7 December 2016

iStudent Complaints update

After five months of operation, the iStudent Complaints scheme has received 16 cases -– the majority of which have focussed on course fee refunds.

The iStudent Complaints scheme was set up by the Government to resolve contractual and financial disputes between international students and their education providers. It replaced the International Education Appeal Authority (IEAA).

All 16 complaints to date have involved Private Training Establishments (PTEs) with the majority referring to providers that are declining course fee refunds after the students withdrew from their study courses. Four cases have been settled, while another two were adjudicated in favour of the education provider. The remaining cases are still going through the resolution process.

iStudent Scheme Director, Derek Pullen, said the small number could indicate there is little cause for dispute or many students are not yet aware of the scheme.

He noted that the scheme has highlighted gaps in providers’ internal complaints processes.

“Under the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016, providers must ensure they have an effective internal process for addressing grievances, and that international students are informed about the process,” explained Pullen.

“Providers must also make students aware of the iStudent Complaints scheme and other relevant authorities if the student can't access the internal process or is dissatisfied with the outcome.

“Yet many of the providers we’ve dealt with don't have a documented complaints process. We urge all providers to ensure they have a clearly documented, up-to-date and easily accessible complaints process.”

For more information see www.istudent.org.nz.

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