Over 100 University of New South Wales (UNSW) International students were forced to pay exponential, false rental and service fees under a corrupt Student Concierge Company run by 29-year-old Ashleigh Howe.
International students were promised high quality student accommodation services including private transport from the airport and regular cleaning services under Howe’s regularly shifting business names which changed from Student Concierge Company in 2015 to Global Education Advisory in 2016.
Instead, these students were met with a series of financial demands by Howe generally through text message. These were often abrasive, aggressive and categorically unreasonable. Requests included already promised cleaning services and additional registration and electricity fees. Sydney Morning Herald’s investigation into Howe’s company confirms that students were made to sign additional agreements outside those of the Standard Residential Tenancy Agreement which allowed Howe’s business to move forward with its demands.
Many students after leaving the student accommodation services failed to easily retrieve their bonds without ongoing and rigorous demands on Howe and the involvement of private lawyers.
China’s English language newspaper, Global Times revealed in February, that a number of Chinese students affected are looking to file lawsuits against the Global Advisory Services founder.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s investigation into Howe also reveals that the former SCEGGS Darlinghurst student, was engaged in an ongoing system of mismanagement of her student concierge business Global Education Advisory. In 2016, Howe’s business was forced into liquidation by a bookkeeping firm that represented the rights of several private businesses hired by Howe. The entrepreneur owed a total of $689,000 to the local businesses she had hired including lawyers, landlords and marketing/graphic design employees. She has yet to repay these debts.
Honi understands that no University of Sydney (USYD) students were affected by Howe’s service and that it was predominantly students in the inner east that were affected.
Most of these students were studying at UNSW, however the University’s media team told Honi that they “don’t have resources to provide response to enquiries from student publications.”
Further investigation by liquidators and students has lapsed as it is believed that Howe has left the country.