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UBC Theses and Dissertations

At what cost? a study of Canada's first public-private post-secondary matriculation pathways partnership Maschmann, Elizabeth


This study explores Canada’s first private-public matriculation pathways partnership into higher education at the juncture of its ten-year anniversary. In 2006, Simon Fraser University (SFU), a mid-sized, public Canadian research university entered into partnership with Navitas, a private, for-profit, multinational education services provider. The partnership authorized the establishment of Fraser International College (FIC), on SFU’s main campus in Burnaby, British Columbia. Although the partnership was controversial, university administration justified the collaboration as providing enhanced recruitment of international students, financial gains through profit sharing and differential international student tuition fees, and enhanced academic and social supports for students. Unlike previous outsourcing to the private sector in Canadian higher education, the SFU-FIC/Navitas partnership allowed for in-roads into core academic functions of the university. Since its inception, FIC/Navitas has extended its purview by claiming delivery of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) language instruction once located in SFU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Theoretically, literature on globalization and internationalization of higher education as informed by neo-liberal ideology are employed and intersect with literature on the role of EAP. As university websites have come to have significant discursive influence and international reach, methodologically, this research combines qualitative case study with multimodal critical discourse analysis of SFU-FIC/Navitas partnership web pages. My primary findings reveal that the public and private partners share promotional discourses of marketization to their external market. However, there are some differences. The public partner, SFU, also relies on more traditional academic and social discourses of community, access, and inclusion when addressing local audiences while the private partner, FIC/Navitas, relies on the social and academic capital generated by the public partner, SFU, for legitimacy and growth. I also found discourses present on SFU and FIC/Navitas websites point to contradictions with potential to impact both students and staff. Further findings indicate that the ongoing marginalization of EAP programs within the university provided an opening for FIC to grow its presence and profitability.

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