What’s in a name?

The lead today in the TJ is about the recommendation to make three new ‘polytechnic’ schools in New Brunswick and the furor this is creating in Saint John. Apparently, there are a lot of folks that think a polytechnic is a major step downward from a university.

The authors of the report admitted they would see no problem dropping the term ‘polytechnic’ from the new schools.

I have to admit when I heard the term ‘polytechnic’ I thought it was just a clever political marketing term. Based on what I read, the new schools are essentially universities – maybe more practical skills focused and I am unsure how much research they will undertake – but essentially the same.

My first thought was that the government injected the term polytechnic (or recommended to the consultants) because the optics were extremely bad around the creation of three new universities.

You will remember the senior politicians running around for months complaining we have “too many universities” in such a small province and one would think adding three more would make them look quite silly. With ABU (which is a university by the way conferring a pile of non-religious training university degrees every year) and the new three, that would mean eight bone fide universities in New Brunswick or about one for every 100,000 people.

So to have a study come out that is positioned as a deep structural change to the system and then open up three new universities would be bizarre.

So, call them polytechnics and placate the cranks (like me).

But the 1,700 protesters in Saint John yesterday are none too pleased with the term.

And, how may, Cabinet members are there from Saint John? Refresh my memory. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6……

I suspect that at the end of this thing, the Saint John campus will be autonomous but will likely have the word ‘university’ in there somewhere.