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Manitoba More Open for Business

The Manitoba Universities have signed an agreement (http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/press/top/2003/12/2003-12-05-02.html) with Advanced Education and Training Minister, Diane McGifford, that would allow international students taking their post-secondary education in Manitoba to work outside the university campus. In the post 9-11 world, where the American government found that some of the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Centre actually came in using expired student visas, this move by the Manitoba government shows a lot of faith and support for their post-secondary institutions. It also shows an uncommon amount of good sense, as the best way to deal with intolerance is to open borders, not increase isolation. Free trade can work for immigration too.

However it seems strange that such restrictions existed in the first place, in my mind. After all, if you’re an international student, part of the reason you spend the extra money to attend university in another country is to experience the culture of your destination. If you are unable to work outside of the confines of the university campus, however, you’re missing a large portion of what makes a culture – the way the people support themselves. To have a restriction in place that prohibits this seems to defeat one of the main reasons people look outside their own countries for an education rather than within.

What this does raise, however, is the interesting point of how more universities are increasingly looking to compete over international students. AU has the unique advantage of being able to gain those students even if they are unable or unwilling to leave their home country, but still want an education from a North American university. Of course, as I pointed out, often part of the reason students want an out of country education is also to experience another culture.

One thing that AU can advertise is that there are no restrictions on where a person can work when you study with AU.

Post-Secondary Investigation Under Review

The Alberta Government has made a great to-do about how it has accepted (http://www.gov.ab.ca/home/index.cfm?Page=663) most of the suggestions from the Learning Commission. Out of the 95 recommendations the Learning Commission report made, the government has decided to accept 84 of them, and reject two of them completely.

The two rejected recommendations include giving the school-boards the authority to implement a tax on their own, and that school infrastructure be moved to the Department of Learning rather than the department of Infrastructure. Surprisingly, I agree with both of these decisions.

When a tax is imposed, it should be imposed directly by the politicians, and not by some political proxies. I am actually surprised the government didn’t let this one go through, as then they could easily under-fund the education system and put that off on the school boards to raise their own taxes.

The second change, that of moving learning infrastructure into the Department of Learning also seems like one that is better off not implemented. The Department of Learning should be concentrating on learning, not buildings.

Of course, this leaves nine recommendations that the Learning Commission made that weren’t accepted but were not outright rejected either. The government explains this by saying that “nine of the recommendations have significant implications for the system and will be explored further before a final decision is made.” Funnily enough, if you look in the backgrounder (http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200312/15594.html#backgrounder) as to what the recommendations were and the government’s response, you’ll see that one of the recommendations that would have “significant implications for the system” is recommendation number 12: “Undertake a comprehensive, independent review of Alberta’s post-secondary education system.”

I wonder if Minister Oberg could tell me exactly what significant implications an independent review of the post-secondary system might have? What is he afraid such a review might find?

After all, Alberta has been committed to life-long learning for several years now, hasn’t it?

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