Two Ontario colleges are facing some tough questions after opening campuses in Saudi Arabia that don’t accept female students in their classes.
Ottawa-based Algonquin College offers 10 programs, including business, accounting and electrical engineering technician at a campus in the city of Jazan, while Niagara College offers tourism, hospitality and business courses at its campus in Taif.
Algonquin College opened its Saudi campus in 2013, expecting to enroll 2,000 students, generating annual revenues of more than $25-million. However, public relations spokesman Phil Gaudreau refused to provide any update on the college’s operations in Saudi Arabia, or the exclusion of female students “other than what is already publicly available.”
Niagara College spokeswoman Susan McConnell says opening a Saudi campus presented an opportunity to expand access to education there and enhance its own reputation. The college expects to generate $4-million over five years from its classes in Taif.
In a statement, Colleges and Universities Minister Reza Moridi didn’t address women being excluded from the courses Ontario colleges offer in Saudi Arabia, but says he’s proud Ontario colleges are expanding their programming around the world.
In Saudi Arabia, ministerial policies and practices forbid women from accessing higher education without the approval of a male guardian, be that a husband, father, brother, or son.