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Western halts negotiations with Navitas following faculty mobilization
February 21, 2021
The university administration is halting negotiations with Navitas Ltd. to develop a private pathway college for international students, responding to faculty members’ collective opposition to the partnership.
Last spring and fall, Faculty Councils in Arts & Humanities; Education; Music; Science; Social Science; and FIMS overwhelmingly passed the following motion against outsourcing first-year international undergraduate teaching to a university preparation and pathway for-profit company:
‘The Faculty of XXX does not support the outsourcing of the crucial work of teaching first-year international undergraduates at Western to a private, for-profit international ‘pathway’ college such as Navitas.’
Faculty members used the procedures of collegial governance as an opportunity to collectively organize at our university. Crucially, it appears that faculty mobilization against the deal has led to a pause in negotiations between Western and Navitas. At the January 2021 meeting of Senate, the administration announced that the Navitas file had been closed.
About the Deal
In 2019, Western entered into negotiations with the company Navitas University Preparation and Pathways Programs to open a private pathway college for international students. Such an initiative would involve recruiting international students, who would not otherwise be eligible for entry to a Western undergraduate program. Those students would then be provided with academic language and their first-year undergraduate courses to prepare them for entry to a Western program.
While pathway programs and colleges can be public –ie. provided by the university — there are a number of private providers such as Navitas. As a for-profit enterprise, Navitas, headquartered in Australia, is responsible to its shareholders. In 2018, its after-tax profit was $19.5 million (Cdn). Navitas was bought out by the consortium BGH Capital in 2019. After the corporate takeover, following demands by BGH, Navitas began to focus on university partnership (UP), its most lucrative division. The UP divisions now form the largest part of Navitas’s business. Currently, they have 36 partnerships (down from 42 in 2018) with universities in Australasia, Europe, and North America.
In Canada, Simon Fraser University (SFU) entered into an agreement with Navitas in 2006 and established the Fraser International College (FIC). In 2007, the University of Manitoba (UM) entered an agreement with Navitas, establishing the International College of Manitoba (ICM). And in the spring of 2020, Ryerson University signed a 10-year agreement with Navitas. In 2012, the company generated more than $40 million in revenue from its Canadian operations.
As a part of discussions with Navitas about the potential partnership, Western senior administration visited other Navitas Colleges in Canada and hosted Navitas representatives on campus. Western’s President, Dr. Alan Shepard, assured faculty that any decision to partner with Navitas would go through all the regular university decision-making bodies and promised there would be a full debate at Senate before any decisions were made. That was welcome news. Collectively, UWO faculty have joined together to oppose the Navitas partnership. UWOFA has come out strongly in its opposition to this for-profit partnership. You can read UWOFA’s full statement here.
The Dangers of Navitas – Canadian Federation of Students
December 7, 2020
Since the late 1980s, Canada has progressively shifted from a publicly-funded to a publicly-assisted, system of post-secondary education. For decades, international students have been used as ATMs to cushion budget lines while institutions continue to source easier and more ‘efficient’ methods for revenue.
Navitas is a growingly popular privatized pathway system that relieves the international student recruitment pressure from universities. Originating from Australia, Navitas was introduced to Canada in 2006 with partnerships at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the University of Manitoba (UofM). Until recently, no further partnerships were secured until Ryerson University signed a contract in September of 2020.
Read full post here.
UWO and Navitas – CAUT Bulletin Interview
November 10, 2020
Elizabeth MacDougall-Shackleton is a biology professor at the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and president of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA). The Association and its members are opposing the school’s proposed partnership with Navitas, a for-profit education provider for international students.
Read full post here.
Why do you oppose Navitas?
They would establish a for-profit college on our campus. The people they hire would not be members of UWOFA, so they wouldn’t have the protections that our members have under our collective agreement, meaning no academic freedom or the job security that contract faculty members have here. Navitas would admit students who do not meet our entrance standards. Also, we are concerned that there’s going to be lots of pressure on these teachers to relax their academic standards.
What would be the consequences?
It’s not fair to other students if there’s a “pay-to-play” scenario where some students can jump the queue simply because they can afford an exorbitant international commission, and it doesn’t serve the second and third year cohorts well after Navitas students are integrated into Western’s main campus. It does a disservice to international students as well. We question the ethics of recruiting people in this way.
Read full post here.
Canadian Federation of Students, (2010) Motion from 57th Semi-Annual General Meeting:
Local 68/Local 93
Whereas Navitas is a private, for-profit Australian company that recruits and teaches international students who have not passed TOEFL exams and who often need more assistance in meeting entrance requirements of universities and colleges in Canada; and whereas Navitas currently operates at the University of Manitoba, where there have been problems of facility usage and in some cases has actually bumped University of Manitoba classes so that Navitas classes can use the best facilities; and whereas the faculty association at Dalhousie University was highly critical of a proposed partnership with Navitas at their school; and whereas a partnership at the University of Windsor’s business school with another international recruitment agency, Study Group International, was rejected in February; and whereas international companies that offer education to international students at public Canadian post-secondary institutions often set their own admissions criteria and offer direct admittance into a college or university, raising concerning ethical questions about the privatisation of post-secondary education; therefore be it resolved that the practice of private, for-profit education companies offering instruction through public post-secondary education institutions be condemned; and be it further resolved that the Government of Canada and provincial governments be called upon to prohibit the operation of these private education companies within public post-secondary institutions; and be it further resolved that member locals be encouraged to oppose partnerships that are presented on campus with for-profit international education recruiting and training companies such as Navitas, Kaplan and Study Group International.