Bust college Director Prashan Dua told angry students at the Tasmac College creditors meeting, held on 3 November at a theatre in Rickmansworth, that he and his fellow Directors had done ‘nothing wrong’.
More than 650 Tasmac students have been left stranded without a college since the University of Wales (UoW) accredited college went bust.
Reading a prepared statement, the former college boss blamed the UK Border Agency for the downfall of his business, Tasmac UK Ltd of Tasmac House, 1-3 Valley Drive, Kingsbury, NW9 9NG, which officially went into voluntary liquidation at the creditors meeting after it ceased trading on 6 October.
Mr Bijal Shah of liquidators ‘Re 10’ was earlier appointed as receiver, unopposed at a behind closed doors shareholders meeting, told the students that they were ‘unsecured creditors’ who fell behind secured creditors such as Bank of India and the former staff who are still owed salary payments.
He added that neither are likely to receive any money, but did disclose that his firm had already been paid £15,000 to wind up the company.
Mr Shah said he had been approached by the Tasmac’s directors, which offered degree courses validated by the disgraced University of Wales (UoW), on 1 October with a view to arranging a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) after a deal to sell the company had fallen through. It was later decided that the company should be put into voluntary liquidation.
Mr Shah was careful to add that he or his firm had not had any prior dealings with Mr Dua or the directors of Tasmac.
Following prepared statements and formalities students were allowed to put questions to Mr Dua, during an hour long session carefully orchestrated by the liquidator.
Mr Shah instructed students not to approach the stage, to raise their hands before speaking and ask questions in an ‘orderly’ manner. A burley bouncer sat at the rear of the stage presumably to protect Mr Dua in the event of any trouble.
To their credit the students, many of whom had lost £7500 days before the company crashed, conducted the meeting with dignity and, under the circumstances, surprising restraint.
Most of the 50 or so former students, who come from various countries such as Nepal, India, Ukraine, Egypt, Uganda, Cyprus and Vietnam, were worried that they had still not received transcripts or references from the college or UoW despite several emails all of which went unanswered.
Mr Shah assured the audience that UoW had taken all of the student records and would be issuing transcripts to students who cannot obtain another CAS from a new provider without them.
When asked where the millions of pounds paid to Tasmac in advance fees had gone, Mr Dua said that all monies will be accounted for by Bijal, the liquidator he addressed on a first name basis, and that the money had gone towards running costs and ambitious expansion plans.
One student from Egypt shouted at Mr Dua saying that he had ruined her life was very ‘brave’ to show his face at the meeting.
She refuted claims that the college had not been paid fees by students by pointing out that they would not issue a CAS (electronic visa letter used to obtain a Tier 4 student visa) without all or at least 75% of the fees being paid in advance. In her case she had paid the full fees in February, five months before she was due to start her post graduate course.
A Nepalese student stood up and said that he had paid £7500 on 27 September 2011, just days before the directors approached Mr Shah to wind the company up, and asked why they took his money when they must have known the college was in trouble and could not deliver the course.
Unfortunately this, like many of the questions, went unanswered during increasingly heated arguments. Others were expertly deflected by Mr Shah.
A Vietnamese student challenged Mr Dua to explain why he had opened a second campus when the company had lost money. Mr Dua said that most businesses lose money in the first year of trading and that the losses were minimal.
60 Day Rule – find a new college or leave the UK
When a college licence is revoked their Tier 4 students visa’s will be curtailed ater 60 days.
The UK Border Agency removed Tasmac College from the Tier 4 Sponsors Register last month, however, none of the student present had received a letter to confirm that they will have 60 days to ‘find another educational provider or leave the UK’.
The 60 day rule is a major worry for the students who need to find a new college or university, organise funds and apply for a new visa, which may involve an English test.
The UKBA website states:
“Where we revoke a licence or a sponsor ceases
operation, students will have 60 days to find another
sponsor offering the same or similar course, leading
to a similar qualification. Legacy sponsors will be
able to apply for exceptional CAS to take over
sponsorship of such students. Leave will only be
granted to allow these students to complete the
However, UKISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) states that the 60 days starts when the student receives a letter from the UKBA:
‘Your permission to stay in the UK will be shortened to 60 days from the date on the letter from the UKBA. You must leave the UK or apply for immigration permission to study at an alternative institution which is an approved sponsor within these 60 days.’ Source: UKISA website.
You need to ensure that the UKBA has your current address, as you may have moved address several times after arriving in the UK.
To ensure that the UKBA have your most up-to-date contact details complete the Migrant change of circumstances form.
Following the appointment of five creditors to a committee to liaise with the liquidators on behalf of the group the meeting was closed by Mr Shah who said they were ‘running out of time’. Several students shouted ‘so are we’!
What should Tasmac students do now to stay in the UK?
The obvious answer is find a new provider and apply for further leave to remain, however, this is not so easy when you have little or no money and a college will not even issue you with a CAS because of the 60 day rule!
A student was refused a CAS by a Highly Trusted college because they said the next course starts in February which takes her over 60 days since Tasmac’s revocation. Hopefully other colleges will take a more flexible approach.
Remember that new Tier 4 visa rules apply to students applying to private colleges after 4 July 2011.
Immigration Adviser Cynthia Barker said:
‘This means that if you renew your visa for a private college or change college after 4 July 2011, you will not be able to work and you will not be able to sponsor your dependant.’
Whilst a private college will offer lower fees, you must satisfy yourself that the college is safe and will not be closed down or have its licence suspended or revoked by the UKBA.
‘Some students have been offered places in colleges suggested by UoW, but they are been asked to show £9000 in funds and start the whole course again and pay the full fees.’
‘Private colleges are being suspended by the UKBA or closing at an alarming rate following several Tier 4 student visa changes this year. Hardly a day goes by without a student calling me to say that their college has closed and the owners disappeared leaving them stranded after paying thousands of pounds in fees.’
Hundreds of private colleges have had their Tier licence suspended or revoked by the UKBA, however, very few government colleges or universities have been suspended.
Even the University of Wales, which is up to its neck in controversy, is still appears as a ‘trusted’ sponsor on the UKBA official Tier 4 sponsors register.
Students should also regisiter their claim against Tasmac through the liquidator:
R10 165 High Street, Rickmansworth, Herts, WD3 1AY.
Tel. 01923 776223.
You can also ask your MP for help – you can Google your MP or see:
MP for Brent North Barry Gardiner is assisting Tasmac students and runs an Immigration & Asylum surgery on the 2nd Friday of each month (except August) at Brent Town Hall (Forty Lane, Wembley, HA9 9HD) from 9.30 -12.00 o’clock. No appointment needed.
You can write in to Barry’s office. The address is:
Barry Gardiner MP
House of Commons
Barry’s constituency helpline is active every day from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, on:
020 7219 4046
Bison UK Immigration Adviser Cynthia Barker is offering free immigration advice consultations for Tasmac and any other students affected by the closure of their college. Her office is open 9 AM to5 PM Monday to Friday. Call 0208 905 1822.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk
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