The Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) says it will protect the 2,300 students affected by the possible closure of a number of English language schools across Australia.
"If a decision is made by the administrators for the college to close, all overseas students will be protected by the tuition insurance scheme," she [Lynn Glover, director of the VRQA]said.
"This will mean that students will be placed in suitable alternative courses, here in Melbourne, at no additional cost and the VRQA will be supporting that process."
The voluntary administrators of eight English language schools say that the schools will not reopen because of the financial situation.
Justin Walsh and Adam Nikitins of Ernst & Young say they are working with the federal department of education and state government departments to find arrangements for the 2300 international students.
The administrators were continuing to investigate the nine companies operating under the GEOS name and hope to provide a further update on Wednesday, Ernst & Young said in a statement on Monday.
"We've very quickly worked through the options to keep the schools open, but were unable to do so," Mr Walsh said.
"That included speaking with the Japanese parent."
The interesting bits, however, are this:
The authority discovered that directors of GEOS have been diverting revenue from its Melbourne business, to support the operations of its other companies both in Australia and overseas.
But it is believed the GEOS group owes creditors tens of millions of dollars and will struggle to operate without significant help.
Back in Japan, GEOS is trying to downplay the closures and act as if nothing has happened. GEOS schools in Australia in trouble? We don't know what's going on. They just use our name under license. Everything is fine in Japan.
This just doesn't pass the smell test. How is it that eight schools, all taking in new students and seemingly operating without a problem, suddenly close and end up in voluntary administration overnight?
How do you distance yourself from the Australia schools while taking their money? What will GEOS say if the administrators in Australia find what they think are unusual money transfers? GEOS Australia and GEOS Japan may be two separate legal entities, but they are connected by the GEOS brand--a brand that is quickly tarnishing.
What does it say about the company when they post a few measly lines on their website saying everything is OK and not to worry? More information would do much to squash rumours about the company's health and mollifying any complaints its customers may have.
But it's too late for that. The schools won't be re-opening. As a student or employee of GEOS, you can't help but wonder if this isn't Nova all over again.