‘Eikaiwa’ firms face Nova fallout

Too big, too fast, and with too little quality ? that’s the consensus view of many industry analysts on former language-school market leader Nova Corp., whose collapse left over 420,000 students and 4,000 non-Japanese instructors without an “eikaiwa” home.

The Nova affair has already hurt many people: Hundreds of instructors have had to leave Japan and many of those who stayed are struggling to get by ? the National Union of General Workers has even set up a “meals for English lessons” deal to help teachers and students. Meanwhile, customers who paid up-front fees to Nova are struggling to regain some of their substantial losses.

After Nova filed for bankruptcy with some ¥43.9 billion in debt, preparatory school operator G.communication took over some of its schools and rehired less than half of Nova’s former employees.

According to industry observers, shock waves from the crash are likely to be felt across the whole industry ? which employs a sizable percentage of Japan’s expat community ? and beyond.