International student fears losing time, money after Laurentian nixes poli-sci program

International students at Laurentian University have immigration questions, due to program cuts under the school's restructuring process.

After two years taking law and political science, Hemliss Konan's program has been cut

Hemliss Konan was studying law and politics at Laurentian University, but the political science department has been discontinued as the university works its way out of insolvency. (Hemliss Konan/Submitted)

International students at Laurentian University have immigration questions, due to program cuts under the school's restructuring process.

Hemliss Konan, who is from the Ivory Coast, was studying law and politics, but Laurentian's political science department has been discontinued. She wonders if she'll have to spend more time getting her degree, or go somewhere else.

She's not even sure if she can get her student visa extended.

"It's very stressful for me, my parents in my country. We pay a lot of money to study and then now I can't study, my program has been cut. I don't know what my plan is, what's next for me, my future," she said.

Konan has an appointment with her school advisor later this week to discuss her next steps. She plans to become a lawyer and wants to stay in Canada.

"I don't know if I will get my credits. I am supposed to finish in two years," she said.

"If I go to another university, I'm wondering if they'll accept my credits, and if I'll continue into my third year in September. I don't want to lose any time."

Konan is among the scores of people affected by as Laurentian cuts dozens of programs and lays off about 100 professors.

Figuring out a plan

The university made the announcement April 12, after declaring itself financially insolvent earlier this year. The school filed for creditor protection on Feb. 1, a first for a university in the province. In total, 69 programs were cut, at least a third in French.

Laurentian says it anticipates that about 10 per cent of undergraduate students (not including those studying at the federated universities) will be affected in some way by these program adjustments. Another 44 graduate students will be impacted by program closures. 

"For most students, particularly if they are close to completion, this will mean they will be able to complete their degree making use of all or parts of the modules in terminated programs, either through course substitutions at Laurentian or through letters of permission," the university states on its website dedicated to offering up information as the insolvency process unfolds.

"No new students will be admitted to these programs. For a small number of students, Laurentian will assist them in transitioning to a related program or another institution."

Konan says she's upset to see that her professors have been fired.

"They are excellent. Such good professors. They are so professional with you, so nice. And I feel bad because they've been fired [despite] really, really great dedication," she said, adding that she loves political science.

"I'm passionate about that. And I'm so angry and sad."

Konan says she may be able to switch to a law and justice program, but won't be able to take any political science courses — and that's a problem. 

"My student permit says I am studying law and politics and I'm here in Canada for four years," she notes, adding that she has many calls to make — including to Immigration Canada — to sort things out

With files from Markus Schwabe and Kate Rutherford