• Kyodo

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The Kyoto District Court ruled Wednesday that the operators of Kyoto Women’s University and another college must return prepaid tuition to applicants who decided not to enroll at the schools.

Presiding Judge Satoshi Mizukami ordered them to pay back some 2.2 million yen in total to four applicants and the father of another applicant, saying the Consumer Contracts Law covers university tuition fees paid in advance. The 2.2 million yen includes tuition and a part of the enrollment fees. The plaintiffs had demanded 2.95 million yen in total.

It is the first ruling in a series of similar lawsuits nationwide challenging the practice since the law took effect in April 2001.

“I am very happy with the ruling,” said plaintiff Yuko Adachi, 19. “There were many people who gave up taking exams because of the financial burden, but everyone has the right to take university entrance exams.”

Four of the five plaintiffs in the lawsuit passed the entrance exams for Kyoto Women’s University and an affiliate junior college for the school year beginning in April 2002. Although they paid their enrollment fees and tuition in advance, they decided not to study at the schools because they also passed exams for other universities.

But the university told them it would not return their prepaid fees, citing a clause in the terms of the entrance examination that says enrollment and tuition fees paid will not be refunded, regardless of the circumstances.

The daughter of the fifth plaintiff passed the exam for Seian University of Art and Design for the school year beginning April 2002 but eventually decided not to enroll. The school returned her tuition money but refused to refund her enrollment fee.

In response to public criticism, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry instructed private universities and colleges in June 2002 to make their payment deadline for all fees except tuition later than the announcement of exam results of national and public universities.

Most universities, including Kyoto Women’s University, followed these instructions beginning with the exams for the school year beginning in March.

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