About the case

The student contacted us after he was refused a refund of his tuition fees by the provider. The student was hoping for a full refund of his tuition fees as shortly after arriving in New Zealand he had fallen and injured his back severely. The student explained that he experienced severe pains, dizziness, and blackouts after the fall and that it was difficult to move. After consulting with doctors in New Zealand, it was determined that bed rest and painkillers was the way forward.

The student continued to attend his studies for a few days, but due to the pain consulted with doctors back in his home country who suggested he should have MRI and X-Ray scans. The student underwent further examinations, and it was determined that physiotherapy was all that could be done about his pain. At this stage, the student decided that due to the constant pain it was better to return home for treatment as he could not keep up with his studies as he had trouble being mobile.

The student informed the education provider of his choice and provided them with the medical exams to show proof of the injury. The education provider determined that the student was not entitled to a refund, however the school could defer his studies for a year. The provider’s position was that the student’s injury did not fall under exceptional circumstances, and he was therefore not entitled to a refund as the withdrawal was submitted after the ordinary refund period.

How we helped

The iStudent Complaints’ Resolution Coordinator contacted the parties involved and collated relevant information from the student’s parent and the education provider regarding the dispute. The Resolution Coordinator furthermore helped the student understand the adjudication process and guided the student though various options in the complaints process. The student ultimately decided that they wanted to progress the complaint to adjudication and the Resolution Coordinator collated submissions for both parties, and liaised between the parties and adjudicator where further information was required. The adjudicator reviewed all submissions and issued a decision on whether the student should be entitled to a refund. 


The adjudicator decided that the injury which resulted from the unexpected fall should be considered as an exceptional circumstance. It was determined that the student’s complaint was upheld and therefore the provider should refund the student for the full fee minus the weeks he had attended prior to the fall and minus any legitimately incurred and unrecoverable fees.