MAASTRICHT. The Maastricht court of law declared student services bureau Jules bankrupt on Tuesday 17 December. Jules, set up more than ten years ago by Karin van der Ven, a Maastricht University alumna, mainly supported foreign students with services such as language courses, a removal service, and help with questions about insurance and tax. The management of student accommodation was later added. For the latter, the bureau was discredited on several occasions.
On the Facebook page Sharing is Caring Maastricht, Jules has been subject to criticism for months. One Maastricht student after the other claimed to feel cheated because the business, as the manager of their student rooms, didn't repay any or only part of their deposits. In addition, there were accusations of poor maintenance. Jules reached an all-time low this summer when regional media revealed a memo from Maastricht University that had been leaked. A UM civil servant supposedly suggested to colleagues to no longer refer to Jules. But the Executive Board came with a rectification the next day. The memo was not based on a “solid analysis”, it should never have been publicised. However, it did not do the Jules name any good.
Observant spoke to Karin van der Ven almost a year ago about the ‘mess’ with deposits. She admitted that the administration had been done by hand until September 2018 and because of this had led to mistakes. With a new computer system for real estate management – paid for by investment bank LIOF – things would be better, Van der Ven promised.
Still, it already became clear back then that the business had most likely grown too quickly. All evidence indicated that Jules was unable to cope in terms of means and manpower. In addition, a major source of income had been lost when the large Belgian real estate company Xior took over the management of 143 studios at student complex Carré on the Tongerseweg from January 2019.
In a message shared by Van der Ven with clients, which ended up in the hands of editors of WijLimburg, she wrote: “At the beginning of 2019, it became clear to me that even with the most positive scenario, the result would not be adequate to catch up on all losses. That is why I investigated all refinancing, sale or investment options last year. I was able to reach agreements with creditors and the tax office, but not forever.”
Four of Jules' companies have been declared bankrupt (Jules Group BV, Jules Holding, Jules Nederland, and Jules Vastgoed Beheer).
The curator was not available yet for any answers, for example to the question whether there are any outstanding claims (deposits not yet repaid) by students and how great the chance is that they will be paid after this bankruptcy.