THE Coalition Government’s replacement for what it calls “Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP scheme” started on January 1 2017.
The previous system had been subjected to rorts by a range of registered training organisations (RTOs), of which several major companies folded in late 2016 leaving students stranded.
Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham said the new VET Student Loans program was designed to support students to undertake industry-linked and value-for-money courses at quality training providers.
“The Turnbull Government’s VET Student Loans program incorporates the lessons learnt from the disastrous VET FEE-HELP scheme that the Auditor-General highlighted last month,” Mr Birmingham said.
“VET Student Loans includes a range of new measures to protect students and taxpayers, address skills shortages and ultimately restore the reputation of the vocational education sector.
“Labor’s 2012 VET FEE-HELP changes opened the floodgates to shonky providers who ripped off vulnerable students and taxpayers but the new safeguards we’ve put in place mean students can have confidence that the training they are receiving is aligned to workplace needs and strong employment outcomes, and is being delivered by training providers who have met the tougher benchmarks we have set,” Mr Birmingham said.
“The support the government and taxpayers will provide through VET Student Loans will help Australians get the right skills and education they need to find a career that combines their passions with long-term job prospects.”
Mr Birmingham said thousands of VET FEE-HELP students had already opted in to the new program and all training organisations which had applied had been assessed and notified whether they could deliver courses through VET Student Loans during the transition period to July 2017.
“Since we outlined the details of VET Student Loans in October, the Turnbull Government and the Department of Education and Training have been working to ensure a quick and smooth transition from Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP scheme for the training sector and for affected students,” Mr Birmingham said.
“Already more than 26,000 students have opted to finish their course under VET FEE-HELP, and 193 training organisations have been granted provisional approval to deliver courses under the new program until the end of June 2017.
“We are still actively contacting VET FEE-HELP students who have not completed their course and have yet to indicate if they wish to be grandfathered. I encourage any student who was a part of the VET FEE-HELP scheme to get in touch with us before they resume studies in 2017 and no later than March 31 to ensure they continue to be supported to complete their study.
“Applications are also now open for training organisations who want to offer VET Student Loans to students in courses from July 1, 2017. Providers have until February 19 to apply and will need to demonstrate a strong track record of delivering high quality training and achieving employment outcomes for students.
“These stringent requirements will ensure that only high quality providers, committed to delivering high quality training and strong employment outcomes for Australian students, employers and taxpayers will be approved.”