A wide range of training programs exists to help Ontarians prepare for the job market or enter the professions. The majority of programs focus on courses that will prepare students for clearly defined occupations.
Private career colleges are privately owned organizations. Some operate for a profit as a business. Others are non-profit organizations. Private career colleges must be registered and have their programs approved by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005. This Act ensures that private career colleges meet certain standards for the programs that they offer, as well as for their advertising, refund policies, and instructor qualifications.
It is important to note that the protection provided by the Private Career Colleges Act does not apply to unregistered colleges or unapproved programs. It is also important to be aware that there are a number of private organizations offering education or training programs that are not regulated by the province. These include language-training programs, programs less than 40 hours in length, programs that cost less than $1,000, and professional-development and single-skill training programs.
Enrolment in a registered private career college requires the student and the private career college to sign a written enrolment contract that meets the requirements of the Private Career Colleges Act. The college is responsible for providing the educational services outlined in the contract. This contract must be signed by both the student and the college's owner or representative. Both parties to the contract should retain a copy. Students have a two-day "cooling off" period after signing the contract to decide if they really want to pursue the program. If a student changes his or her mind and informs the college in writing before the end of the two-day period, he or she is entitled to a full refund of all fees paid, including any application fee.
Students enrolled in programs at eligible registered private career colleges may apply for student assistance.
Key performance indicators
The Ontario government requires all postsecondary institutions participating in the OntarioStudent Assistance Program (OSAP) to provide students with accurate information on student loan default rates, graduation rates, and graduate employment rates. This type of information will enable students and parents to make informed decisions about which program to choose or which institution to attend.
The collection of key performance indicator (KPI) data has provided private career colleges with pertinent information to evaluate the quality of their programs and to make adjustments where necessary to ensure that the needs of students and employers are met.
It should be emphasized that not all private career colleges are approved for student loans.
External and internal review
All programs offered by registered private career colleges must be approved by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. Program approval requires the submission of detailed descriptions of program performance objectives, curricula, entrance requirements, labour-market needs, and physical facilities and equipment, accompanied by assessments by third-party experts.
Information about internal review processes may be available from individual private career colleges.
Non-vocational programs offered by private career colleges are not subject to ministry requirements or review (e.g., language programs, programs less than 40 hours in length, programs costing less than $1,000, professional-development programs, hobby courses). Further information about Ontario's private career colleges can be found on the Internet.