School 'failed to get nod' for foreign pupils
Wife of boss denies Nepalis mistreated
The Office of the Private Education Commission (Opec) has confirmed that International Hotel and Airline Business School (I-HABS) failed to seek permission from the Ministry of Education to enrol foreign students on an eight-month hotel management course in Bangkok following reports that Nepali students ended up working and living in subpar conditions.
Opec secretary-general Chalam Attham said I-HABS had not received approval from the education ministry to admit international students although its president Siriwuth Wuthisuwanwat registered the school for tourism, airlines and hospitality in 1993.
"We are now setting up a committee to gather and verify the facts. It will take a few days before we can proceed with the case and decide whether it violates the Private School Act," Mr Chalam told the Bangkok Post.
Mr Chalam said private schools for non-formal education can use commercial buildings for classroom activities because they do not have a large number of students.
"These schools, including I-HABS, normally help students learn specific job skills. However, there are two requirements for international students. First, they must obtain non-immigrant ED (education) visas. Second, schools must be approved by the education ministry on a case-by-case basis to admit foreign students on national security grounds," he said.
Mr Siriwuth said the school did not know that it had to inform the education ministry in the first place because it was the first time that it admitted international students.
"I admitted it was our fault. At first, I thought that holding non-immigrant ED visas fulfilled the requirement. Students were told by agents that they would be able to complete the eight-month course. However, when they arrived in Thailand, they realised that they could stay only for three months. We were to solve the problems later because the course was about to start," he said yesterday.
Panisha Chaichanakul, the wife of managing director Sunil Khadka, came forward to deny the allegation that school operators had deceived Nepali students.
"I admit that we failed to ask for permission from the education ministry in time. We did not know that we were required to inform the authority of enrolling foreign students in our school," she said.
"When we approached the education ministry, we were told that it would take a long time and urged our students to return home. If we had got permission, their visa would have been extended.
"However, students insisted they wanted to stay here, so we thought on our feet to enrol them in a Thai-language institution in Kalasin province to get their visas extended."
Ms Panisha denied the accusation that the school's facilities and course on hotel management were below standard.
"I admit some students were not satisfied with the school's facilities and instructors," she said. "I got complaints that our training centre was too small and our teaching was not good enough. However, I insist private schools for non-formal education are like this because we are not colleges.
"When it comes to the living conditions, we housed them in a separate building. Two students shared an air-conditioned room.
"We also gave them weekly food budgets. The eight-month programme costs 75,000 baht in total, including tuition and accommodation."
Ms Panisha also insisted that students received an internship at standard hotels and restaurants.
"At first, we asked them to work in four-to-five-star hotels, but students requested to work a three-star hotel for higher wages," she said.