Students, staff face uncertainty amid sudden closure of KLC College

KLC College’s Kingston office on Arlington Park Place. Photo by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist.

A private career college based in Kingston has been closed by the provincial Ministry of Colleges and Universities, leaving dozens of students and staff members with an uncertain future.

The college, which until recently had campuses in Kingston and Toronto, provided career preparedness classes in programs like Dental Assistant, Personal Support Worker, Educational Assistant, Physiotherapy Assistant, and Office Administration.

Financial difficulties at the Kingston Learning Centre (KLC) College first became publicly apparent in late February of 2024, when the college failed to meet payroll for staff and faculty. The payroll issues eventually led to a staff walkout in early March, prompting some classes to be cancelled and others to be moved online temporarily.

“Students received an email at the beginning of March that just said [there was a] faculty walk out due to unpaid wages,” a student told the Kingstonist. The Kingstonist has agreed to keep the student’s identity private in order to prevent possible retribution by the college.

“Hello all, we regret to inform you that we must close the college doors due to unpaid wages to our staff and faculty for over a month. Despite our efforts to avoid class disruptions, the management’s lack of cooperation has left us with no choice,” said the email, sent to students on the afternoon of Mar. 6, 2024.

“And then we didn’t hear anything for another week or so and were told to take a March Break by somebody completely new, and that we would return on the 18th of March,” the student said. “And then when we did return on the 18th of March, we still did not have an instructor.”

A former staff member at the college confirmed the staff walkout due to unpaid wages. The Kingstonist has also agreed to keep their identity private to avoid possible retribution by the college. According to the staff member, all payroll and accounts payable at the college were required to be sent to Toronto Institute of Pharmaceutical Technology (TIPT), another private career college based in Toronto, of which KLC College is a subsidiary. Phone calls to one of the phone numbers listed on the KLC College website were directed to TIPT and several email and telephone communication attempts were made by the Kingstonist to reach TIPT administration, including Dr. Alexander MacGregor, TIPT’s Dean and President. Those phone calls and emails have gone unreturned.

While the college did eventually pay some of the staff and instructors, according to the staff member, some never returned to their roles at the college.

Almost a month after the walkout, on Friday, Apr. 5, 2024, KLC College’s 29 students received a email from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities advising them that KLC College was no longer registered as a community college and that all students would need to either apply to be transferred to another college for completion of their program, or to get a partial refund.

“You are receiving this email because effective April 1, 2024, the registration of The Kingston Learning Centre Inc. has expired and as a result, this school will no longer operate as a career college or offer vocational programs that require approval by the Superintendent of Career Colleges,” the letter stated.

“When a career college stops operating while students are enrolled, the Training Completion Assurance Fund (also known as “TCAF”) exists to help impacted students complete their training at another school or receive a refund. Students who were enrolled at The Kingston Learning Centre Inc. on April 1, 2024 may choose to apply to the TCAF to receive the training completion as follows:

  1. Training Completion
    1. The ministry will pay a different school for the training needed to complete your program. If you had not fully paid for your program at The Kingston Learning Centre Inc. at the time of its closure, you may need to pay the outstanding amount to the different school.
    2. You can also apply for support for additional costs related with transferring to another school, such as travel, dependent care, and costs related to undue hardship.
  1. Partial Refund
    1. Students who do not want to complete their training at another school, may receive a partial refund. The amount of refund will depend on the amount of fees that the student can demonstrate she or he paid to the career college, the amount of fees that were earned by the career college, and other factors as determined by the Superintendent.”

The Ministry held an online information meeting for students on the morning of Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2024, which Kingstonist attended. There were many questions but few answers at the meeting, where approximately 25 of the 29 affected students expressed their frustrations at the lack of clarity about what was happening.

In many cases, students were only a few weeks away from graduating from their program, they said. In at least one case, the student had completed the entire program and needed to pass only a single regulatory test to graduate. Ministry officials could not tell this student whether they would be able to take the final test or would have to start their program again from the beginning.

Ministry staff explained that while they could talk generally about the compensation process, they could not answer individual questions nor provide specific recommendations as they would differ greatly based on individual circumstances.

“I’ve received an OSAP grant and loan, so I will have to somehow give all of the money back and then have to start over again,” a former student said, describing a situation many of the students now find themselves in. “It states in the email that this partial refund and or transfer could take up to six months. Another girl in my class has a Better Jobs Ontario grant, and they have been paying for her child care, and for the amount of time that she wasn’t in class [due to the class interruptions], they were going to want the money back.”

Since learning of the closure, the Kingstonist has made several attempts to reach college ownership and administration. As of publication, the college has not responded to any Kingstonist inquiries via phone call to its various campus phone numbers, nor to emails sent to multiple administrative email addresses and its owner. There were no staff present at its Kingston office location during a Kingstonist visit during regular business hours.

“Ontario’s primary role in the career colleges sector is to provide consumer protection oversight under the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005,” the Ministry said in an email followup to Kingstonist inquiries. “The ministry ensures that students are protected so if a registered career college in Ontario suddenly closes, the ministry has a fund (Training Completion Assurance Fund or TCAF) to help protect students and helps eligible students by providing them with a training completion option at another school or a partial refund. The ministry will reach out to the students affected and any student impacted can reach out to [email protected].”

According to the Ministry, KLC College has reached out to the Ministry through legal representation, indicating that they are exploring its options to re-register at a future time, but, to date, the Ministry has not received any documentation from the college to do so.

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