Consumer Action is encouraged by the Education and Employment References Committee’s interim report into the operation, regulation and funding of private vocational education training (VET) providers in Australia.
The interim report highlights a number of the problems experienced by our clients, in particular reports of aggressive marketing techniques used by private education companies and education brokers.
Our lawyers regularly hear from Victorians who have been pressured into signing up for courses over the phone or on their door step. Some are also being offered inducements, such as free tablets, to enrol in courses they wouldn’t otherwise sign up for.
Many of these courses turn out to be completely inappropriate for the student’s needs or academic capabilities.
We share the Committee’s concern about VET providers downplaying the real cost of courses. Using terms like ‘government funded’ and ‘study now pay later’ masks the truth: many students will end up with debts of over $20,000 that they’ll have to repay once their income reaches a certain threshold.
Importantly, the Committee has flagged its intention to look at the quality of VET courses. The Australian Consumer Law requires services to be delivered with due care and skill and to be fit for purpose. From what our clients and community workers across Australia have told us, we suspect many VET courses are failing these simple tests.
Consumer Action looks forward to participating in the Committee’s public hearings in the coming months. In the meantime, our lawyers will continue to help Victorians who have been signed up to poor quality or inappropriate VET courses and saddled with thousands of dollars of debt.