OUT: Wendy Walters at SmartCity yesterday.
OUT: Wendy Walters at SmartCity yesterday. Mike Knott BUN240117SMART1

'Why couldn't they be honest?' SmartCity students locked out

IT WAS the first day back for students at SmartCity Vocational College on Monday.

Or at least, it was supposed to be.

Wendy Walters arrived at the campus on Woongarra St to continue her counselling studies, but she and her classmates were met with a surprise.

The doors were locked, with a notice declaring the office would reopen that day, but no sign of life.

The company behind SmartCity, a national training organisation, went into voluntary administration in December, leaving more than 300 staff across Australia jobless and students in limbo.

Now Ms Walters and her classmates want answers.

"It's not myself I'm worried about,” she said.

"I'm in my 50s. I have a couple of other degrees already.

"I have previously worked in the job network, at Impact.

"But many of these people have disabilities, or are long-term unemployed, or struggle with literacy; others are in tough financial situations, like single mothers who have spent their last cent on fuel to get there after dropping the kids at school.

"And there's no one there.”

Wendy Walters outside the Smart City premises.
Wendy Walters outside the Smart City premises. Mike Knott BUN240117SMART2

The students were mystified by a lack of communication over the summer holiday, since news of the company's problems emerged.

"They had told me it may operate in a different location.

"I asked how we would know where and they said 'We will email you prior to the start of the term'.”

No email arrived.

Ms Walters phoned SmartCity on Monday and was told they "would be open tomorrow but we don't know where”.

Half an hour later, she said, "an email arrived advising classes would start on Thursday at the Neighbourhood Centre”.

"That's not what people signed up for - they signed up for Monday to Friday facilities.

"Many of these people don't have internet connections at home.

"Who knows what's happening now?

"Why couldn't they be honest?

"They could have at least ripped the sign off as they walked out the door.”

The NewsMail made a request for comment from SmartCity on Tuesday afternoon but did not receive a response by deadline.