“Everyone has let us down”

More than 500 students from India, who paid up to $15,000 to study in Quebec, claim to have been defrauded for the “negligence” of the governments of Quebec and Canada. Having exhausted their legal and political remedies, their lawyers are now trying to alert public opinion to this situation that they consider abhorrent.

These 502 young Indians bitterly regret showing familiar advertisements describing Canada as a paradise for foreign students. They prepaid for their first year of education in Quebec, as required by Ottawa – although this violates Quebec’s private education law – but the federal government refused to grant them a study permit.

To add insult to injury, it is impossible for them to get a refund: three private colleges they enrolled at have run out of liquidity and have placed themselves under the protection of the Corporate Creditors Settlement Act.

“Immigration Canada has ruined my future. I wonder why I chose Canada to study,” said Nisha Jindal, a 28-year-old college student who enrolled in early childhood education at Collège M, which has a storefront in Montreal.

She gave an interview Task from the town of Badhni Kalan, Punjab, North India. This dynamic young woman says her dream to study and settle in Quebec has turned into a nightmare under obscure circumstances.

In November 2020, Nisha Jindal started her studies online after prepaying the amount of $14,852. This is quite a bill for an Indian family: her brother has remortgaged the family apartment so the young woman can come to Montreal to study.

Ten months later, in August 2021, a large cloud clouded M .’s futureme Jindal: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada refused to grant her the visa enabling her to do an internship as a kindergarten teacher in Montreal.

Reason given: His school career in India did not allow him to pursue university studies in Quebec. Under a system put in place by Canada because of the pandemic, the young woman had nevertheless been allowed to begin her remote studies – which she did diligently, every day from 3:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., due to the time difference between India and Montreal. She also had her certificate of acceptance from Quebec.

“I agreed to pay my tuition in advance because I trusted the governments of Quebec and Canada. I regret it so much! Everyone has let us down,” said Nisha Jindal. She criticizes Quebec for putting her in touch with an establishment that was not providing the services she paid for.

She and 501 other students cannot complete their studies or get back the thousands of dollars that were paid up front. Rising Phoenix International, which owns College M, College de l’Estrie and the College of Accounting and Secretarial Services of Quebec, in Longueuil and Sherbrooke, has placed itself under the protection of the Corporate Creditor Settlement Act.

Rising Phoenix executives are accused of fraud and breach of trust in connection with recruiting foreign students.

A Toronto company, Cestar, offered to buy Rising Phoenix Colleges, not without controversy. According to our sources, a decision from the Quebec Ministry of Higher Education is expected by the end of June.

Alain N. Tardif, attorney at McCarthy Tétrault, believes this story damages Canada’s reputation in the world. “The government forces foreign students to pay a year of tuition in advance, and when everything falls apart, they don’t respond,” he says.

The law firm was commissioned to represent Indian students affected by the restructuring of Rising Phoenix International under the Creditors Arrangement Act. Lawyers unsuccessfully tried to force Ottawa and Quebec to renew visas or certificates of acceptance for hundreds of Indian students enrolled at colleges in Rising Phoenix. The Quebec Supreme Court rejected this request.

If they fail to grant or renew study permits, governments must reimburse Indian students for courses they have not taken, argues Alain N. Tardif. “It is a tragedy for Indian students and their families to lose $15,000. They are in dire need,” he says.

The total bill claimed by the 502 students is $7.5 million. A hefty sum for students in India – where the average annual salary is estimated at $2,434 – but rather anecdotal for the government of a wealthy country like Canada, the lawyer argues.

No more postgraduate work permits

When asked about the fate of these 500 abandoned students, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not answer questions from the Task† Without commenting on the granting of study permits, which is a federal responsibility, however, Immigration Secretary Jean Boulet gave more details about a new measure negotiated with his federal counterpart, Sean Fraser, that will mow the lawn under the feet of the 49 unsubsidized private colleges in Quebec.

From 1er September 2023, the postgraduate work permit will from now on only be granted to students of government-funded universities of applied sciences. Until now, students of non-subsidized private colleges were entitled to this work permit after completing very short training courses of about 900 hours, such as Certificates of College Studies (AEC) or Diplomas of Professional Studies (DEP), which cost up to $25,000.

media, including: The dutyhad also revealed the many problems associated with the poor quality of education in these colleges, as well as their questionable recruitment strategies, which had been confirmed by the Ministry of Higher Education at the end of an investigation involving ten colleges , mainly English-speaking.

In an interview, Minister Boulet did not deny the impact of his decision on these colleges. But he believes that “it was necessary”. “We could not tolerate this type of arrangement, which allows a person to arrive in Quebec and, after a short training period, automatically access a work permit,” argued the minister, stressing that a large proportion of these students are moving to Ontario or elsewhere in Canada. . According to him, it is not about punishing English-language colleges. “It is the stratagem that is being targeted. He also recalled that Quebec is the only Canadian province to grant access to a work permit upon completion of an unsubsidized program.

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