Private Training Regulations Leave Students Vulnerable

September 1, 2016

Teachers at private ESL schools say the new Private Training Act taking effect today will still leave students vulnerable to school closures and to misrepresentation by third party agents. Last week the Vancouver English Centre closed without any notice to students – highlighting the need for stronger legislation.

 Through a consultation process with the Ministry of Advanced Education over the past two years, members of the Education and Training Employees’ Association (ETEA) and the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) advocated for a stronger regulatory framework with a mandatory registration process.

 “We are disappointed most of our recommendations were left out of the new regulations,” said ETEA President Kevin Drager. “We hoped the new framework would go further to protect students and provide transparency and accountability throughout the industry.”

The union points out the new regulations fail to provide accountability measures for third parties, such as agents. When students are misled about any features of the school or program by an agent, the school cannot be held responsible – despite agents receiving a significant percentage of the tuition from the school, plus other incentives.

“Closure of the Vancouver English Centre illustrates the importance of a properly-regulated industry,” said Terri Van Steinburg, Secretary-Treasurer of FPSE. “Without mandatory registration under the Act, the owner was able to close the school without providing students any refunds for thousands of dollars in tuition fees, and with no mechanism to submit complaints.”

The new regulations only require an ESL school to register if they want to offer student visas. Since many of the schools attract students on tourist visas, voluntary registration leaves thousands of students unprotected in the event of a school closure.

 “The BC government missed an opportunity to strengthen an industry that creates hundreds of jobs and brings millions of dollars into BC’s economy,” said Van Steinburg. “With these weak regulations, students wanting to study in our province are being left out in the cold.”

More information can be found here.

About FPSE

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.