Maharashtra students, who were affected by the closure of three Canadian institutions - M College in Montreal, CDE College in Sherbrooke, and CCSQ College in Longueuil- say that their concerns were not given enough attention to unlike students from Punjab and Haryana who were able to get media coverage nationally.
The students, who hail from different parts of Maharashtra, have not been able to recover even a fraction of the amount they paid to the Canadian colleges through local consultancies, and state that no media outlet or political leader in the state has voiced their concerns.
“Students in Punjab and Haryana got support from local leaders as well as media outlets in their respective states which helped them be in the limelight. Consultancies, who were earlier refusing to cooperate with them are now providing them with refunds. The consultancy, I have been in contact with, in Mumbai is unresponsive and not willing to undertake any action that will help me get my money back,” said Bhavna Meharoliya, who paid tuition fees of 15,525 Canadian dollars while paying another Rs.13,000 to the agent and Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) fees of $10,187.
“I was told that accommodation and a free laptop would be provided to us additionally which interested me as a girl student. I paid the required amount so that I could make the trip to Canada by May 2020 but Covid dampened all my hopes,” added Bhavna, who stays in Mumbai’s Vikhroli and wanted to pursue a course in Project Management in Graphic Communications from M College.
After the visa refusal, Bhavna became one of the hundreds of students who were added to the “Other” category which meant that she was ineligible for any refund.
But Bhavna is not the only student from Maharashtra who saw her dreams dash. Akshay Gajbhiye, a student from Nagpur, also shares a similar trajectory of events.
“I have attended all the court hearings but there was no provision for students in the ‘Other’ category. Consultancies in Punjab and Haryana have already offered refunds to students in those states, while others have the option of taking admission in other colleges,” said Akshay who would rather prefer his refund over going through any form of admission procedure in Canada again. “I am in a tough spot financially as I took my loan from a private corporation which charges an interest rate of 14% and to pay it off I am working at different spots. I come from a middle-class family and don’t want to cause problems for my family,” said Akshay, who deferred his admission from May 2020 to September 2020 and went on to attend online lectures due to the assurance that a refund will be provided in case of a refusal of visa. On August 13, 2021, Akshay’s fear became true.
“I had to pause my studies due to the refusal of my visa. Now the only option I had was to wait on my refund after a four-six week-long process post a small procedure to claim it but even that has not reached me yet,” said Akshay who paid around 9 lakhs during the admission process for his 1 year-long course of Business Management in M College.
“The consultancy, I am in touch with, would be travelling to Canada soon during which my concerns will be addressed by them to the new president of the institutions. I await a positive outcome of this meeting,” added Akshay.
Meanwhile, students in Punjab, who have recovered some of the amounts they gave to the colleges and the consultancies, will be continuing their protests until they receive full refunds from IDP as well. While many who were residing in Canada at the time of the closure continue their education in the colleges under a new agency named Cestar International Education Group, ones back in Punjab ponder over their future course of action.