Career colleges criticized by students
Sep 3, 2012 / 7:22 am
Complaints filed by students about some of Ontario's private career colleges allege that harassment from teachers, inadequate instruction and lack of proper equipment are hurting the quality of education at these increasingly popular institutions.
"The teacher is very degrading and belittling of her students on a daily basis," reads a complaint from a student at Everest College's Mississauga campus.
"She is constantly using rude and offensive language."
Among the complaints are numerous allegations that instructors behaved unprofessionally or lacked knowledge.
There are also claims that some schools didn't have the equipment needed for certain training programs and that instructors at several institutions didn't provide the amount of instruction time promised.
The documents, obtained by The Canadian Press through a freedom of information request, outline 47 formal complaints made by students to Ontario's Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in 2010 and 2011.
Private career colleges are independently owned but must be registered by the province and abide by rules set out in provincial laws.
If a student has an issue that the school isn't able to resolve, he or she can file a complaint with the ministry, who will decide if the school is in compliance with the Private Career Colleges Act.
The ministry has several options to get a school to play by the rules, including issuing a compliance order, administrative penalty or suspension, or revoking the school's registration and effectively shutting it down.
The bulk of the complaints, about 36 per cent, were about Everest College, which has some 5,000 students and operates 16 campuses in the province. They include facilities in Toronto, Mississauga, Thunder Bay and Ottawa.
There are allegations an instructor at the school's Mississauga campus frequently swore in class, called students "baby" and "doll" and only provided half of the instruction hours promised.
"I strongly believe I smelled alcohol on her breath," one student alleges.
A student at the Scarborough campus alleges that the materials needed for class weren't provided, a mannequin used for X-rays was broken and the computers were constantly out of service.
And a complaint about the school's Barrie location says students were promised formal, hands-on instruction but instead got an absentee teacher who was unable to answer students' questions on the rare occasions when he was present.
Ministry spokesman Gyula Kovacs says unless the ministry takes certain actions that are publicly posted, like a compliance order, it cannot release any information about what, if anything, was done in response to a complaint.
There are no compliance orders or administrative penalties posted online about Everest.
There are more than 67,000 students attending registered private career colleges in Ontario, according the ministry. That's more than double the 30,000 students enrolled in 2010.
In BC, some 50,000 students are enrolled in registered private career colleges, while Nova Scotia has just over 3,000 students attending private colleges.
Most of these schools are aimed at building practical job skills that can help students enter the workforce quickly.
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