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The Educator – October 2016

Deal Making at Ontario Colleges

- M. Feltham

Ontario colleges have in recent years engaged in a flurry of deal-making, including attempts to partner with private colleges, proposed (and actual) ventures into Saudi Arabia, and various spin-off entities meant to turn a profit.

In 2014, for example, Fanshawe College pursued a deal with TriOs College; this deal never materialized, but it provides a concrete local example of the culture of deal making at Ontario colleges. Other colleges, including St. Clair in Windsor and Cambrian in Sudbury, have had active partnerships with private colleges. Fanshawe never did expand into Saudi Arabia; Algonquin College, however, did, though it has subsequently announced the end of this venture.

The cost of this failed venture, as reported in the The Ottawa Citizen on 12 August 2016, was 5.8 million dollars. Here in London, Fanshawe has, meanwhile, launched the Canadian Centre for Product Validation, using a significant amount of money pulled from the College’s operating budget, along with funds from the Federal Government. All of this speaks to what I think of as the culture of the deal in Ontario Colleges.  Unions, including OPSEU Local 110, have repeatedly expressed significant concerns about these various deals. Our concerns are numerous: they include questions about the appropriateness of public money being used to support partnerships with private entities, including private career colleges, questions about the human-rights implications of operations in Saudi Arabia, and questions about how such deals— often financed with money from operations — may negatively affect the jobs of our members.

(to read more click The Educator – October 2016)