Updated January 15th, 2024 at 13:52 IST
Why are Indian Students Protesting in Canada? Story Behind Algoma University Sit-ins
Hundreds of international students mostly Indians have been conducting protests at Ontario's Algoma University.
Ontario - Hundreds of international students mostly Indians have been conducting protests at Ontario's Algoma University, demanding an outside investigation into the administration's enrolment and grading practices. According to the Canadian News outlet Toronto Star, the students staging these protests alleged that the university is trying to milk more money from them by failing them in particular courses. On Sunday, about 80 students from three classes at Algoma University and their supporters participated in the protest and marched at the school's campus in downtown Brampton. The international students most of whom came from India demanded not only fair reassessment but also transparency and accountability from the school officials.
According to the Toronto Star, the demonstrations started on January 3 when a group of primarily Indian and Pakistani students gathered outside of Algoma’s satellite campus in Brampton, Ontario, after a professor failed nearly 130 International students twice for the same class. In the visuals that are circulating on social media, the students were seen hoisting signs that said "Students Justice Now" and “Please come and talk to us, we need explanations”. Not only this, chants of "Stop scamming students" and "Education is not for sale," also engulfed the skies of Ontario.
What are the students saying?
During the protests, the students insisted that they were not asking the university just to pass them randomly rather they were demanding a transparent and fair grading process. Some of them even went on to accuse the institution of “scamming” international students and hogging more tuition fees. "We are not doing this just to pass the exam. We are not liking it. We are not having fun outside in this weather," Simran Kaur, who is enrolled in Algoma's two-year postgraduate certificate program told the Toronto Star. “We are not forcing this university to randomly pass us overnight. We just demand a transparent, fair grading system,” she furthered.
Another student went on to demand change in the annual grading system. “The annual grading system needs changes, and the university needs to consider our demand[s]. We want a transparent system of paper-checking, and students shouldn’t be burdened with the extra fee for appearing for an exam yet again,” said Balli Singh, a student committee member at Algoma. “Strict action needs to be taken against the professor who has played with the future of so many students, especially of international origin,” added Praveen Gill, another committee member.
What is the university's stance on the matter?
In response to these demonstrations, the Algoma administration conducted an urgent review and applied a “standard bell curve” which resulted in 61 additional students in the class of 230 passing with over 50% grade. The university mentioned that the remaining students were given the opportunity to retake the exams without any failure. "As a public university, Algoma University deeply values academic integrity. While we provide all students a range of resources to support their success, it is up to them to do the work and pass their exam," the university said in a statement to the Candian news outlet. After releasing the statement hundred other students were declared passed as well with little to no explanation. “As a public university, Algoma University deeply values academic integrity. While we provide all students with a range of resources to support their success, it is up to them to do the work and pass their exams. Algoma University very much wants the small group of protesters — some of whom are Algoma University students and some of whom are not — to come inside where they are safe and warm. We can extend an invitation, not a promise of better grades,” the statement further reads.
The scrutiny international students are facing in Canada
The protests in the Canadian university emerged in light of the recent announcement made by Immigration Minister Marc Miller. In an interview with Canadian news outlet CTV News, Miller insisted that the country's federal government need to have conversations with provincial governments on the matter. The Trudeau administration has been criticised for leaving the Canadian economy in complete shambles. In the interview, Miller insisted that the heavy influx of international students in Canada has left the system “out of control”.
“The volume is disconcerting,” the Canadian minister remarked in reference to the number of International students living in Canada, CTV reported. “It's really a system that has gotten out of control,” he added. The Canadian federal government has faced severe criticism for ”welcoming" an increasing number of immigrants into the country. The influx of immigrants become a matter of concern since the country is struggling through a severe housing crisis. Amid the chaos, the liberal administration has set targets aiming to bring in 485,000 immigrants this year, and 500,000 in both 2025 and 2026. While International students in Canada continue to navigate through the bureaucratic hindrances, instances of these kinds highlight a bigger problem.
Published January 15th, 2024 at 13:52 IST