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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 09 | May 10, 2001

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 dramatic move 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 corporate venture 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 the meeting.

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 outcome.

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.

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, UBC will agree to "license" our university name and crest to U21.

Rather than take the stance of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which 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 Governors of UBC to reconsider the plan to join U21 Global.

Jean Barman, Roger Boshier, William Bruneau, Shauna Butterwick, David Coulter, Donald Fisher, Mona Gleason, Deirdre Kelly, Dan Pratt, Leslie Roman, Kjell Rubenson, Veronica Strong-Boag

Educational Studies Dept.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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