However, I received a reply from the person (I'll just call them friend for now) who commented on Thai Visa regarding their concerns obtaining visa docments from CMULI.
Friend too has been looking for answers and had this to say:
'Three weeks ago I enrolled for the one year Thai course starting November. Before registration I asked them several questions and I always got valuable answers within one day. So I could not see any reason why I should not take this course. Unfortunately things changed rapidly right after I sent the money. My emails were ignored, nobody picked up the phone for days, fax did not work. All this is far from normal even if I consider this is Thai-business.'
Friend also found that:
- Most comments about CMULI on ThaiVisa have been positive up until recently.
- The website Retire on 550 a month still has a big recommendation of CMULI on their page, but underneath in RED writing is this - NOT RECOMMENDED- contact us for details
- Details given by Retire on 550 a Month to friend were “We have worked with CMU for several years now and found that they are disorganized, confused, think about their own welfare over their clients and do not do the job that is expected of us or our clients.”
An explaination. Friend had managed (after much effort) to contact someone 'at the top' of CMULI and was told that 'Thai Immigration had a suspicion that CMU was “selling” ED-visas to farangs not attending the courses and stopped all visas to students from CMU, not only language students. Many existing students have now illegal residence permit status as their visa could not be extended. It was a mess. Besides that there was a relevant change in administration staff at CMULI and the new employees are just not yet familiar with the daily business. Up to now they have a backlog of some 200-300 students waiting for their visa paperwork so the staff is completely overstrained. This might be why I got not answers to my emails.
Now there was a inspection at CMULI by Thai Immigration and they agreed that all documentation is correct and Visa will be issued again starting next Wednesday, 8. September.'
Friend was 'guaranteed that the course in November will be running and I will get the visa papers by end of next week (he would put my name somewhere on the top of the backlog). And of course I get a full refund if my Visa is refused.'
All of this may not be the most comforting news, but it is good to know what exactly is going on...just incase I have to change tack. CMULI is still advertising their four Thai Language courses as including a one year visa.
Using the one year visa as a draw card is a little ambiguious. In the CMULI FAQ section you will find:
What are the visa fees?
The first visit to the Thai embassy or immigration will cost 1,900 Baht.
I think in most cases, with other schools also, that the visa costs are NOT included and appears not at CMULI either, even though most give you the impression that they are, in their advertising.
Some Learn Thai course providers clearly outline what is required regarding the ED Visa and assistance/support. AUA spells it out in black and white, well blue and pink actually.
Perhaps more information should be given to foreigners on the ins and outs of the costs and procedures! Call me crazy, but, in my book visa docs does not equal a visa or its costs.
One of the other 'feelers' I sent out came back with positive feedback regarding CMULI, but perhaps is unaware of the current dilema. He has been heavily involved with Learn Thai courses in Chiang Mai for many years and once taught at CMU.
There were positive comments on Thai Visa regarding some of the teachers and course at CMULI, which was refreshing. No matter where you decide to learn or which course is undertaken, the consensus seems to be that the success of the teachings/learnings is largely due to the quality of the teacher and the dedication of the student, not so much the institution.
Me, I haven't heard back from CMULI, but didn't expect to having only sent my email on a Friday night and today is only Sunday. I too will be contacting the 'person at the top' later this week, if I do not receive a reply regarding my visa documents.
A little obsessed about the whole visa thing you might say, well maybe, but I leave the country in 6 weeks and need to get this sorted soon. No matter the outcome, I'm still looking forward to learning Thai at CMULI or elsewhere.