By Marianna Wright
Though alarm has been raised with Algonquin’s Saudi Arabian campus in Jazan, the college has actually been offering programs and educational standards internationally for years. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are the most recent additions.
“This process has been about three years in the making,” said Ernest Mulvey, director of the International Education Centre talking about the new Saudi Arabian campus.
According to Mulvey, Saudi Arabia initiated the process and offered the opportunity to many western schools. Algonquin was one of nine winning bidders in the first round of decision-making.
There are two programs available at Jazan: electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Both of those are two-year programs. There is also a preparatory year program (PYP) that is comparable to an English as a second language (ESL) program.
According to Mulvey, the Saudi government normally runs a vocational model that they now believe isn’t working. Students were not meeting industry standards upon leaving their post-secondary education. Saudi Arabia is looking for 200 colleges within the next two to three years under the Colleges of Excellence banner.
Colleges of Excellence is a Saudi Arabian entity that creates public-private partnerships in their post-secondary school in order to offer a higher quality of vocational training programs. This is where Saudi Arabia has been working with independent corporations such as Algonquin. This leaves them held accountable by the college and the Colleges of Excellence.
Mulvey stated that international partnerships, such as the one in Saudi Arabia, are important to the college for financial gain and the opportunity to export applied learning.
Algonquin offers many programs in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The programs offered in each country all depend on domestic labour market demand. For instance, in India Algonquin offers interior decorating, and in Montenegro it offers a hospitality program.
Overseas partnerships with educational institutions are said to have a positive outcome for Algonquin staff as well, according to Mulvey. It allows Algonquin to send employees to international locations where they can not only benefit by learning new techniques, but they also get to see a larger world full of different cultures and world issues that Algonquin tries to address.
Every relation must match the needs of the school and the local needs. This is why each country has a different model that can accommodate economic background and different needs.
In China, Algonquin has a different kind of partnership. For example, Algonquin delivers a three year program in supply chain management in China, an interesting program to offer since China is on the supply-side of the management chain and Canada is on the demand side. At least once a year, staff go there to do a quality assurance check. B
Although in the early stages, the campus in Kuwait is expected to offer programs in 2014. Unlike Saudi Arabia that has a need for technical and applied trades, Kuwait has a need for business and IT programs. These programs will be business accounting, business marketing, computer programming and computer systems technician.
There are significant differences in the Saudi Arabia relations versus other Algonquin ventures.
Christine Peachey, a project manager in the International Education Centre at Algonquin covers the Americas, Europe, Africa and India.
“We don’t own the bricks and mortar but we hire and manage the staff and take care of maintenance of the building,” said Peachey explaining the management of Jazan.
She helped facilitate the Science Without Boarders, an international program from Brazil. The students get the opportunity to spend 12 to 18 months in Canada to finish their programs.
The programs in Montenegro and India are offered by Algonquin at established schools. Algonquin doesn’t hire the staff but they do checks to manage the quality of the education.
When asked about future plans and ideas Mulvey said, “we always have plans, nothing can be announced but we are always looking for opportunities where we can find good partners.”