VICTORIA (CUP) — The B.C. Liberals have slashed a program that offers post-secondary education off campus.
Over the next two years, all programs provided by the Open Learning Agency (OLA) will be discontinued or transferred to post-secondary institutions across the province.
“These programs are primarily for students who might not meet the requirements for [university] admission or can’t take the time to go through the admission process of a university because they’re working,” said Cindy Underhill, a spokeswoman for the University of British Columbia’s distance education department.
Before the changes, the OLA ran a separate college and university as well as the Knowledge Network, an educational television station. The agency serves between 15,000 and 22,000 students each year, which amounts to about 2,600 full-time students throughout B.C.
The OLA kindergarten to Grade 12 courses, career and college preparation, as well as university courses will be incorporated into correspondence programs offered at the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, UBC and other post-secondary institutions in the province.
It is still unclear how the programs will be integrated.
“As of yet we haven’t received any new information,” said Don Black, a spokesperson for the OLA.
Black said the government wants to adopt a distance education approach where member universities work closer together.
“I would imagine this is to ensure that work in online learning is coordinated, rather than duplicated,” he said.
Privatization could be one of the routes the government may take to administer B.C.’s distance education programs in the future, said Black.
Joan Collinge, a spokeswoman for Simon Fraser’s distance education department said privatization could work if administered properly.
“The effect on students would depend on the extent to which the new service provider would be willing to work with the institutions,” she said.