6. Frequently Asked Questions
6.1 Offering university degrees in New Brunswick
a) Can private businesses offer university degrees in New Brunswick?
Yes. The Degree Granting Act permits private businesses to offer university degrees, but only when they have been officially designated under the Act to offer the degree(s).
b) Do degree-granting private institutions receive funding in the same manner as public universities?
No. Private degree-granting institutions do not have access to the university funding envelope managed by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. However, private degree-granting institutions, like any other business in New Brunswick, may be eligible for funding through business development assistance programs.
c) Can degree-granting institutions also offer non-degree programs?
Yes. Only the programs leading to a degree are subject to the Degree Granting Act. Under the Act, a degree includes associate, bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees. However, a non-degree program, whether offered by the applicant or by a third party through an agreement with the applicant, that is articulated with a degree or offered as a component of, a program of qualifying study for, or a corollary to a degree may be subject to the Act if it allows students to earn credits towards a degree. The offer of non-degree post-secondary programs may be subject to the Private Occupational Training Act, administered by the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.
d) Can an institution designated by New Brunswick under the Degree Granting Act operate from outside New Brunswick?
No. In order to offer a New Brunswick degree, the institution must operate in the province. While this does not mean that it cannot offer courses in classrooms elsewhere or that students cannot register and take distance courses from outside New Brunswick, the institution’s headquarters, administration, and operations must be located in New Brunswick. In addition, locations where teaching is provided outside New Brunswick, including those abroad, may be subject to inspection from the New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour and must always meet the requirements imposed on the applicant by New Brunswick. Some private institutions operating outside of New Brunswick do offer university programs to New Brunswick residents, but the Government of New Brunswick does not certify the quality of those programs. It should be noted that some provinces in Canada and certain countries require some form of permission for the delivery in classrooms within their jurisdictions of programs sanctioned by another authority. In such cases, the applicant is responsible for ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and policies at all times.
e) Do designated institutions have to be incorporated in New Brunswick?
No. However, institutions must furnish evidence on the designation application form that they are either duly incorporated in New Brunswick or that they are duly incorporated elsewhere and are registered in New Brunswick as an extra-provincial corporation.
a) Who covers the cost of producing the business plan and assessing the institutional and program proposals?
The applicant is fully responsible for producing the business plan, and the institutional and program proposals. The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission will recover the full cost of the assessments, including the recruiting and retention of experts, inspection of premises, the production of reports, staff and administrative fees. The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission will recover these costs through the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, which in turn will invoice the applicant. The applicant’s acceptance of the institutional and/or program proposal review costs and payment in full is a mandatory requirement of the designation process.
b) What is the cost of an institutional or program assessment?
The cost of an institutional or program assessment may vary considerably depending on the complexity of the institution and/or field of study. However, applicants should be aware that it is expensive to have a proper assessment done as such assessments can run from $40,000 to $80,000 each. Applicants should evaluate the real cost of the requested designation before submitting an official request.
c) Does the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission assess all institutional and program proposals?
Any body the Minister may approve can conduct these assessments. However, currently, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, as a recognized and independent quality assurance body, provides these services.
d) Is the designation process long? What is a reasonable timeframe for designation?
There is no established timeline, as each designation process may vary in length depending on the field of study, the complexity of the program proposal, the quality of the proposal, as well as the requirement for an institutional assessment. Also, the production of the business plan and the program proposal depend entirely on the applicant’s timeline. In cases where the business plan and program proposal satisfy all requirements, and there are no scheduling conflicts for the decision-makers or signatories, the following timelines could be expected:
- Step 1: Launching the process +/- 1 month;
- Step 2: Business plan +/- 2 months;
- Step 3: Institutional assessment (when required) +/- 6 months;
- Step 4: Program assessment 6 to 8 months;
- Step 5: Designation +/- 1 month.
To date, no designation process has been completed in less than 12 months.
e) Is a designation permanent?
No. Designated degree-granting institutions must submit their academic programs to a reassessment every five years and be re-designated every ten years.
f) Can the same applicant submit several designation applications simultaneously?
Yes. The Post-Secondary Affairs Branch and the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission can process several applications simultaneously. However, in the event the applicant does not already offer a degree, an initial designation will be made and the others may be held back until the institution has demonstrated its ability to deliver the first designated program effectively. This demonstration will take place over the course of a few months, during which time the institution will establish its administration, admit its first students, hire its first instructors, deliver a significant part of the program, and possibly undergo a follow-up assessment. In the meantime, the other designation applications may proceed normally as far as the ministerial recommendation stage. Once the institution has satisfactorily demonstrated that it has effectively delivered the first designated program, the other designations may be recommended to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.
6.3 Accountability and Infractions
a) Can the Government of New Brunswick inspect or audit degree-granting institutions?
Yes. The Degree Granting Act authorizes the Minister of Post-Secondary Education to appoint inspectors who may enter the premises of an educational institution or any other premises where they have reason to believe there might be relevant information to conduct an inspection, examine the records, financial records, bank accounts, vouchers, correspondence, or other documents of an educational institution, remove any such documents and make a copy or extract of them in order to determine compliance with the Act and Regulations. No one may obstruct or interfere with an inspector in the performance of his or her duties or withhold, destroy, conceal, or refuse to provide documents required for inspection.
b) Are there penalties for institutions that offer degrees without designation or that do not respect an existing designation?
Yes. There are four types of penalties: a) Revocation of designation for any institution that no longer meets or is unwilling to meet the requirements for designation, or fails or refuses to comply with any term or condition attached to the designation; b) sanction under Part II of the Provincial Offences Procedure Act as a category E offence for an institution that violates or fails to comply with any provision of the Act; c) sanction under Part II of the Provincial Offences Procedure Act as a category B offence for an institution or one of its managers, employees, or representatives that violates the General Regulation, and d) an injunction by the Court of Queen’s Bench prohibiting the continuation of the infraction.
c) Can a designation be revoked?
Yes. Article 8 of the General Regulation under the Degree Granting Act stipulates that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may revoke the designation of an institution that no longer meets or is unwilling to meet the requirements for designation, fails or refuses to undergo a program assessment, or fails or refuses to comply with any term or condition attached to the designation.
d) Can a revoked designation be reinstated?
Yes. A revoked designation may be reinstated if at least one year has elapsed since the revocation and if the applicant submits to a new, complete assessment of the program.
6.4 Studies and Students
a) If I attend a designated institution, are my tuition fees protected by the Training Completion Fund?
No. The Training Completion Fund created under the Private Occupational Training Act does not include degree-granting institutions. It is recommended that students find out about the institution’s tuition fee refund policy before enrolling.
b) Can I receive student financial aid to attend a degree-granting institution?
Yes. However, a degree-granting designation does not imply that an institution is designated for student financial aid. In addition, the New Brunswick Student Financial Assistance program is designed solely for residents of New Brunswick. If you are not a resident of New Brunswick, consult the financial assistance service in your home province or country. If you believe you will require financial assistance to cover the cost of your studies, it is recommended that you verify both your eligibility for such assistance and the institution’s designation for student financial aid before enrolling in any educational program. You may obtain information about financial assistance for New Brunswick students by contacting Student Financial Services of the New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.
c) Student advisory
Degree recognition and credit transfers are matters for individual institutions and associations to determine. As with any post-secondary education or training, it is the prospective students who are responsible for satisfying for themselves that the program, the degree and the institution will be appropriate to their needs and be acceptable to potential employers, professional licensing bodies, and other post-secondary educational institutions.