More than 70 ‘diploma mill’ schools blocked from international student recruiting in Brampton under new rules, mayor says


Published May 8, 2024 at 12:16 pm

More than 70 ‘diploma mill’ schools in brampton international students

The level of “academic integrity” in Brampton is on the rise now that dozens of career colleges operating in city limits have been banned from “using international students as an ATM,” according to Mayor Patrick Brown.

The federal and provincial governments have made significant changes to international student admissions in recent months following reports of fraudsters taking advantage of students and the system, with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller likening some institutions to “puppy mills” churning out diplomas.

The program shake-ups include a ban on international student applications to all private career colleges in Ontario – changes that will prevent more than 70 schools the mayor called “diploma mill” schools from offering a sub-par education in Brampton.

“When we hear about the wild west of institutions – where there wasn’t the commitment to academic integrity – that’s what cast a pall over the academic sector in the country,” Brown said on Tuesday at an announcement for a new 500-bed student residence at Algoma University.

Brown said there were more than 70 private career colleges in the city “that didn’t have the same level of integrity” as reputable institutions like Algoma.

Student housing is a growing issue in Brampton and across the province with more than 444,000 international students in Ontario last year making up 54 per cent of all international students in all of Canada – more than all other provinces and territories combined.

Under the province’s new guidelines, career colleges will not receive any international student applications. Only institutions that prioritize programs in high-demand areas including skilled trades, health, human resources, STEM, hospitality and child care will be eligible.

The feds have also put a cap on the number of international students coming to study from abroad, a move that is expected to cut admissions in Ontario by half this year.

Brown says Brampton likely has the largest concentration of international students in the country and is hopeful the program changes will lead to improved education in the city. The mayor has repeatedly called for institutions to make student housing a priority and called the new Brampton residence at Algoma “an example of the types of post-secondary institutions he wants to see in Brampton.”

“A year ago I would have been very critical, right now I’m very optimistic the transformation we’re going under is going to restore integrity to the sector by rewarding the Algomas and taking away opportunities from those that were really using international students as an ATM, with no return in academic integrity,” Brown told reporters on Tuesday.

The project aims to break ground at Park Street and Nelson Street West by the fall with plans for single and double bedrooms, living spaces and kitchens, with additional in-building features like laundry rooms, event spaces and student parking.

Algoma has seen criticism over its high number of international students admissions, with a report to city council last year showing the university had 8,762. Sheridan College in Brampton had 9,331 integrational students accepted between in 2022 to 2023 while Kitchener’s Conestoga College had the most new international students with more than 31,400 acceptations.

Under the new rules, Ontario schools accepting international students cannot exceed the institution’s 2023 permit levels. The province said 22 of 23 universities would keep applications at the 2023 level, while only Algoma would see a decline from its 2023 applications.

The university said on Tuesday its international student count is down to around 6,000. Algoma began accepting international students in the 2018-2019 academic year and saw applications grow to approximately 1,000 overnight.

Brown said he’s hopeful that the federal and provincial changes will mean an end to “cash cow career colleges” in Brampton.

With many students living in Brampton but attending school elsewhere, the city is also calling on the province to more than double the Heads and Beds levy from $75 to $158 per student, moves that Coun Rowena Santos said could result in $117 million for the city every year.

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