South Australia halts central Vietnam students' admittance amid disappearances

By Doan Hung   February 5, 2024 | 03:33 pm PT
The South Australia Education Department has stopped receiving applications from students in Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh following the disappearances of several students from the central Vietnam provinces.

The education department of the Australian state on Monday said the decision was made after authorities took a look at the hometowns of the students who had abandoned their studies.

A representative from the department said the decision falls in line with the law on education services for foreign students, and the decision helps to preserve the integrity of the Australian visa system. Applications from students in other parts of Vietnam will still be processed normally, the representative added.

In January, a Vietnamese student named Sunnie Nguyen, 17, was reported missing by her host after dinner, adding that her bags, clothes, laptop and personal documents disappeared with her. Sunnie’s phone was turned off, and all her social media accounts were inactive.

Australian authorities said Sunnie was the fourth Vietnamese student to disappear this way in South Australia since December 2023.

"There is no information or evidence uncovered to date which would indicate they are in immediate danger," the education department's representative said.

Police said the students might be actively avoiding authorities’ detection, adding that investigators are cooperating with other entities to find the students and ensure their safety.

Nguyen Duc Quyet, CEO of Rightway Study Abroad and Immigration Consulting Company, said he had received the information from the South Australia education department a few days ago. He said he had never seen such a heavy-handed measure from the department.

"The incident will negatively affect students of the three Vietnamese provinces, those who have real desires to study abroad," Quyet said, adding that the South Australia education department manages all public schools from first grade to 12th grade.

When a student wants to apply for a visa to enter Australia, they must get accepted by a school there and receive an invitation letter. The new decision means that no student from Nghe An, Ha Tinh or Quang Binh will be able to receive invitation letters for school admittance, even if they have guardians in South Australia.

By October 2023, there were over 31,600 Vietnamese students in Australia, ranking them in 6th place among the foreign student community in the country, behind China, India, Nepal, Colombia and the Philippines, according to the Australian Department of Education.

To apply for a visa to study abroad in Australia, international students need to get invitation letters from schools, pay for medical insurance, get approval forms from either parents or guardians, present statements regarding the purpose of their studies and state whether they would stay or leave the country after completing their studies.

If they change their accommodations, they must report their new addresses within seven days, or their visas will be revoked.

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