The US Congress has been investigating the unethical recruitment of students by many private for-profit institutions. In Canada, the spotlight is now being shone on the international student recruitment practices of our public universities and colleges.
A recent article in the Globe and Mail newspaper highlights how some Canadian institutions, facing budgetary constraints, have outsourced international student recruitment to private agencies. Foremost among these is Aoji Education Group, a Beijing-based company that says it sends 10,000 Chinese students a year to Canada, Australia, the UK, and the US.
Universities and colleges pay Aoji a commission equal to 10% of the tuition fees charged a student. That creates a built-in incentive for headhunters to sign up as many students as they can find, even if they don’t fully meet admission requirements. The result is that parents are often sold a bill of goods, thinking their children are bound for a university classroom when in fact they end up in non-credit English-language courses. Some families have spent as much as $20,000 without having 1 university-level credit to show for it.
A former Aoji employee put it bluntly: “The students think they’re signing a deal with the university. They’re not. They’re signing a deal with an entrepreneur who signed a deal with the university.”
A final footnote to this: Aoji is now recruiting for Fraser International College and the International College of Manitoba, the Navitas-run private colleges affiliated with Simon Fraser University and the University of Manitoba.