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In order to settle its debts, Quest University sells off campus

The Squamish school will lease back the facilities under a deal with Primacorp Ventures Inc.

To manage its millions in debt, Quest University has sold off its campus and will be leasing the buildings back.

On Oct. 29, Quest University announced in a news release that it has signed an agreement with Primacorp Ventures Inc.

Under this agreement, Primacorp will own the campus building and lands, which Quest will lease. The deal still needs to be approved by the courts, as the school is under financial protection granted by the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, or CCAA.

Should the courts give it the green light, the deal will come into effect sometime toward the end of December.

Students and alumni greeted the news with enthusiasm.

The Quest University Students' Association expressed support for the deal.

"Since Quest filed for financial protection back in January, it has been a challenging process for students amidst so much uncertainty," wrote Haby Ka, president of the organization, to The Chief.

"As a new agreement has been finally reached, QUSA supports Quest's new partnership with Primacorp and hopefully, this agreement will provide a sustainable path for the university. It is a sign of relief for many students that the academic program and faculty departments remain unchanged and this will allow students to pursue their education as planned. QUSA will continue to support and advocate for students' interests during this period of restructuring and transition."

Nate McCarthy, who was the student association president when CCAA proceedings started, praised school officials for the work in an interview with The Chief.

"I think it's really just a wonderful outcome that's a big relief to all of us," said McCarthy, who's now an alumnus. "The biggest thing for us obviously is that we get to keep our community just how we had it and that's more than we could've asked for, so hats off to all of the administrators and negotiators who were working on this."

McCarthy also said a key point of the deal is maintaining the school's independence.

"One of the things that's really favourable about this outcome for us is that it allows us to retain our pedagogical autonomy, if you will. We get to stay really true to who we are," he said. "Nothing much is changing. The faculty is remaining and the program is the same."

The school's president said he believed Primacorp was the right pick.

"Over months of conversations, it's become clear that Primacorp is truly enthusiastic about the Quest program and is committed to seeing our university thrive," said Dr. George Iwama, president and vice-chancellor of Quest, in the release.

The land management portion of the agreement will assure the preservation of Quest's present and future needs regarding student housing and environmental integrity, the school news release says.

Quest will retain its status as a not-for-profit organization within the framework of the Sea to Sky University Act.

Under these terms, Quest University will continue to offer its Bachelor of Arts and Science degree and the unique curriculum for which it is known.

"Our goal has always been to do what is best for this wonderful university," added Mary Jo Larson, chair of Quest's board of governors, whose son is a Quest graduate. "We explored every option and had extensive discussions with a number of proponents, and Primacorp presented us with the best proposal. We look forward to a bright future."

Quest's faculty will continue to deliver the program, while Primacorp will provide services for student recruitment, marketing, fundraising and other support.

Quest brands itself as Canada's first independent, not-for-profit, secular university.

In January of this year, Quest sought financial protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, or CCAA.

This occurred after the school's biggest lender, the Vanchorverve Foundation, called in its a $23.4-million debt. 

Primacorp Ventures is Canada's largest independent provider of education with 40 campuses stretching across five provinces. Today, the colleges that make up Primacorp Ventures represent more than 16,000 students seeking job training, retraining, and education for certification.

"We are pleased, as a successful and BC-based organization, to begin this new partnership with Quest University," said Peter Chung, chairman and CEO at Primacorp Ventures. "We are confident that combining our resources with the tremendous culture of innovation that Quest University has developed will serve students, faculty, staff and the entire Quest University community very well in the years ahead."

**Please note, this story has been updated to include comments from current and former Quest students. 

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