Submission: Private vocational education and training providers in Australia

Consumer Action has provided comment to the Senate Education and Employment Committees on the operation, regulation and funding of private vocational education and training (VET) providers in Australia.

We receive a significant number of complaints relating to private VET providers and education brokers. The areas in which we receive most complaints relate to standards of teaching, unfair treatment (particularly with regard to contracts, payments and refunds) and misleading marketing conduct.

In our view, the current regulatory and funding system fails to adequately protect Australians from unscrupulous private VET providers and education brokers. The VET student population is disproportionately made up of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and we are particularly concerned about the impact these failings are having on Australia’s most vulnerable students.

It has been widely acknowledged that there has been misuse of the Commonwealth government’s FEE-HELP loan scheme, misleading advertising, soliciting students for unsuitable courses, and inappropriate use of brokers to recruit students. It is clear that the current system is not working, and significant reforms are needed to protect Australian students and ensure taxpayer funds are being invested appropriately.

This submission responds to a number of the terms of reference of this inquiry, in particular:

  • The access private VET providers have to Commonwealth and state public funding
  • The cost of education at private VET providers
  • The regulatory regime private VET providers operate within
  • The operation of VET-FEE-HELP
  • The quality of education provided by private VET providers, volume of learning requirements and graduate outcomes
  • Marketing and promotional techniques employed by private VET providers and education brokers, both domestic and international

A full copy of our submission is available by here: Private vocational education and training providers in Australia.