Overview

Private career colleges in Ontario must operate according to requirements set out in the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005.

Registration

To be able to advertise or offer vocational programs in Ontario, your organization must be registered and your vocational programs must be approved by the Superintendent of Private Career Colleges.

Registration pre-screening

To register your organization as a private career college in Ontario, your private career college must first complete a pre-screening application. You can do this through the Program Approval and Registration Information System (PARIS).

The pre-screening helps you find out if your institution or programs require approval under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005.

New registration

A private career college business must be registered with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and must have received a ministry decision of program approval required on a pre-screening application to apply for registration.

You may also register a program that was purchased from a registered private career college, involved in an asset sale or franchised. An application for registration includes:

  • organization information
  • information for at least one campus
  • information for at least one program

There are financial implications to registering a private career college. Financial security is required along with payment of premiums into the Training Completion Assurance Fund to ensure that your business is viable and that students will have protection. There are also administrative fees for registering a PCC, program applications, inspections, renewal of registration and other services.

Read the fee schedule

Renewal of registration

To continue operating you must also renew your registration annually.

Read the Renewal of Registration guidelines.

Communicating with the ministry
You can communicate directly with the ministry online through the  Program Approval and Registration Information System (PARIS.)

To register to use PARIS and receive log-in credentials, contact the Private Career Colleges Branch:

 pcc@ontario.ca

Program approval

The Superintendent of Private Career Colleges registers and approves vocational programs to be delivered to students. Your private career college must seek approval for each program before offering it to the public.

Some colleges and some programs are not required to receive approval from the Superintendent of Private Career Colleges.

For more information, see private career colleges exemptions from registration.

Learn more about pre-screening and registration.

Business operations

Advertising

Every private career college operator must follow the guidelines for advertising a private career college or its vocational programs outlined in Ontario Regulation 415/06, under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005.

Under the regulation, the term "advertisement" means an ad in any language, whether written or oral, and distributed or transmitted by any means including by publication, radio, television or the Internet.

Login to PARIS for more information about advertising.

If you are a private career college operator and need access to PARIS, contact:

 pcc@ontario.ca

Insurance

All registered private career colleges must purchase adequate liability insurance prior to registration.

Insurance coverage must be sufficient to:

  • compensate a business for any damages to its buildings or equipment
  • protect the college and its officers, employees, agents and any volunteers in the event that a claim is made

This includes accidents that occur off-campus if attendance at such places is required as part of a vocational program.

Transcripts

Private career colleges are required to ensure that students have access to their transcripts for a minimum of 25 years after students graduate.

This is done by a third party so the student can always obtain their transcript.

Your private career college must transfer transcripts to your third-party vendor(s) within 90 days after students graduate.

See a list of pre-approved third-party transcript vendors.

Student contracts

You must provide a signed written contract to each student that enrols in a program at your college.

Student contracts must include the terms specified in Section 20 of Ontario Regulation 415/06. These terms are mandatory and excluding them from student contracts will mean a private career college is in non-compliance and may be subject to penalties.

Note: Contracts that do not contain all the required terms can also be voided at the student's discretion. The private career college would then be required to provide a full refund of fees paid by the student.

If you offer non-vocational programs (that is, programs that do not require approval under the act), you are not obligated to meet the terms in Section 20 of Ontario Regulation 415/06.

Your private career college is required to retain copies of student contracts for at least three years after the student leaves the school.

Records on file

The Superintendent of Private Career Colleges has specific requirements for storing records and documents at the campus or head office of a private career college. The ministry will share timelines with you as part of the registration process, which can help you plan your organization's administration.

Login to PARIS for more information about record retention.

If you are a private career college operator and need access to PARIS, contact:

 pcc@ontario.ca

Changes and updates

Changes must be communicated to the ministry according to various timelines outlined in the Private Career College Act, 2005. Most changes must be approved by the Superintendent of Private Career Colleges prior to the change taking place. Once you have registered, the ministry will provide the expectations for communicating changes to the ministry.

Tuition and fees

Fee collection

Private career colleges can only charge or collect compulsory fees for a program that have been published online. All fees charged or collected for a program must be in Canadian dollars.

A private career college cannot collect fees from prospective students before an enrolment contract is signed. However, 20% of the total fees for a program or $500 (whichever is less) can be collected to process an application or conduct any admission tests or assessments.

Refunds

Students are entitled to a full refund if they withdraw from a program within two days of signing their enrolment contract.

Students should notify the college in writing when they withdraw and do not have to give a reason for their withdrawal.

After two days, a student withdrawing from the program before it begins is entitled to a full refund minus 20% of the total fees or $500 (whichever is less).

Once a program has begun, refunds can vary, and the amount that a student is entitled to is related to how much training they received at the time they withdrew.

Login to PARIS to read more about fee collection and refunds.

If you are a private career college operator and need access to PARIS, contact:

 pcc@ontario.ca

Policies and procedures

Complaint procedure

All private career colleges must have a written student complaint procedure that meets the requirements set out in O. Reg. 415/06.

Students must be provided with a copy of the procedure when they sign a contract.

Students have access to the ministry's complaint process if their complaint is not resolved through your private career college's student complaint procedure.

Any changes to the complaint procedure must be reported to and approved by the Superintendent of Private Career Colleges before the changes take effect.

Expulsion policy

Your institution must have a policy clearly outlining the reasons a student may be expelled from the school. Students must be provided with a copy of the policy when they sign a contract and any expulsion must be done according to the policy. Institutions are required to inform the Superintendent of Private Career Colleges of any changes to the expulsion policy before the changes take effect. If the ministry receives a complaint about an expulsion, your private career college must demonstrate that it has followed its expulsion policy.

Sexual violence and harassment policy

It is a condition of registration that every private career college must have a sexual violence policy. The school's enrolment contract must include an acknowledgement by the student that he or she has received a copy.

The Private Career Colleges Act, 2005 was amended in 2017 and 2021 to set out specific requirements for a private career college's sexual violence policy, such as:

  • requirements to consult students for the development and renewal of the policy
  • requirement to report data on incidents of sexual violence to the ministry
  • to survey students regarding the effectiveness of the policy

The general regulation (O.reg 415/06) was amended to set related expectations for operations at the private career college such as the requirement to:

  • publish its sexual violence policy on its website or conspicuous physical location
  • inform students of supports and services available in the community
  • train managers, staff, students and owners on the sexual violence policy

To view the full list of requirements for a private career college sexual violence policy, see Section 32.1 of the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005 and Section 36.02 of O.reg 415/06.

Graduation and job rates

Private career colleges are required to participate in the reporting of Key Performance Indicators to provide the public with helpful data on program outcomes.

The Key Performance Indicators include graduation rate, graduate employment rate, graduate employment rate in the field of study, graduate satisfaction rate and employer satisfaction rate.

The Superintendent of Private Career Colleges:

  • collects key performance indicator data from private career colleges
  • issues a policy directive to outline key requirements for key performance indicators

The key performance indicator results by private career college are available on Ontario's Data Catalogue. The results are available from 2014.

Compliance activities

Inspections

Individuals designated by the Superintendent of Private Career Colleges conduct inspections to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions approved at the time of registration, and compliance with the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005.

Inspections and field visits are conducted unannounced and on a periodic basis. Private career colleges should maintain current up to date records for both students and instructors, and ensure operational documents are compliant to the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005. Inspection reports issued to the private career college will identify any issues of compliance and the applicable timeline for response from the school.

Compliance monitors

When the Superintendent of Private Career Colleges has grounds for concern about a registered private career college's compliance with the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005, they may require a third-party individual to act as a compliance monitor to oversee and report on operations at the institution.

Login to PARIS for more information about compliance monitors

If you are a private career college operator and need access to PARIS, contact:

 pcc@ontario.ca

Notices and orders

The Ministry of Colleges and Universities regulates private career colleges under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005 and associated regulations. Under the act, the Superintendent of Private Career Colleges can issue Notices and Orders to operators that are not conducting their business in accordance with the law.

Find a record of businesses issued with a compliance notice or order.