herald

Thursday 12 December 2019

Language student goes to gardai after closed college takes €3,000 fees from her

Dave Moore, Council for International students and Valeria Giovati, right, 24, who was planing to study English in Kavanagh College before it closed. Damien Eagers
Dave Moore, Council for International students and Valeria Giovati, right, 24, who was planing to study English in Kavanagh College before it closed. Damien Eagers

AN ITALIAN student has reported the owner of a Dublin language school to gardai over allegations that it took more than €3,000 from her after it had shut down.

Valeria Giovati (24), from Parma in northern Italy, had been given the money as a present by her parents for finishing her university course in economics with high grades.

Instead of travelling she decided to invest the money in her future and enrolled for English lessons at the Kavanagh College on Marlborough Street.

“It is hard to get a job in Italy without English, so I wanted to improve my chances of getting a good position,” said Valeria.

The money was to cover accommodation as well as lessons, but Valeria and many others have been left with no lessons and nowhere to stay since the college shut its doors on April 14.

An invoice given to Valeria, and seen by

MONEY

Up to 60 foreign students lost thousands of euro following the sudden closure of Kavanagh College last month.

“My bank statements show that the money was accepted into the accounts of Kavanagh College on April 15, the day after it closed,” Valeria told

“I came to Dublin to get answers and try to get my money back. My parents said I should fight for it, but it seems impossible.”

“My bank said the only way I can get the transaction reversed is with the permission of the college owner, Kieran Duffy, but I have not been able to contact him.”

A Kavanagh College source was able to show

“I’m not saying that Mr Duffy is deliberately taking money from students after the college closed, but those students are still at a loss. If he handled the closure better this would not be happening,” they said.

Valeria has now reported the matter to gardai, who have taken her details and said they would contact her after an investigation or enquiries are launched.

An email sent out by the Kavanagh College on the day it shut blamed the “CADIVI situation” for the closure, a reference to a Venezuelan government body that helps students from there to study abroad.

But that explanation did nothing to help Valeria and others like her.

“I had studied hard and I was looking forward to coming to Dublin. My friends had said it was a nice place and the people were friendly, and I had already been to London, so I was looking for something different,” said Valeria.

“Now I am very disappointed, and so are my parents. I want to stay and get some English classes but I have been quoted more than €500 for two weeks of tuition, and I would still have to pay for accommodation.”

Valeria is now getting help from the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS), who are trying to assist her with somewhere to stay while she liaises with gardai and the Italian embassy.

“It is more than a month since the college closed and still people are arriving in Ireland not knowing that it has shut. Not everyone was informed,” said David Moore of ICOS.

URGENCY

Kavanagh College is one of three colleges that recently closed at short notice, leaving students without courses and accommodation.

Eden College and the Irish Business School (IBS), both on Burgh Quay, shut last month.

Businessman Fakir Hossain (39), who is linked to the two English language schools, has refused to say if students will get their money back after 1,500 students were left out of pocket.

The ICOS has now called for a task force and pop-up college to be set up to meet the needs of the students.

“Following the closure of three private colleges in the space of a month, there are now hundreds of displaced English language students in Dublin looking desperately for a solution, all of whom have now been without classes for 2 to 4 weeks,” said ICOS director Sheila Power.

“In view of the urgency of the situation and the limited capacity of existing language schools at their busiest time, ICOS is calling for a high level task force to take charge and ensure that a pop-up college is put in place without delay to get these students back into classes.”

“Every day that passes is a day of studies lost. For many students who booked for short intensive programmes, their time in Ireland is fast disappearing and they risk having nothing to show for it at all.

“Those on the ground have been in no doubt about the seriousness of the situation since the outset, and recent media coverage has now shone a light on the issues for all to see”.

“A clear sense of urgency and practical solutions are needed from the highest level to prevent any further damage to Ireland’s reputation as a destination for international students.”

“Though not all affected students are language students, they represent a very large proportion of the overall numbers.

“Getting this group back into classes will mean that special attention can be turned to students on courses like business and nursing who need pathways to complete their studies through other placements.”

cfeehan@herald.ie

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