An Independent, not-for-profit University in Ontario is Opening Its Doors This January

This January, the first cohort of students will be starting their undergraduate journey at the International Business University (IBU), a newly founded independent, not-for-profit university in Ontario.

IBU was created by Tim McTiernan, the Founding President and Vice-Chancellor, and a board of leaders from other institutions in Canada’s educational landscape. IBU provides an alternative option for university education that is fully geared towards students, their learning needs, and their success. According to Tim, the founders saw “an opportunity to design a university that was entirely student-focused, tilted toward teaching excellence, and built with research-supported teaching at the centre of the institution.” IBU’s personalized design, targeted program and class structure, and its independent, not-for-profit status allowed the founders to create a university that expanded the mould of educational options available in Canada.

A Personalized Program and Career-Focused Curriculum

Personalized learning is a core principle of IBU. All aspects of a student’s experience are rooted in a personalized approach from the enrollment process to class sizes. First, applicants have direct access to enrollment staff when applying. Once enrolled, class sizes are capped at 30 people to ensure an environment that fosters personal connections between students and their professors. IBU’s goal is to create an entire student-focused culture with this class size cap. In other business programs, large class sizes detract from student satisfaction and do not allow professors to connect directly with students. This lessens their ability to have a direct impact on their students’ success. The goal of IBU is to create “an educational journey in which every professor, peer, mentor, and advisor knows you by name,” says Tim McTiernan. “Offering that experience is a real point of pride and honour for our founding team.” 

Designing a curriculum that prepared students for the immediate needs of the job market was also an important consideration. “IBU is designed to be a ‘next generation’ university, combining academic excellence with a curriculum geared to the needs of the future,” says Tim. The founders of IBU discovered that while many students were attending business programs at university, many did not meet the business needs of employers upon graduation. IBU’s course design fills this gap. The nature of the course structure also allows students to complete their studies on a timeline that suits them best. Students are able to complete a four-year degree faster over three years or spread it out part-time while they work.

Independently Funded and Designed

IBU is also unique from a business and operations perspective. First, being an independent, not-for-profit university differentiates IBU from educational institutions in Canada which are part of the provincial post-secondary system. Those institutions are publically funded and regulated by the government, whereas IBU receives its funding through student tuition. By design, this gives IBU more freedom in meeting the needs of its enrolled students and preparing students to thrive in the job market post-graduation. In addition, its not-for-profit status means that all additional revenue will be reinvested into its students and programs. IBU also has unique and thorough financial aid options for students. The university is able to defer up to 100% of a student’s tuition and book fees until after graduation and when the student is employed. Their financial aid is also interest-free and based on eligibility, with some students able to waive up to 25% of the program cost. This is partially set up as IBU falls outside of provincial student aid allowances for now, as it is a new institution. The financial aid has also been structured this way to adhere to IBU’s core principles: to meet all student needs, including financial. 

At its heart, IBU is an independent not-for-profit university that is laser-focused on the student experience and was designed to help its students succeed within the program and in the immediate job market. As Tim McTiernan states, IBU provides “a total focus on students’ learning needs and satisfaction, and a culture of nimble, creative, innovative attentiveness to address the evolving needs of the students and of the employers in the industry they’ll soon enter.” Ultimately, “this is an experience we would certainly hope to scale and make accessible to a wide array of competent students,” says Tim, referring to growing IBU beyond Ontario. For now, we wish the students embarking on their journey this January the best of luck and will continue to follow the innovation being pioneered by IBU in the educational landscape.