Post-Secondary Education Profiles in the TJ
In a refreshingly even-handed manner, the TJ has profiled two very different PSE institutions over the past week: UNB Saint John (“Want to get Ahead? Take Philosophy,” 23 July 2008) and Lansbridge University (“Online universities matter, too” 25 July 2008).
As much as this even-handed reporting is appreciated, there was a missed opportunity. It would be useful to have a companion piece like the one interviewing philosophy students (“‘It Touches You at the Core’: Education Students use Philosophy as Launchpad for Careers,” 23 July 2008) to the commentary written by Lansbridge president W. Barry Miller. What do his graduates have to say about their educational experience?
May I be permitted to toot my own horn?
Given that I knew nothing about the Lansbridge piece in today’s T-J, my comments yesterday about national standards and university missions and mandates anticipated Miller’s comments on accreditation rather nicely. As he points out:
Lansbridge University is accredited by the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Province of New Brunswick, delivering the Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Executive Masters in Business Administration (eMBA) and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Degrees.
In addition to this regional accreditation, Lansbridge University is the only online university in Canada accredited by the Distance Education Training Council (DETC) in Washington, D.C. A university has to be operating successfully for five years prior to applying for this accreditation, and then undergo a stringent and thorough review process before being accepted.
Accreditation is not a privilege that is granted frivolously. It is a right that must be earned through constant diligence, perseverance, hard work, and attention to detail. Lansbridge University has earned this right and follows the same strict review processes as traditional universities in maintaining it.
While he is justifiably proud of the fact that Lansbridge is accredited by the DETC, it must be pointed out that Lansbridge is not a member of the AUCC. It might be tempting to jump to the conclusion that its online delivery mode is the reason for such exclusion. That would be incorrect. Athabasca University, an online, distance-ed institution located in Alberta, is a member of AUCC. Rather, we must look to the mission statement and mandate of Lansbridge University. According to the website,
“Lansbridge University has a focused mission and constituency. We provide online management education. As our size is small, we have the advantage of effective communication and timely response to needs and opportunities that arise. As we grow, we will continue to evolve our communication and implementation processes to reflect the constituencies we will be serving.”
As noted yesterday, AUCC member institutions must be dedicated to (1) teaching and research, (2) scholarship and the advancement of knowledge, and (3) service to the community. If Lansbridge is committed to these principles it is not apparent from the website — which given that it is an online university should provide a full and complete account of mission and mandate, as well as programs and fees.
Lest I be labelled elitist (the epithet de jour for academics), let me go on record as saying I have absolutely nothing against online universities, or online programs such as the MBA offered by Lansbridge. They do provide access to PSE for many students. However, in light of Erin Millar’s revelations of how students such as Dave Cryderman fared when they attempted to transfer from a non-AUCC degree-granting institution to an AUCC degree-granting institution, it seems that students need to be better informed as to how decisions on PSE might play out over the long haul.
The same might be said for our provincial government.