Monday, November 5th, 2012
A recent story in a major Indian newspaper places Canada squarely in the centre of suspicion as yet another place where Indian students are cheated. The privately owned University Canada West is not typical for Canada. Yes, it’s possible Indian students are crying sour grapes. But make no mistake – when you situate Canada alongside notorious student scams in the US, UK and Australia – it’s playing with fire.
“UCW is merely a symptom of a widespread disease,” reports the Hindustan Times. “Thousands of Indians get trapped in educational institutes in Canada, US, UK and Australia every year.” The story sensationalized how Indians students were being scammed out of tens of thousands of dollars in an MBA programs leading to dead end jobs. Thes screaming headlines and stories fuel the rumour mills which run amuck in India – a country where fact and fiction are entangled daily (this writer was asked several times by students on a recent recruiting trip to India if Canada was “as bad” as other countries in hosting fake universities).
This is not just about University Canada West, yet UCW is a bit of a canary in the coal mine here. How UCW operates as a private institution where dollars dictate, and a line up of global suitors promising profits, is far from unique.
It’s becoming quite commonplace in Canada at most public institutions that academic standards take a back seat to raising revenues, and we know it’s standard fare for study abroad offerings from the UK and Australia particularly (Americans, Kiwis and others, are not much different).
Canada had stood for academic quality for a long time. It still does, but it’s teetering on the brink of the same morass as competitors whom Canadians have been thumbing their noses at for years.
1. Canadian colleges enthusiastic embrace of the SPP pathway for students has brought a legion of new taxi drivers and dishwashers to Toronto. Yes, there are students too, but Canada once had a “student spoilage factor” of a rather insignificant percentage. No more.
2. Universities marketing foundation programs as easier and quicker paths to a degree borders on misrepresentation – and for sure do the claims and promises of agents they contract with.
3. Pandering to programs which are only about profits has resulted in a whole host of new graduate degree, diplomas and certificates where entrance and exits standards are woeful, and were once thought of us “unCanadian”.
The smugness (and some glee) of the last few years among Canadians as they watched British and Australian brands self-destruct, is misplaced. Canadians who care about quality should be shivering instead, as that same dark shadow is darkening at its own door.