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Course Cancelled & College Refusing Refund? Here’s What You Can Do!

According to an order by the Madras High Court, academic institutions may resort to coercive measures, but they cannot be allowed to retain certificates or threaten students in any tacit way.

In January, a father from a low-income group had admitted his daughter in a kindergarten school. However, he realised that he preferred another school nearby and tried to secure her admission there, proceeding to cancel the admission process at the previous school. Since classes had not commenced, he wished to get a refund from the school administration.

But his refund request was denied, even though there was still time for the school to fill the vacancy. The disappointed father complained to the Educational Department.

Picture for representation only. Source: Flickr

After going through the case, the Department set a precedent that the school was not justified and had to refund the fee.

This incident is not uncommon among older students pursuing higher education. In another case, a student from NMIMS had cancelled his admission after attending classes for a month after he had secured a seat in another college.

When the institute refused to refund his fee, the student complained in the consumer forum. The institute could not prove that the seat which was cancelled had remained vacant and appealed to the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC). It was not surprising to note that the Hon’ble NCDRC also gave its judgment in favour of the student and asked the institute to refund the fee.


Also Read: While Taking Admission in a College, Make Sure You Check That It’s Not Fake. Here’s How.


There are also numerous instances when institutions retain the original certificates of the students when they apply to cancel the course, whether during or before classes commence. According to an order by the Madras High Court, academic institutions may, in their monetary interests, resort to coercive measures, they cannot be allowed to retain certificates or threaten students in any tacit way.

As a counter-move to this narrative, some school and college managements are making parents sign agreements with clauses such as non-refund of fee once paid, and suggesting arbitration, should a dispute so arise. (With the bleak possibility of ever being dragged into it, considering how expensive each arbitration session is likely to be!)

But according to the new guidelines of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), students need not worry about the fee and original certificates. They can withdraw the admission before the commencement of the course and in the middle of the course, if they are dissatisfied with the quality or the prospects offered in the course.

What can you do if you find yourself in this scenario?

Picture for representation only. Source: Flickr

Choosing one’s place of education is a matter of absolute freedom, where freedom of choice is one of the fundamental ideals of our constitution as well. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Establish that you paid the fee: preserve a copy of the bank details, cash receipt, photocopy of the cheque or any other relevant proof of payment.

2. Send a formal written complaint to the academic institute. Also preserve the institution’s response to such a request, as it may help you establish your case in the consumer forum.

3. In case the withdrawal of admission is due to lack of quality in the academic content offered, a grey area may arise regarding the standard promised. It may be wise to save details of course curriculum, pamphlets etc. that may have mentioned the intricacies of the education imparted. Since educational institutions are imparting the ‘service’ of education, they are amendable under the Consumer Protection Act.

No institute can withhold certificates or deny refunding the initial fee deposit, provided there isn’t a case made out when the institute has suffered monetary setbacks due to a withdrawal.


You May Also Like: Knowledge is Power: 5 Crucial Consumer Rights Every Indian Should be Aware of


If any institute acts otherwise, you can always file a complaint at your regional consumer forum. There are also other online platforms where consumer complaints can be easily filed.

Featured image credit: Unsplash

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

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Written by Vakilsearch

Vakilsearch is India's largest facilitator of legal services online.​