In an email to its partner schools, Timpany cited “increased competition” and “a fall in demand” in some of its key markets as the reasons for its closure.
“We can try to get in touch with the school and see if there is something we can do”
It also referred to “continued commoditisation of the language travel market, in particular on the Internet, where competition focuses almost exclusively on the price and not on service” as another reason for it shutting down.
Timpany said it has stopped taking payments from students and any pending payments to the agency will go directly to the relevant school partner.
Oscar Porras, president of Spanish agency association, Aseproce, told The PIE News that despite Timpany not being a member of the association, they have been contacted by students, and have been referring them to the relevant parties.
“What we said to them is that if they know the name of the school, we can try to get in touch with the school and see if there is something we can do,” he said.
Porras also said a student has phoned agency association, Aseproce, saying that their language school is asking for money despite having already paid it to Timpany, highlighting the fallout in insolvency cases.
“That’s a very difficult situation for both the student and the school, because the school doesn’t want to be asking the students for the money because they say they have already paid the agency,” he said. “So this situation is a little bit complicated.”
Celestine Rowland, president of IALC, confirmed that there are member schools affected by the Timpany closure.
“I think at this point it’s very difficult to quantify exactly the extent of that,” she told The PIE News.
“The process of appointing a receiver is happening at the moment and then I think it will become clearer exactly how much money is owed if any by Timpany in the end.”
In an email to its partner schools, Timpany said it has been “trying intensively to find a potential buyer or investor” in the last 12 months, but “in the current market conditions this has not been possible without going through the insolvency process”.
However, the email added that it has “received an offer from another agency to take over part of the business, in particular to take care of students who have not departed yet and to take over some of the Timpany staff”.
In reaction to the news, Aslihan Özenç, general manager of ASBA International Education Consulting, highlighted this points to a larger problem in the sector.
“Unfortunately we may be seeing more of these cases in our region,” she told The PIE News. “As the price competition increases and schools make deals with, what I call “language tourism agencies”, to recruit hundreds of weeks with major discounts, and let them collect the money and pay late or in installments.”
She added that this “creates the economical strength for these agencies to enter different side businesses creating greater risks.”
Update: Timpany appointed an insolvency administrator in November, and is currently selling its assets.