The Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario stands in solidarity with International students at Alpha College in Scarborough who have successfully organized against the institution’s attempt to forcefully drop Spring term courses without due notice. 

Ontario currently has over 400 private career colleges, with many engaging in unscrupulous recruitment activities to attract as many International students as possible. International students, especially from South Asia, create big business for private colleges, who often lure students with false pretexts, dodgy recruitment agencies, promise of easy courses, lower language requirements and the false guarantee to bypass the 20 hour work-limit while studying. 

Upon landing in Canada and paying an upwards of over $30,000 a year in tuition fees, students find themselves scrambling to retain their status as they often find out that their courses do not meet the requirements to apply for a valid Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This happens for multiple reasons, with the most common ones being unofficial ‘drops’, or the institution not being a Designated Learning Institute (DLI). With various colleges in Québec and British Columbia already being scrutinized by the government for malpractice, Ontario is now experiencing a similar and growing trend with the rise of such institutions.

The latest is Alpha College in Scarborough, a private affiliate of St. Lawrence College, wherein hundreds of International students, predominantly from India, have been left in the lurch when college authorities abruptly announced an unofficial drop for Spring course schedules. Students staged a sit-in protest, lasting over seven days to protest the callousness and the lack of accountability displayed by college authorities. They were met with strong resistance and security presence, with security personnel throwing away their personal belongings to deter them from protesting. Upon the seventh day of the protest, the administration sought to minimize the consequences of their actions by labeling their decision a ‘technical error’ and reversed their decision. 

While scheduled breaks are clearly stipulated in the program schedule, unofficial breaks or ‘drops’ can have serious consequences for International students. Taking an unofficial break during a year can render a student ineligible to apply for a PGWP, further complicating their ability to apply for permanent residency, a goal for over 70% of International students. 

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, stands in solidarity with the students of Alpha College, Scarborough in opposing the callous actions of the college administration. While students at Alpha College were able to successfully organize against unofficial drops, they had to take considerable risk to do so. The Federation supports the call for an end to private, for-profit colleges that use International students as cash cows, employ false pretexts and exploit and benefit off of the vulnerabilities of International students. 

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the oldest and largest student organization in Ontario, representing over 350,000 college and university students in every region of the province.