About this case

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a period marked by uncertainty. During this time, both students and education providers have had to make decisions about their future based on ever-changing information. 

This was an international student's dilemma when he first enrolled to study at a New Zealand university in late-2020. Starting in an online foundation course, he hoped to come into the country in 2022 to begin his bachelor's degree studies in person. 

However, part way through his foundation course, it was clear from government communications that the border would not be opening in time. A difficult decision had to be made and he chose to withdraw from the programme. 

The student also requested a refund for the other half of the course, which the university declined, so he bought his case to iStudent Complaints. 

How we helped

iStudent Complaints’ Resolution Coordinator spoke to the student and the university about the issue and what they needed to resolve this dispute. The student felt there was a lack of consideration for the exceptional circumstances COVID-19 had created, while the school thought they had applied their policy fairly. Facilitation was convened to allow both to share these perspectives with each other. The meeting did not result in an agreement, but it gave the university a chance to extend empathy and the student to feel heard.

Unable to reach a mutual agreement, the dispute was passed on to an adjudicator. The role of the adjudicator is to consider all the information and evidence presented, and to make a decision from their neutral standpoint based on the law and details of the case.


A decision was made based on the facts presented by both parties, and the complaint was not upheld.