Algonquin College pulls plug on male-only Saudi campus

_ (Via Algonquin College) _ Aug. 11, 2016 (Ottawa) — The Algonquin College Board of Governors has directed senior management to take steps for the transfer of responsibility of the Algonquin College Saudi Arabia campus back to Colleges of Excellence.

“After more than a year of negotiation, we were unable to come to an agreement that would have met our financial objectives,” said Algonquin College President Cheryl Jensen. “We have said from the beginning that the Jazan Campus must be financially viable for us to continue operating.”

Algonquin College Saudi Arabia is announcing this decision now to ensure Saudi officials have sufficient time to complete the transfer before students begin the fall term on Sept. 18.

In 2009, Algonquin College was among several educational delegations from around the world that had answered Saudi Arabia’s call for expertise in educational reforms in that country, working with representatives from government and education sectors to raise the profile of vocational learning opportunities.

In 2013, Algonquin College Saudi Arabia was one of many international post-secondary institutions to submit a bid to operate a campus for men and women — it won the right to operate the Jazan campus for men for a five-year term.

Colleges of Excellence is the Saudi authority responsible for establishing relationships with more than a dozen post-secondary institutions from around the world. These international schools have aided the Kingdom’s bid to expand applied training, particularly in the trades, to satisfy the growing need for skilled workers in the desert country.

The Jazan campus, which opened in 2013, is part of a broader international portfolio that is an overall net contributor to Algonquin College.

Algonquin College Saudi Arabia estimates the transfer of operations will cost approximately $4.3 million, which will be funded through existing International and Ancillary contingency reserve funds.

Doug Wotherspoon, Vice-President, International and Strategic Planning, noted the College will not draw on any taxpayer dollars.

“International operations at the College are not funded by the provincial government,” said Wotherspoon. “I think it’s important that taxpayers understand that revenues from other non-funded operations will offset any losses incurred by our Jazan campus.”

There will be no implications for Algonquin College’s employees and operations in Canada.

“Our goal is to work with Colleges of Excellence to ensure a smooth transition,” said Wotherspoon. “We want to provide Colleges of Excellence time to accommodate students’ needs before we fully withdraw from the campus.”