09/29/2012 10:25 EDT | Updated 11/29/2012 05:12 EST

Concordia Foreign Students Face Poor Living Conditions

Flickr: Viola Ng
Two Chinese international students from Concordia University have come forward to report poor living conditions after in their arranged homestay accommodations.

An 18-year-old Chinese student named David had made arrangements to stay at a house on Monkland Avenue. For $900, David was promised accommodations with an English-speaking family with his meals included.

Instead, the student was crammed in a house with 12 other people and given hardly any food.

David told The Link, Concordia's student newspaper, "The landlady told me everybody just eats two pieces of bread for breakfast. With some margarine. Yeah, I felt hungry but she told me 'too much money for bread."

The student was reluctant to come forward for fear of being deported but decided to shine a light on the issue after meeting another Chinese student in the same situation.

A woman at the house in question declined comment and told CBC News reporters to "go away."

Walter Chi Yan Tom of the Concordia Student Union Legal Information Clinic said "these [students] are extremely vulnerable, they're from out of the country, they've sacrificed quite a bit in order to be here."

Tom said the two students were recruited by agencies in China that put them in touch with a recruitment agent at Concordia.

Concordia said the agent, Peter Low, is an independent and licensed agent.

"Peter Low was neither accredited by the federal, nor the provincial, so it's essential — like the university hiring a nurse in order to do medical exams but not bothering to verify if the nurse was qualified to begin with," said Tom.

The university said it is investigating the complaint from students but explains that homestays are not arranged through the school.

Chris Mota, spokeswoman at Concordia, said "that's outside of our arrangements so we don't know what that individual does on that side of their business."

Tom believes the school should be involved in order to retain its reputation.

Concordia's student union told CBC News this is not an isolated case and that the union has helped three Chinese girls find a new home this summer after they complained of similar issues.

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