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A Caution about studying in Canadian private colleges

Updated: May 27, 2022

Canada’s national media network “CBC” is reporting that “[H]undreds of international students who paid a Scarborough college upwards of $15,000 in tuition say their enrolment has been unilaterally suspended — placing their study permits in jeopardy". The college is called Alpha College, and Scarborough is part of the Metropolitan Toronto area.


See also this link for another example:

(Quebec has made its regulations tougher now).

The responsibility for overseeing all higher education institutions belongs to each Canadian province (there are 10) or territory (3). Over the past several years provinces in Canada have failed to stop the collapse of many privately funded institutions.

In Canada, the overwhelming percentage of institutions are publically funded (nearly every university and most colleges and polytechnics that are comprehensive (offering a huge range of programs). There is virtually no risk of a collapse of any publicaly funded institution. But unfortunately, with private institutions, the risk is there unless the students are reliably guided and are thorough in their research.

It is important to emphasize that some private institutions offer superb academic quality, and a strong history and record of financial stability. In the case of Alpha College, the programs were actually part of a joined offering between the publicly-funded St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario and Alpha which is private. So, the caution around attending private colleges must also extend to attending those that are part of a public-private joined offering.

One key step is to make sure the institute the student is applying to is a Designated Learning Institute (DLI) - this is determined by Canada’s federal government which has oversight over study permits and other privileges relating to international student status.

See this link for more on selecting a DLI.

But what to do if a DLI is itself financially unstable?

Before applying to an institution, do your research and find out first:

Is it public or private?

This information should be easily available on its website as well as from other on-line sources.

If it is public, you don't need to worry about collapse.

If it is private, and you are working with an agency, ask the agency these questions:

1. What do you know about this institution?

2. Have you been there?

3. When was it first opened?

4. Are there many programs offered there or is it very small?

For example, f it is a business diploma and there are no other programs, this kind of program does not cost much to operate, so. be extra cautious

5. How many students are there?

6. Does it have a campus or a complex with high-tech facilities or is it just occupying one floor or part of a floor in an office building? What is the website of the institution?

7. Where exactly is it located?

If it is not in a commercial part of the city but far outside, maybe it is paying cheap rent and not stable.

8. Ask to speak to two students studying there now who you can be put in contact with.

If you are not working with an agency, find out the answers to questions 3 - 7 and ask the institution to put you in contact with current students for question 9.

Also do a google search of the name of the institution plus “complaints” or plus “investigation”.

UPDATE: A few days after this comment was published Alpha College resumed operation. However, all the cautions here are worthwhile to keep in mind.

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