Better outcomes with new vocational education scheme

Students and employers across the north will be assured of better outcomes following the introduction of new legislation to overhaul the vocational education and training sector.

Northern-based Government Senator Macdonald said the new Vocational Education and Training (VET) Student Loans program, which replaces Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP, is a win-win for students and employers across the north.

“It will ensure the region’s vocational education and training students are equipped with the skills and experience that will meet the needs of the local businesses and industry,” Senator Macdonald said.

“No longer will shonky operators be able to charge students for courses that lead no-where, with no real prospects of employment and therefore no capacity to ever repay their loans,” Senator Macdonald said.

Senator Macdonald said the Turnbull Government’s VET Student Loans program will provide value for money to both students and taxpayers via tougher barriers to entry for providers, properly considered loan caps on courses, stronger course eligibility criteria that aligns with industry needs, mandatory student engagement measures, banning brokers and commission-based sales tactics that reward enrolment over student progress, and a stronger focus on students successfully completing courses.

“Labor’s changes to VET FEE-HELP saw the scheme blow out from costing the taxpayer $325million in 2012 to $1.8billion in 2014 and $2.9billion in 2015.

‘Student numbers jumped by almost 400 per cent, fees more than doubled and loans increased by 792 per cent.

‘Our new VET Student Loans program will deliver an estimated reduction in total outstanding Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt of more than $7 billion across the forward estimates and $25 billion over the next 10 years.

The new scheme will ensure students and taxpayers are protected, that skills shortages in our regions are addressed, and that the reputation of the vocational education sector is restored, Senator Macdonald said.

The VET Student Loans program will commence from 1 January 2017 but include arrangements for any current VET FEE-HELP students, who have not yet finished their studies, to opt-in to be ‘grandfathered’ through to the end of 2017. Those arrangements could extend beyond 2017 for students in exceptional circumstances such as illness or due to caring responsibilities.

Implementation arrangements for VET Student Loans are already underway:

  • Training provider assessment criteria detailed and applications being received
  • Eligible course list finalised
  • Student loan caps for all course types set

Further information for students and providers is available at  

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