First Annual ICM report subject of scrutiny

Lack of detail and transparency was the biggest concern voiced by faculty members and student representatives regarding the First Annual Report on the Operations of the International College of Manitoba during the Oct. 7 U of M Senate meeting.

The report, prepared by Richard Lobdell, chair of the ICM Academic Advisory Committee and Susan Deane, director of ICM, outlines in five pages, among other topics, information on the
numbers of students within ICM programs, student diversity, student services, transition to the University of Manitoba and feedback mechanisms.

Lobdell explained that the brevity of the report was in an effort to give senators a broader image of the operations at ICM.

“First off, it’s a new venture. This is the first report of the college. The numbers of students are fairly small,” explained Lobdell.

“The [ICM] council was a little concerned about overweighing the results or the report in terms of detail, and thought that it was better to give people big picture results rather than detailed ones”
Deane said that the report covers all of the components that were required to be reported to Senate.

“It covers all the key components that would be of interest to senate [ . . . ] [such as] the numbers of students [ . . . ]. It reports on everything we said we would report on,” explained Deane.
Deane said that detailed reports are provided to the academic advisory counsel after each semester and went on to explain that, thus far, there have been no discrepancies reported by instructors at ICM.

Mitch Tripple, UMSU vice-president (advocacy), has recently voiced issues regarding the Navitas contract that student senators had brought to his attention.

“The big concerns that I saw from the student senators were issues about the comparison between regular international students and Navitas students [ . . . ], the services that the Navitas students are being provided and the implementation of the Navitas/ICM program,” said Tripple.

Tripple went on to explain concerns that had been raised about lack of transparency within the report and the Navitas contract.

“Senate has not been able to see the contract of ICM. We’ve only been able to see parts of it. But a large portion of it has been blacked out,” said Tripple.

“Other issues are that it’s a for-profit, private corporation, which is using university services which are publicly funded, so it’s taking tax payers money and then turning in for a profit on that.”
University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) president Brad McKenzie said he too was concern about the lack of transparency within the report.

“I think there is very little detail provided on student progress and student issues,” said McKenzie.

“We do understand that one of the arguments made is that it was too early to report on some of those items, but one in particular is the concern about how instructors report on concerns that they might have with the program, given the fact that these instructors are all sessional instructors without job protection, and without job security,” he said.

“I think one of the limitations of this arrangement is that all instructors in this program are sessional instructors that are hired at the whim of Navitas and subject to not having their contract or teaching arrangement renewed,” said McKenzie.

He said that in most departments at U of M, there is a mix of full time and sessional instructors.

In regards to protection, Deane explained that ICM tries to match as closely as possible to the terms that sessional instructors at the University of Manitoba are under.

The report in question states that ICM was established to assist international students in adapting to a different teaching and learning environment to ensure success when they transfer to U of M.

“We give them lots of extra supports; not just academically, but personally we get engaged in their arrival here, their [process of] settling in here [and] their social adaptation,” said Deane.

“We help them academically so that at the end of the year they would have finished first year university and be totally transitioned, comfortable, confident, well-prepared [and] know they can do the work in a different language,” she said.

Some feel that these issues for international students should be addressed within the U of M and not by a separate operation.

“It feels [like] as an institution, we’re not necessarily paying due diligence to our international students if, as soon as we see that there’s an issue with them, we pawn them off to a private corporation,” said Tripple.

“We’re a public institution here, we’re supposed to teach students and if we’re not doing that properly, we should look at our processes and what we’re doing wrong and fix those, rather than contracting it out to someone else.”