Students across the North to benefit from new VET program


A new vocational education and training (VET) student loan scheme to replace Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP has been hailed a win-win situation for students and the taxpayer. 

Northern-based Senator Ian Macdonald has welcomed the decision to replace the failed scheme with the new VET Student Loans program from 1 January, 2017, a move which he says will hopefully lead to better employment outcomes.

“The new loans program promises a much better outcome for students across the North, by delivering real job prospects and restoring confidence in the vocational education system,” Senator Macdonald said. 

“Particularly in the North, many of our industries rely on the skills that vocational training delivers, so it is imperative we fix the system to ensure it is producing quality graduates with the skills and qualifications in the highest demand.”

Senator Macdonald said the reforms include tougher barriers to entry for providers, considered loan caps on courses to contain costs, stronger course eligibility criteria aligned with business and industry needs, and a focus on successful completion rates.

“It serves no-one any benefit to herd students through courses like cattle and have them graduate with little prospect of employment, and a huge debt that will take them a lifetime to repay.”

The new VET Student Loans program:

  • limits courses eligible for VET Student Loans to those that align with industry needs and employment outcomes
  • introduces properly considered loan caps set at $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000 for courses depending on their cost of delivery
  • requires students to log in to and engage with the VET Student Loans online portal to ensure they are active and legitimate enrolments
  • strengthens the legislative compliance framework, including the ability to impose loan caps on providers, powers to suspend poor performing providers from the scheme, cancel their payments and revoke their approval
  • bans the use of brokers and the direct soliciting of prospective students (so-called ‘cold calling’ or ‘lead generation’) and restrict arrangements for subcontracting training.

Senator Macdonald said a range of support and information will be made available to local students and providers across the North to help them understand, and be ready for the new scheme.

“As well as a public information campaign we will be holding stakeholder sessions and providing resources to explain what is required of both students and providers under the new scheme,” Senator Macdonald said.

The Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the new program will deliver an estimated reduction in total outstanding HELP debt of more than $7 billion across the forward estimates and $25 billion over the next 10 years. 

“From the high chair to higher education, the Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring Australians have access to the opportunities and skills they need for life and are encouraged into learning that will ensure they are job-ready and can contribute to the economy,” Minister Birmingham said.

“The waste and rorting and damage to vocational education simply cannot continue and I call on my Parliamentary colleagues to work with the Turnbull Government to help us ensure the new VET Student Loans program is legislated as quickly as possible to facilitate its commencement on 1 January 2017.”

Further information about the Turnbull Government’s new VET Student Loans scheme can be found at: http://www.education.gov.au/vet-student-loans

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