Concordia students protest questionable international recruiting practice
MONTREAL—A small group of Concordia students handed out “misfortune” cookies as they demonstrated downtown on Wednesday against what they say are the university's questionable international student recruitment practices in China.
Concordia says it is taking complaints seriously and is taking steps to improve the process. Not fast enough for some Chinese students who shared their stories about how they say they were misled by an international student recruiter hired by Concordia.
They were provided with insufficient or inadequate food once they moved to Montreal and were told to pay for useless services.
“I wasn't receiving the food I was promised,” said Gloria, who declined to use her last name.
“I was told that if you don't choose this you can't enroll in Concordia, I'm so angry but I need to pay $800,” said Xiao, who claimed the money bought her directions to the airport and a link to a free housing web page.
Another student, Lydia said she didn't want to purchase homestay service .that place Chinese students in family homes in Montreal, but says the Vancouver recruiting company told her in these emails, she had no choice.
“When I arrived at the homestay there was no desk or no chair in my room, just a bed,” said Lydia.
In a story first broken by reporter Riley Sparks at The Link, Concordia’s student newspaper, campus groups were out supporting the students on Wednesday.
“The consequences of such information are financial and physical costs to their well-being,” said Nadia Hausfather, speaking for Concordia’s Graduate Students’ Association.
Concordia says it is working to remedy any problems and points out there are a variety of housing options described to students on its international student website.
“The minute we heard there may potentially be a problem we reached out to 5,200 of them and asked them to come forward even though we're not responsible for their off campus living accommodations,” said Concordia spokeswoman Chris Mota. “We have a responsibility to them. We had two or three responses, but we're definitely making changes.”
Among the changes, the university will translate all its pre-departure information into Mandarin and will conduct virtual orientation sessions in Mandarin pre-departure as well.
But the students maintain that by claiming that the consulting company it hired and its agents in China operate at arm’s length from the university, Concordia is shirking its ethical responsibility towards the students its recruited.
CTV Montreal tried to contact the consulting company in Vancouver to ask about its recruitment practices, but their voicemail was full.