VIC Australian Consumer Law - Misleading Information in Contract with Open Colleges?

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9 December 2015
Hi. I'm studying for a Health Services Assistant in Acute Care Certificate III through Open Colleges in Australia. It is an Australian online College. Currently, I'm at a loss on what to do and need some legal help.

In the contract, it states that I am responsible for finding work placement (with which I don't have a problem with), that is part of this course. I'm at the 3rd study period of my studies where I can find work placement according to the Open Colleges but after calling a number of hospitals, I found out that they do not sort out work placement through students but through the organisation the students study through. In my search for a place to do my work placement, I also found out that Open Colleges have to have a partnership with a hospital in order for their students to do the work placement.

According to what I found out thus far, it is Open College's legal obligation to sort out work placement through a hospital they are partnered with for their students and this responsibility can't legally fall onto the student. They do not have this information in their contract and they do not provide the information about who they are partnered with anywhere in the study information of the course.

I called them up and tried to discuss the situation with them, but they just say it isn't their issue. I would like to know what legal grounds I have to stand on under Australian Consumer Law to fight them on this. They can't provide the support or the resources I need to finish this course so I won't get a certificate and in the meantime, they take my money as a charity case.

Any help would be very much appreciated.

Thank you.


Hi Ads23,

There are 2 legal principles that may apply here:

(1) under contract law, a contract cannot require one of the parties to do something illegal. I don't know what the law is about finding your own placements, but if it is, in fact, contrary to legal requirements for a student to find their own placement, then this would be requiring you to do something contrary to law.

(2) alternatively under contract law also, the commercial purpose of a contract may become "frustrated" when it is impossible for some reason to carry out your obligations under the contract. It sounds as though it is both impossible for you to carry out your obligations of finding a placement and also for them to provide you with a certification because you can't get the prac work.

Under the Australian Consumer Law, all providers of services must guarantee that their service is amongst other things, fit for the purpose or give the results that you and the business had agreed to. Therefore, you would have a right to expect that you can complete your course and receive the promised certification at the end.