Pathway Colleges: A New Kind of P3

I have an opinion piece out on “pathway colleges,” a relatively new phenomenon in Canada.  In this public-private partnership (P3) model, private companies recruit international students to Canadian university campuses, targeting students who currently do not meet the university’s admissions criteria (usually because they lack the necessary English-language skills).  Once the students arrive in Canada, the company hires instructors (paying them considerably less than they would pay tenured faculty members) and teaches them courses they need in order to gain admission to the actual university.

If all goes according to plan, the pathway college’s students eventually gain admission to the university itself.  In exchange, the university receives a fee as compensation for use of its brand and its facilities, including its libraries and classrooms.

I’m concerned that the above model will result in both lower quality teaching and downward pressure on faculty salaries.


  • Why would you expect this to have downward pressure on faculty salaries? If the pathway colleges want to hire junior faculty (thus increasing demand for faculty) and the supply of faculty remains static, then we would expect an upward pressure on faculty salaries.

  • David supply is not an issue. And if it did become an issue university administrations would respond by further denuding graduate programs principally through expanded enrolments without increases in support staff or supervisory capacity (tenured faculty). Which can all be koshered-up through decreasing the funding envelope for graduate students. And then there is always the Taylorist solution of simply jacking up the student to professor ratios.

    One thing you need to know about faculty associations / unions is that they are generally lousy unions and lousy professional associations. They (in general) neither bargain very hard or collude to restrict supply like say medicine.

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