Getting your moneys worth: why you should beware of paying for ‘summer schools’

We’ve recently become aware of a student who has paid to participate in a ‘course’ run by the Foreign Policy School (www.foreignpolicyschool.com) which claims to help students/graduates develop skills like ‘Writing a policy paper for a CEO or Member of Parliament’ and ‘Presenting your research to a corporate boardroom of executives or a party political committee’. All sounds like great stuff but unfortunately after paying over £1000 to attend the four day event the student has heard nothing back from the organisation.

We took a closer look at the  terms and conditions of the ‘course’:

‘Full payment of Ticket Fees allows applicants to obtain a ticket for entry to the Summer School programme but does not guarantee a place on a specific course, date, week or year.’

‘The conference programme fees are non-refundable under any circumstances.’

Unfortunately, we don’t know why the student hasn’t received any information about the course (like where it is to be held). What we would advise, however, is for students to think very carefully before paying large sums of money to attend courses, workshops, seminars, summer schools or other events. Think about what the organisation is offering and whether you can gain those skills/experiences in other ways, cheaper or for free. Try to find people who have been to that event/on that course and hear what they have to say about it. Read the terms and conditions carefully if you are asked to pay for something. Ask friends and family what they think. And if you are in any doubt, come and see us. We might have heard about the organisation or can check with colleagues across the University of London.

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