NDs angry DeVry granted degree status

The New Democrats are accusing the province of undermining Canada's publicly-funded university and college system.

The Alberta government has accredited three new bachelor degree programs at Calgary's DeVry Institute of Technology, a private institution. The four-year courses will lead to degrees in computer information systems, business operations and electrical engineering technology. But ND Leader Raj Pannu says the move threatens Alberta's and Canada's public education system.

"It's the most unprecedented intrusion of the private, for-profit sector into Alberta's post-secondary sector," says Pannu. "It's the most secretive form of decision-making that the government has used in this case."

Pannu says colleges and universities serve Alberta's communities while schools like DeVry are only accountable to foreign shareholders and profit.

But the president of the Calgary DeVry school accuses Pannu of fear-mongering. John Balheim says his school passed two years of accreditation procedures where DeVry was judged by representatives of the Universities of Calgary and Alberta, as well as by the general public.

"I think all students and the people of Alberta will benefit because it brings additional competition into the post-secondary sector, he says."

Balheim also says DeVry does not want any government funding, so no public money will be diverted from public colleges or universities.