A Look at the Recent Amendments to the VET-FEE Help Guidelines

image for article

From July 1, 2015, changes to the Australian Government’s VET FEE-HELP Guidelines were introduced for all new enrolments. The reforms are part of a wider improvement to the VET system, designed to help prevent deceitful providers exploiting the system and targeting vulnerable Australians. RTO Materials explores some of the key changes to the VET-FEE HELP Guidelines and how it might affect VET providers and students in Australia.

The Government’s Department of Education and Training highlights some of the fundamental changes to the VET-FEE HELP Guidelines. The new measures will:

.               Prevent VET providers offering students lucrative incentives such as laptops and cash in an attempt to persuade them to sign up for courses they don’t really need

.               Prevent brokers and marketing agents which are not covered by a regulator from signing up as many students as they can

.               Provide students with more comprehensive information related to VET FEE-HELP loans being actual debts and the fact they will have to be repaid and their potential impacts on credit rating

.               Ensure training providers are unable to levy all VET FEE-HELP fees in one single transaction so that students are able to consider their options more closely before incurring debts

.               Require VET providers to evaluate a student’s situation properly before enrolment to a course to help protect vulnerable students

 Other key changes that came into play on July 1, 2015 include:

.               Providers being unable to charge students with withdrawal fees if they decide to withdraw from the course prior to the census date

                .               VET providers are not allowed to market courses as ‘government funded’ or ‘free’

                .               Providers must have a written agreement if an agent is working on their behalf and will be held responsible for their agent’s actions

A second stage of the VET FEE-HELP reform which will be implemented for students enrolling on courses from January 1, 2016. This second phrase of the VET Guidelines will include trainers being unable to charge students upfront for course fees. Providers will also not be allowed to accept loan requests from those embarking on courses after enrolment without at least a two day period to allow them to change their mind.

The VET FEE-HELP reforms are part of Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham’s measures to protect students from the unscrupulous practices of a small amount of VET providers and their agents.