Further reports today on ABC radio that Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) may be targeting disadvantaged students who are being left with massive debts and no qualifications are further proof that the Auditor-General’s performance audit of VET FEE-HELP must proceed.


Last year Shadow Ministers, Senator Kim Carr and Sharon Bird, called on the Auditor-General to investigate VET FEE-HELP to ensure that skills funding is being used in accordance with the intent of the legislation.


The Auditor General has requested that the performance audit be included in the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) 2015-16 work program.


 “Today’s reports are very concerning and should be investigated.  Labor is concerned to ensure that RTOs are not targeting disadvantaged students who are unable to cope with course requirements,” Sharon Bird said.


“Students should not be incurring high levels of debt for poor-quality or unsuitable courses. 


“It seems that every week we are hearing a new story about unscrupulous recruiting practices, yet all we hear from the Assistant Minister is that the new National Standards or a Hotline will fix this. 

“Yet the stories keep coming and students are still racking up debt for unsuitable courses.” 


“The aim of VET FEE-HELP is to keep the cost of attaining work skills and qualifications affordable for young Australians,” Senator Carr said   


“As the Government continues to press forward with plans to extend Commonwealth subsidies to private providers in the higher education sector, Australians need to be assured that the Department of Education and its national regulators have the powers to protect students and Australia’s international reputation. Further, we need to be certain that government regulators have the resources to enforce those powers.”


“We know what happens when dodgy colleges get free rein. The quality of an Australian education is questioned, and the entire education sector suffers”


These reports need to be fully investigated and it is now more important than ever that the performance audit be listed on the ANAO’s 2015-16 work program to ensure that taxpayer funds are being used to genuinely train and upskill our workers, not just go into the pockets of unscrupulous providers.


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  • Raymond Earl
    commented 2015-04-10 13:14:19 +1000
    In all fairness to the reputable colleges, their RTO operation is a product of statute and applicable VET FEE-Help (VFH) rules.

    And so the questions that need to be considered and answered are:

    Q1(a). What happens if the student never reaches the threshold of $54,126? [Prospective students that are targeted from regional areas and who are unemployed, arguably will never reach the threshold]
    Q1. And so, does this mean that the student does not pay the debt? [If so, then who pays the debt?]

    Q2. What will happen when Australia has outstanding VFH debts of 10s of billions of dollars? – As there is no capping that I know of?

    Q3. What is the government’s budget for VET FEE-Help?

    Q4(a). With the mounting VFH debt, if the budget is not sufficient, will taxes be raised to meet the excessive debt?

    Q4(b). If not, how then will the VFH debt be repaid?

    Q5. Will there be a special ‘VET FEE-Help bail out levy’ for all tax payers?

    Q6. How can the Australian tax payers fund VET FEE-Help when it could arguably cost 10s of billions of dollars?

    Consideration needs to focus on the financial impost to the Australian people, and social impact which will crystallise in the not to different future.

    Should the VFH threshold be lowered to say $10,000? There are many positive outcomes for this action.