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You are here:  / Featured Stories / News / What went wrong at Algonquin’s Jazan campus? Documents show a history of ‘overly optimistic’ assumptions, bad timing and a poor cultural match led to the $9 million closure of its Saudi Arabia campus


  • Peter Biesterfeld

    Courageous investigative piece. Eye-opening is the inclusion of the administration’s response which includes some valid points and clarifications. Some of which are instructive (e.g.imprecise attributions; language “ill-fated” etc.) other criticisms appear somewhat inflated if not disingenuous (e.g. “in the interest of transparency”). Having worked on a similar Jazan story I discovered that transparency, except for the obligated variety under law, was not part of administration’s MO in Jazan according to people who taught there. This had to be a complex and challenging story to develop, kudos for giving it one helluva shot. Will there be any manager held accountable for the Jazan foul-up as a result? Don’t hold your breath. Some of the college’s criticism re information gaps and context can be found here in a piece published in Local Lines November, 2016: https://locallines.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/November2016Final.pdf

  • Robert Evans

    As an electrical instructor in the automation field with 17 years of instruction experience at BCIT, I saw the failure from “the sharp end of the spear” point of view. ACJ refused to supply me and my students the necessary equipment for a key course for soon to be graduating learners. The previous instructor had not been able to fulfill the requirements of the curriculum for the same lack of equipment. There were no real consequences for student attendance and records were not accurately kept in attempts to keep up the numbers to get paid by the CoE. ACJ then required the instructors to create ‘drop in’ classes in the evenings and on weekends for the students to make up the time lost to poor attendance. The result was worsening daytime attendance and spotty evening efforts. I believe that ACJ did not understand the real problem of the Saudi people of not thinking that they have to work for a living. The Saudi people have been living on handouts from their government for so long that they have a welfare mentality and expect that they are entitled to a diploma and a ‘job’ as a ‘manager’. Actual work is not an option.

  • This is an important piece on a significant local issue, one that I’ve followed for the past two years. While the administration’s response contains some good points, I have to agree with the comment by Peter Biesterfeld. Many points made by the administration are hair-splitting. As a whistleblowing and accountability activist, one of the patterns I’ve observed is this kind of smoke screen. The intent is usually to draw attention away from more embarrassing facts. In this case, the outcome is the most obvious evidence that the project was mismanaged. Why this was so is not simply something out of control of the administration, though external factors may have played a role. My impression is that the administration jumped into the project with something like a “gold rush” mentality. Again drawing on my experience with whistleblowing cases, I have observed that administrators without the requisite experience or skills have a tendency to get in over their heads – partly through ignorance (the Dunning-Kuger effect) or arrogance (I’ll call it the “I’m a success in x, so y must be a snap!” effect). Or a combination of both. I can’t tell if that is the case here, but I suspect so. Quite telling is the refusal of the administration to fully own the failure. When the listeriosis outbreak killed 8 people in 2008, Maple Leaf Foods’ CEO Michael McCain immediately assumed full responsibility. He recognized that this was important to regain the trust of consumers. Some humility in this case would reassure all stakeholders that a lesson had indeed been learned and that any future ventures would be better conceived. Instead, a typical bureaucratic “circle the wagons” approach appears to have been the response. Unfortunate.


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