Wall Street Institute International (WSI) said on Monday it had sent a support team to Taiwan after its local franchisee suddenly closed all five of its branches earlier this month, leaving clients furious.
Tim Russ, an operations officer for WSI’s Asian chapter, said the company had dispatched four support staff, all of whom are fluent in Chinese, to Taiwan and that they would contact each of the 680 students affected to work out a solution to their educational needs.
WSI opened its first institute in 1972 in Italy to teach English to adults and now has global operations with its head offices in Baltimore, Maryland, Barcelona, Spain, and Luxembourg.
Since WSI Taiwan was operated by a franchisee and was not directly owned by WSI, the institute has no legal liability, but it is trying to provide as much assistance as possible to the local students, Russ said.
He said the company was considering all possibilities, including finding a new franchisee or taking over the operation to maintain its presence in Taiwan.
Asked if students could expect refunds of the tuition fees they have paid, Russ said he was not in a position to comment because it is a legal issue between WSI, the Taiwanese franchisee and the students.
According to a press statement on the WSI Web site, the institute will begin to provide live video classes for the affected students later this month.
“WSI support staff in Taiwan will also be working with local government agencies to work through the different aspects of offering an on-the-ground educational solution in Taiwan,” the company said in the statement.
According to media reports, the Taiwanese franchise operator suspended classes for two days early this month because of Typhoon Saola.
It then suspended classes for another two days, citing equipment damage as the reason, but it has not opened its doors since, the Chinese-language United Daily News reported.
Prosecutors arrested franchise owner Chien Chung-hui (簡仲徽) and his wife, Liang Yi-shuang, in Taoyuan County on Friday and detained three other individuals, including two accountants, as witnesses as part of an investigation into possible fraud.
Chien and Liang were released on NT$300,000 bail the following day, while the two accountants were each released on NT$100,000 bail and the third was given bail of NT$50,000.