Canada: English business school pondered for Outaouais

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Apr 19 08:16:16 UTC 2007

 Thursday  April 19  2007

English business school pondered for Outaouais
Quebec university cuts English programs

Dave Rogers The Ottawa Citizen

A Universite du Quebec en Outaouais decision to phase out its
English-language business programs has prompted some professors to
consider a separate business college. The university's move has also drawn
criticism from Canada's official languages commissioner. Luc Chaput, the
head of the university's project administration department, said yesterday
a separate college would allow the graduate business school to bypass a
new university language policy that will eliminate programs taught only in

On Monday, the university's administration board voted 9-3 to phase out
English-language programs so the institution can concentrate on its
primary mandate of offering post-secondary education in French. The
decision ignored the advice of the university's own academic committee
that said the English programs should be kept. "There is a real
possibility there could be a management school that would be independent
of the UQO," said Luc Chaput. "That would solve the university's problem
and preserve the business programs in all languages. "There will be
discussions among the professors to see how we can still work within a
different type of governing structure. We have been discussing this for
some time and this decision by the board may have been just the thing to
push it along faster."

Mr. Chaput said the university board's decision to reject the language
recommendations of its academic committee was a "sorry state of affairs"
because it ignores North American university traditions and the wishes of
UQO professors. The university said it was affirming French as the
language of instruction at all levels. University rector Jean Vaillancourt
said three-quarters of the submissions during a four-month public
consultation on the language policy said the university should keep its
English-language business programs, but some people made several
submissions. "Most submissions said students should have a basic knowledge
of French,"  Mr. Vaillancourt said. "The academic commission voted 6-4 to
preserve English programs, but it also said every student should have a
basic knowledge of French.

"Right now in the English program, many students do not have a basic
knowledge of French. The board chose the elegant solution of replacing
English-language programs with multilingual programs." The new policy says
different languages can be used in translation courses and in upper-level
multilingual programs where a French version is also available and the
number of French credits is equal, or superior to the other language's.
Graham Fraser, Canada's commissioner of official languages, said there is
a feeling in the Outaouais that French is vulnerable but the presence of a
specialized graduate program in English is not a threat to anyone.

"One of the messages that I have been trying to deliver is that English
and French are Canadian languages, not foreign languages, and mastery of
both is critical to leadership in the public sector and more broadly in
the national conversation," Mr. Fraser said. "Universities have a right to
define the language of instruction, but I don't think that exclusion is
doing anybody a favour." Meanwhile, Tamas Koplyay, a project
administration professor at UQO, said the decision to eliminate English
cuts the university off from the rest of North America and the technology
world. "I am starting to look for another job because if you are not open
to the high-tech world, you have lost it," Mr. Koplyay said. "If some of
the great French universities, like Lille and Paris, offer their business
programs exclusively in English, why are we marching back into the 19th

"The university's plan to offer multilingual programs is fine, but the
world functions in English. In the long run, I think that there is danger
that Universite du Quebec en Outaouais, which is starting to build its
reputation, now will sink back into the status of a regional college." Mr.
Koplyay said the project administration program has an international
reputation and is the flagship program at the university. He said it will
be difficult to find enough French-speaking students to continue the
program if English is eliminated.

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