Latest: Teachers occupy Grafton College protesting unpaid wages

Latest: Teachers occupy Grafton College protesting unpaid wages

Latest: In Dublin teachers at the English language school Grafton College have occupied the building.

They are protesting unpaid wages following the snap closure of the school last Friday.

Trade union Unite has expressed its support.

In a statement they said: "This evening the teachers occupied the Portobello premises demanding that Education and Skills Minister Joe McHugh visit the college and speak to the teachers.

"They are also demanding that the Qualification and Quality Assurance bill designed to regulate the sector, which is currently making its way through the Oireachtas, be fast-tracked and amended to include minimum standards of employment for teachers, and that the owner of the college, Saeed Rehman, engage with them regarding the monies owed."

Digital Desk

420 students face month long wait to resume English classes after Grafton College closure

By Niall Murray, Education Correspondent

Earlier: More than 400 international students will have to wait until next month to resume their English classes after their Dublin language school went into liquidation.

But while students of Grafton College are assisted by a sectoral learner protection scheme, more than 30 teachers and other staff face a less certain future.

They and the 420 students were told by college manager Nicholas Kelly yesterday morning that the college in Portobello was shutting down. But the difficulties facing the college emerged on Friday when around €60,000 of monthly wages were not paid into the 35 staff’s bank accounts.

The college opened in 2003 and is a member of the Marketing English in Ireland (MEI) umbrella body for accredited English language schools. MEI said that Grafton College management had informed them in recent days of trading difficulties and the likely impact on students.

But arrangements are being made, under MEI’s learner protection process, to ensure that students get to continue and complete their courses with other member colleges.

"We will know those details by the end of the week, but we assured all the students they will have their courses fully delivered. It will be after Christmas [when they can begin again]," said MEI chief executive David O'Grady.

He said that the situation has been discussed with the Department of Justice and that students' visa durations or entitlement to work part time should not be affected by the disruption to their studies. Although any students who have paid a deposit for a future course are not covered, Mr O'Grady said he believes there are relatively few people in that situation as the college was preparing to move to a smaller premises in January.

Around three-quarters of Grafton College's students were from Brazil, with many others from Ecuador and Chile, and also a large group from Mongolia.

The college is managed by one of the company directors of Grafton College of Management Sciences Ltd, Nicholas Kelly. But its financial affairs were said to be strictly controlled by its London-based director and company secretary Saeed Rahman.

The duration and cost of Grafton College’s courses vary, depending on the qualification or standard required, but most have paid around €1,800 for courses of at least 25 weeks in duration.

Some teachers are represented by the Unite union, whose regional organiser Roy Hassey said the situation reinforces the need for legal protection of the interests of teachers and students in the English language colleges sector.

The union wants amendments to be made to the Qualification and Quality Assurance Bill, which reaches committee stage in the Seanad tomorrow, to ensure minimum employment standards for teachers in the sector.

Unite staged a protest at Grafton College yesterday evening in support of staff left out of work and without last month's wages.

More than 20 teaching staff were among those left unpaid on Friday and local management met with them and their representatives at the college yesterday morning.

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