Important reforms will be made to the Government’s VET FEE-HELP student loan program to prevent unscrupulous marketers targeting vulnerable Australians and exploiting taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars.
Assistant Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham today announced a rolling campaign of legislative and other changes to deal with rogue training providers and better protect students.
Kate Davidson, CEO of CCA noted the importance of stopping the unethical practices, especially the targeting of vulnerable leaners. Community NFP RTO’s do not want their training reputation impacted by brokers and/or RTO’s who are undertaking dishonest practices to attract students.
The new measures will:
- Ban providers from offering inducements or incentives to students, like cash, meals, prizes or laptops, to get them to sign up to courses that they don’t need.
- Make it impossible for providers to levy all fees in a single transaction up front, giving students more opportunity to consider their options before VET FEE-HELP debts can be incurred.
- Ban miraculously short diploma or advanced diploma courses, instead requiring a minimum number of units of study.
- Protect vulnerable students by requiring providers to properly assess students for minimum prerequisite educational capabilities before enrolment.
- Eliminate insidious practices like ’nursing home’ enrolments.
- Stop marketing agents and brokers ‘freelancing’ to sign up as many students as possible, without the training provider being held responsible for their actions.
- Give students clear information that helps them understand that VET FEE-HELP loans are real debts that impact their credit rating and are expected to be repaid.
- Ensure students sign off on high visual impact statements making it explicit the total debt they will incur should they proceed with a particular course.
- Strengthen the duty of care requirements for training providers offering VET FEE-HELP loans, including requiring more stringent capital backing for providers and a positive history in the training market.
- Make it easier for the government to cancel student debts that have been generated by training providers/brokers who breach the new guidelines, and require the training provider to reimburse taxpayers for the cost.
Senator Birmingham said, "This crack down on dodgy activities will be complemented by an enhanced compliance regime, with $18.2 million budgeted to support activities like more random audits on both students and training providers.