08/11/2016 15:51 EDT | Updated 08/12/2017 01:12 EDT

Algonquin College closing male-only campus in Saudi Arabia after three years

TORONTO — One of the Ontario colleges that operate male-only campuses in Saudi Arabia is pulling out of the Middle Eastern kingdom.

Algonquin College in Ottawa announced it has decided to close its campus in Jazan, Saudi Arabia, where it offered 10 programs, including business, accounting and electrical engineering technician.

The Algonquin College Board of Governors issued a release saying it directed senior management to take steps for the transfer of responsibility of the Algonquin College Saudi Arabia campus — opened three years ago — back to Ontario.

Algonquin President Cheryl Jensen says the college was unable to come to an agreement that would have met its financial objectives after more than a year of negotiations.

The college announced in 2013 that it hoped to have 2,000 students at its Saudi campus and expected to generate annual revenues of more than $25 million.

Jensen says Algonquin always maintained that its campus in Saudi Arabia must be financially viable for it to continue operating.

Niagara College offers tourism, hospitality and business courses at its campus in another Saudi city, Taif, while Toronto-based Centennial College offers a corporate training program for men only in the country.

The Ontario campuses in Saudi Arabia, and all education in the kingdom, operate under Sharia law and prohibit the teaching of men and women in the same classes. 

Ontario provides $1.44 billion in funding to its 24 community colleges, which accounts for only about 40 per cent of their budgets.


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