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"Bahujan Hitaye

Bahujan Sukhaye"



January 28, 2013  The Hindu

The commerce of education

S. SAROJA

ISSUE People have to be wary of many educational institutions which make false promises.

Once considered a service to the community, education has today become an industry, where righteousness seldom exists. It is highly commercialised and we often come across naive consumers falling prey to the insincere promises made by educational institutions.

Recently, relying upon the school's prospectus which announced a 50 per cent scholarship for students who had scored more than 95 per cent in Class X Board Exams, a proud Amarnath admitted his daughter into Class XI, in a reputed school in the city. Amarnath's daughter had scored 96.8 per cent, and therefore, the admission seemed quite feasible to him. However, when he paid the first term fee, he was advised to pay the entire amount and was told that the scholarship amount would be adjusted in due course.

In total faith, Amarnath paid the sum and when he raised the matter a few months later, he was shocked to be told that the school's scholarship scheme was revised and that it would apply only to students who had secured 97 per cent and above in the Board Exams. He immediately pointed out the mention in the prospectus and wrote to the school authorities stating that it was unfair for them to go back on their word, but to no avail. An aggrieved Amarnath sought our assistance. We have represented the matter and are awaiting a response.

In a similar instance, in the case of Bhupesh Khurana and Ors. vs. Vishwa Buddha Parishad , filed before the National Commission, the opposite party were running an educational institution in the name of Buddhist Mission Dental College and Hospital. The college advertised in newspapers stating that it was affiliated to the Magadh University, Bihar, and was recognised by the Dental Council of India.

On seeing this, the complainants enrolled for the BDS course. However, the students got suspicious beyond a certain period as no exams were conducted. On enquiry, they were shocked to learn that the college was neither affiliated to the Magadh University nor recognised by the Dental Council of India. Twelve of the affected students made a joint representation before the National Commission seeking a compensation of Rs.1,21,94,000. The opposite party tried to take defence under a few vague clauses mentioned in the prospectus. The Commission failed to entertain those indistinct contentions and ordered for refund of the admission expenses paid by students, along with interest and compensation of Rs. 20,000 to each of the complainant. Rs.10,000 was awarded as costs.

In another case, L.B.S. Centre for Science and Technology vs. Vinod Kumar and Ors. , that came up before the National Commission, the opposite party offered a one-year DCA course and the prospectus issued stated that on completion of the course, the students could appear for DOEACC ‘O' level exams conducted by the Computer Society of India. Lured by this, the complainants joined the course and paid the first term fees of Rs. 2,500 each. But later, the college put out a notice stating that the students who would complete the DCA course were not eligible for the ‘O' level exams.

Upholding the decision of the State Commission, the National Commission observed that according to the prospectus, the students were given the belief that those completing the course from the Centre would be eligible for ‘O' level exams. This representation turned out to be untrue. Students had lost one year of their valuable career. Thus, it was a clear case of deficiency in service on part of the institution. Refund of the fee amount along with compensation of Rs. 5,000 for each of the complainant and costs, awarded by the District Forum was upheld by the Commission.

These preposterous occurrences stand proof to the existence of such institutions and also drive home the message to be aware of such covetous institutions. Besides, people engaged in the business should recognise the fact that it is the career and future of the younger generation that they are dealing with and act more conscientiously.

S. SAROJA

(The writer works with CAG, which offers free advice on consumer complaints to its members. For membership details / queries contact 2491 4358 / 2446 0387 or helpdesk@cag.org.in )