By Josh LaVoie
If the administration at Mount Royal College has its way, the Calgary post-secondary scene will be vastly different a few years from now. The college is aggressively pursuing accreditation to become Calgary’s second university.
“Mount Royal University will be a nimble and adaptable institution,” stated the college’s campaign site. “The focus is on students and learning, the teaching is exceptional.”
Calgary’s newest university would be an institution concentrating on undergraduate education rather than research and graduate studies like the University of Calgary or the University of Alberta. This goal brings into question the college’s motives for university accreditation as the Alberta Post-Secondary Learning Act brought processes into place for institutions like Mount Royal College to begin offering full baccalaureate undergraduate degrees. According to Mount Royal the issue lies in the recognition of the degree.
“The acceptance of a degree by the professions, employers and graduate study programs is based primarily upon the platform from which the degree is delivered,” claimed the campaign site. “In order for degrees to be accepted nationally and internationally, they must be delivered by an accredited institution. In Canada, accreditation is given by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.”
In order for the college to seek AUCC accreditation, numerous reforms will have to take place. Mount Royal will need to meet various criteria like employing a university governance structure and ensuring that its resources such as the library are at a university level.
The college will also have to ensure that 70 per cent of its programming is at a university level, and a certain percentage of its students are enrolled in those programs.
Before any of that can take place the college must first be classified as a university by the province.
If this classification is made, U of C’s administration feels there will be no effect on the U of C.
“The decision is between the province and the administration at Mount Royal,” said the U of C’s Vice-President External Roman Cooney. “The decision does not really affect the university.”
Cooney has concerns about Mount Royal becoming a university.
“We are not opposed to Mount Royal becoming a university,” explained Cooney. “The important question is whether it will increase access for students.”
Cooney also feels that without provincial funding, this projection may prove difficult.
“The transition costs really won’t add to quality or seats,” said Cooney. “This is a concern if there is a finite amount of funding.”
The potential transition of Mount Royal from a college to a university may also have an impact on the enrollment numbers at the U of C. However, due to the differences between the U of C’s research intensive faculty and Mount Royal’s planned instructional focus, Cooney does not believe there will be a dramatic difference in the number of students that choose to attend the U of C.
“Mount Royal students are fundamentally different than those at the University of Calgary,” explained Cooney. “People come here because they want to go to a research institution–we are currently turning away people that want to come here.”