New protections for VET students welcomed

New vocational education & training guidelines will protect students enrolled in courses involving VET FEE-HELP student loans. From 1 January 2016, students will benefit from new protections safeguarding pressure selling and will no longer be hit with an entire course fee upfront.

Consumer Action Law Centre congratulates the Federal Government on this initiative which should stamp out unscrupulous practices that have resulted in complaints to the centre.

“We have seen clients who have received VET FEE-HELP statements for over twenty thousand dollars, for simply being unlucky enough to answer the phone to a private college or one of their spruikers,” Consumer Action CEO Gerard Brody said. “These students are often vulnerable, have health issues or are job-seekers caught out by a hard and fast sales pitch.”

As of 1 January 2016, training colleges will be prohibited from accepting a loan application until two business days after the student enrols. This is designed to allow a prospective student to think through their payment options, and reduce the ability of unscrupulous salespeople to take advantage of a quick sales pitch that results in an immediate VET FEE-HELP debt.

Providers will also be required to spread tuition fees evenly over four fee-periods for each course. This will stop the practice of students being loaded up with a significant debt at the point of enrolment.

“These changes should reduce the incentive for colleges to pay brokers, salespeople and other ‘course advisers’ upfront for sourcing students. Students should be choosing courses based on their educational needs, rather than being sold a course facilitating an upfront commission to a salesperson,” said Mr Brody.

Other measures to be introduced today include new VET guidelines that formalises the relationship training providers have with third party brokers.

 

Notes:

  • VET FEE-HELP is a Federal Government loans scheme to assist eligible students studying higher level vocational education and training (VET) qualifications, from a range of approved training providers, to pay their tuition fees.
  • As of 2015, the maximum VET FEE-HELP loan that can be accumulated over a student’s lifetime, otherwise known as the FEE?HELP limit, is $97,728. VET FEE-HELP loans are repaid once a student earn income above the compulsory repayment threshold. For the 2015-16 income year, the compulsory repayment threshold is $54,126.
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