College closure leaves 20 staff without jobs and 360 students without classes

 

STAFF AND students of a Dublin city language and training school found themselves locked out yesterday morning after the college closed down.

Abbey College, located opposite the Central Bank on Dame Street, ceased trading last Friday and is taking steps to appoint a liquidator to wind up the firm.

About 20 teaching and administrative staff will lose their jobs as a result of the closure of the college, which had taken payments from students enrolling in its classes as recently as last week.

The college provided English language courses as well as foundation and diploma courses in nursing and childcare on behalf of awarding body Fetac.

Some 360 students from Mexico, Brazil, South Korea and the Philippines were among those attending the college, with 230 taking language courses.

Some staff were informed of the decision to cease trading over the weekend by text message and yesterday learned that the college was not in a position to pay outstanding wages, which they said amounted to six weeks’ pay.

Colm Hall from Co Meath, a teacher at the college for seven years, said he was aware that business was in decline over the last two to three years but was surprised by the nature of its closure.

He said staff were disappointed that they learned they would lose their jobs through a text message, asking them to collect documents from a courier’s office, and that payments had been taken from students as recently as last week.

In a letter to staff left at the courier’s office, Abbey College director Mary Renden said the company had experienced trading difficulties because of a new immigration regime for full-time non-European Economic Area (EEA) students introduced in January. It advised staff to apply to the Social Insurance Fund.

Attempts to contact Ms Renden yesterday were unsuccessful.

In a statement on its website, Abbey College thanked students for their business and apologised for any inconvenience caused by its closure. “Alternative arrangements are being sought for students who have not completed their tuition period for them to continue their classes . . . these arrangements will take a few weeks to put in place,” it said.

The Department of Education said that under the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999, students would be refunded or offered courses elsewhere. Fetac is to meet Abbey College management tomorrow.

About 50 staff members and students gathered outside the college yesterday morning, with many unaware the college had ceased trading until they arrived.

Yi Rang Lim from South Korea said she paid €700 to enrol in a course at Abbey College last Wednesday that was due to run into next year.

She said she was not informed that the college was about to cease trading and now did not know where she stood with regard to her student visa or qualification.

Miriam Yerena from Mexico said she came to the college in April through an agency, paying €2,600 for a one-year course, and had only taken one of three exams needed for her qualification. “I paid for a full course and a diploma and I don’t want to waste my money,” she said.

Documents lodged with the Companies Registration Office list Ms Renden (48), from Dublin, and Michael Young (43), from Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, as directors of Abbey College (Int) Ltd.