Funding shortfall forcing closure of Quest University in Squamish

Quest University in Squamish, B.C., will be closing at the end of the current academic year. (Quest University - image credit)
Quest University in Squamish, B.C., will be closing at the end of the current academic year. (Quest University - image credit)

A private university in Squamish, B.C., will be closing its doors at the end of the current academic year due to a lack of funding.

A statement on Quest University's website says the suspension of academic programming will allow the board and executive to "focus on restructuring finances and operations."

"Although Quest continues to explore financing options and remains hopeful, it has been unable to secure additional funding for ongoing operations beyond the spring. As a result, the Board concluded that it had no alternative but to make the responsible decision it has at this time."

The statement says the university will be evaluating "when it may be able to resume future enrolments and full academic programming."

Founded in 2007, Quest's academic focus is on liberal arts and sciences.

Graduating students will still have ceremony in spring 

Students graduating from Quest this spring will be able to attend a graduation ceremony on April 29.

The statement says the school's focus in the coming months will be to help current students complete their programs, or make alternate arrangements.

Prospective students who have paid application fees or made enrolment deposits for September 2023 will receive refunds, the university said.

Faculty, staff and other employees, meanwhile, "will be advised in the coming days of the implications of these changes based on their individual circumstances."

The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press

Quest has been important to the community: District of Squamish

The District of Squamish says it is "saddened and disappointed" to hear of the closure.

"The uniqueness and presence of the university have been cherished by the District, and its close ties with the community have been important contributors to the Squamish of today," said a statement. "The District is hopeful that funding options will present themselves for renewed future operations."

In the same statement, Squamish Mayor Armand Hurford adds: "We have held the belief that Quest is an incredibly unique and special organization for more than 20 years, and it is difficult and disappointing to learn of this next step in the journey. We remain hopeful, and at the same time, will be discussing the District's interests in this next chapter."

Quest was operating well below capacity

While Quest's website says the school has a capacity of 750 students, B.C.'s ministry of post-secondary education and future skills puts current enrolment at 135.

In a statement, the ministry said it does not provide funding to Quest, but considers the protection of its current students a priority.

"The Ministry holds a financial security from Quest to ensure that if students paid tuition for education that they did not receive, they are provided with a refund," the statement said.

The ministry says students will either be able to graduate this spring or will be able to transfer to other schools, such as Capilano University in North Vancouver.

The University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria and Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops "will also recognize credits for transfer to their institutions," the ministry said.

Since 60 per cent of Quest students are U.S. citizens, they will have the option to attend "a number of U.S. universities with similar programs that will fully recognize Quest program credits," the ministry said.