Nova management in further turmoil

Management turmoil at Osaka-based English-conversation school company Nova Corp. has led to the sudden closure of schools, complaints about tuition refund delays and other problems.

Of its about 900 schools nationwide, around 50 had closed as of the end of September. This month, at least another 50 schools will be unable to offer lessons due to the absence of teachers and are effectively closed.

Students at existing schools are having difficulty reserving lessons, while students who have canceled their lesson contracts are not sure when their tuitions will be refunded.

With its finances deteriorating, the company that once boasted 400,000 students nationwide is in turmoil.

On Monday, the General Union, which includes foreign Nova teachers as members, held an explanatory meeting in Osaka. About 200 students attended the event.

A 58-year-old female student of the Nova Sakai school in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, which closed in mid-October, said: “I thought my school would be all right, but it closed abruptly. I didn’t know [the company’s] management was in such bad condition.”

According to a 52-year-old male student at the Tennoji main school, the school is open, but students can rarely take lessons due to the lack of foreign English teachers. The man bought points for lessons for 700,000 yen in advance and still has some remaining. “Students who can’t go anywhere else have been deserted,” he said angrily.

A 63-year-old woman who has studied at Nova for the last seven years, said: “Some teachers still teach us with enthusiasm. I hope the company will be able to keep them through changing the management.”

Delays in salary payments to employees and foreign teachers began in July, resulting in the loss of many teachers and making it impossible to regularly give lessons.

According to sources, about 50 schools in the Tokyo metropolitan area and the Kinki region had been closed as of the end of September.

In October, at least another 50 schools were unable to offer lessons due to the loss or absenteeism of teachers.

The situation has also affected public schools in Osaka.

The Osaka Municipal Board of Education decided on Tuesday to cancel a contract with Nova to dispatch assistant language teachers to 335 municipal primary, middle and high schools.