Overseas study consultancy put under no control, students suffer

VietNamNet Bridge – The number of students becoming the victims of overseas study consultancy firms’ trickeries has been increasing. Meanwhile, the firms cannot be prosecuted for their swindling, because there has been no regulation on the punishments.

In most cases, the victims do not know where they should go and whom they should contact to ask for help.

On the afternoon of October 29, a lot of parents came to Atlantic’s head office in Thu Dau Mot City of Binh Duong province to claim the tuitions back. Atlantic introduces itself as an international education and training school.

The parents said they paid 4000-10,000 dollars worth for consultancy fees and the procedures for their children’s overseas study. The problem is that the money was paid one year ago, but their children have not received any information about the overseas study.

On VietAbroader.org, a forum of the Vietnamese students in the US, a member wrote that he followed the procedures for overseas study via a consultancy firm headquartered on Le Van Sy Street in HCM City.

The firm’s leaflet says that every student has to pay 300 dollars for preparing documents and translation services, and that the procedures would be fulfilled after three months.

However, in fact, when signing contracts with the firm, clients were asked to pay a series of other kinds of fees, including the 250 dollars for the translation and communication fee, 700 dollars for remittance service, 400 dollars for other kinds of fees. In order to get visas, they would have to pay another 1000 dollars.

However, the member of the forum did not get visa. The firm then asked him to pay 6000 dollars more, ensuring that he would get visa soon, but the promise did not come true. After a lot of negotiations, he has claimed 7000 dollars back, while the remaining money has not been refunded, because he could not show the invoices to prove the payment.

The member of the forum wrote that he now does not know where he should go to ask for the legal intervention.

There are numerous such consultancy firms in big cities of Hanoi and HCM City. In 2010, Thanh Nien newspaper once reported that tens of students were swindled by Thai Overseas Study Company. The victims said they were told to pay 2700-4000 dollars in fees, but the firm’s leaders escaped later with the money they collected from clients.

The HCM City Planning and Investment Department said that the company has field for dissolution. About 20 people, who are the victims of the overseas study consultancy firm has reported their cases to the district 10’s police, asking for the intervention.

In February 2011, the district 3’s police sent a dispatch to the HCM City Education and Training Department, requesting to provide relating documents to help deal with the case where Dong Duong overseas study consultancy firm was denounced of cheating clients.

M, the denouncer, said the firm did not have the function of giving consultancy for overseas study, but still provided the service.

The planning and investment department answered that Dong Duong Company’s registered business field was “study consultancy,” but it was not sure if the company had the right to give consultancy on overseas study.

Under the current regulations, the local planning and investment department has the function of granting licenses to overseas study consultancy firms, which says that the firms are put under the management of the local education departments.

However, there has been no legal document which confirms the right of education departments in managing the companies of this kind.