Canada: Land of private-school scams
Overseas students are stuck without credentials
ERIN MILLAR | May 28, 2007 |
“Don’t apply to Canadian private schools blindly.” That’s the warning the Chinese government issued to its citizens last year after reports of education scams in Ontario and British Columbia. And last month, the Times of India reported that “a group of Indian students who travelled [to Canada] in pursuit of their M.B.A. dreams are living their worst nightmare.” The B.C. government had just ordered Lansbridge University, a private institution in Vancouver operated by the Kingston Education Group, to shut down by May 1. One Lansbridge international student told the Times, “We are in shock. We never imagined something like this can happen in the developed world.”
But as millions of foreign students dream of a Canadian education, a growing number of enterprising businesses have learned how to take advantage of that aspiration. Lansbridge’s closing left approximately 300 students, most from India and China, without credentials, having spent up to $40,000 of their families’ savings on their chance at a foreign education. The Times called it a “grim reminder” of the perils of studying in Canada.
According to a government investigation, Lansbridge advertised degree programs before gaining authorization, submitted misleading documents when applying for degree-granting status, and did not maintain the required financial security to protect students. And Lansbridge was not the first private university to come under scrutiny. B.C. has recently ordered three other institutions to close.
Recently, a provincial judge ordered private Vancouver University Worldwide to stop granting degrees. The university says that its online degree programs are not conducted in B.C., and it may ignore the order. The province argues that although convocation ceremonies take place outside of B.C., its Vancouver head office is enough to make the university fall under B.C. law.
As for that Chinese government warning? According to Shi Shuyun, education counsellor at the Chinese Embassy, it will only be removed when Canada does more to protect overseas students.