The Australian Government’s new VET Student Loans program commenced on 1 January 2017, replacing the troubled and scandal-ridden VET FEE-HELP program.
CCA has welcomed the VET Student Loans program as bringing long-needed reforms to funding of VET students, but has noted that only a minority of community education providers utilised VET FEE-HELP, in part because it is only applicable for diploma, advanced diploma, graduate certificate and graduate diploma qualifications.
“The Minister for Education, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, and the Australian Government Department of Education and Training are clearly using the introduction of the new scheme to ‘weed out’ problematic for-profit VET providers,” said Dr Don Perlgut, CCA’s CEO. “CCA’s concern is that the not-for-profit community education providers – none of them implicated in any loan abuses – have been caught up in the new regulations, which make it excessively difficult for them to sign up to the new scheme.”
“I can only hope that this is a ‘new era’ for private for-profit VET in Australia, and that their market share will decline – as has happened in the USA,” said Dr Perlgut. “Recent Australian for-profit college collapses, such as the Australasian Beauty College, have left thousands of students stranded. And that college will not be the last to disappear.”
“It’s time to return to quality education over the so-called ‘efficient’ private market, which turned out not to be so ‘efficient’ after all, with fees almost doubling within three years, relying on unsustainable government subsidies. It’s time to value education as an investment and not as a commodity,” said Dr Perlgut.
CCA strongly encourages eligible community education providers to apply for VET Student Loans program. For July 2017 participation, applications are now open and close on 19 February 2017.