Protests highlight concerns over international student plight at Algoma University

This dramatic increase in enrollment is primarily due to the influx of students from India, who now constitute almost 92 percent of the student body at the Brampton campus.

Share the post
Photo via Pixabay

The start of the new year in downtown Brampton was marked by student protests at the satellite campus of Algoma University. These demonstrations reflect a growing national concern over the exploitation of international students in Canadian post-secondary institutions.

Algoma University’s Brampton campus has seen its student population skyrocket by approximately 900 percent in just three years, a growth rate that is both astonishing and indicative of deeper systemic issues.


This dramatic increase in enrollment is primarily due to the influx of students from India, who now constitute almost 92 percent of the student body at the Brampton campus. These students are paying more than three times the tuition fees charged to Canadian and American students, without the benefit of housing or equivalent campus resources. This disparity has raised significant concerns about equity and the sustainability of such an educational model.

The rapid expansion of the Brampton campus, from roughly 540 students in the 2020-21 academic year to a current total of 5,372, was a strategic response to financial challenges faced by the university. A 2022 report by Ontario’s Auditor General showed that Algoma was struggling with debt as early as 2016-17. This led to a strategy focused on admitting a large number of international students, particularly from India.

Simranjit Singh, a student at Algoma’s Brampton campus, expressed his disillusionment, citing the university’s prioritization of financial gain over educational quality. This sentiment is echoed by many international students who feel exploited by the university’s policies and practices.

The Auditor General’s 2022 report warned of the unsustainable nature of this expansion, particularly as it was achieved without significant capital investments. The campus, operating in leased space, currently has a limited number of classrooms, with discrepancies in the reported numbers adding to the confusion and frustration of the student body.

Financial success

The financial success of Algoma University, on the other hand, has been remarkable. The university’s cash assets have increased from $5.8 million in 2016 to $228 million in 2023, a staggering 3,800 percent increase, largely due to the influx of international student tuition. This turnaround, however, raises questions about the cost of such financial success, particularly in terms of the quality of education and student well-being.

The Auditor General’s report also highlighted concerns regarding the recruitment practices for international students, suggesting that profit-driven motives might compromise the quality of student intake. The report pointed out that agents are incentivized to recruit a larger number of students, not necessarily more qualified ones. This practice, combined with the lack of tracking for the progress and employment outcomes of international students, paints a troubling picture of the university’s priorities.

Many international students, particularly from Punjab in India, are drawn to Algoma’s Brampton campus due to the city’s large Punjabi-Canadian population and the aggressive recruitment strategies. These students often face significant financial burdens, taking on loans with the hope of a Canadian degree leading to better career prospects and potential citizenship.

The recent student protests in Brampton have brought to light various issues, including the lack of support and resources, transparency in grading, and concerns over mass exam failures in certain courses. Students are demanding fair treatment and a quality educational experience, aligning with the concerns raised in the Auditor General’s report.


In response to these challenges, the federal government, led by Immigration Minister Marc Miller, has announced new measures to cap the number of student permit applications. The aim is to address the unsustainable increase in international student enrollments and ensure that institutions provide adequate support, including housing, to their students.

Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities has also acknowledged the need for a sustainable path forward, emphasizing the importance of supporting international students and enhancing their learning experiences and labor market outcomes.

Despite the financial gains and plans for infrastructure investment, the current situation at Algoma’s Brampton campus remains a point of contention. The university’s focus on international student tuition revenue has led to a situation where students feel underserved and exploited, a sentiment that is increasingly common in post-secondary institutions across Canada.

As institutions like Algoma University navigate the complex dynamics of financial sustainability and educational integrity, the ongoing student protests in Brampton serve as a stark reminder of the need for a more balanced and ethical approach to higher education, particularly in the treatment of international students.

banner place

What to read next...