Ombudsman slams Ont. government for not keeping closer eye on colleges

TORONTO — The Canadian Press
Last updated on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009 12:14PM EDT

Ontario’s ombudsman slammed the provincial government Tuesday for failing to keep closer tabs on publicly funded colleges in a report that found a northern Ontario school left some of its graduates unqualified for jobs.

After a months-long investigation into Cambrian College’s two-year Health Information Management program, Andre Marin concluded it was not formally recognized by the Canadian Health Information Management Association, which controls entry into the profession.

“Cambrian College has consistently denied any responsibility for the plight of its graduates,” Mr. Marin wrote in his report released Tuesday.

“Ontarians are entitled to expect more of their institutions.”

Taking aim at the government, Mr. Marin added that the Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities has “abdicated any responsibility to ensure that a college actually delivers a program.”

Earlier this year, 13 students who graduated from the Sudbury college’s program complained that it is unaccredited and did not adequately qualify them for jobs in their chosen field.

Students who graduated from the program were ineligible to write a national test administered by CHIMA that would certify them to work in the profession.

Graduates found themselves unable to secure jobs in the hospital records sector, despite claims in Cambrian’s promotional material that students would find work in the “high demand” hospital records sector, Marin found.

The report recommends Cambrian compensate students for allowing them to enroll in a program that was “highly unlikely” lead to employment.

“What Cambrian had neglected to mention to these unsuspecting individuals was that it was highly unlikely that Cambrian’s program would ever lead to employment as a health information management professional,” Marin’s report said.

The ombudsman’s office said Cambrian disagreed with Marin’s recommendation for compensation, but would contact students “to determine ways to find further resolution to their concerns.”

Cambrian was not immediately available for comment.

Mr. Marin said he will continue to monitor the ministry.

“I continue to believe that in order to protect Ontario’s students, and at the same time, ensure value for money for Ontario’s taxpayers, greater ministry oversight is necessary in this area,” he said.

This report, entitled Too Cool For School Too , is the second in as many months released by Marin that criticizes how the Ministry of Colleges and Universities regulates college programs.

In July, the ombudsman released a report on Bestech Academy, a private career college which, up until last year, operated campuses in Stoney Creek and St. Catharines, offering courses in gas technician training before closing and leaving students and staff out of pocket.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ombudsman-slams-ont-government-for-not-keeping-closer-eye-on-colleges/article1263786/

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