The students, mainly from Punjab, have spent tens of thousands of dollars on fees and travel. Their visa is no longer valid.
Around 2,000 international students, mainly from Punjab, some learning online and some on study visas, are left in the lurch with three private colleges in Canada’s Montreal city suddenly shutting down.
The three colleges, M College in Montreal, CDE College and Collège de comptabilité et de secrétariat du Québec (CCSQ), have filed for creditor protection, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for some of their financial troubles. CCSQ has two campuses at Longueuil and Sherbrooke and offered courses in accounting, secretarial studies, medical, computing and legal studies. CDE offered six courses in business and administration and information technology. M College’ in LaSalle had four courses in business, health and technology.
Creditor protection limits the amount of money a bankrupt company must pay to those it owes.
The colleges first announced long winter vacations from 30 November 2021 to 10 January 2022 and, just before closing, asked the students to deposit their outstanding fees within one week. This amount ranged from Canadian $15,000 to 29,500 (between Rs 0.9 million and Rs 1.77 million). Only some students managed to pay.
When students returned on 10 January, the colleges were shut.
Out of the 2,000 affected students, 1,173 were studying in person, in the three private colleges in Montreal. As many as 637 students were pursuing studies through online classes from home in Punjab, according to a report published in The Wire.
The affected students held a rally at Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar at LaSalle in Montreal on 29 January, demanding justice for themselves. They also handed a letter to the Minister of Education of Canada, the Indian Ambassador to Canada, the Montreal member of parliament and various ministers of the opposition.
Students demanded visa refunds for those in India, refund of fees, opportunity to complete studies for students in the three closed colleges, graduation of students with the Certificat d’Acceptation du Québec, a mandatory document for students to study and work in Quebec province, study permits and travel without any hassle to students who have obtained study visas. They threatened to intensify their stir if their demands were not met.