Richmond massage college provided no training, issued same-day diplomas

Vancouver International College of Health and Wellness is located in Richmond | Photo: Nono Shen, Richmond News

Concerns about bogus colleges operating in Richmond have been sparked after a tribunal heard a woman received a diploma, apparently qualifying her perform acupressure and body massage therapy, on the same day she paid her $5,000 tuition.

Richmond resident Zhen Qin initiated a complaint against Vancouver International College of Health and Wellness with the province’s Civil Resolutions Tribunal (CRT).

However, her complaint was not that the college failed to provide instruction, but that she had thought the diploma would enable her clients to make insurance claims for her services. However, that was not the case.

Qin told the tribunal that, in 2017, she saw the college’s online advertisement which said that by joining the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada and performing 1,000 hours of acupressure and body massage, the student who graduates from the program could write insurance receipts for clients under extended health insurance plans.

A year later, when Qin realized that that was not the case, she requested a refund but the school’s principal refused. She then filed an appeal with CRT and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

Both of those appeals were unsuccessful. Regardless, the case has brought the school to the attention of the ministry.

Following a Richmond News inquiry about the case, the ministry said their “Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) is reviewing the court decision and will take appropriate action…The case is a reminder of the importance for every prospective student to clarify if an institution is certified, and to ensure that the program they take will give them proper and certified credentials,” the email reads.

Feds need to monitor schools better: Johal

Jas Johal, MLA for Richmond-Queensborough, said he couldn’t comment on this specific case, but said getting a diploma on the same day as you pay your tuition is “quite appalling.”

And he doesn’t believe Qin’s is an isolated incidence.

Johal said he has heard from a number of international students who have spent a significant amount of money to study in Canada but felt they didn’t get the education they were promised.

Johal is calling on the federal government to more closely monitor the situation regarding private schools.

“Clearly the system is broken somewhere. We need to do a better job to fix it,” said Johal. “If the federal government wants to bring in more students, then we must have the resources here. Private colleges should be monitored to make sure they don’t take advantage of students or the system. And maybe the immigration department should look into what’s happening here.”

Regarding the CRT decision, adjudicator Micah Carmody said Qin shouldn’t have just relied on the college’s statements to make a decision.

“It’s incumbent upon the student, before entering an institution, to make a due inquiry about the merits, reputation, and value of its certificates,” Carmody’s decision reads.

“In context, I find that it was not reasonable for the applicant to rely on Mr. Wang’s (the school’s principal) statements before inquiring with the relevant authorities.”

I made a mistake, but I want to help her out: school principal

Wang told the News he made a mistakeawarding Qin a diploma before she had taken any classes, but he was just trying to help her with her mortgage. He added that she was still welcome to attend classes anytime. Qin has never attended any of the college’s classes.

Wang claimed he doesn’t usually issue diplomas upon receipt of tuition and that Qin’s case was an exception.

The Better Business Bureau also stressed the importance of checking for valid accreditation before enrolling in any private training program.

“It’s a consumer’s responsibility to make sure that the course or program is right for you,” said BBB spokeswoman Karla Davis.

“When students visit an institution, they need to check for a valid PTIB registration certificate or accreditation certificate if the institute claims to be accredited,” Davis added.

Richmond News