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October 24, 2011

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Home » Metro » Education

Student fears over IT school closure

HUNDREDS of students were left in the lurch when a software training institute facing financial problems didn't reopen over the weekend as promised, after the college boss allegedly ran off.

Yesterday, education authorities took details from students at the Shanghai Weixun Tianda Software Training Institute in Zhabei District and tried to contact the institute manager, who, according to students, had fled due to bankruptcy.

A Shanghai Daily reporter visiting the institute yesterday found all the classrooms closed.

Notices said classes would be suspended from October 17 to October 21 to solve problems raised by the education authorities' appraisal team, and that the closure was approved by the education authorities.

"We were informed of the closure on October 14 and I was not suspicious at that time," said student Liu Linyi, who paid 15,000 yuan (US$2,350) for an eight-month training course at Shanghai Weixun Tianda.

But when students discovered that the school remained closed at the weekend they alerted the Zhabei District Education Bureau.

"I'm very worried now," Liu said. "I've paid lots of money and only completed half of the course."

Promise for jobs

Liu said she was attracted by an online advertisement by the institute in which it promised to help students secure jobs.

The institute's 273 students have asked for refunds if they cannot continue.

"We have started an investigation and will handle the problem properly," said Bao Zhongyin, director of the Zhabei District Education Bureau's adult education department.

He told Shanghai Daily that in a routine appraisal on the institute's application to renew its education license, the bureau discovered it was in debt.

"We asked the institute to fix the problems," Bao said. "But we never asked or allowed it to suspend classes."

Similar closures occur in the city from time to time.

If premises are rented, the cost of launching an education enterprise is very low.

However, if a school goes bankrupt, students can find it difficult to get compensation as schools often have few fixed assets.

Some advisers proposed the city charge a deposit from such institutes before granting licenses and use this to protect students' fees.

The city put forward lifelong education regulations in May which referred to the establishment of such an account to protect fees.

But the specifics for implementing this are still at the draft stage, Bao said.


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