By Noel Baker
Another English language college in Dublin could be on the brink of closure after it informed students it would not open for the next two weeks due to a “weak financial position”.
Leinster College on Harcourt St in Dublin 2 is mainly attended by foreign students and runs business management, English language, IT, healthcare, and travel and tourism courses.
However, a notice posted on its door yesterday echoed a message posted on its website late on Monday night, informing students: “College will be closed from 28/10/14 till 07/11/14 due to weak financial situation.
“Further information will be uploaded in our website by next Friday, the 31st of Oct 2014.”
The College’s Facebook and Twitter accounts did not carry any update regarding the closure and there was no answer on the college phone line.
The college-organised Halloween party is due to take place at a city centre pub tomorrow.
Dave Moore, Programme and Communications Officer for the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS), said it was too early to say if the school was likely to remain closed, although there were concerns over its future operations. Any possible closure could also have visa implications for students.
Mr Moore said Leinster College had been “aggressively recruiting” students and that there was “not an insubstantial number” of clients at the facility.
“We have come across a number of students for whom today was their first day,” he said.
“We are also seeing students who wound up here having seen a previous college close on them.”
He said many students could now be faced with having to find more money to pay fees to enrol elsewhere, as there is no protection on fees already paid and visas may not be renewed without evidence of engagement in recent, appropriate study programmes.
In a statement, the 20-strong teaching staff at the college say they havee been "blindsided" by the closure - and many say they've gone without pay for several weeks.
The SIPTU trade union now fears that the school will shut down permanently.
“A large number of students turned up this morning, expecting to enter class as they would normally do, and they found a note on the door,” said Louise O'Reilly, is SIPTU's education sector organiser.
“This is an utterly disgraceful way to treat people, it’s a disgraceful way to treat the students, it’s a disgraceful way to treat the staff.
“I’ve been trying all morning to get the boss on the phone, he is not returning my calls,
“This is utterly, utterly shocking for the people involved.”
Carolina from Venezuela is one of over 200 students at the college. She said that she does not believe it will re-open.
"I don't want to be too pessimistic, but I think it's going to happen the same (way) as the other college that is almost the same situation," she said.
"The other college some of them posted some paper in their door and that happened - they closed".
"I really am afraid."
A string of colleges catering to foreign students have closed in Dublin this year, and just last month the Government announced major reforms of the international education sector in response to the closure of a number of private sector colleges.
The reforms, undertaken by Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, are based on new rules that come into force from January 1 next year.
They involve the introduction of a more restrictive list of education programmes eligible for student immigration purposes, an enhanced inspection and compliance regime, and a standardisation of the work concession to clamp down on potential abuse of the system.
The Department of Education said that it had not been officially notified by Leinster College about any short-term closure.
The College came under scrutiny in August when the Sunday Times report raised issues with the grading of examinations.
Leinster Education & Technology Ltd filed its most recent accounts for 2012 and listed three directors.