking (besides the journalistic version initiated by M a c L e a n ' s Magazine). Moreover, in the 1980s direct government policy allowed private providers to compete for government funding on an equal playing field with their public counterparts. Finally, the model used to conceptualize the P P S E A was borrowed almost verbatim from Birnbaum (1983)—a model purposed to generate commercial competition within post-secondary education. The P P S E A itself was a policy mechanism that, intentionally or not, did steer the public sector towards adopting commercial strategies and initiatives. Established at a time when a traditional economic base no longer supported the province's increasingly greater need for post-secondary access and provision, the private sector demonstrated that money could be found by commodifying what had to that point been deemed a public good. The P P S E A highlighted the private sector as a sector o f industry that was both lucrative and viable, and that markets in education were both legitimate and necessary. D i d public policy foster the commercialization o f the post-secondary education sector in British Columbia? I conclude that it did.  106  References Altbach, P . G . (2000). Private Higher Education: The Public Responsibilities and Relationships of Private Post-Secondary Institutions. Boston College. Australian National Training Authority (2001). The Australian Quality Training Framework. Australian National Training Authority. Birnbaum, R . (1983). Maintaining Diversity in Higher Education. 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Retrieved December 20, 2004, from www.iff.ac. at/hofo/events/reformHE/documents.htm.  116  Appendices  Appendix 1—Letter of Initial Contact  December 15, 2003 Letter of Initial Contact Address, Address Address, Address Address, Address Address, Address Dear (Name): My name is Greg Culos, and I am currently a master's student at the University of British Columbia in the Higher Education Program. I am in the final stages of my program and have started the journey into my thesis entitled: Private Post-Secondary Education Policy and Legislation in British Columbia: The Role and Reformation of the Private Post-Secondary Education Commission. I have acted in both instructional and administrative roles within this industry for the better part of my career, and it is my familiarity and fondness of the industry that has motivated me to make this the focus of my graduate research. The results of this study will be submitted as a thesis in fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree in Higher Education. This letter is an invitation to you to participate in this study. The purpose of this research is to provide in detail an overview, discussion, and critique of the legislation affecting private post-secondary education in BC from 1990 to the present and beyond: the 1991 Private Post-Secondary Education Act, the Private Post-Secondary Education Commission mandated to regulate the Act (1992-2003), the upcoming revision/modification of the Act and the Commission (2004 Q1), and the future of privatized post-secondary education in BC. Since policy directly affects the development of any industry, this paper will look at trying to determine how the legislative framework has affected the growth of this sector to this point, and what the future implications of the impending changes might be. This study is significant as it intends to provide an overview of a sector that has not yet been subject to the analysis and critique from perspectives other than those concerning policy and governance. While the latter two perspectives are essential to the sustained growth and guidance of the sector, this study proposes to begin at the level of policy and its evolution across the preceding 15 years.  118  M.A. Candidate, UBC Appendix 2—Subject Consent Form  June 23, 2004 Subject C o n s e n t Form Project Title: Private Post-Secondary Education Policy and Legislation in British Columbia: The Role and Reformation of the Private Post-Secondary Education Commission Principal Investigator:  Dr. Hans Schuetze Professor of Higher Education, Dept. of Ed. Studies University of British Columbia  Student Investigator:  Greg Culos M.A. Candidate (Higher Education) University of British Columbia  Purpose and Procedure:  The purpose of this study is to provide in detail and overview, discussion, and critique of the legislation affecting private post-secondary education in BC from 1990 to the present and beyond: the 1991 Private Post-Secondary Education Act, the Private Post-Secondary Education Commission (1992-2003) mandated to regulate the Act, the upcoming revision/modification of the Act and the Commission (2004, Q1), and the future of privatized post-secondary education in BC. Since policy directly affects the development of any industry, this paper will look at trying to determine how the legislative framework has affected the growth of this sector to this point, and what the future implications of the impending changes might be. You are one of a select sample of participants to be interviewed. The interview will be conducted at your convenience and last approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. You will be asked to discuss your involvement and association with private education and its governance in BC, particularly with regard to the PPSEA and with PPSEC. In total, participation in this study will require approximately 2 hours of your time. This will include: scheduling the interview, participating in the interview, and reviewing transcripts for accuracy and intent.  120  Appendix 3—Interview Guide  Interview Guide: 1.  Question 1 a.  Events Leading to the Drafting and Enactment o f the P P S E A (1985-1992) i.  Based on your knowledge, what were the reasons for the establishment of P P S E C in 1991-2? What kinds o f legislative bodies/mechanisms were in  place prior to the Commission? b.  The Application o f the P P S E A via P P S E C (1992-2000) i.  What is your opinion o f private education, particularly in B C , and how it fits into the Province's overall framework o f post-secondary education? •  D o you believe the current status o f private  education in B C is sufficient in terms of the solutions it provides to skills training and  education? •  D o you believe that private post-secondary  education can provide significant benefits and solutions to education?  •  ii.  What do you feel are the negative aspects o f  private post-secondary education in B C ?  What is/has/have your role(s) been within the private education sector? H o w long have you been associated with the sector?  iii.  The mandate of P P S E C , according to the Ministry's website (http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/ abc/boardpages/pvtpostsec.html) is as follows:  To regulate private post-secondary education institutions through mandatory registration, focusing on consumer protection, voluntary accreditation and on educational competence. • •  Why was this set as the Commission's mandate? One decade later, how effective has the Commission been in pursuing its mandate?  •  Was there differentiation within the Commission between the different categories of school under their supervision?  •  What were the expectations o f the original mandate in terms of the promotion o f educational quality and program development?  c.  Legislative Revisions in P P S E A - P C T I A Transition (2001-2004)  121  i.  What are the factors that most directly prompted the re-evaluation and current reformation of the Commission?  ii.  Who benefits from the de-regulation o f the E S L sector? Why was the decision made to this? H o w does this fit with the original intentions o f the P P S E A ?  iii.  Why remove reference to post-secondary education from the mandate o f the original P P S E A , replacing it with strict reference only to vocational training? Were the P C T I A and the D A A all along conceptualized as complementary Acts?  iv. Revised consumer protection mechanism—easing o f requirements. v.  vi. vii.  viii.  ix.  Revision o f appeal process for complaints—mediation and resolution at school level. Increase in public-private articulations in B C . The involvement (potential) o f foreign influences in the planning o f privatized education legislation. The self-regulation o f private post-secondary institutions. In your opinion, does the replacement o f P P S E C with the P C T I A increase or limit the range o f opportunity and promotion granted the private postsecondary sector? W i l l the new Board change the private post-secondary education framework that has been in place since 1990 in a positive or a negative way?  x.  A r e you familiar with the Degree Granting A c t o f 2002? What are your thoughts concerning the avenues which now exist for private institutions to pursue tracks leading to the ability to offer degrees?  xi.  D o you see the reformulation o f P P S E C and the establishment o f the P C T I A as an effort that w i l l promote or restrict access for private postsecondary institutions to affect their ability to pursue degree granting authorization? Has the sector been further removed from that possibility with the new legislative framework?  Question 2 a.  Funding and Commercial Development within Public Post-Secondary Education System.  122  i.  Per-student drop in government funding to public post-secondary education (1980-2004), with further decreases slated for the upcoming three years.  ii.  The over 50%+ increase in tuition costs at public institutions across the past 15-20 years.  iii.  The existence o f instances o f cost-recovery, non-funded programs at public institutions.  iv.  Recent instances o f creditable status o f public continuing education programs toward core degree programs.  v.  Development o f privatized post-secondary arms by traditional providers of publicly funded education—Immigration Services, Coquitlam School Board, and more.  b. Privatized Education Legislation: W h y ? i.  ii.  iii.  c.  P P S E A / P C T I A and Accreditation. Were/are they tools more for the control o f or for the promotion o f privatized education? A combination? With the intention o f accomplishing what? The lack o f a universal set o f criteria for accreditation o f private institutions. What exactly does this accreditation signify? H o w does the Degree Designation A c t fit into the equation? What are the intentions of this A c t in terms o f long term government planning for the growth and future development o f private post-secondary education?  Continuing Developmental Barriers to Private Post-Secondary Education in Terms o f Legitimacy and Attractiveness i.  With the exclusion o f two instances in the mid 80s, Columbia and Coquitlam Colleges, the otherwise non-inclusion o f private postsecondary institutions in the B C C A T .  i i . Non-inclusion o f private post-secondary schools in the federal immigration regulations concerning temporary work permits for international students following graduation from programs greater than 1 year in length. d. Purpose and Impact o f Expanded Access and Choice in B C ' s P S E  I  123 i. Is there a hidden mandate to diversify in order to increase the size of the skilled as opposed to the educated—a motivating factor behind promoting expansion of "career training" avenues? ii. What is the underlying intention of expanded access? Access to what? iii. Will expansion of access to Higher Education in BC at the quality levels expected/demanded by the public, and indeed by the very definition of Higher Education itself, backfire in terms of the economic impact of such a potentially massive pool of human capital? iv. Is the provision of access strictly a political tool, with the expansion of the private sector being used as a device that portrays an effort to expand access in order to create a perception of good government via public approval? Question 3 a. Taxonomies and Categorizations—in BC, is "private" post-secondary education provision used to demarcate a sector different from activities that occur within the public sector? After all, legislation has been developed particularly for this category. To what do these terms refer in regards to postsecondary education? Are the generally held divisions based on real lines of difference, or are they themselves part of an underlying mechanism that is being used to control post-secondary provision within the province? i. Private ii. Non-Public iii. Public b. Globalization of Trade (in Services) and Commercialization of PSE i.  Has the globalized economic environment furthered in the 90s by the GATS and NAFTA played a role in the development and evolution of policy governing private post-secondary education in BC?  ii. Is there a link between the globalized economic environment and the overall shortfalls stemming from demands for increased access in BC post-secondary education? iii. The public institutions have taken advantage of privatized/commercial activities. Are those activities due in any way to the shortfalls in overall funding?  124  iv. Were the potential free trade consequences o f G A T S considered in the drafting and enactment o f the P P S E A , P C T I A , or the D A A ? v.  What are the root causes o f federal and provincial government postsecondary funding shortfalls across the past 2-3 decades? A big question, but what?  v i . Given the often extreme ideological and political shifts that typically occur with each subsequent B C government, is there a pattern that emerges across the years? I f so, what can be responsible for this? v i i . The future o f B C post-secondary education is poised to follow a path with clearly demarcated private avenues. What kind o f future does this promise for post-secondary education in the province?  


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