Taking Notes: Eye on Education – The Phoenix Rises in Calgary

Taking Notes: Eye on Education – The Phoenix Rises in Calgary

This column focuses on a wide range of issues affecting post-secondary students. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions and educational topics they are concerned about, or personal experiences with courses or university situations they feel other students should know about. If suggest a topic or a course alert for taking notes, contact djabbour@ausu.org


After awaiting five years for provincial approval, one of the most “notorious” private, for-profit universities in the United States will be setting up shop in Calgary, Alberta. University of Phoenix has announced that they will open an office in Calgary next March, offering the first two degrees–an MBA and a Bachelor of Science in business management.

The university’s focus on education as a commodity can be clearly seen in announcements regarding the move, with officials citing Calgary’s business sense & strong economy as factors supporting the decision, stating that it is a “growing marketplace with a business-friendly environment.”

The Canadian Federation of Students has spoken out against private universities such as the University of Phoenix, stating that they are “diploma mills” that “churn out degrees to people with deep pockets.” Alberta Advanced Education defends the decision to allow the University of Phoenix to open in Calgary, arguing that this is simply a way to offer students more choices.

More choices can be a good thing, of course. However, one has to wonder whether making university degrees available to the highest bidder will actually benefit students in this province. Many of us may already be familiar with the University of Phoenix through pervasive pop-up advertisements that seem to be everywhere on the Internet. University of Phoenix may be an accredited university in the U.S., but in some academic circles, their for-profit approach to online education has contributed to the negative perception many still hold regarding university degrees earned at a distance.

Defenders of public education should be watching this development carefully.

Edmonton Journal, December 4, 2004. Private university to open in Calgary