Ministry of Advanced Education

Degree Authorization

Student Inquiry Policy For Private and Out-of-Province Public Institutions

The Ministry of Advanced Education has the mandate to ensure that the post-secondary education system in British Columbia is of high quality, relevant and responsive to changing economic, technological and social forces in the province. The ministry recognizes the value of information provided by students, employees and others in determining whether an institution or degree program is meeting standards and expectations of high quality education in the province.

Being an Informed Student

Prospective students are urged to inform themselves of the post-secondary options available to them in B.C. and be confident that they choose an institution and program of study that meets their needs. Information on being an informed student can be found on the Ministry’s website.

How to Make a Complaint

We value the information provided by students in determining whether a private or out-of-province institution or degree program is meeting standards of high quality education. Information on how to make a complaint can be found on the Ministry's website.

Private and Out-of-Province Public Institutions

With the passing of the Degree Authorization Act, private and out-of-province public institutions have the means to legally grant degrees in B.C. and use the word “university” in their name if they successfully pass a quality assessment process and receive ministerial consent. Visit this section for comprehensive information on the Degree Authorization Act, the quality assessment process, and the criteria for ministerial consent.

Questions and Concerns

The Governance and Quality Assurance Branch within the Ministry of Advanced Education is responsible for overseeing the quality assessment process and ensuring that authorized institutions continue to meet the terms and conditions of consent. Questions or concerns about any private or out-of-province public post-secondary institutions related to issues of educational and institutional quality are welcome. Ministry staff will also provide information and clarity around the quality assurance process, related legislation and the roles and obligations of institutions under the Degree Authorization Act. If an individual believes that an institution is acting in contravention of the Degree Authorization Act or has concerns that an institution is operating, or a degree program is being offered within B.C. that has not been granted consent under the Degree Authorization Act, the Governance and Quality Assurance Branch should be contacted.

Governance and Quality Assurance Branch
Ministry of Advanced Education
PO Box 9177 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9H8

Phone: 250 356-5406
E-mail: DQABsecretariat@gov.bc.ca

When the ministry receives a question or complaint

Complaints should first be raised at the institutional level. Most complaints can be resolved informally and dealt with between the institution and the individual involved through the existing processes in place at the institutional level. All institutions should have policies and procedures through which students’ complaints, grievances and/or other disputes are dealt with. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the institution’s provisions for raising concerns and avail themselves of the opportunities and services provided to them as a member of the student body.

Any person who has a concern or complaint about an institution under the authority of the Degree Authorization Act can contact the ministry. Ministry staff will discuss the situation and answer questions as to the institution’s obligations under the Degree Authorization Act. The ministry does not have authority to negotiate a resolution for the complainant.

There are a number of matters that fall outside of the ministry’s authority or are not directly related to the quality of an institution or program of study. These typically include disputes between individuals or individual matters of admissions, grades, transferability of credits or financial issues. All matters related to administration or procedures regarding financial aid should be directed to StudentAid BC.

If a concern is raised that does not fall under the ministry’s mandate or authority, staff will explain the reasons. The ministry does not respond to any complaint or allegation that contains defamatory statements, nor does the ministry have any authority to seek any type of compensation, damages, readmission or any other redress or financial restitution on an individual’s behalf.

If a complainant believes that an institution is not meeting its obligations under the Degree Authorization Act, a complainant should provide the following information:

  • General information about the complainant’s relationship with the institution (student, faculty, staff, etc.), and relevant contact information.
  • The name and location of the institution the concern is in regards to.
  • The nature of the complaint (specific examples and supporting facts should be provided such as dates, times and places), and the specific standards or criteria that have been allegedly violated.
  • The steps that the complainant has already taken to resolve the issue at the institutional level.
  • Details of any response received or actions taken by the institution.
  • Any other information, documents or correspondence that the complainant deems relevant.

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy

All complaints will be considered with the highest level of confidentiality that can be maintained whilst still allowing for consultation with appropriate persons. A complainant may raise an issue in confidence, and ministry staff require permission from the complainant before it can be discussed with anyone else outside the ministry. However, an institution has the right to be informed of a complaint that has been raised and given a chance to respond.

Issues of Non-Compliance

If it is determined that an institution may be in contravention of the Degree Authorization Act or may have failed to meet any of the terms and conditions of consent, the Degree Authorization Act allows for the minister to appoint an inspector. If a complaint prompts action by the ministry, documentation on the complaint and the outcome will be placed in the institution’s file.

Monitoring, Evaluation and Review

Concerns and complaints are considered useful feedback and, where appropriate, will be used to facilitate improvements to policies regarding quality assurance in private and public out of province post secondary education. Ministry staff will monitor concerns and complaints that have been received and will track the nature and pattern of concerns. The outcome of such monitoring may inform processes or activities relating to quality assurance.

The Ministry of Advanced Education is committed to ensuring a quality educational system for B.C. post-secondary students. The ministry looks forward to working together with students, institutions and other members of the public in reaching the goal of high-quality educational.