Legislative Amendments: Board Composition and Personal Education Numbers


The Advanced Education Statutes Amendment Act, 2011 (Bill 18) was given first reading on November 3, 2011. Bill 18 introduces new provisions in respect of boards governed by the College and Institute Act, the University Act and the Royal Roads University Act. In effect, the Thompson Rivers University Act is also amended since it references the provisions in the University Act that are being amended. The School Act and various post-secondary legislation are also amended to clarify the use and disclosure of the personal education numbers of students attending private post-secondary institutions.

Board Composition

Bill 18 addresses the composition of boards of publicly-funded colleges, institutes and universities and potential conflicts of board members. Each of the College and Institute Act, the University Act and the Royal Roads University Act are amended so as to add a provision that members of the board “must act in the best interests of” their respective college, institute or university. One might have thought that such a rule should flow from the common law, but some board members may have loyalties to constituent parts of a college, institute or university. This provision clarifies that, as a board member, the member must be concerned about the institution as a whole rather than a private or shareholder interest.

Bill 18 will disqualify from board membership any person who is both an employee of the college, institute or university and an executive member or officer of an instructional, administrative or other staff association which negotiates with the board or which adjudicates disputes. Thus, Bill 18 will help to preclude conflicts of interest among board members who are employees and who serve institutional shareholders in a capacity that may be related to board matters.

Bill 18 also adds a provision which allows the Lieutenant Governor in Council, on a two-thirds resolution of a board, to remove for cause a board member elected by faculty members, the student body or employee or support staff. The Lieutenant Governor in Council has always had the power to remove the board members it appoints, but there has been no mechanism in respect of elected members. Members of corporate boards can be removed pursuant to a shareholder vote but such an option is not open to the boards of universities, colleges and institutes. The mechanism may be cumbersome, but presumably it will be used sparingly, particularly when a two-thirds resolution of the board is first required.

The amendments to the College and Institute Act also add a provision that the chair of the board must be elected from the eight board members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The transitional provisions (section 54 of Bill 18) specifically provide that a chair who is not an appointed board member will cease to be chair when the provision or Bill 18 comes into force.

Personal Education Numbers

Section 170.1 and following of the School Act allow the minister under that Act to assign each student a “personal education number”. These numbers are used for such things as determining grants, administering provincial examinations and conducting research regarding the transition to post-secondary institutions. Pursuant to Bill 18, the School Act, as well as various statutes which apply to private post-secondary institutions, will be amended so as to align the system for student identification in private institutions with that found in public institutions. Statutes such as the Trinity Western University Act, the Sea to Sky University Act, the Degree Authorization Act and the Private Career Training Institute Act are amended so as to include provisions which define “personal education number” and to permit the boards of the institutions to obtain the personal education numbers of their students, use the numbers in respect of operating programs, and conduct research and statistical analysis and disclose personal information to the minster responsible for private post-secondary institutions and the minister responsible for the School Act. Also amended in this fashion are the Canadian Pentecostal Seminary Act, the Carey Hall Act, the Christ College of Canada Society Act, the Columbia Bible College Act, the Northwest Baptist Theological College Act, the Okanagan Bible College Act, the Pacific Life Bible College Act, Regent College Act, the Seminary of Christ the King Act, the St. Andrew’s Hall Act, the St. Mark’s College Act, the Summit Pacific College Act, the Vancouver School of Theology Act and the World Trade University Canada Establishment Act.