Annual Report 2013-2014 update

Too Cool for School and Too Cool for School Too – Private career colleges and colleges of applied arts and technology

The Ombudsman released two reports in 2009 on systemic investigations into the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ oversight of private career colleges and colleges of applied arts and technology – entitled, respectively, Too Cool for School and Too Cool for School Too. Although the specific circumstances involved in those investigations were resolved – relating to Bestech Academy near Hamilton and Cambrian College in Sudbury – we continue to receive new complaints about similar issues.

The Ministry’s Private Career Colleges Branch has oversight of all registered private career colleges in Ontario and is also responsible for enforcement action against unregistered private career colleges. We received 15 complaints from private career college students and operators in 2013-2014 (down slightly from last year’s 19).

In one case, reminiscent of the case detailed in Too Cool for School, a student complained about a lack of information from the Ministry about what to do when the private career college she was attending suddenly shut down. We contacted the Ministry and provided the student with the information she needed to apply for a tuition refund.

We also received 100 complaints about colleges of applied arts and technology, which are funded by the Ministry and are expected to ensure students graduating from their programs have skills that meet set standards.

In a case similar to that featured in Too Cool for School Too, students in a heating, refrigeration and air conditioning program complained that the program was not certified by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), and without that certification, their job prospects would be limited upon graduation.

Ombudsman staff are reviewing the Ministry’s role in approving such programs and what steps it has taken to respond to the Ombudsman’s recommendations since his 2009 report. At that time, the Ombudsman said the Ministry had “abdicated” its responsibility to ensure college programs met its standards, and called its response to his report “disappointing.”