Canada logs on to learn online

November 3, 2000

The Canadian Virtual University has become the largest online institution in the country after its launch last month.

The new university is an amalgamation of seven universities that received more than 100,000 distance-education course registrations last year.

Members, many of them small universities, have been attracted by the promise of a larger market and are hoping this convergence will allow them to save money for course development, student recruitment and support services.

Jaap Tuinman, vice-president of the new university, said: "Institutions have been willing to give up some level of authority in order for students to have better course flexibility," Students at the Canadian Virtual, which is able to offer students a choice of 160 online courses, will be able to enrol in one of the member universities but can take a course in any of the other six. Upon programme completion, the home institution grants the credential.

The virtual university is hoping to add more partner universities soon.

Mr Tuinman, who was speaking on the phone from Edmonton, was on his way to a meeting of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada to try to convince universities that had expressed interest to make the jump to this amalgamation.

Two larger organisations, the universities of Manitoba and Victoria, are involved in the project. They had answered a call by online powerhouses Athabasca and BC Open universities to form the Canadian Virtual.

Brandon, Laurentian and Royal Roads universities make up the rest.

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