Archive for the ‘Training Ideas: If I wasn’t angry, trainers wouldn’t need me!!’ Category

Unethical, Greedy, Immoral, Exploitation of Foreign Students in Canada

Posted on: October 7th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments


The truth: The majority of foreign students from China and Saudi Arabia (the two nationalities I have worked with) are woefully unprepared for undergraduate university courses in Canada.

The truth: The English Language Institutes (I call them puppy mills) are making incredible profits by exploiting the naiveté of foreign students and their parents because these parents are “trusting” the wonderful Canadian people to be honorable, honest, and trustworthy.

The truth: Canadian Universities are more than willing (read ecstatic) to accept these “English Language Institute” graduates into their university. (Twice the tuition, lots of money, and too culture bound to complain to anyone about being defrauded by the university!

The truth: If a Canadian student and his/her parents were to be exposed to the same kind of treatment in any foreign country with a native language other than English, there would be lawsuits, Canadian Embassy intervention, and worldwide condemnation of the fraud being perpetrated by not just the universities but also the country itself.

The truth: Chinese students consider themselves to blame. They are told their struggles, plagiarism, and ultimate failure, result from their lack of English ability, their lack of Canadian cultural understanding, and their lack of influence with their home country to make complaints.

The DIRTY secret: Many of foreign students are passed just to get them out the door. The value of a university achieved by someone who cannot speak, read or write English is suspect at best, unethical at least, and fraudulent in reality.

The truth: Saudi Arabian students arrived in Canada very unaware of Canadian cultural norms and practices. They have a very different idea of the process of education. In the first year, many are in classes of over 100 students.  Ten years ago my Intro to Business course had over 250 students with 5 student assistants and one lab class a week to answer questions and engage in “practical” activities. Only 5% were foreign students and they were generally lost. In 2012, the percentage is significantly higher; the “lostness” is about the same.). Even for Canadian English speaking students, in terms of academic integrity and student performance, the process was unacceptable. For the non-English speaking student, it was a travesty.

The truth: The Saudi Bureau (that provides “scholarships” for Saudi national attending Canadian English Speaking Institutes and universities) operates under the cultural assumption that failure is the student’s fault, the student should realize how lucky they are and therefore they are NEVER to complain, and that it is the educational institution’s responsibility to prepare, accept, teach, pass and graduate the Saudi students with a valid certificate or degree.

The truth: The Institutes and Universities know this.

The truth: What is the basis of acceptance into English Language Institutes? Money. Period. Money. You have the money; you can’t speak English – welcome!

The truth: What is the standard upon which university admission is accepted? The student’s final Test Of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL score (or other equivalent measure). Each university has a “required” score for admission. Some universities attempt to accept better students by requiring a higher TOEFL score. AND of course, the English Language Institutes teach to the TOEFL standards and score. (They will vehemently deny this, “methinks they doth protest too much”.)

The truth: The TOEFL score is a farce. An illegal, greedy, immoral, unethical, fraudulent FARCE. Unless the incoming student already has fluent command of the English language, the TOEFL exploitation will NOT prepare her/him for university. And that is just considering the “language” component. Culturally the chasm between the cultural realities of their home country versus Canadian cultural expectations is humongous!


The truth: It is a game that universities play. It is a game that institutes exploit. The very criticisms we have about the plagiarism, cheating, and dishonesty exhibited by the foreign students is more than deliberately practiced by the very people promulgating their own superior status in the world.

The truth: There are answers. BUT these answers go right to the heart of the purpose, process and ethical responsibility of educational institutions.

Assumptions required. To accept any student who does not have at least the required academic ability, English language ability and practical, operational cultural behaviors to engage and participate in a Canadian university “reality” is FRAUDULENT. F R A U D. FRAUD. That university administration, admission people and professors turn a blind eye to this reality is completely unacceptable.

The truth: Criticism of these practices is just as virulent by those charged with working these students as counselors, advisors and tutors as it is for me. These professionals know. These professionals complain. These professional are ignored, their budgets slashed, and the honesty belittled. Why? Foreign students pay TWICE the tuition of Canadian students. Foreign students are a cash cow that does not complain (and if they do, who can understand them anyway!!).

Suggestion: Students “graduating” from English Language Institute must take a first year course at an accredited university with NO ADDITIONAL training. They must receive no tutoring, no assistance, and no cultural sensitivity training. They must succeed on their own. If they are unable to succeed, then the English Language Institutes MUST refund the “graduates” tuition and must pay an exorbitant penalty tantamount to forcing them into bankruptcy. That the Institutes should be bonded goes without saying.

Suggestion: Students “accepted” into accredited universities must have the minimal standards stated above. Students who frustrate professors, and decrease the teaching effectiveness due to a lack of these minimum standards, must result in the immediate dismissal of the admissions staff and administrators who approved the Admission policies. (Okay, not the staff, just the administrators!)

Yes, there are solutions. But no solution will be accepted unless there is bottom line, rock solid, unwavering commitment to educational fairness and excellence. The very thing we in Canada would say Canadian education stands for.

And I do have the academic and experiential background to support the above.