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Is Covid breaking the chains?

The fact that Eurocentres has gone into a voluntary arrangement, not exactly a liquidation but a way of protecting creditors’ money while a company continues to trade should, perhaps, not come as a surprise.

It is clear that Covid has caused particular havoc among middle-sized language school chains concentrated in one country. In the UK, Instill Education has just seven accredited centres left and British Study Centres has closed three schools and put one part of its operation into liquidation. In Canada, the Global Village operation is down to one school, though the school in Hawaii has risen from the ashes.

Nor is this limited to language travel – in Spain, all 5 schools owned by IH Barcelona have been forced to close.

Eurocentres may be an old and respected name in EFL but reputation is little protection in a pandemic.

Nor should we be surprised that the Eurocentres schools are, at the time of writing, still accredited by the British Council. At least their creditors’ money is protected. If you look at our updated list of UK accredited schools hit by Covid you will see that five owner-companies are in liquidation but their schools remain accredited, as do two more where the owner-company has been dissolved.

Covid impact on UK private sector

Accreditation UK, to use the official title of the scheme jointly owned by the British Council and English UK, has never included the financial situation of a school in the areas it inspects. Although the accreditation schemes in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand all do. Many, including Ireland, also have schemes which protect clients’ money.

Unless the UK stiffens up the financial controls on its language schools, students and agents who face losing their money may opt for countries where their deposits will be safer.

Image courtesy of Library
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Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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