THE Turnbull Government’s legislation to rebuild vocational education and training has passed the Parliament, delivering a system that Far Northern students and taxpayers can trust and ending the rip-offs and rorts that plagued Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP scheme.
Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said the Turnbull Government’s new VET Student Loans program will replace Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP scheme, which opened the floodgates to shonky providers who ripped off vulnerable students and taxpayers.
“VET Student Loans will see students and taxpayers from across the Far North protected, skills shortages addressed and the reputation of the vocational education sector restored,” Mr Entsch said.
“These changes will help make sure that local vocational education and training students are equipped with skills that will lead to employment opportunities and meet the training needs of local businesses and industry.
“Labor’s changes to VET FEE-HELP saw the scheme blow out from costing $325 million in 2012 to $1.8 billion in 2014 and $2.9 billion 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 HELP debt of more than $7 billion across the forward estimates and $25 billion over the next 10 years.”
Mr Entsch 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.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the new VET Student Loans program would begin from 1 January 2017 and secure the future and reputation of Australia’s high-quality vocational education and training system.
“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,” Minister Birmingham said.
“At the same time, taxpayers can have confidence the loans the Government is providing are for genuine students, learning skills that will contribute to the economy and increasing the likelihood the loans will be repaid. VET Student Loans recognises the important role high-quality vocational education providers have and the new program will ensure they can continue to deliver for current and future generations of students.”
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
The Bill package was passed with the support of Labor, the Greens and the crossbench.
Further information for students and providers is available at www.education.gov.au/vet-student-loans