Community Colleges Australia (CCA) has provided a detailed submission in response to the Australian Government’s Redesigning VET FEE-HELP: Discussion Paper.
CCA has warmly welcomed the initiatives in the paper, strongly approving of the overall focus of the paper, as well as the large majority of recommendations and findings. The points in the CCA submission largely relate to requests for clarification and other comments on specific findings.
CCA has noted that relatively few community education providers utilise VET FEE-HELP, in large part because VET FEE-HELP relates to higher level VET qualifications that community providers tend not to deliver.
CCA also notes, with great dismay, that large numbers of vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians have been subjected to improper enrolment and signing up for VET FEE-HELP loans, in a major series of publicly-aired abuses. Almost all of these abuses have been committed by unscrupulous private for-profit providers and none by community education providers. The most recent abuses were noted in last week’s Sydney Morning Herald, which reported on a court case against Unique College, being prosecuted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). This news followed on from recent action taken by the ACCC against Careers Australia, another private, for-profit provider.
CCA notes that these VET FEE-HELP abuses have significantly undermined the reputation of Australian vocational education and training, both domestically and internationally. CCA also notes that a large percentage of the private for-profit VET providers utilise names that do not distinguish them as for-profit providers that deliver dividends to their owners – unlike the community education and government VET sectors. Frequently, these for-profit providers go to great lengths to hide their ownership structures, as a means of establishing their credibility with potential students.
As a result, CCA has recommended to the Australian Government that all future recipients of VET FEE-HELP funding from the Australian Government – and indeed, any RTOs that are regulated by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) – be required to undertake strict standards of transparency and identification of their ownership structures.
A complete copy of the CCA submission to the Department of Education and Training is available here. Community_Colleges_Australia_VET_FEE-HELP_submission_10June2016
CCA thanks its members WEA Hunter and Community College Gippsland for their assistance in preparing the submission.