Today’s media reports outlining allegations of forged signatures, students being signed up for double diplomas with double debts - and only five out of 4,000 students graduating from one college - are further proof that the Liberals must implement Labor’s strong, common-sense measures to stop the shonks in the vocational education sector.
It is time for the Liberals to stop the blaming and buck-passing and take responsibility for the rorts that are occurring under their watch.
In 2014 VET FEE-HELP loans escalated from $699 million to $1.7 billion and it became clear that these types of scams are widespread.
Labor is deeply concerned that the Liberals panicked-changes rushed through Parliament last week may not be enough to stem the damage to Australia’s VET system.
By rejecting amendments to control the escalating cost to individuals of runaway course costs – as proposed by Labor’s tuition fee cap – the Government risks perpetuating the business model of the shonks and the sharks that is causing untold damage to the sector.
The shonks and sharks continued to grow their “business” this year, and the Government’s cap for 2016 access to VET FEE-HELP at a provider’s 2015 level will only ensure they can rip students and taxpayers off next year for the same amount they ripped them off this year.
It is also clear that brokers are adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a course for each student, adding to the blow-out in overall debts.
The Government needs to take serious action on both brokers and course costs.
Labor has repeatedly called for the Abbott-Turnbull Government to put in place a Vocational Education and Training Ombudsman, ban or restrict the use of brokers to recruit students to courses funded by VET FEE-HELP and cap tuition fees for VET courses eligible for VET FEE-HELP.
The industry is in crisis. The reputation of our VET system is under threat and the Liberals must act now to stop the shonks and sharks from ripping off our students, our economy and the taxpayer.