The Supreme Court has declared that the Tonga National Qualifications
and Accreditation Board’s ban on the ‘Atenisi Institute recruiting students is
However, the court rejected an application by the Institute for a
declaration that the Department had no authority to require it to meet its
requirements for accreditation.
The declaration is the latest step in an extended legal dispute between
the Institute and the Board.
The ‘Atenisi Institute has
operated since 1975 as an educational provider offering tertiary courses in
social science, natural science and the creative arts.
Its core curriculum has been the critical appraisal of philosophy,
history, literature, coupled with instruction in mathematics and language.
The Board told the Institute it had to meet requirements for
registration as a tertiary provider under the National Qualifications and
Accreditation Board Act 2004.
The Institute was initially registered under the new Act, but a dispute
arose over the requirements for registration.
The Institute claimed that the Board required documentation that was at
odds with the way it taught and said that providing it with limited staff and
resources was extremely difficult.
In March 2018, the Board told the Institute that it would seek to
prevent it from recruiting new students on the grounds that its degree
programmes have not yet been approved.
Lord Chief Justice Whitten said the Board had acted improperly in
imposing the bans on recruitment.
The judge said the Board had failed to observe the requirements of
natural justice or procedural fairness.
It had not told the Institute in what way its accreditation application
was deficient, or what was required by the Board to accredit the programmes.
It was impossible therefore for the Institute Plaintiff to know the
particulars of the alleged non-compliance and what was required to remedy it.
He said the Institute had succeeded in challenging the lawfulness of the
Board’s ban on the Institute from
recruiting students for its unaccredited programmes.
The ban was imposed at a time
when the Institute’s application for accreditation of those programmes was
before (and remained before) the Board for assessment.
“The Board’s compliance notices
dated 22 February 2018 and 21 February 2019 are declared to be unlawful,
invalid and of no effect and set aside,” the judge said.
“The Plaintiff’s claims for declarations that it is not subject to the
Tonga National Qualifications and Accreditation Board Act, and damages, are
The main points
- The Supreme Court has declared that the Tonga National
Qualifications and Accreditation Board’s ban on the ‘Atenisi Institute
recruiting students is unlawful.
- However, the court rejected an application by the
institute for a declaration that the Department had no authority to require the
Institute to meet its requirements for accreditation.
Os textos, informações e opiniões publicados neste espaço são de total responsabilidade do(a) autor(a). Logo, não correspondem, necessariamente, ao ponto de vista do Central da Pauta.