Private career colleges have high student loan default rates

What many Canadians may not realize is that private career colleges in this country get government funding through provincial and federal student aid programs. And, just as with public institutions, when there are high student loan default rates, it is the taxpayer who ends up paying. In BC, at the moment, the Vancouver Sun recently reported that, the BC government says it intends to crack down on those private colleges with the highest student loan default rates. (Here, for example, is a September 2012 related article.)

Now, while that tough-on-the-private- colleges messaging sounds good, it is, in fact, meaningless. Why? Because the fault can be spread around, including to the very government who wants to crack down.

For instance, staff at career colleges should do extensive labour market research before they submit a program to a provincial government for approval. Then, before that provincial government approves a career program, they should have verified that the market research was accurate.

Then, there is the adult student, who for whatever reason, decides not to pay back his or her student loans.  Is it because they are slackers and irresponsible? Or, is it because the market research done didn’t reflect reality on the ground with the result that because they couldn’t find a job in their chosen field, there is no money available for student loan payments.

Of course, I am not letting students off the hook. They too have a responsibility to do labour market research and therein lies the point of this article. Students should do their own labour market research, particularly if they plan to attend a private career college, although the same principles apply to public institutions as well. Remember, however, when it comes to private colleges, it’s “buyer beware.”

Ontario & BC gov’ts vs teachers’ unions

Occasionally, when a post at my Crux of the Matter blog is about provincial politics, I will cross-post it here for BT visitors to read. It starts:

Teachers unions are always running a political campaign against something. In Ontario, its been report cards, trying to have fewer. In B.C., its been about standardized testing, trying to have none at all. In Ontario, parents have no doubt that the testing issue is surely the next battleground.

So, what is it all about, other than teachers’ unions simply battling government and parents so their members can earn more money for doing less? I mean, even as a former teacher and teacher educator, that is what it looks and sounds like to me.

Moira MacDonald has a column today in the Toronto Sun. She follows the Ontario education situation pretty closely and seems to think that the teachers’ union did not win everything they wanted in the battle of the report cards. What they wanted were two annual report cards instead of three — by dropping the fall report. What they got were two report cards and one fall “progress report.”

More at Crux of the Matter.