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Settlement reached in Niagara lawsuit

A class action lawsuit brought against Niagara College in 2015 by international students who discovered they were prohibited from accessing the labour market was settled earlier this month at the cost of CAD $3 million to the southern Ontario institute.

LawsuitNiagara College was accused of misleading marketing. Photo: April O'Rourke/Pixabay

Only some of those affected were able to remain in Canada after reapplying for the permit

Launched by former students Anish Goyal and Chintan Zankat, who were initially seeking CAD $50 million in damages, the lawsuit claimed that the college misled them into believing that a four-month general arts and science program, delivered mostly online, would qualify them for the Post Graduate Work Program in the country.

“This situation has affected my life in ways that are irreparable by money”

The PGWP is an open work permit for any type of job that allows graduates to work in Canada for up to a maximum of three years. However, the immigration department does not accept distance learning when it comes to meeting the application requirements.

Goyal, an Indian graduate with a BA in Engineering, completed the program with Niagara College in 2015, having taken five of the six courses in the program online.

Only some of those affected were able to remain in Canada after reapplying for the permit.

“This situation has affected my life in ways that are irreparable by money. We settled this lawsuit mostly to ensure that we don’t burden the already overburdened courts of Canada and its colleges,” the Toronto Star reported Goyal as having said.

“International students are here to be a positive part of Canada. I am sure every international student is here to work hard and be a better part of this society.”

Those involved in the case were unable to comment due to a gag order. Other international students who were denied work permits due to the program – which may be as many as five hundred – are still eligible to join the class action lawsuit until April 6.

“Differential fees and predatory recruiting practices have put international students in a vulnerable position”

“Differential fees and predatory recruiting practices have put international students in a vulnerable position,” a representative for the Canadian Federation of Students told The PIE News.

“We must treat international students with fairness and that includes being forthcoming about course offerings and immigration pathways (or lack thereof) as a result of education in Canada.

“In addition, we believe that a high-quality, fully publicly-funded system of postsecondary education would resolve this issue as universities and colleges wouldn’t be scrambling to balance their budgets by resorting to… charging astronomical differential fees and aggressively recruiting international students through sometimes misleading statements,” the representative added.

 Niagara College declined to comment.

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