Hundreds of students raising cash for charities left stranded by collapse of travel firm
Dozens of Scots students have been left stranded after the collapse of company specialising in gap years and charity fundraising events abroad.
Great Britain Charity Events, the parent company of Student Adventures, went abruptly into receivership this week despite hundreds of students yet to undertake fundraising challenges abroad.
It arranges events for students across the UK in far-flung locations such as Tanzania and Nepal and helps raise money for charities including Help for Heroes, the Teenage Cancer Trust and Diabetes UK.
While it is not known how many Scottish students are affected by the firm’s collapse, about 40 people from Nottingham University were grounded at Gatwick airport last Thursday while around 20 students from Plymouth University are currently undertaking a climb of Kilimanjaro.
The collapse of the firm means charities could now potentially lose millions.
The closure of Student Adventures is a wake up call for the sector - Michael Wright
Daniel Pascoe, a Glasgow Caledonian University student, was due to meet friends from Nottingham University to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and raise money for Meningitis Research.
He said he had already paid the company over £1,000 and was now concerned about its return.
“Myself and three others friends from Scottish universities were meeting up at Gatwick but got an email at the last minute saying while we could still travel we wouldn’t have any support on the ground.
“I’m not too happy there was no notification that this company was facing financial problems. I’m more concerned charities get the money they are due. I’ve spent over a year fundraising.”
In a statement the GBCE said: “This is a great shock and extremely disappointing for many students who planned to fundraise for numerous charities.
‘However, we will be working with those who had bookings with GBCE to ensure that the necessary support is available to all of those who have been affected.'
It is thought those students already abroad will be helped by the charities for which they are raising cash.
The company was ATOL-bonded until the end of March this year, but did not renew its licence with the Civil Aviation Authority.
It is understood that many of the students who booked did so before the licence was revoked. They should therefore be covered by the ATOL scheme and be entitled to a full refund.
The news has led to a call from Bond, the leading membership body for organisations working in international development, for tighter regulation.
Its spokesperson Michael Wright told TFN: “The closure of Student Adventures is a wake up call for the sector.
“We have been hearing concerns from our members about regulation of voluntary tourism operators and are working hard with organisations to develop and enforce rigorous standards that will benefit the businesses, fundraisers and charities that go to great effort to ensure that the diverse and valuable tradition of voluntary tourism continues to flourish.”
Student Adventures has not posted any information on its website and the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts have been deleted.