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Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Misled to Manitoba

The CBC report exposing the misleading of international students by the International College of Manitoba (ICM) and its overseas education agent is common. Here the University of Manitoba enabled a network of unknown and uncertain education agents to market with its name, trademarks, brand and reputation.

There should be no surprise at the University of Manitoba. ICM’s owner and operator, the Australian corporate education provider Navitas, is simply doing what it does and commits to in its business arrangements. Navitas contracted with UManitoba in the same way it uses its other university partners – as the key attraction to bringing students from around the world to its privately run programs, and in this case to a major public university and landmark institution in Winnipeg.

It’s not a surprise that the ICM is billed and sold overseas as UManitoba. This is what the university signed on for, and it even has its own UManitoba representatives travel and market abroad alongside Navitas.

Navitas is not discriminatory. It works with any agent which will send them students and openly encourages them to do so. Navitas has hundreds and hundreds of agents, and it needs them, to feed its many schools just like ICM, operating in the US, England, Australia and Canada. All the university partners appear happy to get what they see as easy revenues without doing much work other than selling their name. Of course, there are plenty of questions about business practices, representation and academic integrity. Probes such as the CBC report are not good for business, and in this case not good for the University of Manitoba’s most valuable asset, its brand and integrity.

ICM is a foundation program which uses the University of Manitoba name, brand, and campus location, to persuade students that starting at ICM is as good as being in first year classes at UManitoba. Navitas markets ICM as a way virtually anyone can get admission to UManitoba. It’s primarily aimed at weak students and those with insufficient English-language skills. The ICM curriculum is supposed to be completed in just one year, and even transform an originally inadmissible student into a second year ready university student in less than twelve months (how and if that can happen is a whole other story which the CBC does not touch here).

The complaints the CBC aired from students alleging that Navitas contracted agents in Pakistan and China which misled them that ICM was the right academic fit, are nothing new. When that’s what agents have to sell and they are incentivized to do so, they will recommend an 80%+ high school student go to ICM, call it the University of Manitoba, and not reveal what the actual quality of the student body these students are signing up for.

The CBC story exposes the ICM/Navitas/UManitoba partnership for what it is. If UManitoba claims that is is not aware of what’s going on in its name and on its behalf, then what did it think it was buying in the first place ?

MORE LINKS:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/story/2012/12/07/mb-international-college-manitoba-concerns-iteam.html

http://en.video.sympatico.ca/watch/private-manitoba-college-misleading-students-some-say/2026835867001?sort=date&page=1#.UMgHVrZn4y4

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/story/2012/12/10/mb-international-college-manitoba-senate-minutes.html

2 comments

#1Caddy ShackDecember 12, 2012, 1:58 pm

This is nothing new for Ontario. A number of non-GTA community colleges including Lambton, St. Lawrence and Cambrian that have partnered with small private schools that teach a couple of their programs exclusively for international students (typically Chinese and Indian students). This partnership works well for the colllege (provides them a foothold in Toronto) and the private school (incremental revenue and legitamacy) but to my knowledge, is against MTCU policy. Still, the MTCU has put its head in the sand and done nothing about it. I think the CBC should do an investigation and write a story on the MTCU for not only its negligence which had allowed this phenomona to grow but also as the only province that does restrict movement of newly arrived international students. This has caused all sorts of problems for newly arrived students who are misled by agents who wait to pounce of new arrivals at the airport and popular shopping malls (even outside the colleges). This and other MTCU practices (or lack thereof) needs to be exposed.

#2Navitas PRDecember 13, 2012, 12:28 am

It would be great if the author of this article had some knowledge of Navitas, ICM, its courses and its relationships with UManitoba. Since facts are pretty light on in this piece here are a few for you:

- ICM is not ‘billed and sold’ overseas as UManitoba, all ICM materials and communications clearly state that ICM is not a part of UManitoba
- Navitas does not work with just any agent. Navitas has a thorough vetting process to ensure agents are ethical and legitimate. Any agents found to be in breach of Navitas’ code of conduct have their contracts terminated
- There are not ‘plenty of questions’ about business practices and academic integrity. All Navitas colleges have robust practices and academic boards, usually chaired by the partner university, to ensure high quality learning outcomes

For more information see the statement sent to CBC in regards to the recent articles.

ICM Statement to CBC Manitoba

The International College of Manitoba (ICM) communicates clearly and openly with all current and potential students regarding their study options and potential outcomes. This includes the fact that ICM is not a part of the University of Manitoba and that students can move to the University on successful completion of their studies at ICM. If a student applies to ICM but is eligible for direct entry to the University they are clearly advised of this by ICM and encouraged to apply to the University.

Since the college opened in 2008, over five hundred international students have successfully completed the ICM program and gone on to study at the University. In fact, a recent independent survey of almost 400 ICM students found that 89% of students were satisfied or highly satisfied with learning outcomes and 92% of students felt highly supported. 90% also indicated they were satisfied or highly satisfied with their experience with agents. The University of British Columbia, University of Toronto and Queens University also participated in this benchmarking survey.

ICM recruits students in a number of ways including sending ICM staff overseas to attend education fairs and exhibitions, visit schools and meet with school counsellors. Our staff also work with educational representatives and agents, similar to the University of Manitoba and other Canadian universities.

If a student did have an issue with an agent giving them incorrect information, they should inform us and ICM (and our parent company Navitas) will investigate. Navitas monitors its agents regularly and if agents are found to have breached the Navitas code of conduct their contracts are terminated. From its significant agent network Navitas has terminated approximately 15 agent agreements over the last five years.

In regards to student refunds, all students acknowledge in writing that they have read ICM’s refund policy before they accept an offer to the college. ICM’s refund policy is in-line with other private colleges in Canada.

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