Over the past two days both Victoria and New South Wales have joined Labor’s call for the Turnbull Liberal Government to make real reforms to the VET FEE-HELP system – not just tinker around the edges.
Today the Mackenzie VET Funding review has been delivered to the Victorian Government, which calls for Victoria to work with the Commonwealth to reform the fee-for-service and VET FEE-HELP markets.
The Victorian report also recommends that private training providers should publicly disclose its brokers and how much they have been paid.
To date the Liberals have been unwilling to make any real attempts to clean out the undesirable brokers that have infected the VET system.
These calls are backed up by the NSW Legislative Council report into Vocational Education and Training in New South Wales released yesterday.
Whilst this report does not relate to many of the significant issues for TAFE in NSW, it does have an important recommendation relating to VET FEE-HELP. The report calls on the NSW Government to urgently work with the Commonwealth to introduce a new model for VET FEE-HELP, with stronger safeguards to protect students and ensure that the Australian Skills Quality Authority is fit for purpose.
Labor has repeatedly called on the Abbott-Turnbull Government to take serious action and 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.
Some colleges continue to engage in aggressive email marketing methods in spite of new laws which, in 2016, will cap each college’s access to VET FEE-HELP loans at the amount they received in 2015.
Australians are still receiving emails spruiking ‘study now, pay later’, ‘no deadlines, no times’, ‘no upfront costs’ and ‘study from anywhere you want’, despite the Government’s changes.
It is clear that the Liberals’ panicked changes will not fix the crisis.
The Liberals need to listen to Victoria, NSW and Labor and act to clean up the sector and protect vulnerable students.