LETTER: Student protections undercut

LETTER: Student protections undercut

The EQA designation available to public and private post-secondary institutions in B.C. is worthless, because the Ministry of Advanced Education won’t enforce the quality assurance standards designed to protect students from unfair practices and conduct.

Back in June 2016, Camosun College indicated in the Fees, Financial Policies and Procedures section of the college website that course tuition is calculated on a cost-per-hour basis, with the only exceptions being non-profile courses and self-paced programs. But students enrolled in versions of the same course with fewer planned instructional hours were not charged less. This contravenes the representation requirements of the quality assurance standards.

Camosun College also did not correct what was misleading on its website until Dec. 15, 2017, 18 months after I complained. It now states that Camosun College charges the same price for courses providing “identical” benefits. But the college did not offer to reimburse students affected by its earlier unfair practices.

On Feb. 15, I wrote to Camosun’s vice-president of education at the request of the Quality Assurance branch’s director, and in response he cited Camosun College’s revised Fees, Financial Policies and Procedures (only in effect since Dec. 15, 2017) to justify why the college took no action regarding a problem it has been aware of since June 2016. This answer shows that Camosun College never intended to respond to my complaint in good faith, which is not conduct consistent with the auality assurance standards.

When there are no credible consequences for not following the quality assurance standards, this undercuts the protections that are supposed to be afforded to students, and negates what should be a strong selling point for prospective students to attend EQA-designated institutions. I believe the ministry should have revoked the EQA designation, or asked Camosun College to reimburse any students who were overcharged.

If it didn’t feel any action was warranted, then it should have been able to explain in writing why the EQA designation was not revoked or why a review was not necessary. Instead, the ministry has allowed Camosun College to renew its EQA designation while it wasn’t in compliance with the quality assurance standards.

Why should students, particularly international ones, expect a quality post-secondary education and fair treatment here in B.C. when even EQA-designated institutions are not held accountable for ignoring student rights and protections?

Justin Lee