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Academy of Learning closed by gov't

The students of the Academy of Learning in Estevan received a rather unwelcome surprise last week.
The doors to the Academy of Learning's Estevan location were closed last Wednesday by the provincial government.

The students of the Academy of Learning in Estevan received a rather unwelcome surprise last week.With some students just three weeks from graduating, the provincial government announced July 21 that it was closing the school after its registration was cancelled for failing to comply with the legislative requirements that govern vocational schools in Saskatchewan.Ann Lorenzen, the executive director of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration's Quality Assurance Branch, said the operator of the local Academy of Learning franchise had run into financial difficulties which prompted the government's decision."Under the legislation we monitor all private vocational schools to make sure they are meeting regulatory requirements," said Lorenzen. "She was not able to address the financial issues she was facing and for that reason we had to make the decision to close the school."Lorenzen noted the government began working with the operator in May to try and get a handle on the problems she was facing. A hearing was then held last Wednesday where it became clear that revoking the school's registration was the next step."Based on all of the evidence that we were able to obtain at the hearing it was clear that the operator did not have the ability to address the situation," said Lorenzen who noted that each academy is operated independently and the closure will only impact the Estevan branch.Overall, 18 students are affected by the closure. Lorenzen said they were all informed of the decision and the government's plans to help them complete their courses during a meeting last Wednesday. "They were very shocked, they were very upset and worried about being able to complete their programs," said Lorenzen. "They all know that we are working on providing a train out for all of them right in their own community. Our plan is to actually work with the Academy of Learning head office so that the students can continue in the same curriculum that they enrolled in and that it will be seamless for the students."We tried to reassure them that we are going to get on this very quickly and get up to them with an update on how things are going to unfold for them to pursue their post-secondary education. We have a person assigned to review all of the files and get all of the details and we are aware there are some that are very close to completion. It will be a few days before we get everything lined up but once we get everything all lined up they should be able to continue and there won't be a disruption for them."Lorenzen said the students will not incur any extra costs as a result of the closure, noting that all owners of private vocational schools are required to pay into a training completion fund in the event of a closure."It's kind of like an insurance fund," she said. "So, if ever a school does run into an issue and has to close, there is a fund there we can use to cover off the costs. It's all done to protect the students and the legislation requires it."