Media & Speeches

Students Should Not Be Caught Out By New VET Loan Scheme

Small changes should be made to the replacement of the VET FEE-HELP (VFH) program to minimise the impact on students and the VET market, a joint submission from the Australian Industry Group and the Business Council of Australia argues.

Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the Government’s new VET Student Loans scheme would address the problems caused by the VET FEE-HELP program, but some minor amendments would ensure there were no unintended consequences.

“The VFH program was designed to encourage students into the VET sector, and provide additional funding to ensure businesses had the workers they need to be competitive,” Ms Westacott said.

“Unfortunately the design and implementation of the program was poor, and as a result the reputation of the sector was damaged, government funding was misused, and students were taken advantage of. The government’s new VET Student Loans scheme will tackle these issues.

“It is important that students who enrolled under the original scheme are not caught out by the changes, and that they can complete their studies without having to find a source of private income.

“We also recommend that the approach to the approved courses list is flipped, with the government nominating the courses they will not provide loans to, rather than a list of courses they will.

“This would allow the government to rationalise the course list, while still providing breadth in the courses eligible for a loan.

“These amendments should be dealt with swiftly, and should not be used as an excuse to hold up the passage of the legislation.”

The changes proposed include:

  • Extending the transition period for current students from the end of 2017 to the end of 2018
  • Taking a different approach to the course list – instead of specifying a list of courses that are eligible for the loan scheme, deem a small number of courses that will not have employment outcomes as ineligible for the loans scheme
  • Requiring the government to consult and be transparent about the regulations that sit beneath the legislation
  • Removing the proposed additional powers for the Australian Skills Quality Authority’s role to conduct the financial audits of the loan schemes
  • Requiring the government to publish market information, and real-time data on government expenditure to allow public assessment of the loans program.