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STA International - Uni Fees Dispute


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Hello

 

Hope someone can please give me some advice on my situation.

 

As a mature student I enrolled on an online degree course. At the time of enrollment when I asked about hours of commitment I was advised verbally that 15 hours per week was enough commitment to follow through with the degree course.

 

Eager to start I enrolled and had 14 days from the date of the course date to change my mind. After a while it became clear to me and other students, that the hours we had been advised at the date of enrolment, did not coincide with the course reading lists and activities, as the hours recommended on each exceeded the 15 hours of commitment we had been advised during the enrolment process.

 

A couple of other students and myself voiced our concerns on their online student forum a few weeks into the first semester, to which a student support officer replied, however I did not keep a record of this. The forum is no longer in existence.

 

After the 1st semester it was clear I was not going to be able to maintain the schedule of works as I run my own business and needs must, and therefore dropped out, and was unable to login to to the course content and forum from this point on.

I had paid approx half of the years course fee at this stage.

 

The Uni then started to write to me about outstanding debt, to which I pointed out my dis-satisfaction with their enrolment process, and argued I felt 14 days was not enough of a cooling off period for a mature student to re accustom themselves with higher education and a degree course. They advised me of their complaints procedure.

 

I stated before I can undertake their complaints procedure I would like copies of my forum posts and their student officers reply to that so I could include this to their Vice Chancellor in my complaint, I also asked for a copy of the syllabus and schedule of recommended reading and activities, again so I make my case.

 

They refused to give me any information and still hold me accountable for the full years fee despite me not receiving either the full years course content and modules, or a full year of teaching.

 

Each time they wrote to me I wrote back and contested the debt and asked for the information. I made the point again how can they advise someone 15 hours is enough per week to achieve the highest grade on a degree course without any prior knowledge of that individuals academic capability in the course he/she has enrolled for. I argued if I visited a physical university would I be told 15 hours a week was enough to achieve a first place on a degree course.

 

On Feb 25 they wrote to me again advising of their complaints procedure. I wrote to them on the 27th again requesting the information and heard nothing back.

 

In December I received a letter from STA international and have done some research on this forum and believe as the debt is with the Uni I have not taken an agreement out with them and therefore they have no right to chase me for the debt.

 

I emailed the Uni accounts department and they confirmed receipt of my letter but advised me they had told me how to go about their complaints procedure. I told them I had requested information from them and they had no right to pass my debt to an agency.

 

I have an email now form STA international stating:

 

We are a debt collecting agency working on behalf of our client the ****** We have been instructed to collect the above outstanding amount and we have sent you a letter to this effect.

 

To avoid any further costs or legal action you must contact us immediately on 0044 (0) 844 324 0607 quoting your pre-legal reference 1331195. Alternatively you can respond to this email.

 

We await your urgent correspondence.

 

So I wanted to ask:

 

1.) Should I have done a SARS on the Uni would that have provided me with the forum posts I wish to argue my case with their Vice Principle?

 

2.) As STA are working on behalf of the Uni does it mean they have a right to enforce the debt?

 

3.) How should I reply to STA? Or should I ignore?

 

4.) Is their any claim for mis-advice/information because of the enrolment process?

 

5.) As I was not able and have not received the full years course content/module and they have provided no service to me can they really enforce the debt?

 

I understand they run a business but the way the lady reeled off the answer of 15 hours when I asked the question, in hindsight I know it was a common question and she knew she was not being entirely honest about the process.

 

I also have a suspicion seeing the number of students who graduate each year on this course compared with the number who start is small, and I suspect their aim for first years is to get everyone on board signed up and then those that falter like me they can sell their debt on.

 

Anyway any answers to my questions would be greatly received.

 

Thanks for your time and assistance.

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You need to get your complaint officially registered with the University and to start the process. Just state your case. You don't need to ask them for information or to make a Data Protection Subject Access Request.

 

Have a read through the terms and conditions of the University course that you signed up to and see what breach of contract you can identify by the University. Use these in your complaint.

 

Make sure you keep copies of letters and proof of posting.

 

Send a copy of your complaint to STA International

 

Yes the University and STA internation can enforce the debt, but normally they can't enforce the debt in a court, if you have an ongoing complaint. You need to exhaust the Universities complaints process, which might include referral to some independent body such as an ombudsman.

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Theyre only working on behalf. Ignore them. Its the same as a wimpy schoolyard bully getting someone else to bother you because they can't do it themselves.

Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

If my advice helps you, click the star icon at the bottom of my post and feel free to say thanks

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Hi unclebulgaria67 & renegadeimp

 

Thanks for taking time out to reply to my post and thanks for your pointers, I will state my case with the University.

 

Regards

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Hello

 

I sent email to uni which stated:

I do have a copy of the letter dated the 25th February, however I have no response to my letter dated the 27th which requested further information from you in order for me to write to the Vice Chancellor.

 

In light of the fact you will not provide me with this information I will now follow your complaints procedure.

 

Please advise your directors that this debt was, and still is in dispute and therefore no further approach should be made by DCA regarding this matter.

 

Please also send me copies of my agreement with you and your terms and conditions.

 

They wrote back:

As per my e-mail message sent on 15th December 2014, the last official letter you received on February 25th 2014 from Arlene Stewart outlines the steps you should follow should you wish to advance your complaint with the ******, as your grievance has not been upheld by us Therefore we will not respond to any further correspondence regarding this matter.

 

For your reference please find below a link to complaints policy:

 

 

You will see in both the policy and the letter sent to you by ****** on February 25th, that in order for your complaint to be reviewed by the Vice Chancellor, a pro-forma should have been lodged with the University’s Student Procedures Co-co-ordinator within ten (10) working days of the date of the letter.

 

As you did not request a review by the Vice-Chancellor within the timescale stated, your debt was passed onto our collection agency.

 

Please find below a link to Terms and Conditions.

 

Unfortunately I am not in a position to comment on the other specific questions you have posed at this time.

 

I have got final demand from DCA today so I have emailed UNI again:

 

 

The debt was contested, I explained this in my letter to ******, and the reason for my letter dated the 27th February, two days after 25th was that I wanted an answer to a very relevant question.

 

A resonable request I thought, and one that if she was not prepared to answer, she could have given me the courtesy of a reply even if it was IDI will not respond to any further correspondence regarding this matter.

 

So please advise your directors to instruct DCA to make no further contact with me until we have run the course of due process and if required I go to the ombundsman. I will of course put this in writing to you as I have received a final demand from STA International and send them copies.

 

The links on your website relating to a review, or how to go about a review, by the Vice Chancellor do not work so I would be grateful if you could forward these to me so I can take appropriate action.

 

Please as requested before provide me with my digital acceptance of your Terms and Conditions.

 

I also intend to write to DCA:

 

As you may not be aware, but I would hope you are at this stage this debt is in dispute with the **** and until such times as this dispute is resolved I will not be dealing with you or any representative you may try to use.

 

I trust this makes my position clear.

 

Is this the right course of action?

What if they do not hold digital copies of my acceptance of their terms?.... they do say by starting the course you are in acceptance on reading their T&C's:

 

The reason for my withdrawal from the distant learning course is for two reasons:

1) Unable to maintain the recommended reading and activities which exceed the 15 hours I was advised pre-enrolment and 14 days cooling off was not sufficient to get to grips with course content and online work/management system

2) Interaction/Teaching provided by Tutors was not sufficient enough, I mean at no time on a degree course was I allowed a direct conversation or instant messenger chat with my tutor it was all by email which I found ineffective for me. I express this is in a phone call with one of their directors.

 

In their T&CS;

Our obligations to you

 

We will provide you with access to course materials as described in the course description. We will provide you with tutorial support via the online managment system. We will undertake to ensure you receive feedback from tutors regularly, and whenever possible within 24 hours of feedback being requested from Mondays to Fridays.

 

We will not be liable for any failure to perform any or all of our obligations where that failure is due to the actions of someone else or to any cause beyond our reasonable control. This includes the failure of the online management system.

 

The Terms and conditions used to say something like it was the duty of every student to make contact with their tutors in order to receive feedback or something to that effect so I believe they have revised these T&C's.

 

They go on to say:

 

Application and enrolment

 

we undertake to provide you with information about the general content of courses, the learning hours involved, and recommendations regarding any previous experience required.

By accepting the offer of place you are confirming that you have received enough information and are satisfied that the course is suitable for you.

 

Well in my opinion they didn't provide me with enough info about the learning hours involved

 

So can I use these arguments for breach of contract? What if the T&C's have changed and if they provide me with no copy of my agreement.

 

Disappointed it has come to this but then I was unhappy customer who did not like the service they provided and therefore I stopped using their service.

 

Any advice on the points raised I would appreciate.

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Hello any comments on the above:

 

Also with regards to T&C's they confirm

Our records confirm that you accepted Terms and Conditions on the 19th of November 2012. This is secure information which is only stored digitally in our database.

Still should I not have been provided with copies?

How can I ignore the DCA and just ask the uni to start court proceedings against me?, as I don't mind it going to court so can argue my points with them?

 

It is not about the money it is about the principle of being lied to during enrolment and then being forced to pay for a service that you feel is not upto your expectations, I mean you must have some right against this surely?

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