Another 100 learners appear to have been left with heavy student loans debt but no qualifications to show for it, after their training provider under investigation by the Skills Funding Agency went bust.
FE Week is demanding justice for them and hundreds of others left in the lurch – through our new #SaveOurAdultEducation campaign which is calling for all students’ advanced learning loan debt to be written off, if they are unable to complete courses after training providers go out of business.
The latest case affecting 100 students is with Hampshire-based Edudo Ltd. It went into voluntary liquidation in January, after the company’s “assets and business” were sold to Learning Republic Group Ltd last November.
Edudo boss Ronan Smith is also the only director listed on Companies House for Learning Republic Group, which was incorporated last July.
FE Week asked the SFA if it was checking out the circumstances surrounding the demise of Edudo, which was launched in 2011 and allocated £500,500 in advanced learner loans by the SFA as of September, and what it was doing to help the students affected.
A spokesperson said in response that there are approximately 100 learners affected, and it is “working closely” with the SLC to ensure they complete their learning.
This indicates that each of the students have been left on average with just over £5,000 loans debt.
It comes after FE Week last month revealed that the SFA was investigating the demise of John Frank Training.
The provider went into liquidation on November 30, leaving no assets, despite recording a profit of £1.3 million in the first half of 2016.
The collapse meant that hundreds of students who had taken out FE loans to train with the London-based provider were left with hefty debts but no course.
Now commenting on the demise of Edudo, an SFA spokesperson told FE Week it had terminated its loans agreement with the provider.
“Our priority is to support the learners affected to complete their learning with minimal disruption, working closely with the Student Loans Company,” she added.
The SFA said it will look carefully at any irregularities with the case.
A statement was also released to FE Week on behalf of the former board of directors of Edudo.
It said: “In recent years, the trading environment for the company was increasingly difficult given funding changes.
“The board of directors of Edudo, on professional advice and with great sadness, appropriately concluded that the company could no longer continue to trade.
“On November 24, 2016, the company’s assets and business were sold to Learning Republic Group.
”This was considered by the board of directors of the company, on independent corporate advice, to represent the best outcome for creditors and learners.
“Additionally, it secured the jobs of the company’s staff who transferred to the new business, providing an opportunity for Learning Republic to offer continuity for and to the benefit of each and every student under its the care of Edudo.”
The statement added that “for some months” the board of directors, and its advisors, have been and remain in “proactive engagement” with the SFA.
The agency, though, told FE Week Learning Republic Group is not a provider on the register of training organisations, and does not hold a loans agreement with them.
This means it is unlikely Learning Republic Group will be able to complete the training of former government-funded Edudo learners.
A spokesperson for liquidators RSM said the company was formally installed in the role on January 13 and “during the period of its engagement, RSM have received and responded to requests for information from the SFA”.
“The liquidators have received the full cooperation of the directors of Edudo Ltd in responding to such requests.”
The SLC declined to comment on Edudo’s demise.
The parliamentary launch for #SaveOurAdultEducation, which will have both skills minister Robert Halfon and his shadow Gordon Marsden speaking, takes place this afternoon.