Case Study: ‘Thompson Career College’ Reveals What’s Wrong With Canadian (American) Higher Education
PHOTO: A group of Filipina “student” immigrants play a lingerie game apparently at the site of one Thompson Career College campus in Canada during May 2015. The school, which changed locations several times in its short 15 year existence, apparently lost control of its Facebook page which fell into the hands of these ladies. TCC was recently purchased by for-profit Stenberg College under tightly guarded terms.
Chances are, unless you are an aspiring pharmacy technician from the Philippines, you’ve probably never heard of Canadian for-profit Thompson Career College (TCC).
Founded in 1999, the secretive career college was recently bought out by Surrey-based Stenberg College, another small for-profit college brand in Canada. The exact date and details of this acquisition are, of course, a complete mystery, as is now so common in the for-profit higher education “industry” that grows bigger every day. However, extrapolating from a brief “slideshow” that now appears on TCC’s former homepage, thompsoncc.ca, the acquistion happened sometime during the last several months (early 2015).
Not only is there no page or blog post mentioning the transition on TCC’s or Stenberg’s websites, but there is also ZERO mention of the deal across all typical PR, news, or media channels in Canada or beyond. The buyout of TCC seems to have been an intentionally secret deal presumably hoping to avoid scrutiny. So, let’s dig deeper, shall we?
Race To The Bottom, Then, A Secret Buyout
In the business world, buyouts happen all the time, and are a normal part of a company’s existence. Unfortunately, as readers of CollegeTimes should be well aware of, the rapidly growing for-profit education “industry” is quick to take advantage of “public” benefits, such as student loans or government grants, but then often turns around and leverages “corporate” strategy against students, their families, and tax-payers.
Take, for example, TCC’s domain registrar, SiberName, who has stripped all ownership information from the thompsoncc.ca domain, which is not only illegal in Canada, but also breaks the international terms set forth by ICANN, the non-profit organization that manages internet domain names (and if you think that CIRA, the Canadian government-backed regulator of domain names gives a s**t, they don’t). In other words, members of the public have no idea who the owner of TCC’s current website domain actually is, or if the owner recently changed, or anything else of the sort. It would seem the Canadian government continues to play catalyst to this cocky game of secrecy and corruption among for-profit colleges by refusing to enforce not only their own laws, but international laws, not to mention the accreditation “standards” that the Canadian government professes to monitor (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).
1999-2015. That is exactly 15 years (or a little bit more), which, although a relatively short lifespan for a college, should at least have generated some basic chatter across the web. Bizarrely, however, almost no information can be found when searching Google or other web search engines for TCC related topics. Out of the mere 11 pages of results found on Google for “Thompson Career College” you can only discover:
- a handful of “spam” from Canadian business directories
- a January 2015 events calendar from the city of Kamloops, where TCC’s most popular campus resided (the last known mention of TCC)
- several marketing videos uploaded on YouTube, apparently produced by one Mastermind Studios (TCC doesn’t even have their own YouTube account)
- an abandoned Facebook page with dozens of blog posts aimed at recruiting Pharmacy students, which garnered ZERO likes, comments, reviews, or interaction
- an immigration consultant who helps foreigners move to Canada who mentions using Thompson Career College as a way to do so
- the only known Canadian citizen talking about TCC via Yahoo Answers
- a free resume generator that mentions listing TCC on your resume
- let’s not forget this toddler on LinkedIn who claims to be an employee of the school
- a (defunct?) “Christian university” from Ghana who claims to be affiliated with Thompson Career College for unknown reasons (lol, what?)
Amazingly, in less than 15 years, TCC managed to have one, two, three, four, five, six locations that I could personally track down, with constantly changing phone numbers, addresses, and program information.
Then, out of the blue, TCC was “acquired” by Stenberg College, and panties start flying all over their Facebook page. The word “surreal” is an understatement.
Diploma Mills, Visa Fraud: Everyone Wins?
The school, also formerly known as Thompson Career College of Health and Business, is utterly a ghost. It is literally so insignificant across its 15+ years of existence that attempting to rank it, compare it, or even analyze it at any level is virtually impossible.
But if you think that the Canadian government cares whatsoever, you don’t understand a thing about modern higher education in North America.
In short, Canada continues to prove itself a major player in terms of diploma mills. Arguably, the country has more diploma mills per-campus than any other developed nation in the world, and that is exactly how their government likes it: at the end of the day, more diploma mills means more student visas, and more student visas mean keeping that insane GDP ($7.7 billion at last count) that students bring in to the Canadian economy. And if you think the “students” give a rat’s ass, then you are forgetting they are only using their visa as an excuse to never leave Canada after they first arrive from countries such as India, Pakistan, Philippines, and beyond.
“But how on earth do these places remain accredited!?” one may wonder. Well, that’s easy! When the directors of your school are also in control of the “career school” accreditation agencies, well… let’s just say they don’t even try to hide it:
Thompson Career College was founded in 1999. Our focus is to help train the workforce needed to deliver high quality health care services to Canadians.
We believe in the Canadian universal access health care system and in the important role that educational institutions have to play in that system. We also believe that private colleges should work in a spirit of cooperation and mutual support with public institutions and the health care community to deliver high quality education and training at a reasonable cost. We select the programs that we offer based on research into the job market demand for graduates in these areas.
Thompson Career College is accredited by the Private Career Training Institutions Agency (PCTIA) of British Columbia.
We are members of the BC Career Colleges Association (BCCCA). Our School Administrator is on the board of the BCCCA, and is also an active participant in the BCCCA Health Care Educators Committee.
But it gets better. Not only did TCC fly under the radar for 15 years while aggressively recruiting foreign nationals, but their programs allow students to “study from home” and not even attend a physical campus for instruction. Right from their brochure:
Oh, Canada. My, have we trained you so well.