When a University Recruits Abroad, Who’s in Charge?
A few years ago, I wrote an opinion pieceÂ on “pathway colleges”â€”i.e. private companies that recruit students from other countries and then ‘bridge’ them into Canadian universities by providing pre-university courses, including English as a Second Language.
A recent CBC News article Â underlines how perilousÂ such recruitment of post-secondary students from abroadÂ can be, andÂ why it is important that lines of accountability be clear.Â The article reports on how a “University of Winnipeg recruitment agent”Â overcharged students who had recently been recruitedÂ from China.Â The students were charged as much as $3,000 per month for room and board.
The students in this caseÂ attended the University of Winnipeg Collegiate, which appears to beÂ the high school equivalent of a pathway college.Â It is located on the campus of the University of Winnipeg, and theÂ CBC article states that it is “part of the University of Winnipeg.”
Two quotes from the articleÂ really struck me.Â The first is fromÂ the senior adviser to the President of the University Winnipeg. Â In reference to the overcharged students, heÂ said: “Their parents entered into a relationship that was outside of the purview, and a contract outside of the institution’s awareness and purviewâ€”and in that sense, legal responsibility.”
The second quote is from Elizabeth Saewyc, a University of British Columbia professor who has done research on students in similarÂ “homestay” arrangements. Â In reference to theÂ issue ofÂ who’s responsible for the overcharging in this case, sheÂ says: “This lack of sort of figuring out who’s in charge really creates the opportunity for kids to fall through the cracks.”
I think this story underlines the importance of clear lines of accountability when Canadian universities recruit students from abroad, especially when it’s done on a for-profit basis.Â When private actors enter into such “partnerships” with Canadian universities, whoâ€”if anyoneâ€”is accountable?
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.