UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 09 | May
Say 'no' to commercialization, faculty members urge
The undersigned members of the Educational Studies Dept. are most disturbed
by the Senate decision on April 18 to support what we regard as a
along the path of commercializing knowledge.
Mike Goldberg (Universitas 21 Contact Officer)
presented a 10-page
plan which outlined how UBC would participate in a new
that would bring together Universitas 21 (U21) and Thomson Corp. as partners
in selling courses, programmes and degrees to an international audience.
Senators were charged with considering a plan that many had received the day of
No prior consultation was undertaken with the wider university community.
Founded in 1997, U21 is a relatively loose consortium of 17 universities in 10
countries that until now has been relatively benign.
Collaboration and exchange have been the watchwords of what seemed to be an
admirable endeavour: universities in different countries attempting
to share their expertise and resources in order to increase international
understanding and improve learning.
The new policy objective creates a very different relationship
between the U21 universities and substitutes profit as the most important
Knowledge and instruction become commodities that Thomson Learning (a
subsidiary of Thomson Corp.) will market.
The UBC Senate passed a motion giving approval in principle to the plan
for UBC to become part of the proposed corporation.
This came just days after the University of Toronto withdrew completely from
U21 Pedagogica, a separate entity, will be responsible for all
facets of quality
assurance and thus take care of the "academic" side of U21.
Each member institution can choose to evaluate its own courses and programs and
also to evaluate the programs of applicants and transfer students from other
schools using U21 Pedagogica methods and tools. The notion here is that this
would be a free choice.
Students get degrees from the U21 consortium. The parchment shows U21 and
the list of participating universities. By joining U21 Global,
agree to "license" our university name and crest to U21.
Rather than take the stance of the Massachusetts Institute of
recently decided to allow open access to all their learning materials through
their Web site, UBC is further adopting a corporate model.
Global capitalism and the market become the driving forces behind policy as
we commit more of our energy to producing "products" for sale.
We contend that UBC from its inception was meant to serve the "public
good." We are concerned about the corporatization of the university and the
exclusive decision-making process.
In the strongest possible terms we urge the Senate and the Board
of UBC to reconsider the plan to join U21 Global.
Jean Barman, Roger Boshier, William Bruneau, Shauna Butterwick,
Donald Fisher, Mona Gleason, Deirdre Kelly, Dan Pratt, Leslie
Roman, Kjell Rubenson,
Educational Studies Dept.