News / Ottawa

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.

Algonquin College's male-only satellite school in Jazan, Saudi Arabia was opened in 2013 through a partnership with the country's Colleges of Excellence program.

via Algonquin College Jazan

Algonquin College's male-only satellite school in Jazan, Saudi Arabia was opened in 2013 through a partnership with the country's Colleges of Excellence program.

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.