International school closes as owner returns to UK, after collecting $581,000 tuition

By Son Thuy   September 6, 2023 | 11:05 pm PT
International school closes as owner returns to UK, after collecting $581,000 tuition
Infrastructure at the Green Shoots international school in Hoi An, Quang Nam, has been dismantled. Photo by VnExpress/Son Thuy
An international school owned by a U.K. national in central Quang Nam Province closed down just before the opening day, after parents had already spent over VND14 billion ($581,900) on fees.

Thai Viet Tuong, director of the Quang Nam Department of Education and Training, on Thursday said authorities have been inspecting the school.

The Green Shoots international school, in Hoi An City, is owned by Catherine Clare McKinley from the U.K.

McKinley had returned to her country, and the Vietnamese principal said they have no say regarding the school's operation.

"If the school had gone bankrupt, that needs to be reported to the department. But in this case, they simply left," said Tuong.

"It will be tough for parents to take back the tuition they had given the school," he said, adding that the department had reported the matter to the Quang Nam People's Committee so it can request the U.K. Embassy to summon McKinley back to Vietnam, but she did not come back.

"For now, the department will discuss with parents and recommend similar schools so the students can begin the new school year."

All the students had been accepted to schools in Hoi An and nearby Da Nang.

A parent of a second grader in Hoi An said the Green Shoots international school began admission from kindergarten to high school levels every year from May to August.

The school previously announced that the new school year would begin on August 22.

There were 95 students at the school, including more than 80 foreign students. Tuition hovered around VND350-400 million ($14,500-16,600) per year, and parents could pay either every month or every quarter.

"I had already paid VND100 million before my child entered the school," one parent said, adding that parents have already paid an estimated VND14 billion to the school in tuition.

On August 8, parents were flabbergasted to receive an email from McKinley, saying the students would be transferred to a different international school in Da Nang.

In the email, she said she no longer runs the Green Shoots school, and did not mention how the students would study in Da Nang, or what the fees would be.

When parents tried to contact the school that she mentioned in Da Nang, the school rejected them as they never received the tuition. Green Shoots, meanwhile, had already closed down and dismantled its infrastructure.

The parents had filed a report to Quang Nam Province police.

The Green Shoots international school was established in 2014, with foreign capital involved. The curriculum for kindergarten and primary school levels were based on the U.K national curriculum.

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