Government of New Brunswick

The following document is provided solely for general public information purposes. Anyone wishing to submit an application under the Act should contact the University Relations Branch of the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour for more information. In the event of a discrepancy between the information below and any provisions of the Act, the Regulations, or any applicable policies, the latter shall prevail.

 

1. General
1.1 The Act and Regulations
1.2 General Evaluation Criteria

2. Designation Process
2.1 Launching of the Process
2.2 Financial Analysis of the Business Plan
2.3 Institutional and Program Assessments
2.4 Designation

3. Information on Institutions

4. Responsibilities of Designated Institutions

5. Five-year Reassessment

6. Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. General

1.1 The Act and Regulations

The Degree Granting Act establishes a framework for evaluating the quality of programs leading to a degree offered by all public and private institutions, except those created by an Act of the New Brunswick Legislature prior to the Act coming in force, that is before March 1, 2001.

The Act provides for two processes giving institutions the right to grant degrees, namely, designation by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council or authorization by an Act of the New Brunswick Legislature.

The Degree Granting Act and the Regulations may be consulted by clicking on the following links:

Degree Granting Act
Regulations


or by going to the index of New Brunswick Acts and Regulations.

1.2 General Evaluation Criteria

The Regulations of the Degree Granting Act identify the requirements that must be met by institutions that wish to be authorized to grant degrees:

(a) for each program offered by the educational institution,

(i) there are clearly defined objectives, learner outcomes, and curricular structure, and
(ii) the appropriate degree credential will be awarded to graduates of the program;

(b) the educational institution has

(i) sufficient financial resources available to support the delivery of each program offered,
(ii) sufficient human and physical resources available or retained in New Brunswick to support the delivery of each program offered,
(iii) an adequate business plan with realistic cost and revenue projections to cover a five-year period, and
(iv) appropriate and sufficient services in place to support learner success;

(c) when supplying programs to a particular industry, the educational institution has in place an advisory group of employers and practitioners from within the industry to provide advice on program design and marketplace requirements;

(d) the educational institution provides for the involvement of peers and experts external to the institution in the development of each program offered by the institution;

(e) the educational institution provides its academic staff with the time and institutional support to engage in academic inquiry and research; and

(f) the educational institution adheres to the principles of academic freedom.

 

2. Designation Process

The designation process consists of four steps.

2.1 Launching of the Process

Since the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour launches the process leading to designation, the applicant must submit a letter to the Minister asking for designation of a university program under the Act. Should the applicant be seeking more than one degree designation, a separate letter must be submitted for each request. Each request also serves as a notice of public intent and must contain the following:

  • The applicant institution’s full name (if the institution is not yet incorporated, indicate the name of the individual submitting the application on behalf of the institution);
  • The institution’s postal and e-mail address and telephone number;
  • The name of the program of study and the degree to be granted;
  • A brief description of the proposed program, not to exceed 10 pages.


Prospective applicants must contact the University Relations Branch of the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour as well as the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission prior to this official correspondence in order to be fully briefed on the requirements and obligations relating to the designation process. The Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour will not evaluate drafts of business plans, institutional or program proposals. If the business plan has already been prepared, it can be attached to the letter submitted to the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.

If the Minister agrees to launch the designation process, and once the program is approved, the name of the institution and the name of the program of study will be posted on this website under “Information on Institutions”. The name of the institution and the degree will also be added under “Designated Institutions”.

This first step ends with acknowledgment of receipt of the application by the Minister, who will indicate at the same time whether the designation process can be launched. Institutions may withdraw from the process at any time leading up to the final decision regarding designation which is made by the Minister. Similarly, an applicant may be asked to withdraw if any of the conditions set in policy, regulations or legislation are not met. In any case, the applicant is responsible for all the costs incurred during the processing of its application.


2.2 Financial Analysis of the Business Plan

After the initial exchange of correspondence with the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, the applicant will be asked to submit a business plan as per the Business Application Requirements and Guidelines to the University Relations Branch of the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour. The business plan can also be submitted simultaneously with the initial letter to the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour. Applicants are required to meet with officials of the Internal Audit section of the Department prior to submission of the business plan. The business plan will be reviewed by the University Relations Branch before being submitted to Internal Audit for an in-depth analysis. The applicant may be asked to make changes to the business plan before it is submitted to Internal Audit and again before Internal Audit makes its final recommendation to University Relations Branch.

It should be noted that the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour will not proceed to subsequent steps in the designation process until the business plan has been analyzed and recommended by Internal Audit and conditionally accepted by the Department.

In the event the business plan is rejected, the applicant will have 30 days in which to submit an amended version. Failure to do so will result in the file being closed, and any subsequent applications will have to proceed from the beginning. If, subsequent to the recommendation of Internal Audit, the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour is convinced that the applicant has the resources and plans required to complete the project, the business plan will be given provisional approval, and the applicant will be asked to proceed to the next step in the designation process.

The analysis of the business plan is not the same as the institutional or program assessment; it is merely a preliminary step in the designation process. The review(s) conducted by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission will require that the business plan be assessed in the context of the program and/ or institutional review and the applicant may be required to provide supplemental information and/or amend the business plan accordingly.


2.3 Institutional and Program Assessments

Once a recommended business plan has been provisionally approved by the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, the University Relations Branch will write to the applicant, indicating that they must submit the completed designation application form, and a cheque or money order in the amount of $250 payable to the New Brunswick Minister of Finance. Similarly, the Department will determine whether an institutional review is necessary or whether the applicant may move immediately to submitting a program proposal.

Institutional Assessment

All de novo institutions require a full institutional assessment as do institutions that have never gone through the process in New Brunswick. Similarly, institutional assessments may be recommended either as a result of a recommendation from experts during the program assessment or as a result of other concerns that may be raised with respect to an institution operating in this jurisdiction.

The full cost associated with an institutional assessment is the responsibility of the applicant. Once an estimate is provided by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, and before the assessment begins, the applicant is required to confirm acceptance of this cost in writing to University Relations Branch and provide the first instalment which will represent 50% of the total cost of the assessment. The second instalment is due after the assessment is completed but before the Minister communicates his decision to the applicant. Payments are received in the form of a certified cheque payable to the New Brunswick Minister of Finance.

After meeting with the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission to understand exactly what is involved, an applicant must submit a self-study that has been prepared according to the Procedures and Information Requirements for Institutional Assessments of Degree Providers policy. The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission will establish a Panel of external reviewers to conduct an independent assessment of the self-study (to include a site visit) and submit a report. The applicant will be able to respond to the Panel’s report.

Once the assessment of the institution has been completed, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission will formulate its advice to the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour. Together with its advice, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission will forward the following documentation to the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour:

  • Terms of reference for the experts;
  • The experts’ reports;
  • The applicant’s response to the experts’ reports;
  • Any changes made to the proposal by the applicant upon completion of the process;
  • Any other document the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission deems necessary for the New Brunswick Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour to make a decision.

The University Relations Branch will write to the applicant indicating that the institutional assessment is complete and will specify the amount of the second instalment payment. The second instalment will be such that the total of the two payments will never exceed the cost estimate initially provided to and accepted by the applicant.

The Commission’s advice is confidential until the Minister notifies the applicant of the final decision and simultaneously advises the Commission that the Minister's decision has been communicated to the applicant.

This step ends once the Minister has notified the applicant.

Program Assessment

If an institution has successfully completed its institutional assessment, the program proposal, prepared according to the policy on the Assessment of Programmes submitted under the New Brunswick Degree Granting Act, will be forwarded to the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, which will produce a cost estimate to carry out the review. The University Relations Branch will notify the applicant in writing of the cost of the program review and the amount of the first instalment required. Before the program proposal assessment can proceed, the applicant must confirm acceptance of the cost and remit the first instalment to the University Relations Branch in the form of a certified cheque which will represent 50% of the total cost of the assessment, payable to the New Brunswick Minister of Finance.

Once the applicant has made the first instalment payment, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission will assess the program proposal as per the conditions for reviewing program proposals submitted under the New Brunswick Degree Granting Act. The Academic Advisory Committee, a joint committee of the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission and the Association of Atlantic Universities, is charged with overseeing the assessment of programs submitted for designation. It will select at least three experts in the chosen field of study, and those experts will conduct an independent review of the program proposal and submit a report. The applicant will be able to respond to the experts’ report.

Once the assessment of the program proposal has been completed, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission will make a recommendation to the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour. Its recommendation may take one of the following forms:

(1) the proposed program, if effectively delivered, appears to correspond with the standards usually associated with the proposed credential ; or

(2) the proposed program does not appear to correspond with the standards usually associated with the proposed credential.

In some cases, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission may recommend approval of a program proposal to the Minister under certain conditions. The Procedures and Information Requirements for the Follow-up on Conditional Program Designations under the New Brunswick Degree Granting Act policy provides a description of the process, assessment criteria, and guidelines for the preparation of proposals.

Together with its recommendation, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission will forward the following documentation to the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour:

  • Terms of reference for the experts;
  • The experts’ reports;
  • The applicant’s response to the experts’ reports; 
  • Any changes made to the proposal by the applicant upon completion of the process;
  • Any other document the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission deems necessary for the New Brunswick Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour to make a decision.

The University Relations Branch will write to the applicant indicating that the program assessment is complete and will specify the amount of the second instalment payment to be made. The second instalment will be such that the total of the two payments will never exceed the cost estimate initially provided to and accepted by the applicant.

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission’s recommendation is kept confidential until the Minister notifies the applicant of the final designation decision and simultaneously advises the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission that the Minister’s decision has been communicated to the applicant.

This step ends upon receipt of the second payment.

2.4 Designation

The University Relations Branch will conduct a final review of all documentation supporting the designation application and make a recommendation to the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.

If the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour is of the opinion that the applicant has met all of the applicable requirements, the Minister will recommend designation to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

The applicant will be informed of the government’s official decision in a letter from the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour. If the decision is favourable, the letter will be accompanied by a designation certificate signed by the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.

 

3. Information on Institutions  

Click here to learn more about the institutions which are currently designated or were formerly designated under the Degree Granting Act.  

 

4. Responsibilities of Designated Institutions

(a) Designated institutions must comply at all times with the requirements established under the Act, the Regulations and applicable policies of the Government of New Brunswick;

(b) Designated institutions are expected to maintain regular contact with the University Relations Branch of the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour;

(c) Designated institutions are required to forward for the Department’s analysis and approval, any changes made to the program after its designation;

(d) Designated institutions must provide evidence that sufficient measures are in place to protect students and their records;

(e) Within 90 days of the end of its fiscal year, institutions are required to submit to the University Relations Branch an annual report containing:

  • A summary of operations during the past year;
  • A complete description of any changes made to programs, including those already submitted to the University Relations Branch;
  • A brief description of plans for the following year, with particular emphasis on challenges to be met.

(f) Within 90 days of the end of their fiscal year, institutions are required to submit to the University Relations Branch, independently audited financial statements.

 

5. Five-year Reassessment

Designated institutions are required to submit their programs for reassessment in the fifth year following designation. The primary focus of the reassessment is concerned with the institution’s performance, its efficiency, and its compliance with the requirements in force since designation. More specifically, this assessment is conducted in accordance with the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission’s Policy on the Assessment of Existing Programs established under the New Brunswick Degree Granting Act.

 

6. Frequently Asked Questions

6.1 Offering university degrees in New Brunswick

a) Can private businesses offer university degrees in New Brunswick?

Yes. The Degree Granting Act permits private businesses to offer university degrees, but only when they have been officially designated under the Act to offer the degree(s).

b) Do degree-granting private institutions receive funding in the same manner as public universities?

No. Private degree-granting institutions do not have access to the university funding envelope managed by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. However, private degree-granting institutions, like any other business in New Brunswick, may be eligible for funding through business development assistance programs.

c) Can degree-granting institutions also offer non-degree programs?

Yes. Only the programs leading to a degree are subject to the Degree Granting Act. Under the Act, a degree includes associate, bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees. However, a non-degree program, whether offered by the applicant or by a third party through an agreement with the applicant, that is articulated with a degree or offered as a component of, a program of qualifying study for, or a corollary to a degree may be subject to the Act if it allows students to earn credits towards a degree. The offer of non-degree post-secondary programs may be subject to the Private Occupational Training Act, administered by the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.

d) Can an institution designated by New Brunswick under the Degree Granting Act operate from outside New Brunswick?

No. In order to offer a New Brunswick degree, the institution must operate in the province. While this does not mean that it cannot offer courses in classrooms elsewhere or that students cannot register and take distance courses from outside New Brunswick, the institution’s headquarters, administration, and operations must be located in New Brunswick. In addition, locations where teaching is provided outside New Brunswick, including those abroad, may be subject to inspection from the New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour and must always meet the requirements imposed on the applicant by New Brunswick. Some private institutions operating outside of New Brunswick do offer university programs to New Brunswick residents, but the Government of New Brunswick does not certify the quality of those programs. It should be noted that some provinces in Canada and certain countries require some form of permission for the delivery in classrooms within their jurisdictions of programs sanctioned by another authority. In such cases, the applicant is responsible for ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and policies at all times.

e) Do designated institutions have to be incorporated in New Brunswick?

No. However, institutions must furnish evidence on the designation application form that they are either duly incorporated in New Brunswick or that they are duly incorporated elsewhere and are registered in New Brunswick as an extra-provincial corporation.


6.2 Designation

a) Who covers the cost of producing the business plan and assessing the institutional and program proposals?


The applicant is fully responsible for producing the business plan, and the institutional and program proposals. The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission will recover the full cost of the assessments, including the recruiting and retention of experts, inspection of premises, the production of reports, staff and administrative fees. The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission will recover these costs through the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, which in turn will invoice the applicant. The applicant’s acceptance of the institutional and/or program proposal review costs and payment in full is a mandatory requirement of the designation process.

b) What is the cost of an institutional or program assessment?

The cost of an institutional or program assessment may vary considerably depending on the complexity of the institution and/or field of study. However, applicants should be aware that it is expensive to have a proper review done. Such assessments can run from $40,000 to $80,000 per review. Applicants should evaluate the real cost of the requested designation before submitting an official request.

c) Does the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission assess all institutional and program proposals?

Any body the Minister may approve can conduct these assessments.  However, currently, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, as a recognized and independent quality assurance body, provides these services.

d) Is the designation process long? What is a reasonable timeframe for designation?

There is no established timeline, as each designation process may vary in length depending on the field of study, the complexity of the program proposal, the quality of the proposal, as well as the requirement for an institutional assessment. Also, the production of the business plan and the program proposal depend entirely on the applicant’s timeline. In cases where the business plan and program proposal satisfy all requirements, and there are no scheduling conflicts for the decision-makers or signatories, the following timelines could be expected:

  • Step 1: Launching the process +/- 1 month;
  • Step 2: Business plan +/- 2 months;
  • Step 3: Institutional assessment (when required) +/- 6 months;
  • Step 4: Program assessment 6 to 8 months;
  • Step 5: Designation +/- 1 month.

To date, no designation process has been completed in less than 12 months.

e) Is a designation permanent?

No. Designated degree-granting institutions must submit their academic programs to a reassessment every five years and be re-designated every ten years.

f) Can the same applicant submit several designation applications simultaneously?

Yes. The University Relations Branch and the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission can process several applications simultaneously. However, in the event the applicant does not already offer a degree, an initial designation will be made and the others may be held back until the institution has demonstrated its ability to deliver the first designated program effectively. This demonstration will take place over the course of a few months, during which time the institution will establish its administration, admit its first students, hire its first instructors, deliver a significant part of the program, and possibly undergo a follow-up review. In the meantime, the other designation applications may proceed normally as far as the ministerial recommendation stage. Once the institution has satisfactorily demonstrated that it has effectively delivered the first designated program, the other designations may be recommended to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

 

6.3 Accountability and Infractions

a) Can the Government of New Brunswick inspect or audit degree-granting institutions?


Yes. The Degree Granting Act authorizes the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour to appoint inspectors who may enter the premises of an educational institution or any other premises where they have reason to believe there might be relevant information to conduct an inspection, examine the records, financial records, bank accounts, vouchers, correspondence, or other documents of an educational institution, remove any such documents and make a copy or extract of them in order to determine compliance with the Act and Regulations. No one may obstruct or interfere with an inspector in the performance of his or her duties or withhold, destroy, conceal, or refuse to provide documents required for inspection.

b) Are there penalties for institutions that offer degrees without designation or that do not respect an existing designation?

Yes. There are four types of penalties: a) Revocation of designation for any institution that no longer meets or is unwilling to meet the requirements for designation, or fails or refuses to comply with any term or condition attached to the designation; b) sanction under Part II of the Provincial Offences Procedure Act as a category E offence for an institution that violates or fails to comply with any provision of the Act; c) sanction under Part II of the Provincial Offences Procedure Act as a category B offence for an institution or one of its managers, employees, or representatives that violates the General Regulation, and d) an injunction by the Court of Queen’s Bench prohibiting the continuation of the infraction.

c) Can a designation be revoked?

Yes. Article 8 of the General Regulation under the Degree Granting Act stipulates that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may revoke the designation of an institution that no longer meets or is unwilling to meet the requirements for designation, fails or refuses to undergo a program assessment, or fails or refuses to comply with any term or condition attached to the designation.

d) Can a revoked designation be reinstated?

Yes. A revoked designation may be reinstated if at least one year has elapsed since the revocation and if the applicant submits to a new, complete assessment of the program.

 

6.4 Studies and Students

a) If I attend a designated institution, are my tuition fees protected by the Training Completion Fund?


No. The Training Completion Fund created under the Private Occupational Training Act does not include degree-granting institutions. It is recommended that students find out about the institution’s tuition fee refund policy before enrolling.

b) Can I receive student financial aid to attend a degree-granting institution?

Yes. However, a degree-granting designation does not imply that an institution is designated for student financial aid. In addition, the New Brunswick Student Financial Assistance program is designed solely for residents of New Brunswick. If you are not a resident of New Brunswick, consult the financial assistance service in your home province or country. If you believe you will require financial assistance to cover the cost of your studies, it is recommended that you verify both your eligibility for such assistance and the institution’s designation for student financial aid before enrolling in any educational program. You may obtain information about financial assistance for New Brunswick students by contacting Student Financial Services of the New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.

c) Student advisory

Degree recognition and credit transfers are matters for individual institutions and associations to determine.  As with any post-secondary education or training, it is the prospective students who are responsible for satisfying for themselves that the program, the degree and the institution will be appropriate to their needs and be acceptable to potential employers, professional licensing bodies, and other post-secondary educational institutions.