11:00am Saturday 15th September 2012
By Stephen Bailey
A LANGUAGE school suddenly closed leaving around 90 students and host families in limbo.
SNT on St Peter’s Road in Bournemouth shut on Wednesday and a trade body has now stepped in to help.
One Bournemouth woman, who had an SNT pupil staying with them, said: “Host families like us were owed hundreds of pounds.”
Mustafa Dogan, 21, from Turkey, paid £2,000 for 22 weeks of lessons and accommodation but has only been there for two weeks.
He said: “I maybe have money for lessons at another school. I don’t know.”
The membership body English UK held an emergency meeting on Thursday at another school, ETC, on West Hill Road .
It has an emergency fund that is normally only activated when an accredited school becomes insolvent.
But English UK has decided yesterday to use the fund now because SNT’s status is unclear.
An English UK spokesman said: “We were made aware on Wednesday that the doors of SNT were locked.
“We don’t know where the owners of the school are at the moment.
“The emergency fund provides for places on suitable courses at schools nearby and where the student has paid in advance for accommodation the fund will pay for that.”
A former owner of SNT, who declined to be named, said she sold the school in January when it had around 300 pupils.
She said: “They new owners really hoped it would be successful and they kept all the staff. I think there were 20.
“But the changes in the Border Agency rules from 1 July last year really affected the business.
“Agents said it was not easy to get into the UK and they felt more welcome going to Australia and Canada.”
Jenny Brunyee, from World Choice Education, which helped arrange accommodation for SNT students said: “The host families are generally paid by the school 1-2 weeks in arrears.
“They didn’t want to put the students on the street so they were in a bit of a predicament.”
Owners of other English schools came to the meeting to offer help.
Mark Venus, from Bournemouth School of English on St Stephen’s Road, said: “The industry in Bournemouth has a strong image but it’s not very nice when something like this happens.”
The Echo phoned and emailed SNT and also left a note at the apparently empty office but did not get any reply.
Industry worth £200m a year to the area
David Jones, chairman of the Dorset-based International Education Forum, is also principal of ETC language school.
He said: “Language schools are worth £200 million a year to the area.
“Generally the industry is buoyant and last year was as good as any we have had.
“A couple of markets are down – Columbia and South Korea – as a result of the changes to the system.
“But our school, for example, is probably about 10 per cent up on last year.”
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