International students at bankrupt Montreal colleges remain concerned about their future

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International students at bankrupt Montreal colleges worry about future
A group of international students in Montreal could be returning to class shortly after their studies were put on hold when several private colleges they attend filed for bankruptcy protection. While some are breathing a sigh of relief, others aren’t so lucky. Global's Phil Carpenter explains. – Feb 28, 2022

A group of international students in Montreal could be returning to class by mid-March.

The private colleges they attend, including, M College of Canada, CDE College and CCSQ college, filed for bankruptcy protection in January, keeping more than 700 international students from attending classes.

“So the colleges have stopped providing them with their programmes as a result of what they’re going through,” explained Alain Tardif of the firm McCarthy Tétrault, the lawyer representing students.

According to the court appointed monitor overseeing the restructuring process, a potential buyer has been found.

At a Quebec Superior Court hearing Monday the monitor sought an extension for protection from creditors, to allow them to negotiate terms under which the students can return to school.

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“This purchaser is an operator of a school,” explained Olivier Benchaya, the monitor from the firm, Richter Advisory Group Inc.,  “They are educators, they know the system they know the programs, they want to do right by these students, they want to provide the education that these students have paid for.”

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The international students, many from India, have been in limbo for weeks.  Sunday they held a protest to help bring awareness to their cause.

But while they may be breathing a sigh of relief, others are not. They also worry about hundreds of students in India who already paid for their studies but couldn’t get a visa after these schools closed.

“Each of those students’ situation is a tragedy,” noted Tardif.

He said each of them paid $15 thousand in fees.

Monday in court it was revealed that there could be a ray of hope for some of them.

“There will be an opportunity to rejoin the school, to re-apply to the school to try to get their visa,” Benchaya pointed out.  “The purchaser is understanding of their situation.”

Students who can’t re-apply, or can’t get a visa for whatever reason are out of luck.

“They will not be getting a full refund, I can tell you that,” Benchaya told Global News.

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Tardif stressed that $15 thousand is a significant amount for most families in India and he’s been getting emails from worried students.

“Emails are telling me that if ‘I don’t get my refund, I’m going to end my life,’ ” he said.

For now he’s continuing his work to see what can be done.

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