Union criticizes Algonquin College Saudi Arabia campus after executions
OPSEU reiterated it’s opposition to the Jazan satellite school on Tuesday, calling for Algonquin to end it’s partnership with the country.
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The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is calling for Algonquin College to close its school in Jazan, Saudi Arabia.
The union has been a long-time critic of the male-only foreign campus, which reported a net loss of $1.486 million in the last school year.
But Jack Wilson, vice-president of Local 415 and a professor at Algonquin, said recent executions in Saudi Arabia demonstrate the educational partnership should end.
“We’ve been opposed from the get-go – even if we do make money – because we don’t think we should be partnering with a country that has such a flagrant abuse of human rights,” he said. “The fact that we’re losing money just compounds it.”
Last Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s government executed 47 people on terrorism charges, including a minority Shia religious leader.
On Tuesday, Wilson and OPSEU president Warren Thomas said the college wouldn’t need to rely on a partnership with Saudi Arabia if it could get more funding from the province.
The college is defending its decision to have a campus in Saudi Arabia.
“We mirror our position with the government of Canada,” said Doug Wotherspoon, the school’s vice-president of international and strategic priorities.
“We’re in Saudi Arabia because of that country’s desire to modernize and reform its education system. You have two options; one is isolation and the other is engagement. We’ve chosen to engage,” he said.
Wotherspoon said the campus, which opened in 2013, is expected to eventually turn a profit during the five-year contract with Saudi Arabia’s Colleges of Excellence program.