M2 Academy to close down after just a year

M2 Academy, located at Orchard Gateway mall, took in its first students in September last year. It now has about 150 students in its classes and about 100 taking online courses.
M2 Academy, located at Orchard Gateway mall, took in its first students in September last year. It now has about 150 students in its classes and about 100 taking online courses.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Students and teachers will be transferred to PSB Academy or Kaplan, says private school

Private school M2 Academy in Orchard Road is closing down after just a year in operation, with next week being its last.

Chief executive and founder Mark Coggins told The Straits Times that "investors decided to cease funding", but declined to name them.

Mr Coggins, formerly the president of private school Kaplan's Asia-Pacific division, said the school began efforts to ensure that students would not be left in the lurch when it became clear late last month that M2 had to fold.

Students and teaching staff will be transferred to either PSB Academy in Tiong Bahru or Kaplan, which has campuses in Selegie Road and Jurong East, after next week.

M2 offered online courses, in-house diplomas, and degrees from the University of South Australia (UniSA), Edinburgh Napier University and the University of Canberra.

Students taking UniSA programmes will go to Kaplan. Others will go to PSB, which will also fulfil the face-to-face portion for those taking online courses.

Located in the prime Orchard Gateway mall, M2 took in its first students in September last year.

The Straits Times reported in July last year that it planned to start its first intake with 500 students.

It now has about 150 students in its classes and about 100 taking online courses, most of whom already live and work in Singapore.

When asked if the closure was due to low student numbers, Mr Coggins said it was "one consideration that the investors had taken into account".

M2's teaching staff - all of whom are part-time - and students were told about the closure on Thursday.

Mr Felix Cheong, 50, who teaches English and creative writing under M2's communications and media diploma, said he had an inkling that things were not well when he was asked to take a 30 per cent cut in pay. Even so, he did not expect the school to close this soon.

But he was relieved to hear of the transfer. "My rice bowl is not broken, and the students have somewhere to go."

Communication and media student Ali Muhamed, 21, who will be moving to PSB, was taken aback when he learnt that M2 was winding up. "But the school has made plans for all of us," he said. "They are trying to help us too."

About 70 per cent of the students have taken up the transfer, while the remainder are still deciding what to do.

A Kaplan spokesman said UniSA had requested that it support the affected M2 students.

PSB, which will be taking in about 200 of them, said M2 and the Council for Private Education (CPE) had asked for its assistance.

Asked if the two schools would continue to offer M2's programmes after the affected cohort graduates, both said their main focus now is on the affected students.

The CPE said it is "closely monitoring" the students' transfers.

Mr Coggins said his priority is to ensure minimal disruption to the their studies. "For most of them, it's a change in their school's location. There is no monetary loss; they will get the same teachers and be on the same timetable."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline 'M2 Academy to close down after just a year'. Print Edition | Subscribe