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Legal Process in Case The Fee of Private Education Institutions is Higher Than The Rate Determined by The Ministry
According to the “Regulation on the Amendment of the Regulation on Private Education Institutions of the Ministry of National Education” published in the Official Gazette dated 06.01.2023 and paragraph 1 of the 53rd article of the Regulation on Private Education Institutions of the Ministry of National Education; the rate of increase in private school fees in the 2023-2024 academic year will be determined by taking into account the CPI rate at the end of the year, not exceeding the rate determined by the Ministry. This increase rate was determined as 65% by the Ministry of National Education.
The fees of private schools are determined according to the 53rd article of the Regulation on Private Education Institutions. The fees of private education institutions are determined in Turkish lira within the framework of the increase rate to be determined by the Ministry. The determined fees are recorded in the Information Systems program of the Ministry of National Education. While Private Education Institutions can enroll with a fee below the announced fees, they cannot charge more than the announced fee. This issue is fixed with the Regulation on Private Education Institutions of the Ministry of National Education, which is regulated in the light of the Law on Private Education Institutions.
Are there any legal ways parents or students can apply if Private Education Institutions do not comply with the increase rate determined by the Ministry within the framework of the Regulation on Private Education Institutions of the Ministry of National Education and set a higher fee than the determined increase rate?
The probability of encountering such a situation is quite high. In case of non-compliance with the wage announcement determined by the Private Education Institutions based on the increase rate determined by the Ministry, the Consumer Courts will be the court responsible for the resolution of the dispute in case of disputes with primary, secondary, and high schools within the scope of “private education“.
For any dispute to be heard in the Consumer Court, one of the parties to the relevant dispute must be a “consumer“, and the dispute must arise from a “consumer transaction“.
While the consumer is a natural or legal person acting for commercial or non-professional purposes, consumer transactions are transactions where one of the parties is the consumer and the other party is the seller, the service provider, or one of the real or legal persons acting on their behalf, and the transaction between them does not have a professional or commercial purpose for the consumer.
Consumer transaction covers all contracts and legal transactions between consumers and real or legal persons acting for commercial or professional purposes or on behalf of them, including public legal entities in the goods or service markets. As seen from the consumer and consumer transaction definitions, parents, without pursuing a commercial or professional purpose, establish a contract and legal transaction with private education institutions in the education service market.
The amount of fees determined by private education institutions in such a dispute that may occur is extremely important in terms of the monetary duty limit in Consumer Courts.
What is the amount of this monetary limit, and what will be the legal remedy for parents to apply for amounts below the monetary limit?
In order to file a lawsuit in Consumer Courts, the monetary limit for 2023 has been determined as 66.000,00 Turkish liras; Consumers should apply to Provincial or District Consumer Arbitration Committees for consumer disputes under 66.000,00 Turkish lira. In summary, the authority for parents to seek solutions for disputes that fall below the monetary limit is no longer the Consumer Courts but turns into Consumer Arbitration Committees.
The economic changes experienced in our country in recent years have also greatly affected the education sector. Private education institutions and parents have experienced many grievances caused by these dynamics. Bringing the grievances experienced rightly to the judiciary has created precedent decisions in the legal world.
In the shadow of all these grievances and discussions, as an example, in the decision of the 13th Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court, due to the contractual relationship between the plaintiff company and the defendant parent regarding the education of their children, the plaintiff company’s case was decided to be accepted by the Court of First Instance because the defendant parent did not pay the educational expenses and that the plaintiff company initiated enforcement proceedings for the collection of the receivable.
At the appeal stage, it is understood that the defendant enrolls in a private school operated by the plaintiff company for the education of their child, of which they are the parent. It is understood that the enforcement proceeding is related to the “private school fee” and that the defendant parent has the title of a consumer in the legal action in the dispute. The contractual relationship between them has the character of a consumer transaction. It was decided that the dispute remained within the scope of the Law on the Protection of the Consumer, that the Consumer Courts were responsible for hearing the case, and that the unlawful provision was overturned.
When we look at the situation of Foundation Universities, except for primary, secondary, and high schools from private education institutions, our guide will be the Higher Education Law this time. The educational principles of Foundation Higher Education Institutions are determined by this Law and submitted to the Higher Education Council, just like state universities.
These institutions are subject to the supervision and control of the Higher Education Council in financial, administrative, and economic matters, and the fees to be collected from the students are determined by the board of trustees. Suppose private education institutions set a fee higher than the wage increase rate determined by the Ministry for that year. In that case, the authority to seek the rights of parents or students will again be the Consumer Courts.
Although foundation universities have a public legal personality, they cannot be mentioned about an application that is established ex officio and unilaterally by the administration using public power at the point of determining the education fee because the dispute arising from the contractual relationship regarding the provision of the education service consists of a contract that is formed by the mutual and appropriate declaration of the will of the parties.
In summary, the dispute arising from the contractual relationship regarding the provision of education services subject to the provisions of Private Law, where there is no administrative action or service, will be resolved in the judicial jurisdiction, not in the administrative jurisdiction, according to the general provisions. Ultimately, if the tuition fee at foundation universities exceeds the fee determined by the Ministry, the door to be knocked by parents and students should be judicial jurisdiction.