Shock as St Mark’s International College shuts doors

EMOTIONAL scenes erupted outside a Perth language school today after it closed unexpectedly due to financial problems.

Dozens of foreign students, who have already paid thousands of dollars for courses, were still arriving for night English classes at St Mark’s International College in Perth tonight.

The school is one of eight language schools across Australia, owned by the GEOS group, that went into voluntary administration this afternoon.

About 2300 foreign students are currently enrolled across the nation, facing an uncertain future.

Some students could be forced to return home if the terms of their visas have been breached because they are unable to take part in full-time study.

Justin Walsh and Adam Nikitins of Ernst & Young have been appointed administrators to nine companies operating the schools in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Cairns. They have about 390 employees and international students from a number of different countries.

“The financial position of the companies is such that the directors appointed voluntary administrators,” Mr Walsh and Mr Nikitins said in a statement on Friday.

“School operations have been temporarily suspended while the financial situation of the companies and ability to fund future operations of the schools is assessed over the next few days.”

The companies under administration are GEOS Melbourne Pty Ltd, GEOS Adelaide Pty Ltd, GEOS Sydney Pty Ltd, GEOS Cairns Pty Ltd, GEOS Gold Coast Pty Ltd, GEOS Perth Pty Ltd, GEOS Brisbane Pty Ltd, GEOS Management Services Pty Ltd and GEOS National English Academy Pty Ltd.

The administrators said a decision on future operations should be known by the close of business on Monday, February 1. Students have been told to return for a meeting at 2pm.

“Employees, students and creditors will be advised as soon as possible,” the administrators said.

One student said she had paid $3000 for a three-month English course, while another stood to lose $11,000 for a 12-month course.

Students huddled together outside the college tonight, unsure of what the future held for them.