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Get your fees refunded. These students did!

Last updated on: December 3, 2010 11:18 IST

Get your fees refunded. These students did!

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B Mahesh Sarma

With education getting more expensive, disputes are on the rise. But with patience, some understanding of the law and all your documents, it is easy to get a refund.

The first issue that one must understand, is that irrespective of the nature of education you want to pursue, all education providers are service providers.

The seminal 1978 judgment by the Supreme Court (BSB Vs A Rajappa & Ors  SC 578) established that education is an industry and students are customers. Many subsequent judgements have upheld this view.

So you are a customer and you have every right to expect satisfactory service.

Deficiency in service could happen either before the candidate joins the institutute or during his or her tenure at the institute. When you file a complaint against an instititution especially before the classes begin, say for a refund of fees since you do not want to join the college some institutons have been known to argue that they are yet to render you any service, and hence you do not come under the purview of being a customer.

Consumer forums have thrown out such arguments. Even deficiency in say providing you with mark sheets, certificates etc, have been considered.

But keep in mind the fact, these foras are essentially adjudicators based on evidence. So keep all the correspondence, receipts and communications intact. Get everything in writing. But more than that do your reserach throughly before making the choice.

It is better to be safe than sorry. But if you still slip, help is around the corner, you will just need the patience and persistence to get justice.

Click NEXT to read Swapnil Kadam's and Janjanam Jagedeesh's case

Editor's Note: In some of the cases cited (in this story), unless it is by the Supreme Court, a higher court might have turned the verdict around. So these cases must be taken as a guideline and not as the final word. However, they are good precedences to fight your individual cases.


Image: All pictures are used only for representational purposes
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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Get your fees refunded. These students did!

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1. Dropping out of a course

Agrieved Party: Swanpnil Kadam

Case Against: SIG Engineering College, Pune (SIGCE)

Ruling by: Maharashtra State Consumer Forum Order: Full refund with costs

In a recent case, the Maharashtra State Consumer Forum ordered the refund of full fees with costs, to a student who took admission in  one college and moved to another.

Even if the college puts out a notice that they will not refund the fees, or make you  sign an agreement about non- refundability of fees, then it is bad in law.

Many consumer courts have held such an opinion and ruled in favour of the student.

Agrieved Party: Janjanam Jagedeesh

Case against: College of Science and Technology, Vishakhapatnam

Ruling by: National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

This  is quite a similar case to the previous one. The student took admission to the college for an MSc and then wanted to withdraw. The commission was unequivocal in asserting the student's right to withdraw from a college before the session begins.

The UGC notification on fee refund (read last column) came out of these disputes.

Click NEXT to read Vaibahv Saxena's and Bupesh Khurana's case

Did you ever go through a similar experience? Share your story with other students!

Write to us getahead@rediff.co.in (subject line: 'My college struggle') and we'll publish the best responses right here on Rediff.com.



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Get your fees refunded. These students did!

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2. Offering unapproved programmes

Agreived Party: Vaibahv Saxena

Case Against: Indian Institute of Aeronautics

Ruling by: Delhi District Consumer Forum

With respect to this case against the aeronautics institute, there was  a claim of approval from DEC by the institute, while the students alleged that none exisited. So the forum ordered complete refund of fees and it came down heavily on the institute.

"It is beyond imagination how much trauma must have been caused to the students who lost two precious years apart from the loss of money," said the order of the forum.

Agrieved Party: Bupesh Khurana and Others

Against: Buddist Mission Dental College & Hospital

Ruling by: Supreme Court of India.

In another famous case, Supreme Court was much more scathing.

It said "Any institution which cheats by making misleading claims, is liable to not only refund the money to you, but also pay interest as well as hefty penalty".

Here the only issue is that the courts first have to be convinced that the insitute in  question did communicate somewhere implicitly or explicitly that they do have an approval or recognition in place.

Click NEXT to read Karishma Kanuga's and Kanishk Sharma's case

Did you ever go through a similar experience? Share your story with other students!

Write to us getahead@rediff.co.in (subject line: 'My college struggle') and we'll publish the best responses right here on Rediff.com.



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Get your fees refunded. These students did!

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3. Deficiency of service

Agrieved Party: Karishma Kanuga

Against: WLC College of India

Ruling by: Pune District Consumer Fourm

Here, the student, Karishma successfully sued WLC to get a refund after taking admission for their media course. Her main contention was that the course was unapproved and no classes took place for 41 days. The district forum ruled in her favour.

Agrieved Party: Kanishk Sharma

Against: Brilliant Tutorials

Ruling By: East Delhi District consumer Forum

Even if you leave mid-way through the course, there is a possibility of a partial refund. In a case against a coaching institute, the forum observed that, "A student may leave in the midstream if he finds the service deficient, and to tell him that fee once paid is not refundable is uncalled for and an unfair trade practice."

Agrieved Party: Devjit Singh and others

Against: IITT College of Engineering, Manimajra

Ruling By: State consumer Disputes Forum, Chandigarh

Devjit Singh and five other students in 2002 approached the forum and alleged deficiency of service in terms of non-disclosure, lack of approval, unathorised admission and lack of facilities.

Click NEXT to read about the UGC notification that can help you get fee refunds

Did you ever go through a similar experience? Share your story with other students!

Write to us getahead@rediff.co.in (subject line: 'My college struggle') and we'll publish the best responses right here on Rediff.com.



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Get your fees refunded. These students did!

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4. Ruling that comes to your aid

The notification below by UGC dated April 22, 2007, is one of the best office orders as far as student rights are concerned.

It clearly mandates that no Govt. approved institution can retain fees, as well as the original certificates. Even withdrawals after the start of the course must be pro rata.

Did you ever go through a similar experience? Share your story with other students!

Write to us getahead@rediff.co.in (subject line: 'My college struggle') and we'll publish the best responses right here on Rediff.com.



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