Medicine Hat College International Education Division
What we examined
Since 2001, Medicine Hat College has sought to bring an international focus to its campus. Through its International Education Division, the college offers courses at campuses in other countries and seeks to draw international students to its campus in Medicine Hat. The college has agreements with three partner institutions in China to offer courses for students who wish to begin their studies in China and then transfer to Medicine Hat College to complete their programs.
The objective of our audit was to assess if Medicine Hat College has effective systems to deliver, evaluate and report on the International Education Division’s success and cost effectiveness. We examined:
- reporting and governance processes within the International Education Division and at the board level
- the division’s strategic and operational plans and how they aligned with actual operations
- offshore partnership arrangements, including quality control processes and the program outcomes achieved
- international travel by International Education Division staff and college executives
What we found
We found the college does not have effective systems to deliver international programming and manage its risks appropriately. The International Education Division operated independently and largely outside of the college’s control systems. Board oversight of international education has failed.
The college’s international education activities were the sole focus of this audit. Our conclusions are specific to those activities.
Why this is important to Albertans
The Department of Enterprise and Advanced Education has identified international education as an important building block for Alberta’s economic and social success. It is important that post-secondary institutions participating in international education activities, as is the case with Medicine Hat College, do so with due consideration of the risks involved. The relationships they develop, and the transactions they engage in, must uphold the integrity of the institution.
In 2011, we identified this as an area requiring further review, even though the expenditures on international programming make up a small percentage of the college’s annual budget. In addition to the many potential benefits associated with the delivery of international programming, there are also risks. The risks associated with providing international programming on campus and in foreign countries are different from those of other college programs. Effective systems are required to manage these risks. Ultimately, it is important that Albertans are assured that resources in our publicly funded institutions are used effectively within the mandates of these institutions.