Back in 2010 when I proposed to my wife, I had only $400 in my bank account and jobless for 1 month. Even though she knew I wasn’t doing well and probably sulking for a while, she agreed to marry me! Not long after, I got another job. For every starter, I had to be placed in probation for 6 months and hit my monthly sales target at least thrice within the 6 months or resign voluntarily. In my case I exceeded the target only twice, by 173% and 110% in each month. I was lucky that my probation was extended for another 6 months as I made some kind of impression with my bosses.
Then came the serious blunder. Not from the company where I worked but from something that looked initially good for me. Towards the end of the year, I’d decided to upgrade my skills (by taking up a WSQ course) and take advantage of the 90% WDA funding which I heard from my friend. I was a fine salesman, but “a Jack of all trades and master of none.” I have no technical skills or skills that could help me in my career. I needed one so I browsed through the list of WSQ courses offered in the WDA website. The NICF Web Applications Development offered by Ngee Ann polytechnic looked appealing to me because I thought I could master it and perhaps make myself useful to the company by recommending some business process improvements in the future. Or I could create an app for iphones or andriods and start my business I dreamed of since young. Never did I know, it was the start of the nightmare!
The course application and payment was done online, swift and smooth. Then I received a confirmation email from them as shown below post-script.*
Essentially, I had already paid the course fee and agreed to whatever conditions stated during the application process before receiving this bloody email. Besides, it was only a couple of weeks later before realizing this email existed. It was called the “offer acceptance letter or confirmation letter” There was this clause attached:
Please note that we will recover the funded amount of $2600.10 (with GST) from the trainee/company should any of the following situations arise: - he/she withdraws from course after acceptance of offer - he/she fails to achieve 80% attendance - he/she fails to complete all the assessments required
Heh! I didn’t know this clause existed when I applied online! The course fee for me stated during the online application process was $288.90! It didn’t mention anything as above! The online application states that I will receive a confirmation letter from them and so it was. If you read the confirmation letter carefully, my course fee was $288.90! Oh wait, that’s after 90% WDA funding support. In this scenario, don’t you fucking think that the funding was already granted to me? I fucking assumed that was the case since I provided my details proving I am a Singaporean and the online application process was approved by WDA!
I had the printscreens below:
I didn’t know that I was liable for $2889.00 (inc GST) less off my 10% already paid if I withdraw after course commencement! I thought if I withdrew, my 10% was non-refundable. Besides I thought that $2889.00 only applied to foreigners. The declarations and details were very clear during online application and I was confident no harm was coming my way.
Anyway, I went ahead in good faith for the 2nd lesson. (missed the 1st due to overseas marriage ceremony and I had notified the school and the teacher said he will help me out during the second lesson) The class was held deep in the Ngee Ann Poly campus and on top of a hill(BLK 46 #02-08, Ngee Ann Polytechnic) and I had a very hard time locating it. I didn’t have a car so I walked about asking for directions. The lessons were very technical as well as the terms used like ASP servers and no explanations were given to why we use this language (C++) or what’s the particular command for or why we use it. The teacher jumped straight into database programming I presumed. Even though some of us (or just me) had no programming experience, the teacher said to everyone that its easy and we could catch up blah blah. You know, he’s an expert, whereas I wasn’t. There was ZERO text or slides or any handouts given to me for reading and understanding the rational behind such a step or term or concept whatsoever.
After the fifth or sixth lesson, I had to give up because I simply couldn’t understand much or how the particular concept relates to the bigger picture, that is how to create a web application! So I approached the teacher and he warned me that I have to pay the full course fees $2889.00. Apparently, he told us about the funding requirements on the first lesson. Funding will only be granted if my attendance is 80% and above and I pass the exam. Shit! even if I attend the whole fucking course, I wouldn’t clear the exam. Besides, I feel the course didn’t suit me. He told me to seek advice from the CET officer and my employer. My employer??? huh??? Oh yes, most of the students were sent by their respective companies except me. I was shocked but I decided to appeal with the CET officer but office was already closed. No choice, called in the very next day and was told to write an email to them providing valid reasons for the appeal blah blah and I did. Till date, I attended less than 10-20% of the course.
Aside from that, I had my marriage to save. My wife did not want to live with my parents! She had enough of my mum! Its either we move out and get a rental room, buy a HDB flat or she is leaving me. It was 2011 then, HDB prices were sky high and she was a foreigner facing lots of uncertainty in unemployment and PR issues because she was granted a 1 year long term pass. We don’t even know if she could stay beyond that. I am a Singaporean and I can’t even guarantee my wife’s stay! My job’s still in the probation stage and I was still striving to hit targets every month by staying at office till midnight or later to finish the paper work. Heh, that was the norm for my team mates too. Some of us even stayed at the office overnight.
Anyway, back to the course, the CET office began sending me demand letters (including sending emails to my office email and attempted to call my office number) and quoted the clause saying that I was already told upfront in the confirmation letter. After deliberating for a while and settling my marital issues (by purchasing a 300K 3 room resale HDB flat with my parent’s help. We were ineligible for a BTO because wife was a foreigner), I went to my MP, Mr. Gan Kim Yong for help. The whole thing happened during his 2011 elections campaign period. He was the Minister for manpower then and the one who introduced the WDA funding scheme. He did help me in the end by shrinking my balance course fee to $1300, half of the amount payable. Then, it was down to me to own up and pay up, because I think my MP had better things to do than helping me and I felt very embarrassed on the problem. I had no time to consider come what may if the school decides to take legal actions on me. I can’t even afford legal advice etc. I had to accept that I have to pay up eventually.
Separately, I negotiated with the CET officer to reduce another fee by 100 or 200 and pay by monthly installments. They accepted and I wrote 10 cheques to them and they would be cashing out $110-$120 every month as my pay arrives.
I feel worse than shit then, amid all the family, marital and work chaos… almost went berserk if not for god, my religion. I prayed at temples and went to many fortune tellers for advice alot! The whole of 2011 was very bad for me and family. My dad’s car was stolen in KL when we drove up there for my wedding photo-shoot and making preparations for the invitations and ceremony. I thank god and my family for the unwavering support rendered. I could have committed suicide had my wife left me, lost my job and saddled with such an embarrassing debt.
Good luck to those young professionals seeking WDA funding for skills upgrade. Don’t fall victim to the trap! Read the terms and conditions and clear any uncertainties before you join any WDA funded WSQ courses.
P.S: here’s an abstract of my appeal letter to the MP:
Dear Mr. Gan,
I am XXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXX, volunteer. My apologies for taking up your precious time and many thanks for agreeing to help me out on this matter. I had withdrawn from a CET course at Ngee Ann Polytechnic which I sourced from the WDA website last year in November 2010.
- I believe these courses and scheme were started to benefit local residents and eventually improve our lives and income. I was unfortunate to fall at the other end. Please allow me to elaborate:
- I was not aware I had to pay the course fee subsidy if I withdraw from the course. In anycase, I could not catch up and definitely not able to pay $2600.
- I don’t think its fair to me to be encouraged by the websites to put $288.90 course fee. Below is the website link:
I only just realize there was only a link to WITHDRAWAL/DEFERMENT/REFUND POLICY
And that only state that there is no refund or waiver of fees which I am going to pay at that time.
During the application process, I was not made clear to pay back the subsidy if I withdraw. I have attached some printscreen as evidence.
They rejected my application. They subsequently called me, offered me a place and emailed me the acceptance as attached. Throughout the application process I did not know that I have to pay up subsidy if I withdraw. I only had a chance to read the acceptance email when I finally checked it out at the archives. Only there, they put up the clause. By that time, I was already participating in the course.
I have talked to the CET officer and they threatened legal actions against me if I don’t pay up. Besides he said that the fees and subsidies claimable are part of their revenue streams. Yes, I understand they do have to make a profit, but not in this manner.
Please help me out Mr. Gan. Please kindly consider that these websites are misleading citizens into taking up the course and if they withdraw, they will be in the same situation as me. Please also consider that I have been involved in the XXXXXXXXXX to help out youths.
Here’s my side of the story and below are forwarded emails with the lecturer:
I applied on 18/09/2010 and was initially rejected due to overwhelming response before they called me to ask me if I wanted to join another class which they have created. Finally I did.
I did not attend the first lesson as I was overseas to Vietnam to participate in my marriage ceremony held there. I have already informed the CET prior to missing out on the first lesson. During the first lesson, all course mates were informed they have to complete the course or pay the full subsidy of $2600.10. They had the option to withdraw before the course commences.
If I was informed about the penalties for withdrawing this course prior to signing up the course, I would have withdrawn from it straight away. I do not want to pay any course fees for something I have only been notified weeks after the course started, it is definitely unfair to me. When I initially applied for the course during payment I wasn’t told or notified about this clause.
I was only made aware of the course fees I have to pay on 24 Jan 2011 when I approached the lecturer and manager in-charge that I would like to withdrawal and the manager told me I had to pay the full course fees if I withdraw. The clause to pay the subsidy was stated on the acceptance email after I applied for the course. I have been persuaded to continue the course.
However, at the end of January till mid march I had to move to my friend’s residence at Tampines and my workload increased because I was transferred to another department in February 2011. My new boss did not encourage me to attend such a course. I had to give up. I couldn’t catch up with the course either as family, work and housing issues took up most of my energy, time and money.
My intentions to withdraw were clear just one month after the course commenced. I don’t think its fair to impose the course fees to me. Please kindly help me out on this matter please.
Thank you and best regards,
STUDENT NAME: XXXXXXXXX STUDENT ID: XXXXXXXXXX (Please quote this in all your correspondences)
WELCOME Welcome to Ngee Ann Polytechnic. We are pleased to confirm the commencement of National Infocomm Competency Network (NICF) - Web Applications Development course and would like to highlight some administrative information and course requirements.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED Please complete and submit to us by 25 November 2010 the attached Training Survey Form (NP-CET-General-WSQ-14B), compulsory for Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents.
(See attached file: TrainingSurvey(NP-CET-General-WSQ_14B_WAD.doc)
COURSE DETAILS Course Date 30 Nov 10 - 26 May 11 Duration 135 Hours Day / Time Tuesday/ 6:30pm - 9:30pm (30 Nov 2010 only) Monday & Wednesday / 6:30pm - 9:30pm *Term break from 20 Dec 10 - 2 Jan 11 Venue BLK 46 #02-08, Ngee Ann Polytechnic Course Fee $2889.00* (Foreigner) $288.90* (S'pore Citizen & PRs) - After 90% SPUR funding support
COURSE FEE PAYMENT Course fees are to be made before course starts. Please remit a cheque for the full amount, made payable to “Ngee Ann Polytechnic” and send it to CET Academy. Please write your name, Student ID and course title at the back of the cheque. If you have already made payment, we thank you and please ignore this request.
Please note that we will recover the funded amount of $2600.10 (with GST) from the trainee/company should any of the following situations arise:
- he/she withdraws from course after acceptance of offer - he/she fails to achieve 80% attendance - he/she fails to complete all the assessments required
REFUND POLICY All applications for refund due to withdrawal, deferment or exemption must be made in writing to the Director, CET Academy. Each application will be assessed and processed on a case-by-case basis.
Appeal Received SC and PR Foreigners Before course starts No refund / waiver of Fees Refund / waiver of 75% of course fees, on valid grounds* After course starts No refund / waiver of Fees
* Valid grounds include medical leave and overseas company assignment. SCand PR – Singapore Citizen and Permanent Resident
Note : Ngee Ann Polytechnic reserves the right to discontinue any course if the number of paid and registered students is too small to form a class. The Polytechnic will inform students in writing and grant a refund of the course fees paid.
ATTENDANCE / AWARD Certificate of Participation will be awarded to participants who have achieved at least 80% attendance. Participants who have achieved 80% attendance as well as certified competent through all assessments required by the course will be awarded the following : • NICF Web Applications Development • Infocomm WSQ Statement of Attainment in Ensure website content meets technical protocols and standards • Infocomm WSQ Statement of Attainment in Create dynamic pages • Infocomm WSQ Statement of Attainment in Use SQL to create database structures & manipulate data
Attendance will be marked. Please submit documentary proof such as medical certificate, national service letter or letter from employer to CET Academy to support your reason(s) for absence.
ABSENTEE PAYROLL FUNDING ( FOR COMPANY-SPONSORED APPLICANT ONLY) Company (employer) may submit their application for absentee payroll funding directly via the SRPNet (http://www.skillsconnect.gov.sg) at least one day before the course commencement.
CAR PARKING FACILITIES Car park lots at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) is reserved for staff and student vehicles with valid NP parking label. Vehicles without a valid NP parking label will be allowed to park only at white car park lots for a maximum of one hour only. This parking regulations will be applicable from Mondays to Fridays up to 6pm. Infringements of these parking regulations will be penalised. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
click here to see NP Campus Map -> http://www.street-directory.com/ngeeann/campus.cgi?x=1750&y=1490&level=1
CONTACT & COMMUNICATION We will correspond with you via your personal email. Please ensure that your email address provided is correct and you are able to access your email account at all times. For administrative details on course fees payment, etc, please contact Ms XXXXXXXXXX at tel: 6460 7242 (Email: XXXXXXXXXX)
We wish you every success in your studies and are confident that you will receive a rich and total learning experience at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX | Course Administration Officer | CET Academy T: (65) 6460 7242 | F: (65) 6462 0075 Ngee Ann Polytechnic, 535 Clementi Road, Singapore 599489 Visit us at http://www.np.edu.sg/cet/