After a student sent The Namibian Consumer an SMS regarding her failed attempts to cancel a course she no longer wished to study, we contacted Trustco's Head: Group Corporate Communications, Bob Kandetu explain IOL's course cancellation policy.
On November 22, Kahelende Nhinda wrote to The Namibian Consumer regarding her deduction for the HIV/AIDS management course and a loan from Trustco. "IOL deducted N$356 from my bank account monthly. The N$416 is for a loan which I received in June/July 2011."
She also wanted to know. "Why are they saying the course cancellation is declined? Even at big institutions like Unam and Polytech a student can cancel a course as long as she could afford to continue with it anymore. l need valid reasons why they refused?
In response, Kandetu said: "IOL's course cancellation policy is clear and conforms to Namfisa's policy on micro lenders that stipulates that cancellations should be made within three days after the loan has been approved or, in an instance where the cancellation is valid. This requirement/directive is also outlined in the statement of terms and conditions of the loan agreement, signed by the students prior to engagement.
"With regard to the student, the loan was approved on November 2 2011 and we have received the letter of cancellation from her on October 19 2012. The student received all the textbooks and study guides and student support services pertaining to the course for almost one year before she decided to cancel. The reasons for declining the cancellations are valid and we stand by our decision."
We further asked Kandetu if the three days given to students is not too short. He replied that the three day 'cooling off' period is in line with the micro lending act and is applicable to students who opt for student loans.
"We have an internal cancellation policy that caters for students with valid reasons to cancel subsequent to the three day cooling off period. The complainant unfortunately did not have a valid reason to cancel," he further stated.
We asked for a copy of this cancellation policy but Kandetu declined, saying that the policy is for internal use only.
Kandetu said, "the IOL prospectus and website is clear on course offerings, curriculum content and subject didactics. A student makes a commitment to study when they enrol for a specific course of their choice. Unfortunately, the biggest number of cancellation requests result from students who enrolled for a course but made minimum attempts to study, hand in assignments or write examinations. We cannot take responsibility for that".
The Namibian Consumer also contacted corporate communications manager at Namfisa, Isack Hamata who said students who take out micro loans are indeed required to cancel the loan and hence the course in three working days.
"Namfisa has a complaints department that deals with every complaint on its own merits. We would therefore encourage the customer to kindly approach us with all the relevant documentation to ascertain the merits of the complaint and to decide on the appropriate course of action", he said.
He also confirmed that the cooling off period for prospective students is three business days after the date of signing the agreement.
He reminded consumers once again to always read their contracts and all the fine print in order to avoid cases such as Nhinda's. When all efforts to resolve such matters fail, students are encouraged to contact Namfisa with appropriate queries.