Thursday 14 December 2017

Company had over €200,000 in bank just six months ago

Dearbhail McDonald and Fiona Ellis

The company that ran an English language school which has ceased trading had more than €200,000 in the bank just six months ago.

Documents in the Companies Registration Office (CRO) show that Abbey International Ltd, the company which operated the Abbey College in Dublin, had net assets of €228,135, according to 2010 accounts which were filed last May.

The company, which ceased trading with immediate effect last Friday, told students -- many who paid their course fees in recent days -- that it was making arrangements to have a liquidator appointed.

In a letter to teachers who worked at the school, the company said: "It is with regret that we must inform you that due to continued trading difficulties caused by the introduction of the New Immigration Regime for full-time non EEA (European Economic Area) students implemented on the 1 January 2011, the Management of Abbey College (Int) Ltd has no option but to cease trading effective immediately."

No advance notice of trading difficulties or the closure was given to either the Departments of Education or Department of Justice. The latter last night sought to reassure some 300 foreign students that the Government would do its best to protect their immigration status.

Students who do not have immigration permission or whose permission is due for renewal will be given a three-month temporary registration to enable them to to sort out their status.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that the immigration authorities would "be as helpful as possible" to students.


Last January the Government introduced new student visa rules aimed at streamlining the visa process for international students -- an annual €1bn industry -- and cracking down on abuses, especially in the lower-level academic language schools. The Government has limited to three years the time a non-national student can enroll on a non-degree programme or in a language school.

This was to prevent the serial enrolment in language schools where students kept their immigration status and worked in Ireland, often without attending classes.

From January 1, non-EEA nationals coming to study in Ireland must be enrolled in a full-time course under an approved Degree Programme or Language and Non-Degree Programme.

Abbey College employed about 20 teaching and administrative staff.

According to abridged financial statements lodged last May in the CRO, the company owed €375,644 to creditors within the next financial year.

But the debts were offset by assets of €694,041, down from €865,348 the previous year.

When it lodged its accounts, the company had the aforementioned net assets of €228,135.

Irish Independent

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