Fanshawe’s ‘sales pitch’ to international students misses mark: Consultant

Blaney is raising legitimate issues. In effect, we have an education immigration stream, one that has both legitimate and questionable elements:

A licensed London immigration consultant is sounding the alarm about a practice he says lures some international students to Canada thinking they will gain permanent residency and jobs, before learning they lack the language skills necessary to succeed.

“This is not about education; this is definitely about immigration for the vast majority of recruits for (international students) at Fanshawe College, that’s how it’s being sold by their agents overseas,” says Earl Blaney of the Canada Network, adding the practice occurs in other Ontario colleges as well.

Blaney says his contract with Fanshawe College was not renewed after he expressed concerns about the waiver of English language competency for international admissions from some countries such as the Philippines, where he also has an office, he said.

“The bottom line is, Fanshawe is dangling jobs and citizenship,” he said. “My concern with that is there is neither.

“There is no data to suggest Fanshawe is successfully moving students forward to either.”

Blaney said he deals with many international students, but the majority of his clients are Filipino.

While English is one of two official languages in the Southeast Asian country, he said competency in the language “is not uniform there.”

“I see students daily who come to my office who are absolutely struggling,” he said. “They are very stressed and realize (studying in Canada) is going to be way more difficult, if not impossible.

“Family fortunes have been mortgaged on this sales pitch. I think it’s worth talking about.”

Fanshawe responded  by saying all students applying to Fanshawe from countries whose official language isn’t English must pass an English proficiency test, or provide proof of having the required grade in high school English.

International students come from 119 countries and total graduate employment rates are 83.1 per cent, the college said. Fanshawe did not provide employment rates for international students only.

“It is essential that students have an adequate knowledge of written and spoken English appropriate for the program to which they have applied,” Fanshawe said in a written statement. “Applicants for whom English is a second language must submit evidence of their ability in the English language as part of the application procedure.”

International enrolment at Fanshawe College has surged by 26 per cent this fall, with 4,200 students coming from places such as India, Nepal, Nigeria, China, Colombia, South Korea and Vietnam.

Wendy Curtis, dean of international students, said last month new students are a way “to support the labour market.”

“Our domestic student population has shrunk. Based on demographics, it’s expected to return to higher levels in a couple of years,” she said.  “That’s a key reason why we’re accepting more international students than historically. We have capacity to do that.”

Under a study permit, international students can come to Canada to learn and apply for a work permit that may lead to permanent residency.

“They make great future citizens and employees,” Curtis said.

But Blaney said “at maximum, our system can absorb only 30 per cent of these international students.”

“The vast majority of expansion has come at the community college level,” he said.

“That’s because it’s affordable,” he said.

The average cost for an international student’s annual tuition is around $16,000, whereas a year at a Canadian university can be two to three times that, he said.

A recent report, entitled Course Correction:  How International students can help solve Canada’s labour crisis, delves into how Canada can do better to meet the needs of its evolving labour market.

“For many, a Canadian education may not yield the desired return on investment,” the report said.

According to the report, Canada is the third largest destination for international students, after the U.S. and Australia.

They make up 20 per cent of all students enrolled in Canadian post-secondary institutions.

Many international students may “not understand the challenges of dealing with Canada’s high cost of living, labour market, or complicated work permits system,” it said.

“Canada needs college-educated students to address labour shortages across the economy,” the report says. “But some students in short-cycle programs have a longer route to the labour market and permanent residency, and some may not have a path at all.”

Colleges Ontario declined to comment stating in an email: “We have nothing to do with the individual operation of each college.”

The Ministry of Colleges and Universities was unable to respond to a request for comment due to time constraints.

Source: Fanshawe’s ‘sales pitch’ to international students misses mark: Consultant

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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