A fall in international student numbers and insufficient funding has been blamed for the collapse of FutureCOL, which has been working this week to transfer its 36 students to other local providers.
The private training establishment, which had operated in Hastings for 25 years, advised its intention to go into voluntary liquidation on February 27, teaching finished on March 2, and the students were informed on Monday this week.
Chief executive Bharat Guha said the decision was made due to a shortage of full fee paying international students due to changes in immigration policies and a drop in domestic students due to availability of work in Hawke's Bay were issues.
"It is unfortunate that FutureCOL is not able to survive in this current educational environment as our students have been successful in finding careers in the industries they train in."
FutureCOL received Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) funding for providing the courses to domestic students (currently three enrolled), and TEC said yesterday that FutureCOL had an outstanding debt, but it would not disclose how much.
"We will work with the liquidators on this issue, and until that is resolved, we cannot discuss further details."
TEC chief executive Tim Fowler said FutureCOL had asked TEC to revoke its 2018 funding.
"We have done this, but had ceased payments to the organisation prior to this."
He said that in terms of assessing funding allocations the TEC undertook annual financial viability assessments of all Private Training Establishments (PTEs) that it funded, and used that information to help inform and manage its risk profile.
Former FutureCOL staffer Kevin Moloney said "the writing was on the wall" about the institution's fate more than one year ago.
Mr Moloney, a former business teacher turned engagement co-ordinator, said he laid out his concerns about the operation after he was made redundant in June last year.
"They knew at the start of 2017 that they were in financial difficulty but continued to take on students. They didn't address the issues and there was no strategic plan. The writing was on the wall."
The teacher said he found out about the closure when a former student contacted him, adding many international students were worried about their student visas.
"I know a lot of them are very shocked and quite angry. They paid a lot of money and were working with laptops that don't work and poor internet connections. They were spending a lot and not getting much in return."
Mr Guha said the college had been running at a loss for the past five years, during which time it had been propped up by its shareholder.
"The shareholder is not able to sustain this financial injection and as such has appointed liquidators."
FutureCOL, otherwise known as The College of Future Learning NZ, trained on average 200 students a year, with an equal number of domestic and international students.
It offered programmes from Level 2 to Level 7 in cookery, information technology, business and foundation studies.
There were currently 36 students affected, three domestic students and 33 international students.
"FutureCOL is currently working with NZQA, Immigration NZ and Public Trust to transit the affected students into the tertiary institutions of their choice," Mr Guha said.
The tuition fees paid by the students were protected by the Public Trust Fee Protection Scheme.
"As the closure of FutureCOL is not on the basis of academic quality, students retain all their credits to their qualifications," he said.
An NZQA spokesperson confirmed all the students had been advised of an alternative provider to continue their studies at.
"NZQA does not have any evidence of quality concerns with the programmes that were delivered by FutureCOL. The students can therefore retain any credits awarded by FutureCOL."
Mr Guha said support had been offered to the 15 fulltime staff affected by the closure.
"FutureCOL would like to thank the people of Hastings for the tremendous support given over the years," he added.
"Our international students contributed $2.25 million per annum directly into the Hastings' economy. Both our domestic and international students have made Hastings/Hawke's Bay their home upon completion of their qualifications."
The institute's shareholders would make a special resolution for voluntary liquidation on Friday, March 9.
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said she was saddened to hear of FutureCOL's closure and encouraged the community to support those teachers and students affected.
"I've really enjoyed working very closely with the team at FutureCOL and I've always felt very proud attending their graduations and presenting students with their New Zealand qualifications.
"I hope as many students as possible are able to continue their studies in Hawke's Bay...it's very important we all come together to support the staff and the students to be able to continue their studies and hold roles within the region."