The Coalition Government is calling for comment on its Redesigning VET FEE-HELP Discussion Paper.
Released today by Senator the Hon Scott Ryan, Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, the Discussion Paper was developed following a series of consultations undertaken in April in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Cairns and discussions with stakeholders.
The Discussion Paper goes into frank detail about the consequences of Labor’s expansion of the VET FEE-HELP scheme.
These consequences include, but are not limited to:
Rapid growth in course costs for students, saddling them with extra debt, and to the detriment of taxpayers, through inflated cost of student loans.
High levels of student attrition and low completion rates among VET FEE-HELP students, particularly those studying online.
VET providers incentivised to focus on profit maximisation, rather than student outcomes.
Unethical practices some providers and by predatory brokers, signing up unwitting students.
Outlining the 16 reforms already put in place by the Coalition Government to address the problems as they became apparent, the Discussion Paper makes it clear significant redesign is necessary and calls for comment on a number of options. These include:
The application of minimum eligibility requirements for VET FEE-HELP recipients.
Reducing the lifetime student loan limit from $99,389.
Prioritising VET FEE-HELP funding to courses that align with industry needs or lead to employment outcomes.
Providing better information for VET FEE-HELP eligible students before they enrol.
Introducing a VET FEE-HELP ombudsman.
Redesigning the regulatory oversight of VET FEE-HELP, giving the Commonwealth more power to tie payments to compliance measures.
Consideration of different payment tests around student engagement, progression and completion.
“I have focused on a three-pronged approach to tackling VET FEE-HELP. First, ensuring that all efforts are made to protect those students who have found themselves without a provider or been subject to unethical practices; second, continuing and increasing the focus on compliance and probity activities by the Department; and, third, commencing this process of redesign of the VET FEE-HELP scheme,” Minister Ryan said.
“This Discussion Paper delivers on this third element and draws together insight from key industry figures – from TAFEs to private training institutions, from industry groups to peak bodies. I thank all who participated in the consultations, which helped form the basis for this Discussion Paper.
“The VET FEE-HELP scheme, introduced by Labor, was demand driven, uncapped and had insufficient student protections in place. The original scheme opened the floodgates to shonky training providers and predatory brokers to take advantage of the system.
“The Coalition Government is committed to improving the integrity of the VET FEE-HELP scheme and ensuring its long-term sustainability.
“Only the Coalition has committed to redesigning VET FEE-HELP for 2017 to weed out the shonky providers and protect students and taxpayers.
“I invite all those with an interest in vocational education and training to provide comment on the broad range of suggestions canvassed in this Discussion Paper.”
The Discussion Paper will be open for public comment until 30 June 2016 and can be accessed at https://docs.education.gov.au/documents/2017-vet-fee-help-scheme-redesign-discussion-paper . Submissions for consideration should be emailed to VFHPolicyRedesign@education.gov.au