Online education colleges - reasonable timeframe for fixing problems

I am currently enrolled with an online training provider. Students of my course have been rallying and in late August submitted a group complaint signed by 40 students regarding its poor quality and substandard implementation. The provider said it could not consider a group review.

Despite indicating that it would not consider a group complaint, the college has recently admitted to the limitations of the course to the students, through its social media accounts, online portal and through direct contact with some students. The provider has said it will review one-third of the course - but not all - and said it would get back to students this week on the timeframe for review.

This past week 46 students - myself included - signed a second petition/complaint seeking their money back, based on the course not being fit for purpose. No-one would never have purchased the course had we known the extent of issues.
Students are now putting their studies on hold because of this review. Why, after all, would anyone continue to pursue a course that is about to be reviewed?

A group complaint has also been submitted to ASQA about this course which is currently being investigated.

My question is: Should students really have a right to a refund given that the provider is admitting its course limitations? Because they are not committing to review the full course, only one-third? If not, what sort of time-frame is reasonable for this review to be completed?

Thanks in advance.


Welcome to the forum @mazziekw. You have come to the right place for some general non-legal advice. :thinking:

The provider is supplying you a service (delivery of the course material) & a product (the course material). Services and products are covered under the Australian Consumer Law and have statutory guarantees. (Click on the light blue text to take you to the linked site.)

Choice have published some useful phone scripts and written complaint templates.

So yes, you have the right to a refund. That they are committing to a review is not really going to change that you have not been provided what you paid for, and wouldn’t have bought had you know of the problems. The review time frame is not relevant unless it is for a course you have not yet undertaken.

I’m sure others will chime in and provide their additional and varied input to help you.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.


Just some quick questions…how long is the course and how far into the course are you?

Have you received credit for those parts of the course you have completed?.. assuming that some of the units of the coarse work have been completed.

The reason for these questions may affect what refunds one may or may not be entitled to. If you hsve just started the course and found for some reason it was unsatisfactory and not as advertised by the institution, then one could potentially claim back any advance payments made as one could argue that the course was not as advertised (misleading or false advertising) or potentially not fit for purpose (if for example, materials which we to be covered and outlined in the course schedule were dropped by the institution).

One may also not be able to claim refunds for that partnof the course which has already been completed. For example, if one has completed 6 of 8 units of the course and has received credit for these 6 units, one may only be able to claim a refund for tbe remaining 2 units assuming they have been paid for in advance.

If one is attending a recognised/registered training orgsnisation which is providing set units for a predetermined coarse, any credits received at this RTO are most likely transferrable to another RTO should the same course be offered. If the credit is transferrable, one could argue that the units for which credit has been given has an intrinsic value tothe students as it doesn’t need to be done again to complete the course.

I see that the group has lodged a complaint with ASQA which is a right path to follow.

It may also be worthwhile also lodging individual complaints as usually each individual may have different issues to others. I also expect that ASQA will deal with individual complaints no differently to that of a group complaint…in some cases it could he more favourable as individual issues can be determined and responded to, especially if issues are unique to a particular individual.

One should also wait until the outcome of the ASQA complaint process before potentially requesting a refund under the Australian Consumer Law, as it could be an outcome of the ASQA complaint resolution that refunds or remediation/resolution is taken to rectify the issues raised in the complaint.


An unrelated but seemingly related aspect to our wonderful tertiary system where at least one of them seems to be serious about upholding standards and serving the students (not!). Sue the messenger and distract is often a preferred plan of action when outed.