Pannu wants DeVry's degree status revoked

The leader of Alberta's New Democrats is calling on the government to revoke degree-granting status at the DeVry Institute of Technology in Calgary.

The province agreed last week to allow the school to grant bachelor's degrees in four areas of study. But Raj Pannu says the government should reconsider its decision in light of new information about some of DeVry's franchises.

He says the DeVry school in Toronto improperly released $7 million worth of student loans between 1993 and 1996. He adds a number of former students launched an American-wide class-action suit claiming DeVry Inc. didn't adequately prepare them for careers in the high-tech industry.

Pannu says he can't believe a company with such a history can now grant degrees in Alberta. "This college appears to have a rather questionable record of client service and of handling public money," says the ND leader.

Learning Minister Lyle Oberg says he hasn't heard of the class-action lawsuit, but promises to look into the matter. However, he notes that DeVry Calgary passed a very stringent set of accreditation procedures and was judged by representatives from universities across Canada.

"My job as minister is to ensure that there are more spaces for students in the future," says Oberg. "I believe this is one element that we can deal with that with."

But Pannu wants Oberg to take the matter a step further.

"I think he should send the matter back to the private colleges accreditation board and say, 'Have you asked these questions? Will public money be handled properly?'"

John Balheim, president of DeVry Calgary, says neither the lawsuit nor what happened in Toronto have anything to do with his school.