International students enticed to Canada on dubious promises of jobs and immigration


Dilpreet Kaur’s mother and father had been anxious it might be tough for her to discover a job in her house state of Punjab, India, the place her father toils lengthy, lonely hours as a rice and wheat farmer. She, too, felt there was no future for her there.

So final 12 months, her dad bought two vehicles for $28,000 and mortgaged the household’s land to elevate cash for her to come to Canada, lease a room in a shared house in Toronto’s east finish and pay $16,000 in worldwide tuition charges for the primary 12 months of a two-year faculty program.

Kaur, 19, advised CBC’s The Fifth Estate that she consulted with a university recruiter, one of a legion of freelance brokers working in an unbridled market in India who earn commissions by signing up students to attend Canadian schools — generally by portray a distorted image of the training on provide and the convenience of life in Canada. The recruiter directed her to Alpha College, a faculty she’d by no means heard of earlier than.

“I do not know why she simply instructed this faculty,” Kaur stated in an interview. Nevertheless, she enrolled in a pc methods technician course at Alpha.

“Before coming right here, it was variety of, in my thoughts, ‘Canada is so lovely. I’m going to come right here, simply earn properly, dwell a life, have enjoyable on the weekends,’ like we noticed within the motion pictures,” she stated.

“When I got here right here it was completely different, it was fully completely different.”

Dilpreet’s father and grandmother. Her father bought two vehicles for $28,000 and mortgaged the household’s land to elevate cash for her to come to Canada. (Gurmeet Sapal)

Increasing numbers of Ontario’s worldwide faculty students come, like Kaur, from India, the place it isn’t unusual for rural households akin to hers to actually wager the farm to elevate sufficient cash to pay for a daughter or son’s training, hoping they’re going to ultimately land a good job and give you the chance to remit a reimbursement house to repay the debt.

Drawn by Canada’s fame and the potential to acquire everlasting residency, tens of hundreds of overseas students enrol yearly in Canadian post-secondary faculties. The overwhelming majority head to universities and public schools.

But a subset, about 25,000 students as of final 12 months, had been enticed to enrol at personal profession schools in Ontario that associate with public schools — schools which have grown dependent on the worldwide students’ a lot greater tuition charges, usually 4 to 5 occasions what a home pupil pays. Critics advised The Fifth Estate these schools are packing pupils into lecture rooms — actual or digital — with little regard to authorities guidelines, pupil wellbeing or something past the underside line.

International students are proven protesting exterior of Alpha College, situated in north Toronto, in May 2022. (Naujawan Support Network)

Since the pandemic started, Alpha, a non-public profession faculty in partnership with public St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ont., has greater than doubled its enrolment, to 4,900 students, whereas its two-storey constructing at Kennedy Road and Passmore Avenue in Toronto has a capability of simply 420, in accordance to the Toronto hearth division.

“They simply need us to give cash, once more and once more. And get wealthy, filling their pockets, and do not actually care about us in any respect,” Kaur stated of her expertise.

A report from Ontario’s auditor normal final December discovered that the province’s smaller public schools, notably those in smaller or northern communities the place home enrolments have been declining, “have change into extremely dependent financially on worldwide students however more and more face challenges in attracting these students to their house campuses.”

As a consequence, 11 of them have entered into partnerships with personal profession schools within the Toronto space, permitting students to dwell in or round Toronto however take programs towards a diploma from a public faculty situated in Timmins or North Bay, for instance.

The auditor normal’s report discovered that the schooling income from these partnerships single-handedly meant the distinction between operating a deficit or a surplus for 5 of the six public schools that had them in place as of 2019-20, and can also be profitable for the personal profession schools, with internet revenue margins starting from 18 to 53 per cent.

“With lowered funding from authorities, worldwide students have change into bread and butter sustaining these establishments,” stated Earl Blaney, an advocate for worldwide students and a registered Canadian immigration marketing consultant primarily based in London, Ont.

“Their urge for food is insatiable. They’re doing every little thing they will to discover extra methods to deliver in additional students… whether or not it’s rising class sizes, whether or not it’s irresponsibly bringing in students that they do not have sufficient assist to provide. I imply it does not matter. What issues is numbers.”

Recruiters make questionable claims

Education recruiters characterize step one within the chain from farmer’s discipline to classroom. It’s a cutthroat trade in India, the place hundreds of impartial brokers compete to earn round $2,000 for every pupil they recruit for a Canadian faculty with which they’ve an settlement.

Alpha College, for instance, obtained 100 per cent of its worldwide students in its most up-to-date tutorial 12 months via recruiters, in accordance to paperwork obtained by The Fifth Estate.

Ontario’s public schools paid greater than $114 million in commissions to recruiters in 2020-21, in accordance to final 12 months’s auditor normal report; the overall paid by the personal profession schools is not tracked.

Since the pandemic started, Alpha, a non-public profession faculty, in partnership with the general public St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ont., has greater than doubled its enrolment, to 4,900 students. The constructing has a capability of simply 420, in accordance to Toronto Fire Services. (Andy Hincenbergs/CBC)

The Fifth Estate‘s investigation went undercover in Punjab state, utilizing hidden cameras, to see what recruiters are telling potential students. A father and his 19-year-old son all in favour of a Canadian training agreed to put on a hidden digital camera whereas assembly with a number of recruiters in Jalandhar, the state’s third-biggest metropolis.

In one of their conferences, the recruiter outlined that tuition would value round $17,000 for the primary 12 months.

“Will he give you the chance to discover a job for the second 12 months?” the daddy requested.

The recruiter replied that “it is extremely simple for students to pay their second-year tuition charges.”

In reality, as The Fifth Estate discovered, many worldwide faculty students battle to earn sufficient cash in Canada to pay their residing bills, a lot much less tuition for his or her second 12 months.

Last Friday, the federal authorities briefly lifted the cap of 20 hours of off-campus work per week that worldwide students had beforehand been restricted to throughout faculty semesters. At minimal wage in Ontario, the restrict meant worldwide students could not count on to earn far more than about $22,000 a 12 months — not sufficient to cowl $16,000 or $17,000 in tuition and have funds left over for lease, meals, utilities and different necessities. And that is whereas additionally finding out full-time.

During the assembly involving the daddy and his 19-year-old son, the daddy requested a couple of well-established public faculty in Toronto. But the recruiter directed him as an alternative to a little-known personal profession faculty.

“There is a university known as Cambrian at Hanson,” he stated, referring to personal Hanson College, which is tucked away in a strip mall in Brampton, Ont. Hanson has had a partnership since 2005 with Cambrian, a public faculty primarily based in Sudbury, Ont., 350 kilometres to the north.

When contacted by The Fifth Estate, a Hanson College spokesperson would not affirm whether or not the college had a relationship with that exact recruiter, however did say the faculty works with “recruitment brokers throughout numerous areas globally, together with Indian businesses,” and that the students they enroll account for about 30 to 35 per cent of the college’s enrolment.

The auditor normal famous that as a result of recruiters’ commissions are a share of the schooling charges paid by the students they enroll, “recruitment businesses are incentivized to enrol as many students as they will within the packages that cost the very best tuition charges.”

Dubious claims about visas

At one other recruitment company, the daddy expressed concern that after his son graduated, it is likely to be onerous to get everlasting residency in Canada.

“Definitely not,” the recruiter stated. “It’s simple for students to get everlasting residency.”

In actuality, a Statistics Canada examine final 12 months discovered solely about 30 per cent of individuals who come to Canada on a pupil visa had obtained everlasting residency inside a decade.

Even after the daddy and son left the brokers’ workplaces, they had been approached on the road by recruiters for one more company providing to cost much less for his or her providers and to present a extra private relationship.

WATCH | Education recruitment brokers caught deceptive pupil and father in India:

Education recruitment brokers caught deceptive pupil and father in India

The Fifth Estate went undercover in India to reveal the pitch made to some students planning to attend Canadian schools. The father and son on this video are all in favour of a Canadian training and agreed to put on a hidden digital camera as they met brokers.

The Ontario auditor normal’s report discovered related examples of dubious claims made by faculty recruiters, together with businesses that promised “100 per cent visa success” and others that marketed “assured scores” on English aptitude exams.

In current years, a brand new sort of recruitment has cropped up. A quantity of “edu-tech” firms in Canada, Australia and Singapore have created on-line platforms to join the thousands and thousands of potential students in different nations with the hundreds of recruiters and academic establishments in Canada, the U.S., the U.Ok., Australia and Ireland.

But critics like Blaney, the worldwide pupil advocate and immigration marketing consultant, stated these so-called aggregator firms solely put extra distance between schools and the recruiters who’re signing up students for them. “Ten thousand-plus sub-agents on the bottom … have completely no direct reference to the faculty. The faculty has no capability to display them, they haven’t any capability to overview their work or conduct with the coed, promises made, promoting, you identify it,” Blaney stated.

Colleges exceed provincial enrolment limits

Blaney stated the quantity of overseas students coming to Canada actually picked up beginning 10 years in the past, after the federal authorities declared the nation wanted extra expert immigrants. A federal advisory panel additionally really useful doubling the quantity of worldwide students to greater than 450,000 in whole by 2022. Canada sailed far previous that concentrate on and had 621,000 folks on pupil visas as of Dec. 31, 2012, in accordance to federal knowledge.

The crush of students coming from overseas opened up extra alternatives for the province’s public schools to enter into partnerships with personal profession schools; 9 such offers have been signed for the reason that 2012 report.

All these worldwide tuition charges now present more cash to Ontario’s schools — $1.7 billion in 2020-21, in accordance to the province’s auditor normal — than the provincial authorities’s whole funding of $1.6 billion, which is the bottom quantity of per capita authorities funding of any province in Canada.

Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities formally caps the quantity of worldwide students {that a} public faculty can have at one of its personal profession faculty companions. The quota is a most of two occasions the quantity of worldwide students enrolled on the public faculty’s house campus.

But the provincial auditor normal discovered a quantity of schools have exceeded these limits in recent times with seemingly no penalties. North Bay-based Canadore College’s personal associate had 8.8 occasions the quantity of worldwide students as the faculty itself; at Northern College in Timmins, Ont., the ratio was 8.6. Alpha College is at about 4.5-to-1 in contrast with St. Lawrence College’s home-campus enrolment, or greater than twice the allowed ratio.

Earl Blaney is a world pupil advocate and immigration marketing consultant. He stated the quantity of overseas students coming to Canada actually picked up about 10 years in the past, after the federal authorities declared the nation wanted extra expert immigrants. (Andy Hincenbergs/CBC)

“The focus has been numbers-driven,” Blaney stated. “That’s all, actually, that anybody cares about … what number of worldwide students can we pack in, and how a lot cash can we get.”

A Ministry of Colleges and Universities spokesperson advised The Fifth Estate that faculties “are separate authorized entities and are liable for each tutorial and administrative issues — together with enrolment and capability.”

Neither Alpha College nor its public associate, St. Lawrence College, would agree to an interview.

In an electronic mail this week, St. Lawrence spokesperson Julie Einarson stated the college and Alpha College have “established and adopted high quality assurance protocols to guarantee students who come to Ontario to examine have a superb expertise and finally keep right here to dwell and work.”

“Colleges and our companions present a variety of assist providers to worldwide students however we all know there may be much more to do,” the e-mail continued. “We are working collaboratively with different schools, governments, and group leaders — and most significantly, our students — to discover new options.”

Low-wage jobs after commencement

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser stated he is persuaded that sure personal profession schools have come to exist simply to make a buck off of worldwide pupil packages. (Andy Hincenbergs/CBC)

Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser stated it troubles him significantly that “sure personal profession schools, I’m persuaded, have come to exist simply to make a buck on the again of the worldwide pupil program.”

In an interview with The Fifth Estate final week, he stated, “We have considerations that it is likely to be about monetary impropriety, reasonably than offering a top quality training to students who’re coming right here attempting to higher themselves.”

Fraser stated if sure recruiters or schools are taking benefit of students, then he wants to make it clear to the suitable provincial authorities that they do not want his permission to oust the faculty from the examine allow program.

“It’s not what this system was designed for. It’s designed to present an training to students and to profit Canadian communities, not to enable sham operations to open up to financially abuse harmless students who’ve of their thoughts what Canada could possibly be, solely to be let down.”


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