Collapsed college owes students $10m

THE collapsed GEOS English language college network was permanently shut yesterday after administrators discovered the Japanese owners had left it with no money to keep going.

Students and staff are owed more than $10 million in pre-paid fees and entitlements.

Worst-hit are about 1000 students who had paid GEOS for homestay accommodation and who could now face eviction.

GEOS student Joachim Adam from Germany has already been told by his landlady in Melbourne to immediately pay his weekly rent of $220 dollars or leave, even though he has already paid all his rent to GEOS.

“I must pay by this evening or I must go,” he said.

Administrator Justin Walsh of Ernst and Young said remaining funds “are vastly insufficient to continue trading”. GEOS was put into administration by its Japanese parent on Friday.

The Australian understands students, landlords and agents could be owed about $10 million, while the entitlements of the nearly 400 staff also run into the millions.

Student fees are protected under an assurance scheme run by peak body English Australia in which students are entitled to be placed with other colleges.

English Australia said it was confident of being able to place all students, but some are already regretting they chose to study in Australia.

Mario Galindo, a 39-year-old university tutor from Colombia, paid almost $7000 for a ten-month course to improve his English. He has been left stranded with two months tuition owed.

“I thought this was a serious country . . . but now I think it was a mistake,” Mr Galindo said.

Pina Vigo of West Preston in Melbourne was yesterday showing her newly arrived nephew, Filippo Zilio, from Italy, where his GEOS college was, only to find it closed. Mr Zilio, 19 had paid for a month’s study.

“It stinks,” Ms Vigo said. “How can they do this to the students? How can the government not know?”

GEOS has schools in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.