An individual complained about the administration of the substantial equivalency process while seeking registration with a professional college. She also complained the college charged $1,000 in fees to review the registration process.

The complainant told the Ombudsman she contacted the college to determine the correct type of courses to take. After she began her formal studies, she sought confirmation the courses were the right ones. However, the complainant received what she felt was conflicting information – casting doubt on whether there was value in the courses she enrolled in.

Although a college’s accreditation process can be confusing, the Ombudsman investigation determined the college did not give the complainant conflicting information.

Still, while colleges have the right to set and charge fees under the Health Professions Act, the Ombudsman recommended the college avoid creating financial barriers preventing individuals from accessing the review process. We also asked the college to be clear and transparent about the chain of authority for charging fees.

How is this fair for Albertans?

While the college was concerned current members should not subsidize registration reviews by non-members, it agreed to make an amendment to its bylaws. It’s now clear fees are applied for members, as well as college applicants.