Student loses fees as classes delayed

Lee-Ann Petersen won’t be getting her money back after she paid Kingsway College, Pier House, Heerengracht, for a course in ancillary healthcare in May last year, which included a registration fee of R500 and a cash deposit of R5 500.

Ms Petersen said when she enrolled she was told that classes would start on June 12, but it was only the induction course, which ended at 10am.

Kingsway College staff told the Eastridge, Mitchell’s Plain resident, they would notify her when the classes would commence.

“Two weeks later I called to ask and every time I phoned, Muriel Cloete at the Bellville campus, who I was dealing with, gave me a different story.

“Ms Cloete referred me to Aimee Irakoze, the administrator, but she was of no help. Then, on my instructions, Cliffe Decker Hoffmeyer, sent a lawyer’s letter to Kingsway College on July 26 asking for my money back. It gave them a wake-up call and I was invited to a meeting by Bruhan, reportedly the manager, on December 6, who told me that they would not be able to refund my deposit or registration fee. However, if I could get someone to take my place on the course, he would repay me.

“I told him it’s the company’s responsibility to recruit people and they must refund me,” Ms Petersen said.

“Can you please assist me in this matter urgently, as I have not heard from Kingsway College nor have I had any communication from them. The course cost
R12 000: a R500 registration fee, R5500 deposit and R500 a month until the course is completed.”

What did Kingsway College have to say?

Ms Irakoze told me that it was standard practice in the industry for students to get someone to take their place on a course.

But that is not true. I spoke to several tertiary institutions and each one said that if for some reason a student had to cancel a course or it didn’t take place, they refunded the money, less a reasonable administration fee.

I asked Ms Irakoze why Ms Petersen had to find a student to take her place?

“The refund process may take some time and we recommend it (to find another student) to those who are waiting impatiently for the process to be done. It was up to the board of directors to decide if they were going to pay back Ms Petersen,” said Ms Irakoze.

But, she did not say when the directors would make a decision or even when they held their meetings.

It is now March 2018 and it seems to be taking an unusually long time for the directors to decide.

Ms Irakoze confirmed that Kingsway College is registered with the Department of Higher Education but the course Ms Petersen was planning to do falls under the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA).

She said the enrolment terms and conditions are spelled out on the application form which was explained to Ms Petersen who initialled the relevant clauses. However, Ms Petersen denies this.

“Terms and Condition number 2 states, ‘No refund will be made on any monies paid to the college in respect of registration, books or fees’. On the Enrolment Terms and Conditions under 4.5 it reads, ‘The college does not undertake to refund any payments made to it with regard to course fees or additional costs, unless: 1. a notice of cancellation, in writing, is delivered at least three days prior to the commencement date of the relevant course. Upon such cancellation an amount to 30% of the course fee will be charged to the student for cancellation’,” Ms Irakoze said.

The course Ms Petersen registered for did go ahead but Ms Irakoze refused to say how many people attended “as it was confidential”.

If I were Ms Petersen I would take Kingsway College to the Small Claims Court.

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