For my thoughts on the reports that the government is guaranteeing Saint John will retain a "university" in any post-secondary education restructuring, please see this post on my CanadaEast site.
(a copy of my post from the CanadaEast site follows)
Give polytechnics a chance
I've got to admit I am pretty disappointed with this news.
I have been an enthusiastic proponent of the Post-Secondary Education Task Force Report. I think turning things upside down as Robichaud did two generations ago can really help put us on the fast track for success. The proposal to create a polytechnic in Saint John was controversial, but, on the face of it, it makes sense for the following reasons: New Brunswick has too many universities; UNBSJ has a poor national reputation as a backwater to a backwater; Polytechnic-like institutions are a growing thing and make a lot of sense in the 21st century economy; and Saint John would have the competitive advantage of having the first English polytechnic east of Toronto.
However, instead of sticking to their guns, the government appears to be backing down to a loud emotional reaction from some individuals in Saint John. That is unfortunate. It remains to be seen exactly what the end result may be, UNBSJ may still become a "technical university" or a "university of applied sciences" or something else which is the same thing that has been recommended by the commission, but doesn't lacking the connotation of the word "university" that opponents of the original plan seem to be obsessed with.
I certainly hope that the end decision isn't to give us essentially the status quo in Saint John but still create two Francophone polytechnics in the North. That would essentially change nothing in our English schools and give Franophone New Brunswickers more options in their schooling than Anglophones, something that I suspect would cause a lot of problems in the long term.
Let's hope we see a more sensible conclusion to this debate and that the government has the nerve to stand up and do something bold and sensible, regardless of its popularity.