In 2019, Olamide Folawole, a marketing executive at a record label in Lagos, applied for an MBA programme at Ecole de Commerce de Lyon (ECL), a university in Lyon, France.
After submitting the required documents, he was offered a provisional admission with a condition that he paid part of the €6,000 tuition. The school said every payment, except the €570 admission fee, was refundable.
Folawole made a €2,000 payment to ECL and received a receipt. However, trouble started when he asked the school for a refund after he was denied a visa by the French Embassy.
“The second time I applied for a visa, the officials at the embassy told me they were not convinced I would return to the country after completing my studies. As a result, my application wasn’t granted,” Folawole told FIJ.
The applicant said after his second visa denial, he sent an email to the school in December 2019, asking for a refund of the tuition paid, but was told he would have to send his admission rejection application via courier before his request could be treated.
Three days later, the school confirmed receipt of his application and also assured him that the request would be treated as soon as possible.
THE LONG WAIT
For two months, the school refused to respond. This forced the applicant to reach out to the Lagos office of Campus France, an agency promoting French higher education in almost every country of the world.
According to Folawole, Campus France wrote to the Lyon-based school on his behalf, requesting that its officials refunded whatever was left of his €2,000 payment, after deducting the non-refundable admission fee. Despite this intercession, the Nigerian said he still did not get any response from the school.
SEVENTY MESSAGES SENT
“After sending about 70 messages to ECL,” explained Fawole, “I eventually got a response from Hugo Maniveau, the school’s Deputy Managing Director, promising his assistance.”
However, Maniveau’s promise made no difference, and the wait continued. Frustrated, Folawole contacted an old friend who lived in Paris for help.
“The old friend assisted me in making a phone call to the school, demanding to know why I’d not been refunded. This made the school give a response,” Folawole said.
After about a year of waiting to get back his money, ECL asked if he wanted a new admission.
“I said I was no longer interested in their admission and that they should refund my money. I also made them understand that I did not like the way I’d been treated.
The school requested that he wrote another request to that effect, and he did. On July 23, ECL’s accounts department sent him a mail stating that he would be sent his money on August 23.
“I sent a mail to the school a week to the payment date, to remind them of their promise, but I did not get any response,” Folawole said.
On August 23, ECL failed to make the payment as promised. Folawole sent another email to the accounts department and they promised to pay unfailingly on September 3. ECL would fail to fulfil its promise again.
“I wrote to them on September 5, but they still did not respond,” said Fawole.
ECL NOT FRIENDLY TO AFRICANS
Folawole said he also wrote Maniveau, who promised again to look into the matter.
“ECL blocked the number of the friend who was helping to call them in France. She could no longer get in touch with them,” Folawole alleged.
“I was also told that the school is in the habit of holding on to admission seekers’ money, especially Africans who have been denied visa, because they know there is no way such people can make it to France.”
Recently, ECL honoured Samuel Eto’o, a Cameroonian footballer, with a degree. Folawole said it was the school’s deceitful way of making the world believe it was friendly to Africans.
“I don’t want to have anything to do with the school. I just want my money back,” he said.
FIJ sent emails to ECL and Maniveau for comments earlier in the week, but there hasn’t been a response.
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