New rules to protect vocational education and training (VET) students from unscrupulous training providers who use high-pressure sales tactics to get people to sign up for a VET FEE-HELP loan, came into effect on 1st January 2016.
Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Luke Hartsuyker, said the new rules will help stamp out the predatory behaviours that have seen some training providers deliberately target vulnerable people in order to exploit the VET FEE-HELP student loan scheme.
“Training providers and their agents will be prevented from cold-calling people in their homes or approaching people in shopping centres or outside Centrelink and using VET FEE-HELP as the hook to get people to sign up for a training course they do not want or need,” said the Minister.
“If you are a quality training provider you do not door-knock housing estates, hang outside Centrelink or harass people in the privacy of their homes in order to boost your enrolments and get your hands on taxpayer’s money. The Government is putting an end to these dodgy practices and banning cold-calling and other forms or unsolicited contact which promotes VET FEE-HELP.”
“Training providers are on notice that if they persist with unscrupulous marketing and enrolment practices they will face tougher consequences including new fines and the loss of their VET FEE-HELP provider status.”
Following recent actions by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Skills Quality Authority and the Department of Education and Training, the Federal Government is also making it easier for students to have their VET FEE-HELP debt cancelled where the training provider has misled the student.
From 1 January 2016, VET providers must apply a student entry procedure to ensure a prospective student is academically suited to the course.
Providers are also banned from accepting any request for a VET FEE-HELP loan form from a person who is under the age of 18 unless a parent or guardian has co-signed the form.
The Government has also introduced stronger rules to pause payments for new enrolments to providers by giving students a two day cooling off period to withdrawal their application for enrolment.
Registered Training Organisations seeking approval to offer VET FEE‑HELP will now require a minimum 5 year trading history and must have delivered the relevant courses for 5 years or more. Providers must also generate a minimum of 20 per cent of total revenue through non‑HELP sources.
For more information visit the Department of Education and Training website www.education.gov.au