Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
The CBC report exposing the misleading of international students by the International College of Manitoba (ICM) and its overseas education agent is common. Here the University of Manitoba enabled a network of unknown and uncertain education agents to market with its name, trademarks, brand and reputation.
There should be no surprise at the University of Manitoba. ICM’s owner and operator, the Australian corporate education provider Navitas, is simply doing what it does and commits to in its business arrangements. Navitas contracted with UManitoba in the same way it uses its other university partners – as the key attraction to bringing students from around the world to its privately run programs, and in this case to a major public university and landmark institution in Winnipeg.
It’s not a surprise that the ICM is billed and sold overseas as UManitoba. This is what the university signed on for, and it even has its own UManitoba representatives travel and market abroad alongside Navitas.
Navitas is not discriminatory. It works with any agent which will send them students and openly encourages them to do so. Navitas has hundreds and hundreds of agents, and it needs them, to feed its many schools just like ICM, operating in the US, England, Australia and Canada. All the university partners appear happy to get what they see as easy revenues without doing much work other than selling their name. Of course, there are plenty of questions about business practices, representation and academic integrity. Probes such as the CBC report are not good for business, and in this case not good for the University of Manitoba’s most valuable asset, its brand and integrity.
ICM is a foundation program which uses the University of Manitoba name, brand, and campus location, to persuade students that starting at ICM is as good as being in first year classes at UManitoba. Navitas markets ICM as a way virtually anyone can get admission to UManitoba. It’s primarily aimed at weak students and those with insufficient English-language skills. The ICM curriculum is supposed to be completed in just one year, and even transform an originally inadmissible student into a second year ready university student in less than twelve months (how and if that can happen is a whole other story which the CBC does not touch here).
The complaints the CBC aired from students alleging that Navitas contracted agents in Pakistan and China which misled them that ICM was the right academic fit, are nothing new. When that’s what agents have to sell and they are incentivized to do so, they will recommend an 80%+ high school student go to ICM, call it the University of Manitoba, and not reveal what the actual quality of the student body these students are signing up for.
The CBC story exposes the ICM/Navitas/UManitoba partnership for what it is. If UManitoba claims that is is not aware of what’s going on in its name and on its behalf, then what did it think it was buying in the first place ?