Pacific Coast University has signed an historic agreement with a university from Germany, and the Port Alberni educational institution hasn’t even opened its doors.
Joachim Breuer, the director general for German Social Accident Insurance brought the agreement already signed by the dean of the University of Bonn-Rhine-Sieg in St. Augustine.
What this means is a collaboration in disability management and back-to-work curriculum between the two institutions. Students and professors alike from Germany and Canada will be able to participate in exchanges. And it means students from Germany will be coming to Port Alberni once the university opens in 2012.
Breuer represents the largest workers’ compensation board in the world, and to have that kind of backing is important, said Wolfgang Zimmermann, executive director of the National Institute for Disability Management and Research—which will run Pacific Coast U.
More than 1,000 disability managers in Germany have trained through NIDMAR, he said.
Pacific Coast University “is really a diamond you have in your hand,” Breuer said. “I’m sure when you look back in 10 years everyone who is working in the field of disability management will know the PCU here.”
Zimmermann hopes now that Germany has stepped up to the plate that other countries will follow suit. The University of Queensland in Australia has expressed interest in signing a similar agreement, he said. Another professor from Cornell University in New York will be here to view the facility next week. Last week a delegation from Korea took a tour, and NIDMAR finalized an agreement with the government of Malaysia too, Zimmermann said.
Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser was on hand for the signing, as was NDP labour critic Raj Chouhan. The university is a big deal for Port Alberni “on a global scale,” Fraser said. “This is cutting edge. We should be the leaders of the world here.”
Chouhan said the province of British Columbia has so far not supported the development of back-to-work curriculum at Pacific Coast University, which is disappointing.
“This is one project where there should be no politics played with it,” Chouhan said. “Regardless of which party we belong to, we should be supporting it.”