A parent signed their child up with a secondary school in New Zealand. They were seeking a prestigious school and great academic success as the student had ambitions to become an engineer and needed high marks to gain entry to their desired university program. The education provider had only limited spots available for the school year and required prospective students to complete an interview process ahead of being offered a place.

During this interview, the student had made clear that he wished to study advanced mathematics at their school, and the school representative had informed the student that this course was not available, but that it could be self-studied. After the interview, the student was offered a place at the school. The parent paid the tuition fee and sent an email though with the student’s preferred course selection. Two weeks ahead of school start, it became apparent to the parent that advanced mathematics would not be a subject available for their child and they enquired with the school who confirmed that this was the case. Upon hearing this news, the parent decided to withdraw the child from the school.

The parent contacted iStudent Complaints as she could not reach a resolution with the education provider with regards to a refund. The parent argued that the school had had adequate opportunity to inform her that advanced math was not an available course. Furthermore, she believed that only informing her son who was a minor that the course was not available was not appropriate. Lastly, she believed that she should be entitled to a full refund for two reasons. Firstly, she would have never enrolled her son if it had been made clear that advanced math was not an available subject and secondly because the schools refund policy stated that if they were unable to provide a course the parent would be refunded.

The school had initially declined to refund the parent as they had withdrawn the child from the school after the refund deadline.

How we helped

iStudent Complaints’ Resolution Coordinator contacted the involved parties and collated a large amount of relevant information from the student and the education provider regarding the ongoing dispute. The Resolution Coordinator ensured that the internal complaint processes of the education provider had been exhausted and provided a forum for negotiation, in which the education provider agreed to offer an 80% refund of the tuition fees. The parent was not agreeable to this offer and further demanded a refund of any immigration fees they had incurred on top of a full refund. iStudent Complaints progressed the matter to a facilitation where the parties reached an agreement.


After a productive facilitation both parties understood each other’s perspectives and the provider took the opportunity to ask for feedback about their enrolment process to ensure this would not happen again. The parties agreed to a full refund of the tuition fee and that the parent would bear their own immigration costs.