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Aus: uni stops accepting online Ontario diploma

One of Australia’s leading universities is no longer accepting diplomas from more than 150 Ontario-based online private secondary schools.
October 12 2022
2 Min Read

In a stunning black eye to the Ontario education system, one of Australia’s leading universities is no longer accepting diplomas from more than 150 Ontario-based online private secondary schools that cater to international students.

“Unfortunately, earlier this year we were informed of a significant rise in fraudulent Ontario Secondary School Diploma transcripts, particularly in respect of recently registered online private schools,” said Rachel Fergus, spokeswoman for the University of Sydney.

The Australian university is one of the top educational institutions in the world, with more than 25,000 international students and a total enrolment of 70,000.

During the pandemic, international high school students were unable to come to Canada for in-person study. As a result, many shifted to online learning. A number of online schools popped up in Canada, joining several that have been operating for many years.

The Ontario government has an inspection system that applies to all private schools that want to grant credits leading to a secondary school diploma. In addition, a school offering some or all of its courses online must complete an eight-page document about their program.

Online learning carries two key risks. First, fraudulent online schools can give students diplomas even though they have not completed the educational work. Secondly, students can cheat by having another person complete their assignments and exams.

At the University of Sydney last month, officials released a list of more than 150 Ontario-based private schools that it was blacklisting.

“Due to the volume of cases or the nature of inconsistencies received to date, the University of Sydney will no longer accept qualifications from the following schools or any unverified schools,” it said.

University spokeswoman Fergus told The PIE News, “We have strict entry standards with regard to quality and integrity and take any inconsistencies in applications extremely seriously, in line with our commitment to academic honesty.”

She stated that the university has received a number of fraudulent Ontario transcripts.

“We are currently only accepting students from a select number of onsite/in-person Ontario schools”

“In response, to ensure the integrity of our admissions, we are currently only accepting students from a select number of onsite/in-person Ontario schools that have gone through our robust verification process,” she said.

Fergus emphasised that the ban was not necessarily permanent if schools can demonstrate their authenticity. “We are working to verify the schools – as quickly as we can,” she said.

“All private schools seek authority to grant credits in courses leading to the Ontario Secondary School Diploma and are inspected to ensure students are graduating with a diploma that is upheld to the highest level of integrity,” Grace Lee, spokeswoman for the Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, commented.

“We are extremely disappointed to hear of forged documents and will investigate whenever credible evidence is brought forward to maintain the integrity of our world class Ontario Secondary School Diploma.”

The blacklisted private schools range widely. They include the strangely named Genie-Us Coaching Academy, Ace Acumen Online School and Brighter Dewey Online School. Some aren’t even in Canada – listing their addresses in the Chinese cities of Nanjing and Shanghai. Nevertheless, they say that they follow the Ontario curriculum.

The Virtual High School, based in Bayfield, Ontario, states on its website that it enrols 8,500 students per year and employs more than 70 teachers. The Virtual High School notes that it is inspected by the Ontario Ministry of Education.

The online schools typically charge about $700 per course. With 30 credits needed to achieve an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, the total cost to a student to graduate would be $21,000. This is far cheaper than coming to Canada to study in person for four years.

The PIE News requested comment from several Ontario-based online schools blacklisted by the University of Sydney. It did not receive a response from any of them.

Updated: 15:15GMT, October 14, this story has been updated to add a comment from the Ontario Minister of Education.

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