The announcement by Time2 Travel is putting the plans of almost 1,000 students in jeopardy, according to some reports.
Certainly, according to a source of The PIE News, around 400 students are unlikely to be unable to travel to Ireland despite having paid.
The news also impacts on students staying in the student residences in Ireland that T2T operated and has led to many students venting their frustrations on Facebook.
“The whole team of Time2 Travel fought (and is fighting)… so that commitments with students are honoured”
In a statement, the agency – which also offers study travel options to Australia, Canada and the UK among others – said it would close due to “financial difficulties”.
“The whole team of Time2 Travel, until the last moment, fought (and is fighting) with all the forces so that commitments with students are honoured,” the statement read.
“We are in contact with educational partners, other agencies and organisations to do what is possible for the project of your exchange to continue standing. We ask that no payment be made until a possible solution is discussed.
“These institutions have no kind of bond with T2T, but they are longtime partners who have been provided to help students in this sad situation.”
It added that no products or packages would be offered by the firm starting on June 17.
“We assure [you] that everything that is within our reach is being done for the situation to be bypassed.”
Brazilian newspaper Extra reported that 40 employees were laid off and 955 customers in Brazil have had their trips suspended.
In Ireland, T2T owns residences in Cork, Dublin and Galway, however, students have reportedly been evicted from other property due rent not being paid.
One student claimed that the owner of the house where he is staying had three months of rent arrears.
Students have also reported that a prepaid card they arranged with the agency should have been credited upon arrival in Ireland, but transfers had not been made in the account.
“The money did not come in, the people stayed here in absurd conditions. Many had no money to eat,” they told Extra.
On the company’s Facebook page, students reacted with anger to the announcement that the agency would close.
One student complained that they had followed the agency’s instructions and were now left with nothing to show for it.
“They took our money, our dreams,” one comment read. “We bought everything we were told to buy: insurance, accommodation, euros – and we got illusions!”
Another blamed the agency for “lack of management” and encouraged fellow students to keep fighting to receive a refund. “We won’t give up,” the comment read.
“ Time and again light-touch regulation from the government doesn’t work”
“It’s very unfortunate for the students more so than anyone else. Students are going to lose money,” Justin Quinn CES managing director told The PIE.
Students currently in Dublin will find it hard to find accommodation for the summer, he added.
“A lot of the blame for this lies with the Irish government for allowing this to happen. Time and again light-touch regulation from the government doesn’t work,” he said.
“The government talks about quality but this is their fault… The kids are stiffed.”
The agency was one of the largest that IBAT College Dublin worked with in the Brazilian market, the school’s managing director Shane Ormsby noted.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation carefully and will be speaking to a number of other stakeholders to discuss potential support for affected students,” Ormsby told The PIE News.
However, stakeholders are also working to assist students to find alternative study options.
“Ed Global Partners is working with T2T, language schools, agencies and industry stakeholders in order to bring them together and offering feasible solutions to attend students affected by this news,” Alan Bahia, Ed Global Partners managing director told The PIE.
“People can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any additional information.”
In 2012, a UK-based study abroad agency was saved from collapse thanks to behind the scenes negotiations, while “increased competition” has led to the insolvency of other agencies previously.