Education centre to open on site of closed college

 

ALMOST 30 former fifth-year students of the recently closed Dublin “grind school” Ashfield College have been given the option of continuing their studies in a new education centre which has opened in the same premises.

Several former Ashfield College teachers have also been rehired by the new college.

Following the appointment last month of a liquidator to the Templeogue-based private grind school, which had been in operation since 1977, 29 fifth-year students were faced with the disruption of having to find another school in which to begin sixth year in September.

However, the Education Centre, a new college which has signed a long lease for the former Ashfield site on Templeogue Road, said the majority of Ashfield’s fifth-year students had now enrolled with it.

The new operators have cut fees for the coming academic year from close to €7,000 ( which was charged by Ashfield in 2008/ 2009) to €6,000.

The opening of the new college has also eased concerns of former sixth-year students who sat their exams in the centre, as to where they can collect their Leaving Certificate results tomorrow.

Kevin Branigan, one of the backers of the new college, has confirmed that these students will be able to collect their results from the Education Centre, and will also be able to view their exam scripts there.

Some 35 staff, many of whom were part-time, were let go by Ashfield College in June, but a number of former teachers have now been signed up by the new college.

About €250,000 has been invested in renovations, resources and staff by Mr Branigan – who also runs www.nightcourses.com – and his business partners, Guy Flouch of Tullamore’s Ormonde Business School and Mike Ormonde.

Ashfield College Ltd had been loss-making since 2007 and the High Court appointed a liquidator in July after hearing that it had “no possibility of survival as a going concern”.

Despite this, the new operators believe there is significant room for growth at the Templeogue centre.

Mr Branigan said they intended to get more intensely involved in providing third-level courses and evening classes, and they hoped to achieve economies of scale between the Education Centre and the Ormonde Business School.

“We’ll be able to operate a stronger service with a lower cost base, which we feel will make things substantially different to what may have happened in the past,” he said.

He has observed a significant surge in demand for courses of all types on his website. “The level of interest was up more than 20 per cent on last year for the month of July,” he said.

Mr Branigan is also confident that demand for grind schools will hold up, despite falling incomes.

“While there are more pressures on parents now, the feeling that we get from the parents we’ve met already is that now, more than ever, they’re concerned about their children’s future,” he said.

“Spending on education doesn’t seem to be regarded as a discretionary item, so rather than going on holiday, buying a new car or getting an extension done, they would be even more inclined to put the money into their children’s education.”