School closures hit international students

02 April, 2015

A spate of school closures announced this week have impacted on international students and the study travel industry, with language schools in Canada and the UK closing and a UK independent secondary school announcing its decision to cease operating at the end of the summer term.

A message posted to agents and partners on the BEC Rocky Mountains and Montreal website

In Canada, BEC – formerly known as Banff Education Centre – has closed its schools in the Rocky Mountains and Montreal.

A statement addressed to agents and partners on the school’s website said that association Languages Canada (LC) had been involved in the closure and was finding placements for students that needed to be moved at no additional cost, via its Education Completion Assurance Plan student protection programme.

In a statement, the association said, “Languages Canada is currently in contact with all affected students and their agents where applicable, and will move students to other LC-accredited language programmes. In addition, LC is assisting agents and incoming students who are starting in April through to the summer by ensuring that outstanding paid tuition is being honoured by other LC-accredited programmes in the surrounding areas.”

LC said it believed there were 57 current students affected, mostly at BEC Rocky Mountains in Canmore, Alberta. In its statement, BEC said as LC does not have another centre located in Canmore or Banff, most of the BEC Rocky Mountains students will be relocated to Calgary. Students at BEC Montreal, which opened in 2013, will be placed at other LC-accredited schools in the city.

No further information was available regarding the reasons behind the closure or any possible debts outstanding to creditors. The statement said, “We thank everyone for the support that we received, the kind comments on Facebook from students and the many years of wonderful students that we have had. We hope that BEC will be remembered for many years to come.”

In the UK, language school body English UK is also enacting its Student Emergency Support Fund after the closure of Crest Schools of English in London.

A statement on the company website confirmed, “We are very sorry to announce that Crest Schools of English Ltd has closed after 32 years of providing English language tuition and examinations.” Students were being urged to contact English UK who will arrange alternative tuition at an accredited member school.

The management of Crest blamed policy settings for the closure of the school. “We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to everyone who has shown their support for Crest over the last 32 years. It is with the deepest regret that we have been compelled to close our organisation due to the onerous restrictions placed on our sector by the UK government, which has impacted on student visa and examinations for students coming to the UK.”

The closure is the third in London this year, following Leicester Square School of English and A2Z School of English, which additionally had a branch in Manchester that closed.

Meanwhile, in the UK secondary school sector St Bees School, which was previously active in the recruitment of international students, has announced it will close at the end of the summer 2015 term.

The school, based in West Cumbria and founded by Archbishop of Canterbury Edmund Grindal in 1587, blamed declining recruitment of domestic fee-paying students since the 2008 banking crisis for the closure.

In a letter to parents, Chairman of Governors, Professor Frank Woods, said the Governors had considered every possible solution and thanked the headmaster and his team for their recruitment campaigns and for raising academic standards. “We have concluded that the only practical option left open to us is, while there are still the resources to do so, to close the school in as orderly and considerate a manner as possible.”

In recent census data reports published by the Independent Schools Council (ISC), the number of domestic students has been declining, leading many institutions to focus on international student recruitment to make up the shortfall.


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