ITI Education Corp. students across Canada have more than just exams and assignments to worry about following Ernst & Young Inc. being appointed as receiver and manager of the post graduate e-Business school.

On August 16 the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia ordered Ernst & Young to take over ITI’s Halifax N.S.-based headquarters along with six other schools across Canada in Moncton, N.B., Ottawa, Toronto, Mississauga, Ont., Calgary and Vancouver. ITI also operates in three locations in the U.S.–Bellevue, Wash., Denver, and Portland, Ore.

ITI currently has total of about 1,300 students across Canada. Calls placed to ITI’s headquarters for comment about the reason behind the receivership were directed to Ernst & Young.

“They couldn’t pay their bills,” said Rick Cullen, vice-president of Ernst & Young, on Monday. “It appears they had expanded too quickly into the U.S. and other areas that might have been a big drain on their cash flow.”

Ernst & Young is now left with the task of finding buyers for the schools, while the court order halts creditors from proceeding with any action.

“The schools are still operating on a limited basis,” Cullen said.

For a brief period, ITI’s operations are being funded by its largest secured creditor, Torstar Corp.

According to an Ernst & Young spokesperson, Ernst & Young representatives first met with ITI employees to inform them about ITI’s demise.

“Immediately following that, they began their conversations with students Thursday and Friday,” the spokesperson said, adding that they are hoping to keep the schools open until the end of August.

Kristopher Young was working for a video production company in Hamilton, Ont. until May. He decided to move to Mississauga, attend ITI, add more skills to his portfolio, graduate and pursue a career combining his media experience with IT.

In order to raise the $25,600 tuition, Young said “the program is too intense to have a job, so it’s a lot of borrowing money from family and loans.”

When an Ernst & Young representative gathered all of the Mississauga campus students into one room on Thursday, Young’s reaction was shared by many around him.

“I was totally shocked. This came right out of the blue,” Young said. “Then your thoughts just started scrambling, wondering what’s going to happen with the bank loan you just signed.”

His fears were not fully unleashed until the Ernst & Young representative expressed that there was a chance that students wouldn’t receive any of their tuition back if the school was to close.

Young was not satisfied with the news. He began browsing government Web sites to find out what rights the students have and what help they might receive in case ITI has to close its doors.

As of Monday, Young’s phone messages to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities had not yet been returned.

See the Sept. 7 addition of Computing Canada for more on ITI.

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