After months of investigation, many of Ontario’s fraudulent private career colleges are finally facing justice.
On Dec. 22, 2009, the province of Ontario started levying its first fines against the unregistered colleges after a Toronto Star exposé.
The Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities recently started taking more initiative to seek out unregistered programs and phony diplomas, according to Patrick O’Gorman, spokesperson for the Ministry.
“In the past we have largely relied on people contacting us. Whenever we received a complaint we responded to it,” he said. “We’re being more proactive now, going out and checking around.”
He added schools need to register as an institution and register each program to a specific set of standards.
According to Gerry Slattery, director of the Medix School London Campus, every career college has to go through a rigorous registration process with the Ministry of TCU.
“In order to be registered you have to jump through hoops and be audited and meet requirements,” he said. “If a school’s not registered and they’re operating under the radar they may escape some compliance criteria.”
Colleges that have recently been penalized include the Toronto School of Music and the Mountains Institute of Technology in Markham. The latter was ordered to be shut down for violating the province’s Private Career Colleges Act according to a bulletin released by the Ministry of TCU.
Despite these instances there has not been any perceptible increase in skepticism by potential college students according to Cheryl Samson, director of education at D’Arcy Lane Incorporated, a private career college in London.
“This school was founded in  and we have a good reputation, so we haven’t felt any backlash,” Samson said. “I’m not really seeing anything come through [Mountains Institute of Technology] that affects us.”
However, O’Gorman and Slattery both expressed concern for the many properly registered institutions who might suffer as a result of Ontario’s recent reputation.
“We have a lot of private career colleges,” O’Gorman said. “Most of them are very good colleges. They offer good programs and are properly registered.”
“It casts a bad shadow over those schools that are running a legitimate business,” Slattery added.
To confirm if a school is registered with the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, please visit: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/tcu/.