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Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007

Nova students give poor grades to management


By SETSUKO KAMIYA and REIJI YOSHIDA
Staff writers

Though forewarned of their language school's financial woes, students Friday reacted to the news of Nova Corp.'s bankruptcy with shock and disappointment.

Some said they were satisfied with their lessons but unhappy and upset with management.

Ryotaro Oba, 47, of Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, a Nova student for more than a decade, learned of Nova's financial collapse from the morning news. Oba was soon to transfer from the Gakugei Daigaku school on the Toyoko line to the Jiyugaoka school two stations away due to the school's streamlining of branches.

His final class at the previous school on Oct. 20, however, was suddenly canceled the night before when Nova couldn't get a teacher for him.

Instead, Oba had reserved a class for Saturday at the new school but was informed it would only be held if a teacher was available. Now, he doesn't know when or even if there will be a next class.

"The school worked for me because I wanted to have an opportunity to speak English casually, and the classes weren't so expensive," said Oba, a public servant. "It's really too bad that this happened, and I hope they can revive," said Oba, who still has tickets for classes good until March.

A 32-year-old woman from Nerima Ward, Tokyo, who attended Nova's Oizumi Gakugen school for about four years said she was also facing a transfer to another school near Nerima Station. She took her last class at the school Thursday, the day the school closed, but said no mention was made of the company's pending bankruptcy.

The woman, who declined to be named, said she only found out about the bankruptcy when she showed up for class at her new school around noon Friday and found a notice posted on the door.

"I really liked the lessons there because the teachers were dedicated. Despite the problems of their payment delay, they came until the last class yesterday, and the farewell party was actually touching," she said. "I have no complaints about the classes, but the management is really disappointing. I wish they had done something earlier before it went this bad."

The woman said she had had bad experiences with management several times over the course of the four years she took classes. On a few occasions she tried to get refunds for her coupons but was told this was not possible according to the terms of her contract.

The company was always slow to respond to her questions concerning her contract, she said. "I felt they weren't acting for the convenience of the students but for themselves."

Yoshimasa Watanabe, a 61-year-old retiree who also attended the Oizumi Gakuen school and was preparing to transfer to Nerima, said he knew Nova wasn't getting any revenue as it was losing students.

"A lot of our conversations these days ended on the issue of what's going to happen to Nova," said Watanabe, who took lessons three or four times a week.

Watanabe still has about 100 lesson coupons, but was unsure whether Nova would give him a refund.

"Actually, I was hoping against hope (that they wouldn't go down,)" Watanabe said.

Maki Nobata, a Nova student and office worker in Tokyo, said she was considering asking Nova to refund her money since she wasn't satisfied with the lessons there.

"Some teachers are good, but many others are quite young and their vocabulary is poor. I was just wondering what I went to the school for," Nobata said.

She said the reports about the language school's financial difficulties also made her consider asking for a refund.

"I bought lesson (coupons) worth about ¥500,000, and I still haven't used one-third of them," she said.



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