Portsmouth language school’s cash dries up as it is hit by Brexit and unpaid fees 

Portsmouth English Language School has suffered financial difficulties since the Brexit referendum
Portsmouth English Language School has suffered financial difficulties since the Brexit referendum

HOST families and teaching staff are owed thousands of pounds after a language school has run into financial difficulties. 

Portsmouth English Language School says it has seen a big drop in students since the referendum – and is also owed £17,000 after two foreign embassies didn’t pay their bills. 

Teacher and acting director Marc Thomas, said: ‘There has been a 30 per cent reduction in our student intake since Brexit was announced. Many foreign students just don’t feel welcome any more.’

Owner, Noureddine Mansour, added: ‘We have undoubtedly been affected by Brexit and our financial difficulties have been compounded two foreign embassies who failed to pay a £17,000 bill for groups of students they sent to study at the school.’

The repercussions have led to difficulties for families who provide food and lodgings for students studying at the school. Host families are angry at the school for not fulfilling their financial obligations. 

A 63 year-old woman, who asked not to be named, has had to leave her home after being unable to pay her rent due to not being paid the £1,400 she was owed. 

She said: ‘I had a student who stayed with me for almost 10 weeks between July and September. I was supposed to receive £150 per week but as yet I have received nothing. I am dependent on this income and ended up having to borrow money off my mother to pay bills. I have spent all my savings and can’t borrow more money and so I have taken the decision to move out. I have spoken to the police and they have said there is nothing they can do.’

Mr Mansour, who has since returned to his native Tunisia in a bid to raise funds, has admitted that the person in question is one of several host families in the area who are owed money from the school.

‘I have five or six families I owe £4,000 to £5,000. The families are good people and I feel so guilty for not having paid them,’ said Mr Mansour.

‘It is terrible that the host families have not been paid as they do a great job,’ added Mr Thomas.

The situation has also created a dispute with staff who have not been paid their full wages since the school, which has been running for 10 years, started experiencing difficulties.

Mr Thomas said: ‘I have been paid on and off since January and am still owed money. Staff have mortgages and children and many have left due to the insecurity. It has been really difficult as I am also studying at Portsmouth University for a masters and I have tuition fees to pay. My girlfriend and I rent and fortunately she has been very understanding ,’ said Mr Thomas. 

Mr Thomas also said that the school premises are in danger of being repossessed due to being three months in arrears with rent and that equipment such as printers were ‘having to be sent back’. He feels it is important Mr Mansour returns to Portsmouth to deal with the current situation.

‘My biggest issue is that he is not here. Initially he said he was going for two weeks and it has now been two months,’ explained Mr Thomas. 

Mr Mansour said he has sold some land he owns and claims the delay has been due to a personal health issue and the financial regulations in Tunisia.

‘I have sold some land but under Tunisian law I cannot access the money for 20 days. It is also difficult to change Tunisian lira into British sterling. I will definitely be back in the country in the next two weeks and will pay everyone I owe,’ said Mr Mansour.