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By Kerry Wall

International students in the Diploma in Arts program aren’t getting their money’s worth if they have English language problems, concerned students say.

The program’s website advertises it as a way to earn credits for entrance into a degree program and to familiarize students with a Canadian post-secondary environment, but international students say Ryerson’s promises to improve their English was the most heavily pushed selling point.

Kaori Kato, an international student from Japan, said that while she doesn’t have problems with the program, she feels she was misled as to its purpose. “I was told that the university course is to help students study English,” but it really isn’t, she said.

Gregory Evans, a first-year Diploma in Arts student, said that some of his classmates who fall short of the English proficiency requirements for their intended programs were told that it would help develop their English skills. “It was shown as a completely different program to me than it was to international students,” he said. “Some get worse grades than they deserve most of the time because even though they understand, their vocabularies are limited.”

Students enrolled in the program in the past say there are opportunities for international students to get help with their English if they know where to look. Karina Frost, a social work student, said she saw efforts to help students with their English during her two years in the Diploma in Arts program.

“I remember workshops were advertised for ESL,” she said. The workshops were organized by International Student Services, which offers other programs for students whose first language isn’t English.

Frost said she thinks the responsibility of the ESL service should belong to ISS, not the program. International student tuition often exceeds $10,000 per year.

Evans, like many other students, thinks it’s unfair for students to pay that much if they they’re not benefiting from the program. “It’s just the university stealing money from people if you ask me,” he says. “It’s very unfortunate.”

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