CANADA: International Students Protest Outside Of Algoma University After Being Failed Repeatedly

Natasha Biase

International students enrolled at Algoma University are protesting their own failing grades, accusing the institution of trying to “scam” them out of tuition fees. On January 3, 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 addition to blaming the professor and the marking system for their failing grades, the students also alleged that the university, at which nearly 50% of the students are foreign, is failing them on purpose to profit off their re-examination fees.

As a result of their abysmal performance, the students gathered outside of the campus with protest signs — many of which had obvious spelling and grammatical errors — to demand more transparency regarding the marking 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.

Noting that some of the students have performed well in their other courses, Manpreet Kaur, a volunteer at the Montreal Youth Students Organization, expressed support for the protest.

“There are 10 subjects in the IT graduation course. It is surprising that the students have passed all nine subjects with good marks. They have even cleared the practical of the Techniques of a System Analyst paper but failed in its theory exam, which is very surprising. A thorough inquiry needs to be done in this case.”

On X (formerly Twitter), the reaction to the protest was mixed.

User Kanwar Sierah expressed sympathy toward the students’ situation, calling universities “greedy” for exploiting “international students through academic suspensions, course repetitions, and various other issues.”

Others mocked the protestors, labeling them “lazy” and dismissing their concerns.

“Unless the teacher deliberately failed, that’s life. [You] can’t just say ‘we pay a lot.’ If [you] failed the course once I understand, but how can you fail twice? You probably didn’t study enough. I did my masters while working 40hrs a week in a stressful job. Looking for a copout,” wrote an X user who goes by the handle @faroefool.

“Now people are protesting because they aren’t smart enough to pass a test. Every time I think we’ve reached peak stupid we hit new levels,” added another user.

In response to the protest, the university told the Toronto-based website BlogTO that it has “reached out to each student who is protesting grades assigned by one specific instructor” and is “taking their concerns very seriously, and led by the Dean of Science, is investigating urgently.”

“We recognize the incredible stress these students are experiencing. Academic integrity and fairness are incredibly important to us, and the university’s Faculty of Science is stepping in to ensure each student is assessed fairly. We’re doing the best we can within the confines of academic integrity.”

In addition to making demands from the school’s faculty directly, demanding a “lengthy academic review,” students also reportedly raised their concerns to members of the Canadian parliament.

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