VAS expells 40 students as next shot in tuition dispute

July 06, 2020 | 17:08
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Vietnam Australia International School (VAS) has notified 40 families that their children are not allowed to return for the next academic year after they missed tuition fees that are still subject to debate.
vas expells 40 students as next shot in tuition dispute
VAS last week sent 40 families notices that their children will not be able to attend from the next academic year due to missing tuition fee deadlines multiple times

VAS last week sent what are essentially expulsion letters to parents of the 40 students because they missed numerous deadlines to pay tuition fee for online classes during the compulsory social distancing as well as other kinds of school fees. The letters stated that the students cannot attend the school from the next academic year that starts in September.

During the national social distancing due to COVID-19, al VAS students had to stay at home and attend online classes. However, even during this time the school charged them for school meals and school bus transport, without actually providing these services – while using free software to hold the classes. This has lead to the great stir besetting VAS for months now.

As a result, the school accepted to cut online tuition fees by 70 per cent and exempt all school fees over the pandemic. Moreover, VAS only charged fees for the fourth term (May 11-July 15 – after the social distancing period). However, according to the parents, the fees are as much as twice as high as they were last year. As of now, the two sides have yet to reach an agreement – with the letters of expulsion the latest developments so far.

As soon as receiving the notification, Vu Thu Phuong – parent of two students in its Sunrise subsidiary (District 7, Ho Chi Minh City) – said that her children have shown signs of psychological distress and regularly cry because of the news.

Phuong visited the school to discuss and express her wish to keep her children at the school for the next academic year (one of them will graduate) but was refused.

Another parent named H.P., who did not file any lawsuits against the school before and only sent emails to VAS about the fees for the fourth term, also received a letter from the school.

T.D., an 11th-grade student at VAS, said that she has been attending the school for 13 years (since kindergarten) so the school and her class were almost like second family. Thereby, she was very shocked for being told to leave VAS from the next school year.

“The day I got the notice, I myself wondered if my mother is right in her disagreement with the tuition fees. If I cannot enter another school, I will not be able to graduate high-school and will have to go to a vocational school,” said T.D.

Regarding the issue, representative of VAS said that the parents frequently demonstrate, negatively influencing the school’s students. Therefore, to assure a healthy study environment for the more than 9,000 VAS students, the school has decided to "let them discontinue their studies" from the 2020-2021 academic year.

Currently, the parents are working with lawyers to file lawsuits against the school.

The disputes over school fees between VAS and parents during the health crisis have revealed painful weaknesses in financial management and training quality at the institute.

By Van Anh

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