Reece Soukoroff will soon graduate from the CDI College cybersecurity program in Calgary, but says the post-secondary institution failed to prepare him for work in the industry and wrongfully charged him for four Microsoft Server 2016 courses that have now been retired.
“I’m graduating without any certifications in all of my Microsoft Windows Server courses and Windows is the biggest operating system in the entire universe,” he said.
“The school was well aware in advance that these courses were going to be retired so there’s no excuse that the payment should still be made for them.”
According to Microsoft, courses are retired because “technology and associated job roles change faster every year.”
The company notes on its website that different certification programs are phased out because they are “no longer relevant.”
The college originally promised 12 certifications for its cybersecurity course. The four Microsoft Windows Server 2016 courses — each which was retired on Jan. 31 — are still being offered and taught to students.
Soukoroff notes that Microsoft Server 2016 is applicable to his studies and upcoming work in the cybersecurity industry, although he says the college had promised him an independent certification outside of CDI for those courses which was not followed through with.
“Yes, the knowledge from Microsoft Server is still applicable, but we’re paying an extra amount for non-existent independent certifications,” he said.
Soukoroff asked for a refund for the four courses, but was denied. The 23-year-old already has $30,000 in student loans and says these retired courses set him back another $500.
Finances were so tight for the student that he also had to ask the college to refund three of his valid certification vouchers just two weeks ago in order to make a $1,500 payment for two textbooks. This time, CDI College refunded the three valid certifications.
“Now I’m actually only down to four certifications out of the 12, and I had to get CDI to take back three valid certifications just so I didn’t have to pay another $1,500 at the end of this course,” he said.
“So, they’ll approve that refund but they won’t approve the retired course refund and it just doesn’t make any sense. It’s basically just stealing money from students at this point.”
CDI COLLEGE RESPONSES
In a statement to CTV Calgary, Tim Ogilvie, CDI College’s regional director of operations, says all students have been reimbursed for retired certificates, despite Soukoroff and several others in the program confirming they had not yet received money.
“These tuition reductions are reflected in their second-year tuition and were broken down by course by their financial advisor team,” Ogilvie’s statement read.
When asked why retired courses that are “no longer relevant” are still being offered, Ogilvie noted that none of the course curriculum has expired.
“Windows Server 2016 is still very much present within the industry and will continue to be so. New software is introduced as teaching materials are made available from publishers and when industry needs change,” he said.
“Microsoft has phased out certifications for all Windows Server products. The fees associated with external certifications that are being phased out by Microsoft have been removed from the tuition costs, but the courses themselves are still valid and are Ministry approved.”
STUDENT SAYS COLLEGE OVERCHARGING FOR TEXTBOOKS
CDI College cybersecurity student Jacqueline Sitter says she owes thousands in bills for textbook that she is struggling to pay.
“The books are overpriced, about halfway through the program I finally had time to look at the actual price of the books and I realized that I could get discounts on my own through other sites or rented them for cheaper,” she said.
“All the books are online with watermarks of my email on all the pages so I can’t even sell them. I’m so far in debt now that I’m looking at being homeless.”
The two-year CDI College cybersecurity specialist diploma program comes with a total tuition cost of $27,132, but also another $6,906 for textbooks, supplies and other fees, according to career, learning and employment information released by the Alberta Government.
Other students like Soukoroff were able to find the same textbooks available through Amazon, other online book websites and directly from publishers at an extreme discount.
He managed to find all 18 course textbooks for a price of $1,277 — more than $5,600 cheaper than what the college was charging students.
A list of textbooks found for cheaper by Reece Soukoroff.
“Seriously, don’t waste your time with the CDI cybersecurity program, there are far better options to learn this industry and this isn’t the place,” he said.
“We don’t have lectures from any of the professors at all, so it’s basically just YouTube lectures which I could have got for free anyway and you’re paying for all this stuff and none of it adds up, and now I’m $30,000 in the hole in loans.”
Sitter adds that she is now $40,000 in debt and is speaking up for students in her online classes that are afraid to come forward because English is their second language.
“The students who I have talked to that are new to Canada have told me that this is the type of thing they experienced in their own countries, the corruption, and they’re just used to it,” she said.
“They do not want to go on camera because they said to them this is just normal, but this is Canada where we’re supposed to be honest and provide good service and education, yet we’re hiding the corruption.”