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Apax Leaders English center chain suspends in-person teaching in Ho Chi Minh City, extends tuition refund deadline

Apax Leaders English center chain suspends in-person teaching in Ho Chi Minh City, extends tuition refund deadline

Wednesday, January 10, 2024, 14:39 GMT+7
Apax Leaders English center chain suspends in-person teaching in Ho Chi Minh City, extends tuition refund deadline
Parents gather at an Apax Leaders center on Phan Xich Long Street in Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City to demand tuition fees in mid-October 2023. Photo: Trong Nhan / Tuoi Tre

The Apax Leaders English-language center system on Tuesday announced a temporary suspension of in-person teaching activities at its venues in Ho Chi Minh City, citing financial challenges and its inability to deal with disgruntled parents.

The chain has extended its self-imposed tuition refund deadline.

Apax Leaders has encountered serious difficulties since resuming post-COVID operations in March 2023.

It fully refunded pre-paid tuition fees in two installments as committed at a meeting with parents on April 9 last year, yet still faces many obstacles.

As classes at Apax Leaders centers across Ho Chi Minh City have been canceled over the past several years, parents began flocking to campuses to demand tuition refunds. 

Aside from issues dealing with disgruntled parents, Apax Leaders employees started quitting their jobs in droves due to issues with the company, creating a vicious cycle of canceled classes and angry parents.

“It is impossible for Apax Leaders to make further tuition refunds," the company recently said in a statement.

“We have had to suspend in-person classes in Apax [Leaders] centers in Ho Chi Minh City to ensure safety for students and teachers while we search for a solution.

According to Apax Leaders, it sent parents a new tuition refund roadmap on November 4 last year in the hope that parents would support the center chain as it sought to improve revenues and reopen its venues for in-person learning.

Many parents, however, did not approve of the plan and chose to protest in front of Apax Leaders campuses – a move that the company claimed led non-affiliated parents to feel uneasy sending their own children to the centers, thus hurting the bottom line, shaking investor confidence in the chain, and causing more delays in reopening.

All of these issues, it said, resulted in its current failure to reimburse parents for tuition fees.

According to the statement, the company will hold a meeting with parents this month to discuss an appropriate and feasible solution.

It pledged to fulfill its obligations to parents who demand tuition refunds and those who want their children to continue learning at Apax Leaders centers.

After receiving the announcement, D.T. Phuc, a parent in Ho Chi Minh City, said he has completely lost trust in promises made by Apax Leaders.

“I do not want to hear promises; I just want my money back," Phuc said.

“As a [Vietnamese] citizen, I request that competent agencies investigate the case to protect the legal and legitimate rights of citizens.

The case involving Apax Leaders is a fraud and [the chain] deserves strict punishment."

In November 2022, many parents accused Apax Leaders centers of having collected tuition fees for long-term courses but failing to arrange classes.

Many former employees denounced the chain for failing to pay their salaries.

Nguyen Ngoc Thuy, also known as Shark Thuy, chairman of Apax Holdings JSC, the owner of Apax Leaders, committed on April 9 last year that the chain would begin refunding the tuition fees from October 9, 2023.

Apax Leaders was meant to give back 20 percent in a first installment, with the following four 20-percent installments scheduled for November 20 and December 20 last year and March 20 and April 20 this year.

However, many parents affirmed that they had yet to receive their refunds. As such, hundreds of parents gathered at Apax Leaders centers in Ho Chi Minh City to demand such payments.

The chain later made a new pledge to refund the tuition fees to parents, extending the payment period by nearly two years.

It said it would repay the tuition fees in three installments to those parents who had not received the monies committed by Thuy, explaining that it would refund five percent of the prepaid tuition fees in a first installment slated for December 31 last year.

The second installment of five percent was scheduled for April 28, 2024.

From July 30, 2024, Apax Leaders would pay back five percent to parents per month, on the 30th day at the latest.

Put differently, by the end of December 2025, parents would receive a full refund of their money.

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Thanh Ha - Tran Huynh / Tuoi Tre News

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