It’s been a week since the announcement by Nipissing University that the school will be closing their Bracebridge campus – a story that HBR broke – and it’s no secret that the University of Waterloo will probably pull out of Huntsville when their “lease” ends in the fall. Unless of course, The University of Waterloo is able to coerce the Town of Huntsville in to giving even more away in negotiations for them to stay for a little longer.
Huntsville’s been criticized by some for the deal they entered into with the University of Waterloo. Like Bracebridge, Huntsville put everything they had into trying to bring post secondary education to Muskoka.
Waterloo has been floundering for years and past councils have been looking for opportunities to replace Waterloo with another partner. With the announcement in Bracebridge last week, it seems to me that the options are quickly evaporating.
It seems to me that the economy has finally hit the education sector and it looks like most post-secondary education institutions are pulling back and protecting their home turf, leaving their satellite campuses in the lurch.
Bracebridge, and Muskoka for that matter, are now screwed when it comes to post-secondary education; how can this be allowed to happen? The building was virtually given to them with the Town of Bracebridge and the federal government pouring in tonnes of money and giving up land to make post-secondary education a reality in Muskoka.
The town says that they were taken by surprise when the announcement was made and Nipissing University didn’t once say they needed help attracting students. Our sources tell us that programs like nursing were promised and never came and still other programs have been withdrawn from Bracebridge in favour of the main campus in North Bay.
It looks like Nipissing University has manufactured the demise of the Bracebridge campus. So much more could have been done to make the satellite campus a success and there are so many unanswered questions.
The province should not allow a university or college to expand in the good times unless they are prepared to carry on when things are not as rosy.
Nipissing University’s forecast closure is a huge blow to Bracebridge and the rest of Muskoka; the economic damage will be enormous.
It’s time for Huntsville and Bracebridge to think outside of the box in terms of the future uses of these buildings and the province needs to step up and protect post-secondary education in smaller communities.