Ria Bakshi, a student from India and enrolled in the business administration program at Humber College, said she’s not sure if her program is worth the tuition fees she pays.
“All Canadian colleges charge international students from all over the world a hefty amount of money to pay for tuition fees but I’m afraid that after my graduation I will not get the job options that I hope for,” she said.
Business students pay more than $16,000 for a school year, compared to about $3,700 for domestic students, according to Humber.
Canadian Bureau for International Education reported there were 807,750 international students in Canada at all levels of study last year, up by 43 per cent from five years ago.
There had been no rules to guide the sector that serves international students, however, Linda Franklin, the president of Colleges Ontario, said some rules should be set to support students while they stay in Canada.
The 12-page standards of practice for international education cover different areas such as housing and residence options, learning assistance resources, immigration pathways, health services, and post-graduation support to help international students with the settlement.
“We felt it is really important that the colleges send a message to international students that we have their backs, we’re thinking about them and putting protections in place where they get the right information before and after their arrival to Canada,” Franklin said. “And they understand that there are also services that will be implemented once they get here.”
Also, Franklin said some recruitment agents provided misleading information to international students about programs and living expenses in Canada.
“Some agents work directly with the colleges but others don’t, it’s a business opportunity for them,” she said. “We have been finding that, in some cases, agents are providing wrong information to students on the cost of living in Canada and the programs that don’t have good job outcomes.”
Franklin said providing standards that can control the program marketing is one of the key pillars of the new plan. Students are worried about the hard financial and employment realities, and the Canadian education they came for, she said.
“We’re going to take all our agents through a training program that we stand up and rely on. The colleges were asked to cut ties with those recruitments who mislead students because it’s not good for anybody if international students come here with false expectations that we can’t live up to,” Franklin said.
Abhi Sachdev, a first-year student of Multimedia Design and Development at Humber, said more help and support for students is needed.
“I came to Canada alone without knowing anyone here so I was very confused and afraid where to ask for some help,” she said. “It will be helpful if the colleges assist us with more information about visa inquiries and registration concerns.”
“If they’re doing something to help us with adaptation here, it means that they care, it means that we matter,” Bakshi said.
All colleges across the province are expected to sign the new protocols by June 2024.