Source The Vibes

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Ten former international students of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) have filed a writ of summons with the high court on Thursday suing the institution for a total of RM1,173,455.

Besides the amount being sought for special damages, the plaintiffs are also filing an action seeking general damages to be quantified and aggravated, as well as exemplary or punitive damages.

The amount is sought for fees paid for their Bachelor of Computer Science (Hons) Cloud Computing Technology (BCCT), living expenses, travel costs and other ancillary payments.

In their statement of claim, the plaintiffs are seeking aggravated damages and exemplary or punitive damages for non-recognition of the BCCT degree awarded by LUCT.

The 10 ex-LUCT students are represented by Derek Fernandez of Fernandez and Selvarajah.

The students who originate from Syria, Bangladesh, Senegal, Pakistan, Iraq, and Nigeria, studied for three years at LUCT for their BCCT degree, whose accreditation expired in May 2021, leading to non-recognition by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

Earlier, the international students had issued a letter of demand for RM5 million in damages in September this year through their lawyers.

The MQA is the body governing recognition of qualifications for public and private universities, and is under the purview of the Higher Education Ministry.

In the statement of claim, the plaintiff students alleged that they signed up for the BCCT course based on statements issued by LUCT’s staff and representatives, including videos and brochures from them.

The alleged fraudulent representations issued by LUCT induced the plaintiffs to sign up for the BCCT degree. The misrepresentations indicated the students could further their studies at master’s level, both locally and overseas; have better employment prospects; increase their earning potential; and learn practical skills for employment.

Spokesman Chowdhury Atiqur Habibur said the successful filing of the case has brought great relief to him and his fellow plaintiffs.

“We are seeking justice from the court in resolving this matter. We gave the most productive three years of our life to LUCT for our studies, and our parents spent their hard-earned money on their dream of giving us a well-recognised degree for a better future,” said Chowdhury from Bangladesh.

In addition, Chowdhury hopes the lawsuit would be a good example for international students who have no other remedy available to them, when accreditation is revoked for their programmes.

“It will be a good precedent and I’m very disappointed that the Malaysian government had no other remedy available for us, except to sue LUCT,” he said.

The plaintiffs also alleged that, at the time they signed up for the course, the BCCT only had provisional accreditation issued by MQA, and had they known this, they would not have signed up for the course.

Another plaintiff from Bangladesh, Afroza Akther Moni, said she was shocked when BCCT lost its accreditation.

“LUCT informed us it would ensure the course obtained full accreditation, which it did not,” she said.

Afroza, who used her mother’s pension savings for her BCCT programme at LUCT, has since returned to Bangladesh and remains unemployed.

“The other aspect that had caused me great distress was the non-recognition accorded to our BCCT degree. LUCT said it was internationally recognised, but it was not even recognised locally by MQA,” she added.

In the statement of claim, all ten plaintiffs have listed their particulars of damages suffered during the duration of the BCCT course they attended in Malaysia.

Based on the statement, the amounts vary from plaintiff to plaintiff, with the highest amounting to RM125,695 and the lowest RM97,301. The total amount spent by all ten plaintiffs amounts to RM1,173,455.

The plaintiffs further alleged LUCT has breached the Consumer Protection Act 1999, as they suffered losses and damages due to misleading statements made by LUCT in respect of the “international recognition” of the degree.

Karim Hewitt Blade from Senegal said he spent more than RM 150,000 on the BCCT course and has to repeat it now.

“I have to spend more money. My whole family has suffered pain and anxiety due to this case,” said Karim, who now runs a poultry business to make ends meet.

It is learnt that LUCT applied for full accreditation for its BCCT programme in November 2017 but was denied by MQA’s accreditation committee in 2019.

This was for failure to meet the minimum requirement for standards necessary for the recognition of the BCCT programme.

Finally, the provisional accreditation expired in May 2021 and BCCT disappeared from the MQA register of degrees.