Council alerts students on dodgy higher education institutions

06/03/2012 16:26

The Consumer Council of Fiji wishes to advice students, parents and guardians to first check with the Fiji Higher Education Commission to see if their preferred institutions are registered and recognized by Fiji Higher Education Commission before parting with their hard earned money.

In recent years, Council has found institutions trying to attract students by promising to offer courses that guarantee a bright future. Unfortunately it has brought nothing but misery for some students who were simply misled and given false hopes. Parents/guardians and students are advised to be on alert and vigilant and to avoid falling for courses that promise to be quick, easy and cheap, or guarantee employment upon completion.

From 2010 to date, the Council has received 48 complaints against higher education institutes in Fiji. Majority of these complaints were on refusing to refund fees despite students de-enrolling from the course, fees paid for courses that later was withdrawn, changing course requirements in the middle of the program, and certificates not issued to students who have paid and successfully completed their course. The most recent case investigated by the Council is of a higher education institution demanding additional fees after the course had ended.

The trend indicates that majority of complaints are attributed to the fact that the institutions concerned are unable to deliver the services advertised.

Complaints received by the Council also revealed that a good number of these institutions promise placements in other institutions abroad and locally, upon successful completion of relevant course. But this tactic is used to lure students deliberately as there is no arrangement with other institutions. Furthermore, some institutions have made false claims of being accredited by various accrediting bodies.

The Council is also urging parents and students to check the institution’s refund policy. This is an important information which must be sought and understood by parents/guardians and students. It is equally important to seek information such as cost of education, penalty clauses for de-enrolment, facilities and amenities provided to the students and so forth to make an informed decision.

Currently 46 higher education institutions are recognized and 13 are registered. All higher education institutions will eventually be required to register but first they need to be recognized. To know which ones are recognized and registered, check with the Fiji Higher Education Commission.

The Council would like to urge all parents and students to lodge complaints with the Council or the Higher Education Commission on any higher education institute that seems dodgy.