Pinoys lodge complaint against training academy in UK

By Rose Eclarinal
Fifteen Filipinos in Worcestershire, England lodged a complaint against the Healthcare Training Academy (HTA), a college offering Non-vocational Qualification (NVQ) courses, including Caregiver diploma, in Kidderminster, Worcestershire.

They claim they have paid the full tuition fee for their relatives in the Philippines to study in said college but none of them were able to come to the UK.

They are blaming HTA for failing to produce the necessary documents for the issuance of the student visa of their relatives. They also alleged that HTA wittingly misrepresented itself as a ‘legitimate college’ when, in fact, it is not accredited by the Accreditation Service for International Colleges or ASIC to accept foreign students.

‘I have been totally fooled’

Clive Marshall-Lewis is married to a Filipina. He was keen on helping his wife send her nephews in the Philippines to a recognized college in the UK. He found out about HTA and decided to enroll his nephews in the school.

“They offered a complete package: the people will be inducted in the Philippines, then they will come over here to study and all the visas and all the legalities will be dealt by,” said Marshall-Lewis.

He paid a total of £3,200 for the enrolment of his 2 nephews. But both nephews were not granted student visas to study in the UK. To this day, he is waiting for his refund from HTA.

“I’m English and I’m dealing with English people in my own country and I have been totally fooled. So what chance do other people have who are vulnerable, have no visas? This is the disgusting part of it. They are preying on people who are not familiar with our country and our ways and only wants the best life for themselves,” said Marshall-Lewis.

Eden Sumagpao had the same hopes for his relatives. He works as nurse in the UK and he wanted his relatives to complete a Caregiver diploma at HTA. He paid some £6,000 for three enrollees.

In the contract and receipts he showed ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau, the payment package for 3 students includes full tuition fee for the whole year, meet and greet facility at Birmingham Airport where the students will be collected, transportation to the accommodation, daily transfer from accommodation to college, and initial accommodation for the first four weeks.

But like Marshall-Lewis’ nephews, Sumagpao’s relatives were not issued student visas. They failed to come to the UK and attend classes at HTA.

“Same reason ang binibigay ng school (HTA), sinasabi nila na ang papers ay kulang at naghihintay na lang sila ng registration,” said Sumagpao.

Sumagpao decided to enroll his brother-in-law in another college in the UK late last year. He said he did not encounter the same problem he had with HTA. His brother-in-law is now in the UK, studying not in HTA but in another college. The payment he made to HTA has yet to be recovered.

Lourdes Gadose and Nenita Edge both paid a total of £2,000 for the enrolment of their respective relatives at HTA.

“They said if you pay cash, instead of £3,000 you only pay £2,000. So I paid £2,000. Na- check din namin sa internet na wala pala silang license,” said Gardose.

Harassment and failure to pay wages

Jurita Nicolas and Soledad Olarte were former students of HTA. They also have cousins in the Philippines who applied to study at HTA.

The 2 decided to transfer to another college when Nicolas’ cousin was interrogated by an Immigration Officer at a UK airport after entering the country from the Philippines. Nicolas’ cousin was also informed by the same Immigration officer that HTA requires the necessary permit and accreditation to operate. When the HTA management learnt about the airport incident, the 2 were allegedly “belittled” and harassed.

“Sabi sa amin, dalawa kami–you Filipinos, you know nothing (about the law here). Masakit sa dibdib,” said Nicolas.

“Sana huwag na rin silang mag-apply sa agency na partner ng HTA sa Pilipinas. Kasi yung iba nangungutang pa. Kawawa naman sila, di ba? Pinapangakulaan lang na ganito, ipapadala daw ang legal papers, wala naman,” said Olarte.

To this day, HTA has not issued them certificates for the previous courses they have completed at the college.

It was a different story for Babeth Aduana. She thought she hit a jackpot when HTA offered her a job to teach at the college. She was also promised that her student visa will be converted to work permit. But her visa was renewed. She also did not receive portions of her salary from HTA.

Aduana’s work contract shown to ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau stipulates that her work commenced on March 2, 2009.

“Ang nangyari, after a month, pinasuweldo ako. Then after 2 months, di na kami pinasuweldong mga empleyado. At nalaman pa namin na di nila nai-file ang aking visa na due for renewal,” said Aduana.

No Accreditation

The Filipinos found out much later that HTA, at the time that it was recruiting foreign students, was still in the process of securing accreditation from ASIC.

ASIC is a regulatory body for colleges in the UK that are accepting international students. Without the ASIC accreditation, HTA should not have recruited or accepted international students.

The Pinoy complainants said the “no accreditation” status of HTA is the crux of the visa problem for its potential students back in the Philippines.

In a separate investigation conducted by ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau, ASIC’s CEO, Maurice Dimmock confirmed that HTA is not accredited with ASIC.

The list of ASIC accredited colleges is also posted in its official website.

ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau also invited HTA to answer some allegations made against them, but it has not replied to the registered mail, e-mail, phone calls and various efforts made to reach its management.

Courts favor complainants

Nenita Edge decided to bring the matter to the courts of law in the UK. She filed a claim at the Kidderminster County Court to recover the money she paid HTA.

The decision handed out by the court in October favors Edge. The court ordered HTA to pay Edge a total of £2033.32, which includes interest.

In a separate claim lodged by Babeth Aduana at the Employment Tribunals in Birmingham, the Employment Judge ordered a payment of a little over £2,000 for “unlawful deduction of wages.”

Both Aduana and Edge are still awaiting payment from HTA.

Eden Sumagpao shows the receipts of payment for tuition fee from HTA/Photo courtesy of Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Trading Standards confirms investigation

The Filipinos who claim they have been “duped” also lodged a complaint against HTA at the Trading Standards, a regulatory body for fair trading in the UK.

In a letter sent to ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau by John Dell, Division Manager of Trading Standard Service in Worcestershire County Council, it confirmed that an investigation is on-going.

“I regret that I am unable to give you any specific information on HTA other than the fact that we are investigating complaints made against them by Filipino students.”

“The complaints are being investigated for alleged offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and possibly other legislation.”

“On conviction, the maximum penalty under the above legislation is a fine and up to 2 years imprisonment with compensation to any victim,” the letter said.

The Filipino complainants said they were enticed to enroll their relatives in HTA because of the good package and promo offered by the college to international students. But they failed to investigate and look into some details that could have avoided this problem.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

we have several clients who were fooled also please give me the emails were to complain . you can send to our email omemario@yahoo.com ryenogacio@yahoo.com

haunurses said...

you can report them to POEA.

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