Apax English strives to resolve scandal after students' parents demand refund

By Dat Nguyen   November 17, 2022 | 02:38 am PT
Apax English strives to resolve scandal after students' parents demand refund
Students and staff are seen at an Apax English event. Photo courtesy of Apax English
English center chain Apax English is striving to resolve scandal after dozens of student’s parents and staff called the chain out for owing them money, its parent company Apax Holdings said.

After reviewing recent media reports on Apax English, in which it holds a 66.36% stake, Apax Holdings has admitted in a filing with the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange that there are problems in its management and that it is in the process of resolving them.

Several reports in recent weeks have pointed out that Apax Leaders centers in Da Nang, Dong Nai and Buon Ma Thuot have not been refunding tuition fees as demanded by students’ parents and have not paid staff salaries for months.

In Da Nang, 30 parents representing 36 students have filed a public complaint against the center for not refunding over VND1 billion in tuition fees, saying it has failed to ensure teaching quality.

One of them, 36-year-old Dinh Thanh Huyen, said she had paid VND68 million ($2,741) in tuition fees for her two children since 2020 with Apax Leaders Da Nang promising that only foreign teachers will be employed to teach their students. Instead, the center has offered to have Vietnamese teachers take twice the number of classes as foreign peers.

Furthermore, since May last year until April this year, the center did not organize the number of classes scheduled. It said several factors including teachers being infected with Covid-19, failing internet connections at teachers’ homes and teachers being injured in traffic accidents have prevented it from fulfilling its commitments.

Huyen said that her children and other students attended only two months of classes in the first 10 months.

"Even though there are no classes, the center is still recruiting new students and collecting tuition fees."

A former manager of the center, Nguyen Thi Huyen, said that she herself had not been paid for six months. Her average salary was VND26 million a month.

She quit her job in April but the company has not given back her social insurance book so she can move on to a new job.

In Bien Hoa, Dong Nai, a group of parents are asking for refunds of between VND10 million and VND200 million each because Apax Leaders have not been holding the promised number of classes.

Several staff members have also said that they have not been paid their salaries.

Representatives of Apax Leaders have met with Dong Nai education authorities to explain the situation.

They said that since April 2020, the center has been in difficulties due to a lack of revenue, so it has been slow in paying staff salaries.

Due to challenges in recruiting foreign teachers, they have been offering students two lessons with a Vietnamese teacher instead of one with a foreign teacher, but there are parents who do not want to accept the offer and are demanding refunds.

The center is in the process of refunding them, the representatives added.

In the Central Highlands town of Buon Ma Thuot, Apax Leaders has apologized to some students’ parents after the latter accused the center of "running away" and abandoning their students. The parents have also demanded refunds.

Apax said that it was in the process of moving to a new location in Buon Ma Thuot, but had failed to communicate this decision to some parents, leading to a misunderstanding.

Apax English has over 120 centers in 30 localities with over 120,000 students.

It saw its post-tax profit plunge 65% to VND22 billion in 2021 as its centers were closed for around eight months over Covid-19.

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