Every year thousands of students seek admission in coaching institutes for the preparation of the Engineering and Medical entrance Exam. The student fills in the enrollment /admission form which cites various conditions. The institute collects upfront fees for the entire course. After attending classes for a few days/weeks, the student is dissatisfied and wants to opt out. However, the institute refuses and cites a clause that was mentioned in the admission form: “Fees once paid shall not be refunded under any circumstances.”
When the student persists with the demand, the institute cites another clause in the form: “In case of any dispute, matter shall be referred to arbitration and institute shall appoint the Arbitrator. The decision of the arbitrator shall be final and binding on the parties.”
What is the solution? Here it is….
The consumer forum has directed coaching institute FIITJEE to refund half the tuition fee amounting to Rs. 1,16,564 to Mr. Sanjay Choudhary, father of a student who had taken admission in the coaching center. The institute has been asked to refund the sum towards 50 per cent of the tuition fee paid by the complainant along with interest at 6 per cent per annum. A district consumer disputes redressal forum, headed by its President Justice N K Goel, said collecting fees for two years in one go amounts to “unfair trade practice”.
What was the complaint all about?
Mr. Sanjay Choudhary’s son joined FIITJEE’s Saifabad branch in Hyderabad for a two-year integrated school programme for IIT-JEE course in 2010. Prior to the date of joining, the institute asked to pay the fee amount of Rs 2,33,128 for the two years course. Later, when his son started attending the classes, he found that the classes were not up to the mark so he decided to quit. The complainant alleged that the institute declined to refund the fee citing the declarations he had made while joining the course.
When the student’s father persisted with the request to refund the fee (after deducting a portion for the duration he attended the classes) FIIT-JEE initiated arbitration proceedings. The Arbitrator declined to grant the refund and agreed with FIIT-JEE’s submission that once the student signed the admission form, he was bound by its clauses.
The matter did not end there.
At the hearing, FIITJEE conceded that the student had left the course voluntarily and hence they were not bound to refund the fees as per their terms and conditions.
In situations like these, the students who wish to leave the institute or course mid-way, usually, hesitate to appoint a lawyer to argue their case. On the other hand, institutes have the resources for good legal representation. However, law is always in the favour of the students if they want to fight for their right like in the case cited above.