Algoma profs overwhelmingly pass ‘no confidence’ motion against President Asima Vezina for putting profits ahead of students
Algoma University/Youtube

Algoma profs overwhelmingly pass ‘no confidence’ motion against President Asima Vezina for putting profits ahead of students

Since taking over as president of Algoma University, Asima Vezina has prioritized profits over students, sacrificed their education for the huge revenues brought in from overseas, and failed to consult with the faculty primarily responsible for delivering on the school’s public mandate. 

"Since Vezina took over as president in 2017, she has made unilateral and significant changes for the university that prioritize intensive profit-making and privatization over students’ interests, leading to the deterioration of quality education, the erosion of the student experience, and the severe damage to Algoma’s reputation."

These are the allegations being levelled by the Algoma University Faculty Association (AUFA) whose members overwhelmingly approved a no-confidence vote on Vezina’s presidency last week. The union describes the vote as a “drastic” measure, attended by 89 percent of full time faculty. 

“An overwhelming majority of the faculty believes it is the only way to right the ship,” an AUFA press release states. 

Since 2018, a year after Vezina was hired (she was reappointed for a second five-year term in 2022) international student enrolment at Algoma has surged by more than 1,000 percent. According to the press release issued Thursday, one example of the alleged mismanagement is the Department of Biology which has seen its student numbers double each of the last two years without any warning or planning for how to accommodate the increase in students. The influx has not been matched with increases in faculty, staff, support services, infrastructure or housing, according to the union.

In response to questions from The Pointer, Algoma University provided a statement from Board of Governors Chair Mike Moraca, who said the non-confidence vote was part of a larger move being orchestrated by the Canadian Association of University Teachers which he claims has been “encouraging” these types of votes across the country.

“Algoma University is financially stable. We are hiring new full-time faculty, and investing in academic programming, facilities and students. While we recognize the right to peaceful acts of protest, we believe Algoma is in a strong position to continue to help students succeed,” he stated. 

“Algoma University’s board of governors has full confidence in the president and senior leadership of the university. We will use this protest as an opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with all our faculty to find more ways to help them support students and engage in impactful research."

In January, based on publicly available information, The Pointer reported that enrolment at Algoma’s Brampton campus increased by almost 900 percent from 2020/21 to 2023/24; the satellite campus went from approximately 540 students in the 2020/21 academic year, to 5,372 currently. Almost all the students are from overseas and more than 90 percent are from India. The small Brampton campus is now home to about 70 percent of Algoma’s overall student body, with few of the features at the main campus in Sault Ste. Marie, where a fraction of the students enjoy a modern library, state-of-the-art athletic and recreation facilities, lecture theatres, large dorm buildings, meal plans and numerous other campus offerings being subsidized on the backs of their international counterparts.

There is no student housing in Brampton, no library, no university recreation or athletic facilities and no meal plans, to name just a few of the standard features students told The Pointer they lack. They are charged three times the tuition Algoma recieves from Canadian and American students, and despite having few of the amenities located in Sault Ste. Marie, Brampton students pay the same amount in fees ($495 per term) to support those features, which they do not have access to.

An alarming 2022 Ontario Auditor General report revealed a reckless strategy by Algoma to recover financially after being saddled by debt according to financial disclosures in 2016. 

After Vezina was hired as president in 2017, Algoma began aggressively recruiting students from India, mostly from the northwestern state of Punjab, using external agencies that operated on a profit model to recruit students with little regard for academic standards.

The Auditor General wrote that, “Algoma has become economically dependent on international student tuition revenue from students from India”.

The provincial watchdog detailed how, under Vezina’s leadership, international students were aggressively recruited as part of the university’s primary revenue stream, to overcome the financial situation that had grown out of control by 2016, when Algoma was overburdened by debt. 

Due to the exploding admissions of students from India the university’s financial fortunes have been completely turned around. According to its own annual financial disclosures, Algoma went from $5,806,372 in total cash assets in 2016 (when, according to the Auditor General, the university was overburdened by debt) to $227,985,000 in 2023, a 3,800 percent increase in seven years.

The AG report stated the skyrocketing revenue gains on the backs of Indian students came without any “significant capital investments” in Brampton. 


One of the buildings in Brampton where Algoma students from India now make up almost 70 percent of the university’s overall enrolment.

(The Pointer Files)   


Meanwhile, the makeshift campus, with leased spaces in buildings dotted around the city’s struggling downtown area, now has nearly 5,400 students who share 16 classrooms in Brampton according to Algoma’s website in January. 

At the time, students told The Pointer they were routinely moved out of in-class courses they had signed up for, switched without prior notification to virtual courses. 

“They are ripping us off as much [as] they can,” Simranjit Singh, a Human Resources and Business Management student in his last semester of the two-year graduate program at Algoma’s Brampton campus, told The Pointer in January. “I was expecting for [a] good academic future here, but eventually Canada failed me.”

Thursday’s press release included disturbing testimony and statements from professors about the poor educational experience students are suffering due to mismanagement by Vezina and her leadership team.

"The cancellation of Algoma’s Project Management Graduate Certificate also proved problematic. The program was replaced by one with the same name and taught by Algoma’s private partner Yorkville University. Through oversight or by design, students are not aware that the Yorkville version is not for academic credit, not taught by Algoma faculty, and not subject to any quality assurance by Algoma University. Multiple calls by professors to correct this lack of transparency went unheeded."

The Auditor General raised concerns about Algoma’s foreign recruiting practices, including the lack of educational standards.

“Current compensation practices for international recruiting agents incentivize them to recruit more students, but not necessarily more qualified students,” the Auditor General report revealed. “Agents are compensated based on a percentage of the base tuition. The university also paid in-country recruiting services a fixed monthly fee plus expenses incurred. This compensation structure may incentivize recruiting agents to recruit a large number of students who may not ultimately become successful graduates because the students are meeting only minimum admission requirements”.

The union that represents Algoma professors highlighted many of their concerns Thursday.

“We want to support internationalization in a good way, taking responsibility for our students’ success and wellness,” Pelham Matthews, Faculty Chair for the Faculty of Business and Economics states in a press release. “We cannot do that without proper student supports, especially in Brampton where there is no university library and other needed student supports are lacking or absent. Algoma university cannot be seen to be treating international students as a primary source of revenue.”

The release from the Algoma University Faculty Association Thursday states communication between the president and Algoma professors has “completely broken down”. The union cites the opening of a new mental health research and training facility, which the Department of Psychology only found out about through a press release from the university. 

“As experts in their fields, professors are not afforded proper input in the very programs they lead.” 

Student appeals have increased 632 percent this year, the union states, noting this is a signal the decline in education quality and experience at Algoma has not gone unnoticed by students. 

The Board of Governors, meanwhile, appears to be avoiding any attention on its international student crisis. 

Faculty “were not invited to speak at the Board’s meeting today, June 20,” the union reported in its press release.


Algoma University President Asima Vezina speaks during a recent announcement for a new student residence in Brampton, after widespread criticism.

(Algoma University)


The main campus in Sault Ste. Marie had a little more than 1,800 full-time equivalent students in the 2021/22 academic year, according to the university, while its satellite campus in Timmins had a few dozen students. At the time, Brampton’s 1,313 students represented about 40 percent of Algoma’s total enrolment, a number that had doubled in less than three years. Now, just two years later, the campus has almost 70 percent of Algoma’s students, and the vast majority are here from India on a visa.

Recently, following widespread criticism and harsh words from the federal government, Algoma announced plans for a new 500-bed dormitory to be constructed for Brampton students. 

According to the school’s website, it charges international students $10,000 per term for tuition, compared to Canadian and American students who pay $2,932. They all pay $495 per term in fees. 

“Some institutions have significantly increased their intakes to drive revenues, and more students have been arriving in Canada without the proper supports they need to succeed,” the federal Immigration Ministry wrote in a press release early in the year, when it made clear that Ottawa will be cracking down on post-secondary institutions exploiting international students. “Rapid increases in the number of international students arriving in Canada also puts pressure on housing, health care and other services.”

Immigration and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller announced the federal government will be capping the number of student permit applications over two years, with 2024 anticipated to see 360,000 study permits approved, a 35 percent decrease from 2023 to address the “unsustainable” increase in international student enrolments, as his Ministry described it to The Pointer in January.

A few weeks later, at an event hosted by Toronto Metropolitan University, he was asked about a specific post-secondary institution in Sault Ste. Marie. 

“There is at least one institution in Ontario that had a hundred million dollar positive balance at the end of the year,” Miller said. “And that, in my mind, isn’t the vocation of a college or university, not that I would deny anyone the right to get a profit, but you’re doing it on a bunch of people that have sometimes had their family earnings pooled into one person…drawn to Canada and [those dreams] are dashed when they can’t get a job or [get] a crappy education.”  

The union on Thursday suggested that Algoma is now being punished. “The mismanagement is also evident in the fact that Algoma is the only university in Ontario to see its international study permit allocation regulators decreased.”

It remains unclear what Algoma will do if it is forced to dramatically reduce its enrolment of international students, who have been exploited to provide revenues. Without them, the Auditor General pointed to the financial mismanagement that led to Algoma becoming overburdened by debt, before it targeted Indian students to bail it out.

“The Algoma University faculty who passed a vote of non-confidence against the President are following the Seven Grandfather Teachings in speaking truth to power, stepping up and owning their responsibility to students, and the community,” Dr. Paulette Steeves, an associate professor, said.



Email: [email protected]

Phone: 437-922-9889

At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories to ensure every resident of Brampton, Mississauga and Niagara has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you

Submit a correction about this story