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December 16, 2009

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Home » Metro » Education

Limbo for students as school shuts

AT least one outlet of Kaien English, one of the biggest language training institutes in the city, closed suddenly due to financial problems, leaving hundreds of pre-paid course takers worrying about their money.

Property managers with the Jianke Mansion in Xuhui District, where one of the outlets was located, said the school has owed 200,000 yuan (US$29,281) in rent since May.

They lost contact with Brian McCloskey, the British investor, as well.

"The head of the institution said he would pay the rent last Friday, but we can not find him thereafter," said a manager of the building, surnamed Yu.

The Xuhui police said agitated students had rung them for investigation.

"We will keep an eye on it but so far it's still unclear if it was a swindle case," officer Huang Li said yesterday.

Huang said the case could also be an economic dispute, depending on the nature of McCloskey's absence.

Huang said similar cases - institutions pulling out of business, leaving the students in limbo - happened before in the district and not all of them turned out to be criminal cases.

"Sometimes the boss just disappeared today and showed up tomorrow," Huang said.

A foreign teacher from a Xuhui District outlet, at No.75 Wanping Road S., made the announcement Monday night to students, after a brief talk with another faculty member, that the school head disappeared and the school would be closed.

It aroused a panic among the students.

"My friend paid 7,000 yuan, and now it was over all in a sudden," said a woman surnamed Shen, a close friend of one of the students, Luo Tong.

Luo and other students called 110, the police hotline.

However, other outlets of the Kaien English are operating as normal.

A customer representative, surnamed Li, at Kaien's Pudong New Area branch said they had not received any notice about the closure and "everything is in good order."

"Our operation and service in the Pudong New Area are OK," Li said. "Our Chinese partner will take over in any emergency, and we will offer a satisfactory explanation to our students."

Kaien English was established in 1996 as one of the first joint institutions offering English curriculum in Shanghai.

Over 170,000 students have graduated from it by this year. The center offers a five-phase course in a maximum span of 10 months.


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