After more than 10 years of struggling to make a cost-neutral business model work for its lifelong learning offerings, Memorial University has decided to re-structure the programming at its St. John’s campus. The changes will take effect at the beginning of September 2012 and the Division of Lifelong Learning will close as of Aug. 31, 2012.
All programming scheduled for the spring and summer will be offered, including the kids@MUN summer camps and the Summer Bridging Program for new students to Memorial.
All university-level academic certificate programs will continue to be offered, but those operations will shift to appropriate faculties and departments throughout the university. Some programming will move to the university’s Gardiner Centre in the Faculty of Business Administration.
The Testing Centre, which administers approximately 200 online standardized tests and invigilation of distance exams for Canadian universities, will continue to operate but will report to another university unit.
Programming that will conclude at the end of August includes personal enrichment offerings (e.g. non-credit language courses, etc.) and services such as summer camps for children (the summer camps scheduled for this year, however, will go ahead as scheduled).
The Division of Lifelong Learning was established in 2001 with a mandate to offer a variety of certificate programs as well as personal enrichment and professional development programming.
“At the time it was expected that the offerings would generate enough revenue to cover the cost of providing the services, but that never came to pass,” said Dr. David Wardlaw, Memorial’s provost and vice-president (academic). “Despite the best efforts of the employees to develop, deliver and promote programming of interest and quality, sufficient demand just never materialized and a significant fee increase would have been required in many programs to cover the costs of the offerings.”
Dr. Wardlaw explained that the consequences of this were operating deficits in the unit, which have now accumulated to approximately $700,000 in total.
“We plan to retain those programs and services that fit our core mandate to provide university-level education,” said Dr. Wardlaw. “Some of the existing online programs are already available elsewhere on the web. Some of the other personal enrichment programs and services will present an opportunity for the private sector and other organizations to consider.”
Ten full-time employees in the Division of Lifelong Learning are affected. There are also some 50 part-time employees who are contracted to teach individual courses and programs. The university is working with the full-time employees and their unions, where applicable, to identify and explore other potential job opportunities within the institution.
“We value our employees and the great service they provide to students and clients,” he said. “They are dedicated to ensuring that the normal service of the division will continue until the closure on Aug. 31, and for that I express my appreciation on behalf of the university community and those enrolled in spring and summer programs and courses.”
Information on the continued academic certificate programming and any other programming that will be transferred to other units is being developed and will be communicated as it becomes available in the coming weeks.