An educational institution is bound to refund admission fee of a student if he/she opts out before a course has started and the vacant seat goes to another candidate, the national consumer court has ruled.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission directed the College of Science and Technology, Vishakhapat-nam under Andhra University to refund the fee charged from a student, Janjanam Jagedeesh, who withdrew from M.Sc. in Animal Biotechnology course in 2004. It said the institute could retain Rs. 1,000 towards processing fee from the Rs. 80,915 Jagedeesh deposited.
"Institute was unfair in retaining the entire fee, even after the student withdrew from their college," the commission said in its July 6 order.
The order assumes significance in view of the practice followed by most schools and colleges, of not refunding admission fee even if a student withdraws before classes commence.
The Commission ordered that Jagedeesh’s money be refunded along with an interest of six per cent per annum within two months, failing which "the petitioners (college and university) will pay interest at the rate of 10 per cent per annum from the date of complaint till its payment".
In its defence, the college and university cited a Supreme Court ruling, which said a university, did not render any service and therefore, students could not claim to be a consumer. But the National Commission rejected the argument, saying the SC order was in the context of conduct of examination only.